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Prosecutor Says Agents May Call on Bettors

March 26, 1985

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) _ A federal prosecutor says people who’ve placed bets with Memphis-area bookies recently shouldn’t be surprised if the FBI calls.

U.S. Attorney Hickman Ewing said Monday that federal agents are reviewing records seized in a weekend gambling raid with plans to present the case to a grand jury.

Bettors listed in the records may be called to testify or be interviewed by federal investigators, he said.

Agents from the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service launched raids over the weekend gathering gambling paraphernalia and records from 10 residences in Memphis and one in Walls, Miss. At one house, agents took bets over the telephone.

Ewing said the federal government can’t prosecute bettors, but the state can.

″If somebody has placed a bet of $100 on a game and that’s all they’ve done, that’s not a federal crime. It is a state crime. It is a misdemeanor to gamble in Tennessee,″ Ewing said.

Ewing said gambling on sports events is big business in Shelby County.

″I would say it’s a very large, multimillion-dollar business,″ he said. ″There’s a lot of bookmaking going on in Memphis, and in some of the instances here we know there are people who take over $1 million in bets each month.″

During the raids, agents arrested Melvin David Grimes of Memphis and booked him with being a convicted felon in possession of firearms, authorities said.

Grimes, who authorities say has a previous conviction on gambling charges, was freed on $25,000 bond after a court hearing Monday.

Agents said at the hearing that they had to bypass an electric fence and alarm and tranqualize three guard dogs to get into Grimes’ house in a fashionable section of town.

He was the only person arrested in the raids, but Ewing said other arrests may follow as investigators sift through evidence seized in the sweep.

Agents said they answered telephone calls while at Grimes’ residence and accepted 50 bets on basketball games, each for at least $400.

Ewing said investigators have been working on the case for a year and a half. He said some of the evidence that led to search warrants came from trash cans at the homes of suspected gamblers.