TC business owners accused in Fla. gambling probe

Joseph S. Harrington

Elaine Morris Hunter Harrington

By DEUCE NIVEN

    A gaming equipment business in Tabor City sits idle with police on the lookout for one of its owners, wanted in connection with a massive investigation into illegal gambling in Florida that has already resulted in the arrest of another owner and his wife.
    Officers were unable to locate Michael W. Graham at Better Games Distributing, Inc.’s offices on North Main Street on Wednesday, Chief Donald Dowless of the Tabor City Police Department said.
    Federal agents supplied the Tabor City department with fugitive warrants from Seminole County, Fla. that accuse Graham of violating Florida Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) act, money laundering, and operating illegal gambling machines, Dowless said.
    Two female employees were at Better Games when police arrived Wednesday, Dowless said. There was no one present Friday, and a FedEx delivery notice stuck to the front door indicated a missed delivery on Wednesday.
    Police in Horry County, SC late Tuesday arrested Graham’s partner, Joseph Steven Harrington, 57, and his wife Elaine Morris Hunter Harrington, both of Longs, SC. They are also charged with RICO violations.
    Graham is listed as President of Better Games on incorporation documents filed with the North Carolina Secretary of State, Elaine Harrington is Vice-President, and Joseph Harrington the Secretary.
    Better Games, on Graham’s personal website, is described as a “key provider of multiplayer electronic table games, such as blackjack, craps, and baccarat.
    Launched in 1992, the website says Better Games “first operated as Bettor Games.”
    Graham’s residence is in Myrtle Beach, SC, his website says.

Florida connection
    Graham and Harrington are listed on Florida incorporation documents as the operators of Gulf Internet Services in Tavernier, Fla., and list Better Games’ address as theirs.
    State and federal agents raided Gulf Internet Services offices and others Wednesday in a multi-year operation targeting Allied Veterans of the World Inc. and Affiliates, keysnews.com reported.
    Gulf Internet and other corporations are linked to the Florida-based nonprofit, and fund-raising centers in that state were allegedly fronts for Internet casinos that generated hundreds of millions of dollars while giving little to charity, an Internal Revenue Service search warrant affidavit for an Oklahoma company said, according to the Associated Press.
    Nearly 60 people have been arrested in the ongoing investigation, which earlier this week entangled Florida Lt. Governor Jennifor Carroll, who had consulted for Allied Veterans in 2009 and 2010, while she was serving in the Florida House of Representatives.
    Carroll resigned from office Wednesday, one day after investigators questioned her about Allied Veterans, a spokesman for Florida Gov. Rick Scott said.

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