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Two accused of illegal gambling

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

Two Vietnamese women were indicted on charges of running an illegal gambling den.

A Clayton County grand jury passed down a verdict Wednesday accusing Son Van Nguyen, 41, and Lannie Than, 28, of commercial gambling and keeping a place of gambling.

The two were arrested by Forest Park police in May, when officers raided Cafe Mong Mo, a Vietnamese restaurant at 4140 Jonesboro Road.

Police found video poker machines and a poker match in the back of the restaurant, according to court records. Neither the machines, nor the card game are illegal, but state law does not allow people to play for money. Detective Cory L Cloud reported "the patrons would be paid out in cash ... upon winning."

At the time of the May 17 raid, there was about $10,000 in cash seized, and 28 people were arrested.

Than, also known as Tuy Hoa Thi Than, allegedly owns the restaurant with the video poker machines in the back. The older woman, Nguyen, was the only person at the scene who had the keys to the door in her pocket, and was allegedly in charge of the game.

Illegal gambling dens have been an ongoing problem for local law enforcement.

A year before the Cafe Mong Mo raid, the Sheriff's Joint Vice Task Force raided an allegedly illegal game at Jonesboro's Poker Palace. The 8647 Tara Boulevard business was holding a Texas Hold 'Em tournament, and the vice force arrested 53 people, including a magistrate court judge, seizing $18,000 in cash, video slot machines and bags of poker chips. Undercover officers described the illegal operation as a "ghetto casino," complete with complimentary Colt 45.

Two months ago, Souphoth Thammavongsa, a 54-year-old Laotian man, was murdered while allegedly running an illegal gambling operation in the back of his store, Thai Video. Riverdale police said three men were attempting to rob the illegal game, and then when the owner started to struggle the men shot him in the back of the neck. Three Atlanta men have been charged with the death, one of them allegedly confessing to robbing a string of similar, illegal, high-money games.