Lakeland, GA – On Wednesday, February 26, the GBI’s Commercial Gambling Unit, along with the Lanier County Sheriff’s Office, the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office, the Georgia Department of Revenue, and in cooperation with the Georgia Lottery Corporation executed nine search warrants in Lanier, Clinch, Berrien, and Lowndes County for violations of Georgia’s commercial gambling and racketeering laws. Search warrants were simultaneously served at four businesses, four residences, and one storage facility by more than forty agents, investigators, and deputy sheriffs. While searching the locations, agents collected evidence related to crimes of commercial gambling and seized monetary assets gained from the illegal use of the coin operated amusement machines. Three of the four businesses are currently licensed to operate Coin Operated Amusement Machines. During the course of the investigation, agents discovered customers were receiving cash payouts for winning credits. In Georgia, credits may only be redeemed for lottery tickets and/or store merchandise. As result of the investigation, the Superior Court of the Alapaha Judicial Circuit in Lanier County suspended the Coin Operated Amusement Machine (COAM) Master License for Lotus Vending operated by Nilesh “Neal” Patel. This action called for the immediate removal of up to 180 machines from approximately 30 businesses across the state. Search warrants were executed at the following business locations: • Bulldog #3, 512 W. Hwy. 84, Lakeland (Lanier County), GA • Live Oak Liquor & Mini-C Store, 260 S. Hwy. 135, Lakeland (Lanier County), GA • Quick Stop, 8202 Valdosta Road, Dupont (Clinch County), GA • Ray City Corners, 405 Patten Ave., Ray City (Berrien County), GA Seven arrests have been made as a result of a lengthy investigation by the Lanier County Sheriff’s Office. Arrested and charged with of Commercial Gambling as well as other related gambling charges were: • Nilesh S. “Neal” Patel, Lakeland, GA • Bhagavatiben N. Patel, Lakeland, GA • Bhavinkumar Maheshbai Joshi a/k/a Bobby Joshi, Lakeland, GA • Steven Maurice Meadors, Valdosta, GA • Austin Hughs Wood, Valdosta, GA • Rajendrakumar K. Patel a/k/a Raj Patel, Ray City, GA • Dharmistaben R. Patel a/k/a Tina Patel, Ray City, GA # # # # #

Contact Information:

Sherry Lang 404/270-8330