By CLINT FOSTER
SWEETWATER – Three more men are behind bars in connection with the extended investigation and subsequent raid of illegal gambling operations in Palo Pinto County last September.
According to a press release, investigators from the City/County Narcotics Unit and the Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigation Division served three after-indictment warrants to Sweetwater individuals, Feb. 6, involved with the eight Palo Pinto County sweepstakes gambling venues shut down by area law enforcement on the afternoon of Sept. 5.
Ronald Lee Linebaugh (67), Ronald Lee Linebaugh Jr. (43) and Carl Reeves (41) were all arrested for engaging in organized criminal activity/promotion of gambling.
The trio – who were indicted by a Palo Pinto County Grand Jury on Jan. 22 – were associated with Harp Vending, Inc., in Sweetwater.
Investigation revealed that Harp Vending provided the illegal gambling devices to the eight venues busted in the September gambling sting.
The release said Harp Vending was also monitoring gross proceeds of the illegal gambling, then invoicing the local American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, to include listing the percentage splits of the illegal proceeds to the parties involved.
The CCNU and DPS also served a search warrant at Harp Vending and seized electronic and documentary evidence along with the illegal proceeds.
The three men arrested were booked into the Nolan County Jail on $10,000 bond and will appear later before the Palo Pinto State District Court for arraignment at a date yet to be determined. These arrests bring the total up to four arrested in association with last year’s illegal gambling raid.
“District Attorney Mike Burns has been very instrumental as well as CCNU and DPS investigators (in this case),” Palo Pinto County Sheriff Ira Mercer said.
“They’ve worked hard on it and have done a very copious job in putting their case together.
“(Burns) has been aggressive about going after the entire operation instead of just the local stuff. Our DA is one of the more aggressive ones on this issue in the state.”