LEON COUNTY, FL (WTXL) – Investigations into two illegal gambling operations in Leon County has landed four people behind bars.
Leon County Sheriff’s Office said that the four were involved in making counterfeit money at the Wondu Marathon Convenience Store on Orange Avenue and the Pretty Game Boutique on Crawfordville Road.
Deputies said Christabel Ekhosuehi, 29, Firehiwot Gebre, 35, Wondwossen Gizaw-Tessema, 57, and Eyerusalem Hiluf, 31, also had multiple illegal gambling machines inside the buildings. They arrested on multiple charges related to racketeering, fraud, gambling, and money laundering.
In January, deputies began investigating illegal gambling occurring at the Wondu Marathon. From there, they discovered other illegal gambling spots at the Euro Fashions Boutique, One Stop College Market, and Pretty Game Boutique.
As the gambling investigation continued deputies learned the Wondu Marathon was also committing public assistance fraud.
They did this by purchasing EBT cards from people, and giving the card holders lists of items to purchase forthe store in return for cash. Wondu Marathon would then pay the person half of the total EBT purchase in cash. In all, 117 individuals were linked to the EBT fraud.
Deputies also said that large amounts of cash were moving through the suspects’ bank account that didn’t match revenue records. They said they recovered around 24 illegal machines from Wondu, Euro Fashions, and One Stop.
They have began making arrested with more arrests pending. In total, there are 132 defendants in this case.
Leon County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Second Judicial Circuit Office of the State Attorney, the Florida Department of Revenue, the Florida Department of Financial Services, and the Florida Department of Lottery.