Alpharetta’s March gambling madness

I play in a monthly poker game. It’s hosted by a co-worker and frequented by friends and acquaintances. After the news of this week I’d rather not comment on much else about the game. But I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the players have concealed carry permits. And who knows, maybe a few of them have prior convictions.

Shocking huh? Hardened criminal this blogger must be.

So when news of the Pepperoni’s Tavern bust hit this week, guys like me uttered a collective “what the…?” Comments on the Alpharetta Public Safety Facebook page suggested that the SWAT bust was excessive, a misuse of resources and heavy-handed.

In my mind there is a vague and unclear line between a friendly game among co-workers and a large, organized gambling enterprise. Certainly Alpharetta’s police are not going to kick in the doors at McKesson because Bob from Accounting is collecting five spots for the March Madness pool. At least let’s hope not.

So I attempted to ask Alpharetta’s police this very question and got promptly ignored on every call I made to them. It still isn’t clear where this line is or at what point they wire up an informant and infiltrate your neighborhood poker game.

But by yesterday afternoon the story became a little more clear with a new press release from the city. Pepperoni’s game was large, with six figures in the kitty. It crossed that line and probably needed to be busted. Overkill on the SWAT team? Yeah.

In the end, Alpharetta isn’t really any safer. A handful of regular dudes are feverishly stacking books at the library, quickly earning those community service hours to get their arrest records removed. The owners of Pepperoni’s, who no doubt were stupid, may lose their restaurant in the process. It remains closed at this time.

Stories like this are interesting to follow for another reason. Alpharetta’s Public Safety Department is very careful to control the crime narrative in this town. News of this bust was quickly pushed to every media outlet in metro Atlanta. Perhaps it fits the mold and image of this city. The biggest crime problem we have is affluent people with so much money they can gamble big bucks on college basketball, right? Yet when a meth lab blows up an apartment, you won’t hear a peep.

In the meantime, I’ve got Kansas going all the way. Wish me luck. Daddy needs a new pair of shoes.

7 Responses to “Alpharetta’s March gambling madness”

  1. Franklin March 19, 2015 at 1:33 pm #

    Spot on Lee. I found it very interesting that when the narrative started to turn on the Public Safety Department about whether busting a March Madness pool was a necessary use of police resources that all of a sudden the City was willing to release new details about the $135,000 and two handguns that were seized and that one patron was in possession of cocaine. Seems they would have been better off being more transparent from the outset.

  2. Parker March 19, 2015 at 7:21 pm #

    SWAT officers were engaged because police knew that some of the subjects were carrying guns and they wanted to have complete control of the situation from the start. It’s safer for everyone that way. It sounds heavy handed in a news report, but anytime there is a large group raid, SWAT is going to be present.
    In many departments, SWAT-trained officers have regular duties and are called together for SWAT specific actions as needed. It’s like having some firefighters trained in special rescue techniques or hazardous materials response. Not many departments can afford to keep a SWAT unit on standby.

  3. Mike March 20, 2015 at 8:24 am #

    There is so much overkill and intimidation on the part of the police down South. I have lived up North for most of my life and I can tell you police aren’t nearly as aggressive or intrusive up there. They don’t create a military, Republican Police State feel, which is what you get down here. Why the hell does Alpharetta need a SWAT team? Complete overkill. Most cities in North Fulton don’t provide real service that improve their communities, such as Land Use Planning. Instead they’d like to invest all their limited funding on their police. Just sad and disgraceful.

  4. Tommy March 20, 2015 at 8:46 am #

    I would like to know why the two handguns are described as “seized”? Does that mean there were no carry permits for them? In a restaurant of 60+ people, it is very surprising if there were only two handguns on the patrons.

  5. Peachy March 20, 2015 at 12:22 pm #

    Mike, Delta is ready when you are.

  6. J Kaine March 21, 2015 at 9:39 am #

    I’ve only been to Pepperoni’s Tavern twice. I live on the other side of the city, so it’s out of the way. Both times I ate there was because I got back from the airport late. I noticed each time I was there, which was a few years apart, they always had a lot of people playing poker. I highly doubt all those people, which were many each time, were just playing for free pizza.

    I think most could agree that this time was not the first time this place had a gambling/betting event, they just got caught this time. Ownership should know better, you can’t expect your establishment to serve as the Vegas Strip in Alpharetta and never get busted. They should lose their license over this.

    My only question is this: I highly doubt the police just found out that this place had a gambling operation going on. Why did they finally wait to bust the place now? I have the highest respect for police officers, but sometimes I think the leadership of the department likes to play politics.

  7. Cool Papa Bell March 21, 2015 at 11:00 pm #

    I was wondering why Mike wanted to borrow some tinfoil.

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