NewsChannel 11 has learned why the home and businesses of a long-time Tahoka School board member were raided by authorities last week. Local, state and federal officers entered Joe Calvillo's home, bail bond business and eight-liner business last Wednesday.
Thursday we obtained copies of the search warrants used to execute that raid. Authorities will not say what evidence was taken in the raid, only that no eight-liners were seized from the lucky seven's game room in Tahoka. But from these warrants we've learned police had authority to search and seize documents and information relating to the operation of illegal gambling devices.
So in Texas what constitutes illegal gambling operations and devices?
Well it's not the use of 8-liner devices. The state Supreme Court deems that completely legal. It's the way prizes are handed out and how much the prizes are worth.
"The legislatures have never said the machines themselves are illegal. It all depends on the way they're being played," said Lubbock County Assistant District Attorney John Grace.
Grace says 8-liners are legal in Texas as long as cash isn't handed out as the prize. Grace adds the prize also can't be redeemed for cash value. So a gift card redeemable for cash is illegal but tokens to continue playing are just fine. Along with any knick-knacks like stuffed animals or things you can win at an arcade.
"Those are OK But if you are giving away TV's, video records, BBQ grills - those they better be able to show the whole sale value is less than five dollars," said Grace.
Grace says the basic charge for running an illegal 8-liner business is a class a misdemeanor. But when other criminal activity is added that charge increases quickly.
"The underlying case would be a gambling case. Also if they're hiding the money from an illegal operation they also could be guilty of money laundering," said Grace.
And that can elevate the charge to a first degree felony punishable by prison time.
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