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Luck runs out for eight-liner operator
by Scott Reese Willey
Oct 30, 2009 | 1457 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Louis Anthony “Tony” Rivera
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A man accused of once operating a so-called eight-liner game room in Beeville pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony charge of engaging in organized criminal activity.

Louis Anthony Rivera also pleaded guilty to possessing a gambling device, a Class A misdemeanor offense.

A Bee County grand jury returned indictments earlier this year against Rivera and three other people following raids on so-called eight-liner parlors in August 2008.

All were indicted on the state jail felony charge of engaging in organized criminal activity between June 26 and Aug. 15, 2008.

The indictments alleged that each of the defendants and two or more others committed the misdemeanor offense of gambling promotion and operating or participating in the earnings of a gambling place.

Other misdemeanor charges listed in the indictments included: keeping a gambling place, a place used for making or settling bets, the conducting of a lottery or playing of gambling devices; possession of a gambling device, that being a device designed for gambling purposes; and possession of gambling paraphernalia.

Engaging in organized criminal activity is a state jail felony offense punishable by up to two years in a state jail facility and a fine of up to $10,000.

Convictions on the Class A misdemeanor charges could get the defendants up to a year in the county jail and a fine of as much as $4,000.

Thirteen people were charged with various offenses on the night of the raid but not all of them were indicted last spring.

Rivera was accused of operating Lucky Bucks, a game room at 1603 N. St. Mary’s St., a state jail felony offense. He was also indicted on three other felony counts associated with the gambling room. Two counts were dismissed and a third was reduced to a lesser charge of misdemeanor possession of gaming devices.

Under a plea bargain worked out with the district attorney’s office, Rivera agreed to plead guilty to the felony offense of engaging in organized criminal activity in exchange for five years deferred adjudication probation and a $1,000 fine.

Under deferred adjudication probation, judgment is deferred until later, if ever. If an offender successfully follows the terms of his probation, he will not be judged and thus will not have a criminal conviction on his record in connection with the offense. However, if he fails to abide by the terms of his probation, he could be sentenced to prison without a trial.

The plea bargain also called for Rivera to pay a $500 fine for the lessor offense of possessing a gaming device, and to give up all of the gambling machines and gambling proceeds to the state of Texas.

District Court Judge Janna Whatley said she would accept the plea bargain and not exceed the agreed upon punishment.

Whatley set a Jan. 15 sentencing date.

When the game rooms were raided August 2008, it was the second time since September 2003 that Bee County authorities shut down the eight-liner operations, so called because the devices offer patrons eight chances of winning on a single bet.

Corpus Christi attorney John Gilmore represented Rivera. Harry White with the Texas Attorney General’s office prosecuted the case on behalf of the state of Texas.

Other defendants accepting plea bargains or being sentenced Tuesday include:

• Rudy Perez, 44 of Beeville, on two counts of driving while intoxicated, third degree felony offenses punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each count. Whatley accepted a plea bargain agreement calling for Perez to serve eight years probation for each count and pay a fine of $2,500 for one count only. The two terms of probation are to be served concurrently, meaning at the same time.

Sentencing is set for Dec. 15.

A Beeville police officer said he arrived at the intersection of Stamper Street and South Jackson Street late on the night of on Jan. 26, 2009, to find a pickup truck parked in the middle of the roadway with its engine running and Perez asleep behind the wheel. Perez failed a field sobriety exam, the officer reported.

According to court records, Perez was convicted of DWI in March 1989 and July 1989.

He was represented in court by attorney Sita Stone.

Bee County Assistant District Attorney Deborah Branch prosecuted the case on behalf of the state.

• John Bradford Abel Jr., 29, of Beeville, was sentenced to three years deferred adjudication and ordered to pay a $1,500 fine and $140 restitution to the DPS crime lab after Whatley found him guilty of possessing between one-quarter gram and four grams of heroin, a third degree felony offense.

He is accused of possessing the illegal substance on July 16, 2008.

Bee County sheriff’s deputies arrested Abel and said he was in possession of .44 gram of heroin.

He was represented in court by George West attorney DeWayne McWilliams.

Branch prosecuted the case on behalf of the state.

• Abram Moreno, 49, of Beeville, on a charge of driving while intoxicated, a third degree felony offense, accepted a plea bargain that calls for him to serve four years probation and pay a fine of $1,500. Sentencing is set for Dec. 15.

He was represented in court by attorney Stone.

Branch prosecuted the case on behalf of the state.
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