Beaufort Co. Deputies shut down illegal gambling operation

Published: Sep. 28, 2011 at 10:56 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 2, 2011 at 2:44 PM EDT
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BEAUFORT CO., SC (WTOC) - Beaufort County Sheriff Deputies seized 24 computers and more than $1,700 in cash from inside Hest Sweepstakes in the Food Lion Shopping Center on Fording Island Road. They say the store was a front for an illegal gambling operation to benefit the non-profit group Skyeward Bound Ranch that helps autistic children.

Investigators say customers would come in and donate to the non-profit in exchange for game credits. With the credits, they would play casino style computer games, then cash out or donate again. Other business owners in the shopping center say they were suspicious about Hest after seeing the computers and gambling tables inside. One merchant says he watched as investigators shut it down.

"It was something almost out of the movies," said Chris Golis, Golis Family Jewelry Owner. "You had half a dozen plain clothed officers, handcuffs and guns, all that kind of stuff walking back and forth and looking in. The next thing you knew a little young lady is taken out in handcuffs. It was definitely, definitely out of character for Bluffton, definitely."

Investigators did arrest one employee during the investigation, Jocely Gasbarre, 36, of Ridgeland.

While deputies say there has been illegal gambling operations in Beaufort County before, they haven't seen an operation of this nature.

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