3 Macon businesses, 1 home raided for alleged commercial gambling violations, 3 arrested

Myoung Park, Hung Park and Soon Cha were arrested Tuesday in connection to a commercial gambling bust / Bibb County Sheriff's Office/MGN

MACON, Ga. -- Three businesses and one residence in Macon were raided on Tuesday morning in connection to the violation of commercial gambling laws.

Five search warrants were served at Shell Food Mart on Riverside Drive, Poplar Mart on Poplar Street, Lizella Supermarket on Holley Road and one home by more than 30 officers.

Three people were arrested Tuesday in connection to the raid.

According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, all three businesses are currently licensed to operate Coin Operated Amusement Machines at their locations. However, the businesses are accused of illegally paying out customers cash for their winnings.

In Georgia, winnings may only be redeemed for lottery tickets and/or store merchandise.

The district attorney's office filed two civil racketeering complaints seeking forfeiture of any profits gained through alleged violation of the law and as well as the property used to facilitate any crime, District Attorney David Cooke said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, District Attorney David Cooke said that one of the complaints alleges that customers gambled $25 million, or about $700,000 per month, from April 2014 to May 2017 at Shell Fort Mart and Lizella Supermarket alone. He said those two stores failed to pay $1 million in taxes and filed fraudulent returns.

The second complaint alleges that Poplar Mart conducted a similar enterprise where customers gambled over $53,000 per month from July 2015 to May 2017. The winnings from this store totaled around $900,000. He said that that store did not pay $100,000 in taxes and also filed fraudulent returns to the state.

Cooke said that Soon Cha, Hung Park and Myoung Park were arrested Tuesday. Cha was charged with racketeering, two counts of commercial gambling and evading currency transaction report requirements, which is commonly known as "structuring." Both Hung Park and Myoung Park were charged with commercial gambling.

"We are going to continue to do everything we can to keep this community safe," Cooke said.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation initially reported that three Macon businesses and a residence were raided Tuesday. However, Cooke clarified at his press conference that three businesses were initially raided, which led them to a nearby office and a residence.

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