Abingdon Man Pleads Guilty to Operating Illegal
Shelby Mullins Also Admits To Failing To File A Tax Return
ABINGDON, VIRGINIA -- A local man pled guilty this afternoon in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon to operating an illegal gambling business and faces up to five years in prison.
Shelby Mullins, 61, of Abingdon, Va. waived his right to be indicted and pled guilty this afternoon to one count of operating an illegal gambling business and one count of failing to file a tax return. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum possible penalty of five years in prison on the gambling charge and one year in prison on the tax count.
The charges stem from a joint investigation by the Russell County Sheriff’s Office, the Russell County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, the Virginia State Police, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations and the United States Marshals.
“Mr. Mullins operated a highly profitable illegal gambling business in Tazewell County for a number of years,” United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said today. “Mr. Mullins’ high-stakes poker games featured raked pots and paid employees, which made the games illegal under federal law. The poker games generated thousands of dollars in income, none of which Mr. Mullins reported to the government. When people like Mr. Mullins make money illegally and then hide that income from the IRS, we will hold accountable.”
According to a written statement of facts agreed to by Mullins, the defendant admitted today to running a illegal poker game in the Pounding Mill area of Tazewell County. During the course of the investigation, authorities were able to establish that at least 42 individuals frequented Mullins’ illegal gambling establishment.
To serve the players, Mullins provided players with food and drinks during poker games that lasted, at times, for 10 hours or more. To encourage attendance, Mullins served players steak and shrimp. It was not unusual for “pots” in excess of $10,000 during these games.
It was customary for Mullins, or others, to “rake” the pot of money for each hand played. It is estimated that between $100 and $200 an hour was cut from each pot for the benefit of the operator. As a result of the illegal operation, it is estimated that Mullins generated more than $50,000 in annual gross income. However, records indicate the defendant never disclosed this income to the IRS.
The investigation of the case was conducted by the Russell County Sheriff’s Office, the Russell County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, the Virginia State Police, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations and the United States Marshals. Assistant United States Attorney Zach Lee is prosecuting case for the United States.