A friendly game of cards is one thing. But one where bets are made and serious money changes hands is against the law. Accordingly, Fairfax County police have charged a Centreville couple and a Maryland man with conducting an illegal gambling operation.
"The people running it were clearing about $40,000 a month," said police spokesman Bud Walker. "They were playing card games such as poker and blackjack."
CHARGED WERE husband and wife Bradley L. McLaughlin, 27, and Jeanna M. Anderson, 26, both of 14623 Seasons Drive in Centreville's Bryarton community, off Stone Road, plus McLaughlin's father, Dexter L. McLaughlin, 52, of 8352 Montgomery Run Road in Ellicott City, Md.
Police believe an "illegal gambling parlor" was being run out of the Centreville address and, on Aug. 5 at 10:54 p.m. — with search warrant in hand — they raided the place. When the dust cleared, they drove away with poker tables, chips and cards, plus piles of cash from stashes throughout the townhouse.
Walker said police had conducted surveillance there over several months, accumulating evidence of the crime. This, in turn, led to the search and subsequent arrests. Between Aug. 5-17, police processed the information they'd obtained. Then, last Tuesday, Aug. 17, they served the arrest warrants.
He said the McLaughlins and Anderson turned themselves in to the magistrate's office in the county jail. But they weren't the only ones arrested. When the police swooped in on Aug. 5, said Walker, "23 people were playing [cards], and it was in line with the number of people usually participating [there]. They were all charged with misdemeanor participating in gambling."
However, the trio allegedly running the show, say police, were charged with felonies. If convicted, they could each receive five years in prison. In an Aug. 5 affidavit for a search warrant to seek evidence of illicit gambling in the Centreville home, police Det. David Baucom stated that investigation reportedly revealed the existence of illegal poker games there.
"THOUSANDS OF dollars are wagered in these games," he wrote. "The poker games at 14623 Seasons Drive may sometimes last into the next day, and [the McLaughlins and Anderson] are compensated by the players for allowing them to play there."
According to the detective, "players in the game keep their money in their pockets and wallets. The dealers also keep money used in the poker game in their pockets. There are two, 12-person poker tables in the basement and, when [they're] full, players wait in line to get a seat. On any given night, there are approximately 30 players in the basement."
Besides seizing poker paraphernalia on Aug. 5, police also confiscated cash from the two tables, the kitchen cabinet and office, the jewelry cabinet and shoe stand in the master bedroom, Anderson's wallet and pocket and a hidden stair drawer. Also seized were records and documents. The Centreville couple has an Oct. 6 court date.