MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Last week, Macon Judicial Circuit District Attorney David Cooke announced plans to dismantle one of the largest illegal gambling operations in Georgia.
According to a Macon DA news release, the DA entered into a more than $14 million civil forfeiture settlement with Georgia Atlanta Amusements, its owners, and associates.
A condition of the settlement bars Georgia Atlanta Amusements and its owners from operating coin-operated amusement machines.
The DA says that a judge determines the division of forfeited assets. They expect that the Georgia Lottery will receive a portion of the proceeds to fund HOPE Scholarships.
The DA says that the funds will also be used to pay sales and use taxes owed from the illegal operation of machines in Bibb County. District Attorney’s Offices and law enforcement who participated in the case may also receive some of the settlement proceeds.
The DA says that they also investigated Bibb and Peach counties convenience stores. They described the investigation as multi-jurisdictional.
The news release says that Georgia Atlanta Amusements owner 38-year-old Junaid Virani, owned over 650 electronic gambling machines across the state. The DA says his family members were also involved.
In July 2015, all gambling machines in Georgia were connected to a central computer system that records the amounts played and customers winnings, according to the new release.
As a result, investigators found that Georgia Atlanta Amusements failed to pay sales and use taxes on the approximately $46 million customers won on the company’s machines.
Junaid pleaded guilty on July 3th to a criminal charge of making an illegal cash payout at a Bibb County store in 2018. A judge sentenced him to one-year probation.
The plea agreement reflects the ongoing cooperation Junaid.
The judge dismissed the criminal case against his brother, 43-year-old Rohil Virani due to his being in federal custody pending deportation proceedings.