Ex-Willacy Co. DA: If you can't beat 8-liners, join them
Fri, 13 Jan 2012 05:11:09 GMT —
There TMs a new 8-liner operating in Lyford with about 500 gaming machines under one roof.
But unlike others in Willacy County, Buena Suerte claims to give back in an unusual way.
"All the money they make goes to a non profit and then goes to a charity fund," Juan Guerra, attorney for the 8-liner said.
That charity fund is under the non profit group Buena Suerte Social Services.
The organization helps low income families pay for expenses like utilities, rent and medical bills, according to Guerra.
"They're helping us with my wife's operation on her eyes," Ben Armendarez said.
Buena Suerte Social Services was formed under the legal direction of Juan Guerra.
He worked previously as the district attorney in Willacy County.
Juan once sued 180 8-liners across 2 counties for theft, bribery and fraud.
The case eventually settled out of court.
His unnamed plaintiffs in the case started the non profit group that now operates the Buena Suerte Game Room.
What's the difference between this arcade and the ones Guerra sued?
"This place is going to be profiting about 40 to 50 thousand dollars a month," he said.
"The difference is... that money is accounted for... it's not being put in somebody's pocket... it's actually put in an account and given back to the people."
It's illegal for 8-liners to pay out anything over 5 dollars in value, according to our Action 4 Legal Analyst John Blaylock.
In his former crusade to shutdown 8-liners, Guerra said it was impossible for them to do business without violating Texas gambling laws.
"How then is Buena Suerte legally able to boast such large profits since Christmas without breaking laws," Action 4's Ryan Wolf asked Juan?
"The only thing I'm telling you here is they're not doing anything different as to what they're doing over there," he responded.
Juan TMs referring to all of the other 8-liners across Willacy County, who he says have been able to operate without fear of prosecution by the current district attorney.
Ryan: "Whether it's a minor offense or a major offense... are you saying law enforcement is turning their nose essentially to what's happening here [at game rooms]?"
Juan: "Basically, yea... that's the position I've had... And that's the position I still have."
Bernard Ammerman did not return several calls Thursday afternoon for a comment to the allegation his office is turning a blind eye to possible illegal activity at game rooms across the county.
Juan believes Buena Suerte is protected from what he calls any sudden, selective enforcement."If the district attorney decides they're going to enforce this particular area of the law... then in my opinion they need to warn our clients... starting by a certain date they're going to enforce the laws then we'll decide whether or not to close down and my advice would be to close down," he said.
If judging by history, many believe the Buena Suerte Gamer Room will be a safe bet -- a win for those who ultimately need the help.