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Affluent Georgia neighborhood rocked by gambling bust

9 February 2009

SANDY SPRINGS, Georgia -- As reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "On any given Sunday, Huntcliff in Sandy Springs attracts dog walkers, horseback riders or golfers, drawn to the neighborhood's views of the Chattahoochee River.

"The 450-home enclave is not the kind of place where neighbors expect to see armed, camouflaged police — some disguised as bushes — surrounding a $650,000 house.

"...But that was the scene on Super Bowl Sunday, when Sandy Springs police arrested 14 people after executing a search warrant at a house on Waterpine Court. Police moved in after an investigation determined the 8-bedroom house was a regular host site for commercial gambling, said Lt. Anthony Eskew, commander for special operations, including SWAT.

"...Police had received a tip that a home invasion robbery would be committed that afternoon at the house, where the games were protected by armed security, Eskew said. Players were invited to games by text messages, he said, which featured coded language for how much money would be needed.

"The minimum amount to play ranged from $150 to $1,000, Eskew said.

"Poker was played in the basement, where a bartender served food and drink. The events featured valet parking behind the house, shielding cars from neighbors' view, Eskew said. Police determined the house had hosted at least two games in the previous week, he said.

"In Sunday's raid, police seized more than 5,000 high-quality poker chips, two professional tables, and other items, including several flat-screen TVs..."

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