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POLICE: Fake church used to disguise Decatur gambling operation

Decatur Police seized 17 electronic gambling machines along with a camera surveillance system and a system warning of police presence.

Posted: Dec. 24, 2018 12:09 PM
Updated: Dec. 24, 2018 6:49 PM

A former restaurant turned makeshift casino in Decatur was shut down by law enforcement on Friday.

Decatur Police received reports throughout the month of December that a “casino” was being operated out of what used to be McCollum’s Seafood Restaurant on Gordon Terry Parkway.


17 electronic gambling machines were seized by Decatur Police along with "the video system, the warning system, equipment that tracked the progress of the gambling machines, and other items."

Decatur Police along with the Morgan County District Attorney's Office and other agencies executed a search warrant at Life's Church on Gordon Terry Parkway on Friday.

During their investigation, police determined the building housed two businesses: Vintage Treasures and Life’s Church.

After they accquired enough evidence for a search warrant, it was executed by Decatur Police, the Morgan County District Attorney’s Office and other agencies.

Once inside the church building, investigators discovered more than a dozen gambling machines and a system comprised of video surveillance and bells to warn of police presence, which is a violation of state law.

Officers seized the warning system along with 17 electronic gambling machines, equipment that tracked the gambling machines and other, undisclosed items.

Investigators say the church sign was just a front to keep police away. Investigators say after they warned the business owner about the complaints, a sign was put up at the building claiming it was a church.

People who live in the area told WAAY 31 they had no idea anything was going on at the phony church.

"We didn't know anything about it until we seen it on the news," said Horace Moore, ""My wife kept saying something was wrong but I wasn't smart enough to know it I guess."

The neighbors said they would see cars in the parking lot of the business, but never anything to raise a red flag.

"There had been some traffic in and out but nothing bad. Not a lot of traffic. Not a lot of cars at one time. Some going and coming," said Moore.

Huntsville native Timothy Roberts, 64, and Meridian, Mississippi resident Donna Weir, 67, were arrested following the execution of the search warrant.

Investigators said prior to Friday's arrest, Roberts was “out on bond for establishing a gaming place and for possession of a gambling device from an arrest that occurred in Decatur on August 3, 2017.”

He faces the new charge of promoting gambling and “unlawful to maintain electric bells, etc.,” which is a felony, according to police.

Meanwhile Weir, who was an employee of the building, was charged with promoting gambling.

Both Weir and Roberts are being held in the Morgan County Jail.

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