12 arrested as Modesto businesses busted for gambling

pguerra@modbee.comMarch 28, 2013 

  • ABOUT THE REPORTER
    alternate text Patty Guerra
    Title: Breaking news editor
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    Bio: Patty Guerra has been an editor and reporter at The Modesto Bee for 13 years. She has a journalism degree from Fresno State and previously worked at the Turlock Journal and Merced Sun-Star.
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— Modesto police arrested 12 people Thursday in a crackdown on illegal gambling at two businesses on McHenry Avenue.

Officers raided Andthen.com on the 3300 block and LinkNet on the 3200 block, seizing 64 computers and $8,000 in cash.

The businesses bill themselves as Internet cafes or offices for computer services, police said.

"They weren't doing any of the services they advertise," Sgt. Ivan Valencia said. Instead of faxing documents or offering Internet access to customers, the businesses catered to people looking to win some money, police said.

Police started investigating the businesses two months ago after neighbors complained about problems including public intoxication, fighting in public and gang members loitering around the businesses.

"People went in and out all day," said Nancy Breshears, who works at a nearby business. "It was a lot of low-lifes."

Breshears said those doing legitimate business found themselves losing customers because of the people who frequented the area and hung around in the parking lot.

"They told us when we questioned it that it's a computer store," she said. But a co-worker went inside and found people gambling.

That's what Modesto police and investigators from the state Department of Justice found when they arrived Thursday morning, officials said: several customers inside the businesses using computers to gamble.

Some of them, Valencia said, also had drugs on them or warrants for their arrest in other cases.

Arrested, according to Sgt. Rick Applegate, were the following:

• Heather Reid, 37, booked on a charge of illegal gambling.

• Theodore Vierra, 32, cited on charges of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

• Giliana Benyamin, 49, booked on a charge of possession of methamphetamine.

• James Van Buskirk, 33, booked on charges of possession of drug paraphernalia and a probation violation.

• Timothy Coulter, 32, booked on a burglary warrant with a bail of $100,500.

• Jeffrey Qualls, 34, booked on a charge of illegal gambling, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of methamphetamine.

• Billy Cheatham, 43, booked on a charge of possession of methamphetamine and a parole violation.

• Christian Boss, 31, cited on a charge of illegal gambling.

• Kelsey Carver, 26, booked for a parole violation.

• Bradley Jarrell, 49, booked on a charge of possession of methamphetamine and two warrants with a bail of $65,500.

• Chelsie Leanoro, 31, cited on a charge of illegal gambling.

• Albert Baker, 50, booked on a charge of possession of methamphetamine.

Boss is from Sacramento; the remaining people are Modestans.

Breshears said neighbors offered up a collective cheer when they saw the officers arrive.

"People were afraid to go into any of the stores because of the type of people going in there," she said. "I'm just glad they finally busted them. We were all thrilled."

Breaking News Editor Patty Guerra can be reached at pguerra@modbee.com or (209) 578-23433. Follow her on Twitter, @pattyguerra.

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