Five defendants accused of operating a pair of storefront casinos in the Michigan cities of Davison and Burton have been arraigned on 31 charges in 67th District Court.
This follows an April investigation by the Michigan Department of Attorney General and Michigan Gaming Control Board, with subsequent raids resulting in a wave of items being seized.
Among these were 100 gambling devices, $29,204 in suspected profits, and 62 gift cards of varying denominations.
In Davison it was said that 11 standalone gaming machines and 54 gaming computer towers were also taken, with these figures standing at 12 and 23, respectively, for the Burton location.
“Accountability is crucial when it comes to upholding justice and ensuring a fair and honest gaming environment in the state of Michigan,” commented Henry Williams, MGCB Executive Director.
“While the Michigan Gaming Control Board will continue to hold those who choose to circumvent the law accountable for their actions, we also acknowledge the importance of fairness, equality, and the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.
“We operate with integrity and our investigators remain committed to the foundations of due process that protects the rights of all individuals involved.”
During August and September charges were filed against each individual, with Joseph Toporek and Mary Larkin each facing five charges.
Broken down, these are three felony counts for running a gambling operation without a licence and using computers to commit a crime; one high court misdemeanour for maintaining a gambling house for gain; and one misdemeanour for keeping a gambling house.
Shaun Bellah II, Shaun Bellah Sr, and Ghazwan Brikho are facing seven charges. These are five felony counts for conducting a criminal enterprise, conspiracy to conduct a criminal enterprise, running a gambling operation without a licence, and using computers to commit a crime; one high court misdemeanour for maintaining a gambling house for gain; and one misdemeanour for keeping a gambling house.
“Under the law, the criminal charges are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty,” the MGCB updated.
“All the accused have been arraigned — Toporek on Aug. 18, Brikho on Aug. 25, Larkin on Aug. 26, Bellah II on Sept. 5, and Bellah Sr. on Sept. 12 — and posted personal bond while they await their probable cause hearings on Sept. 28.”