Contact: Captain Michael J. Winquist, Detective Commander Telephone: (401) 444-1008
During the last two months, members of the Rhode Island State Police Intelligence Unit conducted an investigation into illegal gambling machines. The investigation revealed that three separate convenience stores in the northern area of Rhode Island were maintaining illegal gambling machines. These machines would entice patrons to contribute cash with the ability to receive a possible monetary return. These forms of gambling machines are illegal in the State of Rhode Island.
During the investigation, members of the Rhode Island State Police Intelligence Unit, operating in an undercover capacity, played the gambling machines in the respective convenience stores. As a result, search warrants were obtained as well as arrest warrants for two of the three store owner/operators.
At approximately 11:30 a.m., members of the Intelligence Unit, along with uniform members of the State Police, members of the Rhode Island Division of Taxation as well as members of the Pawtucket, Smithfield and Woonsocket Police Departments executed search warrants at the following locations:
1) Columbus Mini-Mart, located at 232 Columbus Avenue, Pawtucket, RI. 2) DB Mart, located at 200 Pleasant View Avenue, Smithfield, RI. 3) International Market, located at 165 Arnold Street, Woonsocket, RI.
As a result of the search warrant at the Columbus Mini-Mart in Pawtucket, members located and seized an illegal gambling machine. Additionally, a further search of the premises resulted in a large seizure of illegal tax stamped cigarettes from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Approximately 1,300 packs of cigarettes were seized, with at least 220 of those packs having obliterated tax stamps. Each pack of obliterated tax stamps carries a felony charge. Members also seized marijuana and more than $12,000 in United States currency.
As a result of the search warrant at the International Market in Woonsocket, members located and seized an illegal gambling machine. Additionally, a further search of the premises resulted in the seizure of approximately 220 packs of cigarettes, bearing fraudulent Rhode Island tax stamps. The tax stamp on these cigarette packs had been removed and a counterfeit Rhode Island tax stamp had been affixed in its place.
The search of the DB Mart in Smithfield revealed that an illegal gambling machine had recently been removed, however, the operator of the establishment was charged as a result of the investigation.
The following individuals were arrested as a result of the illegal gambling operation and seizure of illegal tax stamped cigarettes:
1) Amit Patel, age 26, of 9 West Cute Street, Pawtucket, Rhode Island (Columbus Mini-Mart, Pawtucket) for: • Forms of Gambling Prohibited • Forgery or Reuse Stamps • Sale of Unstamped Cigarettes • Import Cigarettes with Intent to Evade Tax • Possession of Marijuana
2) Angel Pichardo, age 54, of 320 Bennet Street #8, Woonsocket, Rhode Island (International Market, Woonsocket) for: • Forms of Gambling Prohibited • Forgery or Reuse Stamps • Sale of Unstamped Cigarettes • Import Cigarettes with Intent to Evade Tax
3) Muhammad Ghazi, age 46, of 459 Broadway, Methuen, Massachusetts (DB Mart, Smithfield) • Forms of Gambling Prohibited
All three were returned to the State Police Lincoln Woods Barracks and arraigned before a Justice of the Peace on the aforementioned charges. Patel was afforded $1,000 surety bail. Pichardo and Ghazi were released on personal recognizance.