The continuing tug-o-war between Dublin businessman Jeffrey Smith and law enforcement in Bladen County over the use of electronic video machines in Internet Sweepstakes businesses took another twist recently when one of Smith’s Elizabethtown attorneys filed a vindictive prosecution motion.
Alan Maynard, who serves as Smith’s attorney along with Cynthia Singletary in his fight with law enforcement across three counties, filed the motion in Bladen County Superior Court and, on Monday, Jan. 11, Judge Ola Lewis ruled that District Attorney Jon David’s office would be removed from the Bladen County case.
That specific case centers on the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office raid, confiscation and closing of Smith’s sweepstakes businesses in Dublin, Aladdin and Aladdin II.
Sheriff Jim McVicker, David and others have reportedly been sued by Smith over the incident.
David, who said on Thursday that he had not yet seen the judge’s order because he had been out of town, was reluctant to comment much.
“It’s not an uncommon thing to happen — to be sued by folks in the gaming industry,” David said. “I really can’t comment further until I see the official order, but I will say that I plan to work closely with the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office to enforce the laws.”
Smith has claimed on a number of occasions that he has received a number of legal opinions on operating his businesses. In addition, he has claimed that he has invited the Bladen County District Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Office to give input prior to his opening the businesses.
According to court records, Smith’s motion on Jan. 11 included:
— That on Jan. 10, 2013, defendant was charged in Bladen County on criminal summonses with two misdemeanor electronic sweepstakes violations. The cases were tried before a jury for nine days. The jury deadlocked and a mistrial was declared. The charges are still pending, but not due to any request by the defendant.
— In June, 2014, defendant was charged in Columbus County, the same prosecutorial district, with two misdemeanor counts and two felony counts, for the same conduct. The charges are still pending, but not due to any request by the defendant.
— That, on various occasions, the defendant, and his attorneys, have requested that the district attorney and his staff and law enforcement go to the establishments in Dublin and view all Internet promotions offered by the defendant’s wife’s company.
— Nevertheless, on May 29, 2015, the Dublin locations were raided by the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office with District Attorney Jon David and members of his staff present.
— That the district attorney and his staff watched as excessive and unnecessary force resulted in substantial damage to property owned by the defendant’s company and by the defendant’s wife’s company.
— That the damage to the real and personal property is in excess of $10,000.
— That many items were damaged that had no connection to the alleged offenses and, in fact, items like LED lights were damaged and left at the scene.
— That the district attorney, in a prearranged press conference, stated that the arrest meant “the last bet has been placed and the game is over,” knowing that no betting was involved with the defendant’s business.
— That, at the conclusion of the raid, the defendant was arrested for an alleged violation of NCGS 14-306.3(b) and 14-306.1.A on April 29, 2015. Only two warrants were served on defendant.
— That on July 6, 2015, the district attorney submitted 16 additional indictments for alleged violations.
— That defendant now stands charged with 20 indictments for the same conduct.
— That the 2013 charges that ended in a hung jury alleged violations of 14-306.4(b). Now, defendant is charged with two additional counts alleging violations on the same statute.
— That the defendant now stands charged with seven alleged violations of 14-306.3(b) and seven alleged violations of 14-306.1A.
— That the defendant further now stands charged with two allegations of violations of 14-292.
Note: North Carolina General Statute 14-306.1A involves types of machines and devices prohibited by law, 14-306.3 involves certain game promotions as unlawful, 14-306.4 involves electronic machines and devices for sweepstakes being prohibited, and 14-292 involves gambling.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.