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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of North Carolina

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Operator Of Illegal Gambling Enterprise Pleads Guilty

Conspirator Pleaded Guilty to Federal Charges in January 2015

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A South Carolina man appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge David C. Keesler today and admitted to operating an illegal gambling enterprise in Gaston County, announced Jill Westmoreland Rose, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.  Lenny Steen, Jr. 65, of Spartanburg, S.C. pleaded guilty to one count of running an illegal gambling business and one count of money laundering.

In January 2015, Steen’s conspirator, Clarence Larry Calhoun, 71, of Gastonia, N.C. pleaded guilty to the same charges for his role in the illegal gambling scheme.

Ryan L. Spradlin, Acting Special Agent in Charge of ICE/Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Georgia and the Carolinas joins Acting U.S. Attorney Rose in making todays’ announcement.

According to filed court documents and court proceedings, from about 2012 to October 2014, Calhoun and Steen owned and operated an illegal video poker gambling business in Gaston County.  According to court records, Calhoun provided management advice and capital, while Steen was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the business.  According to court records, the gambling business, known as “Mr. Lenny’s Place,” operated out of a large warehouse in Gaston County and was open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Court records show that, at its height, the gambling establishment housed approximately 63 video poker machines, employed more than eight employees and generated, on an average, more than $10,000 per day.

According to court records and court proceedings, the two men split the profits in half.  Court records show that Steen collected the cash and concealed it in retail bags, and personally delivered half of the profits to Calhoun.  Calhoun hid the gambling profits in PVC piping, while Steen transported his share to South Carolina and directed others to store the cash, court records show. Court records also indicate that law enforcement seized more than $4 million in cash over the course of the investigation.

At sentencing, the defendants face a maximum prison term of five years and a $250,000 fine for the charge stemming from running the gambling operation, and a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine or twice the amount of criminally derived proceeds for the money laundering charge.Both men have been released on bond and currently await sentencing.

HSI investigated the case.Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Zolot, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, is prosecuting the case.

Financial Fraud
Updated April 1, 2015