Legal Bingo Machines Seized

A few years ago a book was published titled “Tin Star Tyrants” by investigative journalist Martin Yant. The book details how out of control sheriffs and other law enforcement make their own rules as they go and terrorize the local population into submission. Etowah County in Alabama has one of these tin star tyrants. In the latest sally in the Alabama bingo wars Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin has refused to return two legal electronic bingo machines to a local casino.

A month ago Entrekin and his minions raided a local casino and seized two bingo machines and a computer server. One woman was arrested but the charges were without merit and were dropped. The sheriff says he wants the legal machines destroyed. Entrekin said he doesn’t know how much the machines are worth but thinks they may be valuable. Entrekin told reporters “I still believe it’s an illegal machine, and based on that, I’m going to file forfeiture proceedings on it to have it destroyed.  Entrekin has given the paperwork to District Attorney Jimmie Harp. Entrekin stated “I look forward to running over them with a bulldozer.”

Attorney Roy McCord is representing Michelle Garbe of Gadsden who was charged with promoting gambling and possession of a gambling device. McCord said he asked the sheriff to release the machines and server. He said that since the charges have been dropped no crime was committed. Unfortunately Entrekin is the type of official who makes his own rules. Entrekin wrote McCord and said that his office seized the machines because he had reason to believe that the machines were being used “in a manner inconsistent with Alabama law (i.e. in furtherance of illegal gambling).”

In a totally ridiculous accusation Harp said the raid was ‘staged’ to acquire a gaming license through the court system after Entrekin refused to issue one. In a statement dripping with hubris Harp said “Just because we don’t prosecute the criminal act doesn’t mean we can’t do a civil forfeiture. That happens all the time. We can do a civil forfeiture case, and that’s what we’re going to do. We’ve destroyed a bunch of gambling devices.” Fortunately the good citizens of Alabama have other options. They can play internet bingo in the privacy of their own homes free from the prying eyes of Entrekin, Harp and their minions.