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Gambling Charges Yield 2 Suspended Sentences

Not only was a Centreville man indicted by the grand jury for running an illegal gambling operation out of his home, but he's now pleaded guilty to the deed.

He is Bradley L. McLaughlin, 27, of 14623 Seasons Drive in the Bryarton community, off Stone Road. And he and his wife Jeanna M. Anderson, 26, plus his father — Dexter L. McLaughlin, 52, of Ellicott City, Md., — were all involved in the crime.

IN AUGUST, Fairfax County police arrested and charged each of them with the same offense, after a gambling bust at the Centreville home. Since then, both Anderson and her father-in-law pleaded guilty in court to a lesser charge of accessory to gambling activity, and both received 12-month, suspended sentences.

Police Det. David Baucom gave details of the illicit doings in an Aug. 5, 2004 affidavit for a search warrant to seek evidence in the Centreville couple's house. He wrote that "thousands of dollars" had been wagered in illegal poker games there.

It would have been no problem if they were just friendly games of cards. But because bets were placed, serious money changed hands — and the hosts got a cut — it was against the law. Wrote Baucom: "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."

Police conducted surveillance of the home over several months, gathering evidence for prosecution. Then, with search warrant in hand, on Aug. 5 at 10:54 p.m., they raided the place. This time, the police made a haul — confiscating poker tables, chips and cards, plus piles of cash from stashes throughout the townhouse.

They also arrested 23 people who were playing cards there at the time. All of them were charged with misdemeanor participating in gambling. And on Aug. 17, police charged the McLaughlins and Anderson 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."

ACCORDING TO Det. Baucom, "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."

On Feb. 22 in General District Court, Bradley McLaughlin's charge was amended to a lesser felony — meaning that the amount of dollars involved and the duration of the offense won't be a part of his offense. As a result, he faces a possible maximum of five years, instead of 10, in prison. A higher penalty is attached to this crime if its more than 30 days in duration.

The grand jury indicted him last Monday, March 21. And on Tuesday, March 29, with his defense attorney Bob Whitestone by his side, he pleaded guilty in Circuit Court.

Before accepting his plea, Judge Terence Ney made sure that McLaughlin was entering his plea freely and voluntarily and because he is, indeed, guilty. Ney then set his sentencing for May 27.