HAVELOCK, CRAVEN COUNTY - Havelock Police have charged six people with sweepstakes-related crimes about a month after authorities seized more than 300 pieces of equipment as part of a months-long sweepstakes investigation.
Police charged the suspects Tuesday. Dozens of charges have been filed, including 21 counts against Benjamin Garth Edwards, of Bells Street in Greenville.
Edwards is accused of operating or possessing slot machines at Internet Connections and Ben's Beach Bingo, both off Highway 70 near North Shepard Street.
Another suspect, Greg Muse, faces at least 15 charges. The Craven County man allegedly manufactured or sold slot machines to five locations in Havelock: Jean's Place, Mr. P's, U.S. Mini Mart, Food Fare and the Super Expressway.
Muse had repeatedly said the machines he provided are legal, as they are games of skill or dexterity, not games of chance.
"We're surprised, everybody's surprised," Muse said when asked about the reactions of his fellow defendants.
District Attorney Scott Thomas said all of the defendants had plenty of notice of the illegal nature of the games. Thomas added that authorities had heard from concerned community members.
"We get complaints from family members who are concerned about all the household income being spent in these gambling operations," Thomas said.
The other suspects are:
-Miteshkumar Vinodbhai Mistry, charged with operating or possessing a slot machine at U.S Mini Mart;
-Gajendrabhai Patel, charged with operating or possessing a slot machine at Food Fare;
-Ninad Narendrakumar Patel, charged with operating or possessing a slot machine at Super Expressway;
-Gloria Pritchard Bergman, charged with operating or possessing a slot machine and allowing gambling in a public house at Jean's Place.