The current task force director, Timothy Lane, counts Heflin among his Facebook friends.
Last week, Shelbyville police fanned out across town, seizing dozens of machines from local convenience stores and confiscating thousands of dollars in cash. The raids came just three weeks after NewsChannel 5 caught up with District Attorney Chuck Crawford, who had insisted there wasn a problem.
But the problem is that the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals ruled more than seven years ago that Heflin machines the same kind that the DA returned were indeed illegal gambling devices. The court specifically rejected Heflin claim that people weren paying to gamble, that they were really just buying the sports cards that his machines dispensed.
But police got clearance to move in after the DA tone suddenly changed.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates told DA Chuck Crawford, "You returned his machines to him, while destroying other people machines."
Another store where we found gambling in full view was right across the street from the police department. Yet, when we returned, the store operator didn seem too worried.
But luck finally ran out for the machine operators.
"I just know what he told us, Hyperlive Ncs
"Well," the DA answered, "if that is the case, maybe we ought to go pick them up."
By Phil WilliamsSHELBYVILLE, Tenn. NewsChannel 5 Investigates went undercover to investigate gambling in one Middle Tennessee community, and it has now forced the local district attorney to do an about face.
Heflin is a wealthy Shelbyville businessman who travels the world with a former director of the DA drug task force one of the agencies responsible for investigating gambling in the district.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates told Crawford, "I got a decision from the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals that says that they are illegal gambling devices."
For more than a year, NewsChannel 5 hidden cameras had discovered virtual electronic casinos with video poker and slot machines of all sorts being run with the DA blessing.
Crawford answered, "I don think so."
and he told us that they were illegal and to go get them," said Shelbyville Police Chief Austin Swing.
"What you got is a criminal offense going on in that county and the district attorney has blessed it because he thinks that it is a legal activity, which I suggest it is not," said Nashville attorney David Raybin, who helped write Tennessee criminal code.
unsuccessfully tried to convince Metro Police back in 2007 not to investigate Heflin machines.
In fact, last fall, the DA got court orders to destroy other gambling machines that had been seized in raids eight years ago at the same time he entered into an agreed order returning so called "Free Spin" or "Free Draw" machines owned by Youth Nike Hyperdunk 2017 Keith Heflin.
"To me, they all illegal and that what the law says, but then it seem to come down to who did you ask," Swing explained.
DA Gives OK to Gambling Machines
"Have you ever been told that this is illegal gambling?" we asked, getting a shrug from the operator.
Some of the machines just seized by police appear to match serial numbers of the devices that the DA had put back on the streets. Officers also confiscated the cheap phone cards that the machines now dispense cards that patrons had simply left behind after gambling.
The Tennessee Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of that decision.
"I returned the machines that there was still some dispute about whether or not they were gambling devices," Crawford said.
Swing admits police didn know what to do.
But the DA agreed order declared that Heflin "collectible card dispensing system" does not meet the criteria of the state Supreme Court decision that outlawed video gambling in Tennessee.
"Gambling seems to be wide open in your district with his machines," NewsChannel 5 Investigates noted.
That exclusive investigation discovered that the law was letting one man get away with operating video gambling machines in the Bedford County Hypershift Red Black
That man, Chris White, had Nike Kobe 9 Fade To Black
At one store, a $5 bet hit the big jackpot, resulting in a $102 payout.
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