A Warren County commissioner fresh from the commission meeting was among 22 people cited during the raid of a gambling house Monday night.
The commissioner, Wayne Copeland of the 9th District, has been charged with gambling along with the other people who were caught on the premises when lawmen executed the surprise raid on a building located on Academy Lane.
The alleged proprietors of the “Man Cave” where the gambling was reportedly going on, Margle Ward and Sherry Tubb, are both charged with aggravated gambling and possession of gambling devices. The crime is a felony carrying one to two years in prison.
Ward was also hit with marijuana charges. Four others were arrested on drug possession charges including Larry Ridenour for schedule-two drugs, Cody Eldridge for marijuana, Ricky Thomas for marijuana and Justin Savage for schedule-two. Jason Ward was arrested for violation of probation. All of the above were also cited for gambling.
Those cited for gambling only included Commissioner Copeland, Matthew Sullivan, Elizabeth McKinney, Mark Eades, Crystal Martin, Kevin Ralph, Shelly Maples, Paul Martin, Eric Rogers, Ricky Knight, Ashley Knight, Joe Herman, Phillip Rigsby, Charlena Hill and Christy Bouldin. Gambling is a Class C misdemeanor generally settled by a maximum fine of $50 plus court costs although technically jail time of up to 30 days can be issued.
According to Sheriff Jackie Matheny, the raid happened just before dark Monday, catching those on the premises by surprise.
“We had been working on this for awhile and had gotten a few complaints on the place,” Matheny said, noting officers arrived armed with a search warrant and immediately saw drug use. “There were a couple of people standing in the doorway smoking marijuana. They ran inside when they saw us coming.”
Officers put everyone in and around the building on the ground while they searched the area. Matheny said Commissioner Copeland was actually outside talking on the phone when officers arrived. The full Warren County Commission had been in session just minutes before and Copeland had been present at the county government building for that meeting.
Copeland has retained the services of attorney Ryan J. Moore.
“My client maintains his innocence,” said Moore. “By a plain reading of the statute, he is not guilty of the offense charged. My client never entered the residence. He never possessed any chips or cards. Simply put, Commissioner Copeland was not gambling. Our criminal justice system places a high value on protecting the innocent. I have faith in our justice system and my client’s good name will be vindicated.”
Matheny said investigators suspect there were poker tournaments happening at the location, something that is illegal when money is involved. They also reported finding gaming machines as well as some ecstasy pills on the floor.
“When we walked in, Margle said they had been expecting us,” Matheny said of the alleged manager of the gambling operation.