By CLINT FOSTER
Anger, confusion and questions swirl almost a week after a mass raid of illegal gambling machines took eight operations in Mineral Wells and Palo Pinto County by storm.
The American Legion Post 75 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2399, both in Mineral Wells, were included in a sting last Thursday conducted by the Palo Pinto County Sheriff’s Office, Mineral Wells Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety and other state and county law enforcement. Eight venues in all – seven of which were in Mineral Wells – were simultaneously served search warrants and authorities confiscated sweepstakes machines and associated cash deemed illegal by the attorney general.
But the American Legion and VFW feel they were wrongly included and inadequately warned of the seizure that was to come on that hot afternoon.
“We’re just bewildered as to why this happened,” American Legion Commander Don Christy said of the raid. “The mood now is just unbelievable anger toward the sheriff’s department. All they had to do was tell us. We would have gladly complied with any change of the law.
I just don’t understand the reason for all this happening and neither does anyone at our post. We feel our good name has been slandered.
It just makes us look like we’re just a bunch of fly-by-night criminals hanging out down there and we resent that a great deal.”
Christy said when they first got the machines several years ago, they held a meeting with city officials and the MWPD, including the chief at the time, Mike McCallister, who assured them that the machines were legal. However, since the laws have changed, Christy said he received no communication of any kind that the legality of the machines had changed or that a raid was imminent.