Friday, December 21, 2001
Gambling suspects surrender
Accused scam ringleaders in custody
By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Two Akron men allegedly at the center of a multimillion dollar illegal charity gambling operation surrendered to Hamilton County authorities Thursday.
Indictments by a Hamilton County grand jury against the pair, James H. Jackson, 63, and Philip George Jr., 42, were unsealed Thursday.
They are accused of taking money from the sale of pull-tab lottery tickets instead of using the proceeds to benefit charities for children. The men are former trustees of Akron-based Child Care Foundation Inc.
Each man is charged in an 10-count indictment, alleging four felony counts each of money laundering, one felony count each of cheating, conspiracy and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, two misdemeanor counts each of gambling, and one misdemeanor count each of operating a gambling house.
If convicted as charged, each defendant could be sentenced to prison terms in excess of 15 years.
Ohio law allows charities to use the pull-tab games as a means of raising funds if all the proceeds go to charities. Tickets were sold for $1 each in at least 200 bars across Ohio.
Authorities began investigating Child Care Foundation Inc. after allegations that the agency split profits with taverns in the Cincinnati area.
While it is hard to accurately state how much of the proceeds were diverted from charitable purposes, we've heard estimates as high as $60 million, said Prosecutor Mike Allen.
He said more than $4.8 million in cash has already been confiscated, along with truckloads of gambling paraphernalia.
Mr. Jackson and Mr. George were arraigned Thursday before Hamilton County Magistrate Richard Bernat.
Mr. George was released after posting 10 percent of a $125,000 bond. Mr. Jackson's bond was set at $250,000. He was still jailed in the Hamilton County Justice Center on Thursday night.
Their arraignments culminate a more than two-year probe that spread across Hamilton, Butler, Clermont, Richland and Summit counties. Last year, in a raid of Mr. Jackson's house, investigators seized more than $3 million in cash stockpiled throughout the residence. Some of the money was found wrapped in foil paper inside a freezer.
Another $500,000 was found in the home of Mr. Jackson's son, officials said.
The statewide investigation was conducted by the Ohio Department of Public Safety, Hamilton County sheriff's office, Cincinnati police and several prosecutor's offices.
Besides Thursday's indictments, the investigation has also led to the convictions of seven others who worked for Child Care Foundation.
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