Federal prosecutors have filed charges against a father and son from Selma, accusing them of running an illegal sweepstakes operation.
David Ricky Godwin Sr., 68; David Ricky Godwin Jr., 44; and their company, Regional Amusements Inc., have been charged with 22 counts related to what prosecutors contend is a gambling business in convenience stores, restaurants and bars across Eastern North Carolina.
The Godwins face one count each of criminal conspiracy and conducting an illegal gambling business, two counts of engaging in a gambling device business without registering, four counts of failing to maintain a record of gambling devices and 13 counts of possession of unmarked gambling devices.
The senior Godwin also was charged with illegal possession of a firearm by a felon.
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The lengthy indictment comes a little more than a year after state and federal agents raided Godwin Music on N.C. 39 north of Selma.
Subsequently, investigators seized gaming devices and cash from nearly 200 stores, restaurants and businesses that they say are linked to the Godwins and an illegal enterprise projected to be worth $20 million.
In 2003, Ricky Godwin Sr. and Ricky Godwin Jr. pleaded guilty in federal court to operating illegal gambling businesses in Eastern North Carolina and to structuring financial transactions to evade currency reporting requirements of the Internal Revenue Service, according to records from the Eastern District of North Carolina U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Ricky Godwin Sr., who faced a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $750,000 fine, was ordered to pay $5 million and forfeited to the federal government 326 video game machines.
Ricky Godwin Jr., identified as one of the largest operators of illegal video poker machines in North Carolina at the time, was given a maximum prison sentence of five years, a $250,000 fine and ordered to pay $200,000.
As part of the indictments that came out of a federal grand jury last week in Greenville, prosecutors are seeking forfeiture of the machines – Quarter Pusher, Pot O Gold and Sweet Carolina.
The machines were in Kenly, Wilson, Goldsboro, Rocky Mount, Smithfield, Garner and Raleigh.
North Carolina lawmakers first banned video poker and other electronic gambling in 2006, but operators have adapted their games and fought in court to stay open.
In May, federal prosecutors in North Carolina announced an agreement with five software providers for Internet cafes, or “convenience casinos,” in which they agreed not to seek criminal charges against the company if they pulled out of the state by July 1.
The agreement followed a N.C. Supreme Court decision that had given law enforcement officers what they described as a firmer legal backing to enforce the ban.
The federal prosecutors and other law enforcement officers worked with the software providers to stop the cafes at the source.