State Police bust gambling operation in middle of St. James Parish

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 20, 2006


Staff Reporter

LUTCHER- An illegal gambling ring has been stopped after the Louisiana Gaming Enforcement Division raided a building on Main Street in Lutcher Tuesday.

Trooper Dwight Robinette, the public information officer for the State Gaming Enforcement Division said that the raid led to the arrest of seven individuals. The arrest came after almost a year of investigation of the location.

The gaming operation was located in the back of a building that housed a short-term loan company in Lutcher across from Veron’s market. The building is owned by Hendrix &#8220Pecker” Veron, 69, of Lutcher, and was being leased by other companies that have no known connection to the gambling hall. Veron was arrested along with six others.

Lynn Naquin, 57, of Theriot, LA owner of N & N auto sales in Houma, Charles Brack, 65, of Lutcher, Joseph &#8220Goldust” Banks, 38, of Lutcher, Daniel Veron, 60, of Lutcher, Ernest Woodland, of Lutcher and Kent Haydel, 50, of Gonzales were also arrested.

The area being used for gambling was separated by a wall from the other businesses. The room was known as the Easy Does It Social Club.

&#8220The operation generally involved taking bets on a three-game spread on a parley card. A parley card is used to record the bets and then given to the man taking the bets,” Robinette said.

&#8220The location in Lutcher is mostly a drop-off and receiving location, the main operation is located in Houma,” he said.

The raid and subsequent search of the area resulted in the seizure of about $8,000 from the club.

&#8220The closure of this location yielded enough evidence to get a search warrant for nine other locations, including residences and businesses and the investigation is still ongoing,” he said.

While some forms of gambling are legal in Louisiana, bets where someone gets a cut from the winnings is a crime in the state.

&#8220What made this operation illegal was not the betting itself, but the fact that the bookie who takes the bet was getting a cut from the winnings,” he said.

The bookie took 15% of the winnings.

&#8220In order to win, the gambler had to win all three games to get his payoff so the bookie was making a lot of money, and that is very unlikely,” said Robinette.

Players could also bet on one game as long as they put enough money down to cover the point spread.

&#8220These people knew what they were doing. They took bets on football, basketball and baseball, which is very hard to do. Also, the operation they were running was fairly large, with two locations,” Robinette said.

The suspects, if found guilty, would be prosecuted and face up to $20,000 in fines and up to five years in prison.

Public reaction Lutcher locals in the area was mixed about the gambling bust.

&#8220It doesn’t surprise me. We are in Southeast LA and I don’t think anybody will stop drinking or gambling here. I believe the police should concentrate on more hard crimes like drugs. We need to get the off the streets so our kids can have a future,” said Tod E. Detiller of Lutcher.

&#8220I’m surprised that something like this was going on here,” said April Simon.

&#8220I never really expected to hear about this kind of thing happening in a small town like this. I am saddened by it because gambling is a crime and it hurts families. People shouldn’t waste money like that,” she said.