Fayetteville Observer – Sheriff’s Office seizes video poker machines hidden in barn

News | January 12th, 2017

January 12, 2017

By Nancy McCleary

LINDEN – It’s likely no one would have discovered the illegal gambling operation housed in a barn behind a nondescript brick home near Linden.

But someone noticed and tipped off the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, which seized four video poker machines from the home on the 8200 block of Carlos Road on Thursday morning.

Diana Marie Hubbard, 52, who lives in the residence, was charged with four misdemeanor counts of operating video poker machines.

It wasn’t a large operation, but it proved profitable during several months it operated in an isolated rural area, said Sgt. Sean Swain, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office.

Members of the department’s Organized Crime Unit showed up at the home Thursday morning with a search warrant and began confiscating items from the small gaming room in the old barn.

“This is the most underground establishment we’ve come across,” Swain said. “Most are in houses in neighborhoods.”

The house and barn were surrounded by fallow fields. The nearest home was about a quarter-mile down the road.

The only sound to be heard was the occasional truck hauling a load from the sand pit across the road.

Inside the aging barn, the four machines sat side-by-side against a wall, complete with office-type chairs and ashtrays for participants who smoke.

A strip of white paper taped across the top of at least two of the machines read “For Amusement Purposes Only.”

Several chairs were gathered around a table in the center of the room. On the table were two decks of cards and several soft-drink cans.

On one wall were a utility-sized stainless-steel sink, an oven, a large-screen television and a smaller one – to view images from the surveillance camera mounted discretely outside the door.

The room stank of stale smoke.

At one point, a masked detective walked outside holding two handguns found inside. One of them had been reported stolen, he said.

Several minutes later, he walked outside, carrying a clear plastic bag filled with wads of cash, the amount still to be determined.

The detective estimated Hubbard was taking in about $15,000 of untaxed money on a weekly basis.

The amount of cash taken in through illegal gambling operations makes them targets for crime, Sheriff Ennis W. Wright said.

“It’s important for us to find these operations and shut them down, so we do not incur violent crimes such as shootings and armed robberies,” he said.

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