(02/18/13) - Reports of gunshots fired turns into a discovery of what investigators are calling a gambling operation.
Investigators believe a small home in the 4000 block of Morris, in Buena Vista Township, was a place where people could place bets on the Michigan Lottery, without buying an actual lottery ticket.
The Michigan Lottery has drawings everyday, and it appears those numbers were being used by five people to run their own gambling operation.
"They had evidence in the driveway of a shooting," said Det. Greg Klecker, with the Buena Vista Township Police.
Evidence of that shooting was in the driveway of a Buena Vista Township on Friday night, shortly after the Mega Millions drawing. People inside the house told police they didn't need any help.
"They made suspicious movements and things like that, pulled the curtains, and they tried to prevent the officers from checking on the well being of the people inside," Klecker said.
But Detective Klecker says one of the officers saw calculators, money counters and betting pads on a table. Police got a search warrant and found money too - plenty of it.
"We recovered several thousand dollars. We are still evaluating that right now," said Sean Waterman, interim police chief.
"Even a small unit, or a small house like this, hundreds of thousands of dollars go through this home on a daily basis," Klecker said.
Police believe people would place bets before the Michigan Lottery numbers were drawn.
"They can bet as little as a dime or whatever they want, where the Michigan Lottery, it's a set fee, so this is the poor man's lottery, so to speak," Waterman said.
Police had heard information that an illegal gambling operation was being conducted in the area, but they need probable cause to search a home. People who placed bets at the home could also be charged.
"There's no tax on it, that's why it's lucrative," Waterman said.
Four people have been formally charged. Glen Dowdy of Indianapolis, Randy Cooper, Flora Jean Robinson, and Saul Rincher - all from the Saginaw area - were arraigned Tuesday morning.
A fifth person has not been charged yet because she is in the hospital.
ABC12 Main Station