Citizen tips pay off in seizure of poker machines

By Kathy Helms-Hughes
STAR STAFF
khughes@starhq.com

   Carter County Sheriff's Department's Criminal Investigation Division hit the jackpot Wednesday when they raided a business in Valley Forge located within walking distance of two area churches and came up with four illegal gaming devices.
   According to Investigator Audrey Covington, investigators had received several complaints from numerous citizens about pay-offs from poker machines located at Fast Cash, 4259 Hwy. 19E.
   Following up on the complaints, investigators sent in undercover agents over the course of the last few days to verify the information.
   "They went in, played the machines, and spoke with a guy called 'Orval,' who told them: 'If you go over 100 credits then I'll start paying you money for it,' " Covington said.
   "It took them a while, but they got over the 100 credits, told Orval what had happened, he came out and checked the machines and paid them cash money right there on the spot," she said.
   Investigators obtained a search warrant and went in Wednesday afternoon, seizing four video poker machines and $736.25 in cash.
   Orval Pollard, 71, Raven Rock Cove, owner of the business, was arrested and charged with gambling promotion, a Class B misdemeanor. He previously was charged with possession of a gambling device on Oct. 12, 1993.
   Covington said Pollard was very cooperative, showing officers the machines and the money bag he used to pay winnings, which was kept separate from money used to operate the business. Only money associated with the poker machines was confiscated by the officers.
   "We seized the money out of the machines and we seized the money out of the bag that he pays out of," Covington said. Undercover officers also had observed Pollard take money from his front pockets to make change. That cash, too, was seized. All funds will be turned over to the Carter County General Fund.
   Pollard was booked in to Carter County Jail and later released on $5,000 bond. He is to appear May 13 in General Sessions Court.