Gambling machines, cash seized in 2-county raid

Authorities arrested 15 people, and seized several hundred gambling machines, from a dozen locations in Clayton and Rockdale counties, Monday, according to a Clayton County Sheriff's Office statement issued Deputy Alicia Parkes.

The spokeswoman said the Sheriff's Office, with the assistance of several federal and local agencies, apprehended Rockdale County resident, Larry Lee Simmons, and 14 other suspects. The names of all the suspects were not available, Tuesday.

Those arrested have been charged with commercial gambling, possession/manufacturing of gambling equipment, and keeping a gambling place, according to the statement.

"Federal charges are pending, and additional arrests are expected," Parkes said. The amount of money seized included $175,000 in cash, she said.

"Law enforcement manpower totaled 150, which were split between two counties," Parkes added. All the suspects were transported to the Clayton County Jail, Parkes said.

Simmons, she said, is a manufacturer of gambling machines and owner of The Cedar Room, which is a billiards hall on Highway 85, in Riverdale.

He is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing, on Dec. 21, at 3 p.m., and is represented Allan Begner, who could not be reached for comment, on Tuesday.

"After receiving several citizen complaints about gambling activity in the Clayton County area, Sheriff Kimbrough enacted an investigation which, over the course of three months, built a case and implemented a successful raid," Parkes said.

She explained that under Georgia law, it is illegal to use gambling machines for monetary payouts, at a commercial establishment.

Parkes said this is why the businesses and Simmon's home were raided. She said 12 locations were hit simultaneously on Monday. "All businesses have been shut down," she added.

The massive raid included the Rockdale County home of Larry Simmons, three warehouses in Rockdale County, and eight businesses in Clayton County.

The Clayton County establishments included a Shell gas station on Pointe South Parkway and Highway 85, in Riverdale; Benefield's restaurant, on Old Dixie Highway, in Jonesboro; and the Irish Bred restaurant, on Highway 42, in Ellenwood, according to Parkes.

"The citizens of this community and others affected criminal activity are encouraged to contact law enforcement in order to help us, help you," said Clayton County Sheriff Kem Kimbrough, in a statement after the raid. He added that there is no concern too great or too small for residents to report.