Charges dismissed in VFW poker gambling raid - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Charges dismissed in VFW poker gambling raid

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Dozens of people were cited in August in an illegal gambling operation at a local VFW.  The charges against many of the poker players have been dropped and many wonder why they were even targeted by police.

48 people in total were cited for illegal gambling back in August. We learned from one of the poker players they've been getting together to play cards at different locations for the past 8 or 9 years.
    
Terry Gilbert said what they were doing at the VFW was harmless.

"It's mainly just a bunch of older people sitting around playing cards instead of going out to a movie," Gilbert said, "You know, not hurting anyone."
    
Gilbert remembers the day Chattanooga Police cited him and his wife for illegal gambling.

"They just walked in and we heard, 'everybody put your hands in the air, put your hands in the air," Gilbert said, "Which freaked a lot of people out but you know everybody set their hands up and then we noticed it was the cops."
    
Police raided their poker club at the VFW on Riverside Drive citing people for gambling, gambling promotion, and possession of a gambling device.

"A little stunned just for the reason of why," Gilbert said, "Why are they worried about that with so much other things going on."
    
Police said they acted on a tip from a concerned citizen.

"Any form of gambling in Tennessee is still, it's still against the law," said District Attorney Neal Pinkston, "It is a C Misdemeanor, you're not supposed to do it."
    
But based on the evidence, this week the District Attorney's office started dismissing charges.

"In order to cite someone or arrest someone you have to have a much lower level of proof or evidence than you do to convict somebody," Pinkston said.
 
During the raid, police seized all money from each person involved.

"A little over $9,000, approaching $10,000," Pinkson said was taken in the raid.

In order for all charges to be dismissed, Gilbert said everyone involved had to leave that money with the Chattanooga Police.

"It just seemed like a form of legalized robbery," Gilbert said, "I mean pretty much, I will give you a citation, I'll take your money, and then when you come to court I'll drop that citation but I'll keep this money if you don't mind."

13 people still face gambling charges from the August police raid.

They are all due back in Criminal Sessions Court on October 21st where it is possible their charges will also be dismissed.
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