CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Logan County business owner is in hot water with federal investigators over allegations of running an illegal gambling operation in neighboring Kentucky and bringing the proceeds of the operation back to West Virginia.
Gregory Dotson, 51, of Chapmanville is named in a federal information released by Booth Goodwin, U.S.Attorney of the Southern District of West Virginia. Dotson owns Giovani’s in West Logan. The information alleges he was also illegally operating a large number of illegal “gray” video poker machines in the back room of a tobacco store in South Williamson, Kentucky.
“Under Kentucky law, these so called ‘gray’ machines are illegal,” Goodwin said. “They’re illegal gambling devices over there.”
Federal investigators say Dotson however was not only operating the clandestine machines, but also paying out cash winnings to players. The Internal Revenue Service raided the gambling parlor in October 2013 and seized 40 machines in the operation and another 40 machines in storage.
Goodwin said Dotson’s scheme was to bring the profits of the gambling enterprise back to West Virginia where he would mix the money with profits from his legitimate restaurant business. The practice resulted in a money laundering charge.
“Taking proceeds from an illegal business and using it to buy something or engage in another transaction to in essence ‘clean’ the money,” said Goodwin. “He operated a fairly large number of these machines, did gambling payouts on those machines, and brought those proceeds back across state lines and co-mingled it with his legitimate business proceeds in West Virginia.”
The information filed in U.S. District Court in Charleston said Dotson planned to forfeit nearly 150,000 in cash, a Mercedes sport-utility vehicle valued at 96,000 dollars, a 50,000 dollar Rolex watch, several high dollar firearms, and the 80 gray machines seized at the Kentucky tobacco store.
Dotson could further face up to ten years in prison and a 250,000 dollar fine if convicted. The filing of an information generally indicates the defendant is cooperating and intends to enter a plea to the charges.