By Linda Looney-Bond
Twenty-one people face gambling charges after police raided two coffee houses Tuesday on Jonesboro Road.
Lake City Police Chief David Colwell said Cafe Eden and Cafe Nho, which are located across the street from the Lake City Police Department, were making cash payouts for winnings on video poker machines.
"It's against the law to make cash payouts. The store is allowed to pay you [in] merchandise as long as the merchandise is not alcohol or cigarettes," said Colwell.
The businesses were also paying out cash on card games, according to Colwell.
Two of those arrested face felony commercial gambling charges, and 19 face misdemeanor charges of gambling.
"The two individuals that were charged with the commercial gambling were the individuals working for and running the establishment. The other individuals were just patrons. This operation was done in conjunction with the Clayton County Police Department and their narcotics task force," Colwell said. "They provided us a great deal of assistance."
"This was a case of the county and city police departments working together to clean up Clayton County," said Clayton County Police Chief Jeff Turner.
Turner said there's a "new spirit of cooperation between the city police departments, Clayton County Police Department, and the sheriff's department. We are all determined to work collectively to address the problems and issues that plague our county, and together we will make a difference."
Colwell said the arrests are the result of an undercover investigation that lasted about three months.
"You kind of have a gut feeling of what's going on over there. You got 40 cars in a parking lot, and all of them are there to get a cup of coffee and stay two or three hours," he said.
"We seized some monies from both places, probably ... close to about $10,000," said Colwell.
Colwell did not provide the names of those arrested.
A phone number listed for Cafe Nho was disconnected and a call Wednesday evening to a number listed for Cafe Eden was not answered.