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Gas station gambling leads to citations

The Riverdale Police Department, with the assistance of the Clayton County Drug Task Force, executed a search warrant at two gas stations in Riverdale, this week, leading to citations for alleged gambling.

According to Riverdale Police Chief Samuel Patterson, store owners, Walid Damisi, 45, of Fayetteville, and Nooruddin Khaja, 37, of Stockbridge, were cited with city ordinance violations, which include selling alcohol to underage minors and illegal gambling, with cash payouts. "We are looking at state and superior court charges, depending upon investigation," Patterson said.

Officials have received many complaints regarding the alleged illegal gambling at the Happy Store, at 622 Allen Drive, and the Phillips 66 station at 510 Valley Hill Road, in Riverdale, over the past year, according to police.

Patterson said that a total of 13 video gambling machines were seized. According to the incident report, items seized during the raids, on Tuesday, include the gambling machines, an undisclosed amount of money, notebooks, and a computer.

"No one was physically arrested," Patterson said, and the two stores remained open for business, according to authorities.

The chief explained that both stores were watched undercover police officers, from the task force, which resulted in probable cause to go to Magistrate Court and obtain search warrants.

"[A] search warrant was signed on Oct. 4, 2010, Chief Judge Walker of Clayton County," the report said.

According to Chief Patterson, the actual machines that were seized are not illegal. "It is illegal when cash is exchanged ... which is gambling," the chief said.

He added that if the proceeds from such machines result in patrons winning merchandise, such as coupons, teddy bears, or other property, other than cash, that would be legal.