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BATON ROUGE - Routine monitoring by the Department of Revenue''s Office of Charitable Gaming has led to the arrest of three people in four cases where $138,450 was allegedly stolen from gaming proceeds collected by different charitable organizations.
"The Office of Charitable Gaming is responsible for issuing and renewing annual state licenses required for charitable organizations conducting games of chance, such as raffles and bingo," says Charitable Gaming Director Michael Legendre. "We also monitor those licenses for compliance with gaming laws. By law, we are required to refer cases with any indication of the commission of a crime to the Office of State Police for investigation and disposition." Legendre says State Police and other law enforcement agencies have recently resolved three cases. Charitable Gaming has recovered all or portions of the monies missing from funds collected legally by the different licensed charitable organizations, but stolen by individuals closely involved with those organizations'' gaming activities.
Clyde Gums, 68, 1007 McMurtry Street, Gueydan, was arrested January 29 for allegedly taking $27,500 from charitable proceeds collected by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3244 in Lake Arthur. Thomas Byrd, 77, 231 Parish Line Road, DeRidder, was arrested February 12, for allegedly taking $14,800 from Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3619 in DeRidder. Mary Jane Shouest, 57, 9722 East Park Avenue, Houma, was arrested March 8 for allegedly taking $28,350 from Parents & Friends for Better Education, Houma. In the fourth case, the Office of Charitable Gaming identified $67,800 in missing funds, of which $50,000 was recovered through an insurance claim. Legendre says his office has recovered a total of $95,150 in the four cases, either from the individual involved or from insurance coverage. He adds that the arrested individuals will be determined "unsuitable" to participate in any charitable gaming activity in the state for a period of at least five years.
During the last fiscal year, Legendre says approximately 700 organizations were licensed to conduct charitable gaming activities. Those same organizations collected nearly $200 million in wagers, paid out more than $150 million in prizes, and made nearly $24 million in charitable contributions.
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