United States Forfeits $765,850.27 in Video Sweepstakes Gaming Proceeds Seized from Southern Pines Convenience Store Operators
RALEIGH – The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert J. Higdon, Jr., announced the forfeiture of $765,850.27 seized from Southern Pines residents Mukesh and Daxaban Patel and their company, Shree Zapesvari, Inc., doing business as Jay’s Food Mart 1 and 2. Under the terms of a Settlement Agreement filed on July 13, 2018 in the United States District Court in the Middle District of North Carolina, $100,000 of the total of $865,850.27 seized from the Patels will be returned to them, with the remainder forfeited.
In a Complaint filed on December 23, 2016, the United States alleged that the cash seized from the Patels’ convenience stores was the proceeds of illegal gambling in violation of state and federal law. As alleged in the Complaint, an undercover investigation revealed that the Patels operated several illegal electronic gaming machines and games of chance at both Jay’s Food Mart 1 and 2, machines owned by a third-party, with whom they split the proceeds. The machines, which contain a display similar to slot machines, contained gaming software provided by a gaming software provider. Patrons who won received payoffs on site.
“A segment of the gaming industry continues to foist illegal games of chance on the people of North Carolina,” says United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr., “particularly on those least able to afford this addictive and destructive habit – this in spite of clear directives from both the North Carolina General Assembly and Supreme Court of North Carolina barring such games. This case represents one way in which we will seek to limit the reach of this lucrative yet pernicious industry.”
Homeland Security Investigations Resident Agent in Charge Timothy P. Stone says that “as these segments of the gaming industry continue to pedal games of chance onto the public of North Carolina, an environment ripe for illegal behavior is created, one that preys on the livelihood of many while costing others their lives.” Stone says that “the success of the investigation would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement, Moore County Sheriff’s Office, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations Division, and the Office of the United States Attorney, all critical in helping bring the individuals and businesses of this industry to justice.”
Assistant United States Attorney Steve West represented the government in this matter.