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DA: Bibb County deputy participated in bribery, tax evasion money laundering scheme

Nital Raval, Manoj Patel, Zankhana Patel, Bhunica Ambu/BSO
Nital Raval, Manoj Patel, Zankhana Patel, Bhunica Ambu/BSO
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MACON, Ga. -- David Cooke, District Attorney for the Macon Judicial Circuit, said a Bibb County deputy was part of a bribery and tax evasion money laundering scheme that "uncovered evidence of bribery and public corruption" in Middle Georgia.

Cooke made the announcement at 4 p.m. at the Bibb County courthouse in downtown Macon. The sheriff's office said deputy Rahim McCarley hasn't been arrested at this time, but he is listed in a civil forfeiture action filed by the DA's office on Tuesday.

Bibb County sheriff David Davis also signed suspension papers for McCarley Tuesday following Cooke's announcement. He's suspended with pay.

Davis said McCarley was previously an officer with the Atlanta Police Department and had only minor infractions during his time there. McCarley was still in his probation period with the Bibb County Sheriff's Office when Cooke announced him as a defendant in the civil forfeiture action.

The sheriff's office was aware that McCarley owned a store, but wasn't aware of his alleged involvement with the bribery and tax evasion money laundering scheme, Davis added.

“Sometimes they just don’t think or sometimes they may think that they’re above the law," Davis said. An internal affairs investigation into deputy McCarley was launched on Tuesday. Davis said consequences won't be decided until it's over, making clear that McCarley is innocent until proven guilty.

"At this time its just an allegation, but there is probable cause. And that was enough to have a judge sign a warrant for his arrest," said Davis.

Even with a deputy shortage though, Davis suspended McCarley pending the investigation.

"If they have to go they have to go," said Davis. "I'd rather work short than to work fully staffed with crooked officers."

RELATED: Macon Judicial Circuit DA seeking to ban commercial gambling machines

The civil forfeiture action includes gambling master license holders S&W Amusement Inc., Booray Group LLC, Krishna Amusement Inc. and PNP Amusement Games LLC as defendants. Together, they own upwards of 400 gambling machines in 70 businesses throughout Georgia, although they're concentrated in Bibb, Bullock, and Chatham counties.

There are around 100 store owners and other individuals also listed as defendants. The defendants are accused of not paying taxes on more than $39 million in profit made off of illegal video gambling machines in 2017-2018.

During that time, the DA's office said customers spent more than $121 million while receiving $82 million in cash and prizes from these machines.

Cooke said stakeholders and store owners for the companies and stores involved laundered gambling profits. He said they sent millions through the trusts and didn't pay taxes on the money.

The license holders also set up "straw men" storefronts that actually existed for illegally operating the gambling machines, allowing them to keep all the proceeds rather than sharing them with the store owners, which is required under Georgia law. Cooke said this meant store owners missed out on their share of gambling proceeds.

The stores involved also took money from license holders in exchange for putting the license holders' machines in their stores, and didn't report the money as income, Cooke said.

McCarley owns the RJS at 2311 Pio Nono Ave., one of three stores that were served search warrants on Tuesday. Officers also executed search warrants at the license holders' offices and two houses on Tuesday, as well as two other businesses, the Quick Serve at 1106 Rocky Creek Rd. and the Exxon at 4290 Dellwood Dr.

McCarley, along with 47-year-old Manoj Patel, 39-year-old Nital Kumar Raval, 31-year-old Bhunica Ambu, and 31-year-old Zankhana Patel are all charged with racketeering.

Watch the announcement below:

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