|Federal Agents working on an extensive federal inquiry into illegal video poker payouts want to interview several members of the North Carolina General Assembly about the influence of gambling profits in state politics. Inside sources say that FBI agents were working in Raleigh last week and want to question legislators, as well as others. |
The FBI did not divulge names, and pointed out that merely being questioned by federal agents does not make someone a suspect.
Chris Swecker, special agent in charge of the FBI's Charlotte office, would neither confirm nor deny that agents will question legislators. He said investigators with the FBI and the state's Alcohol Law Enforcement division are looking at how video poker operators earn and spend profits. 'Cash payments present a lot of opportunities for corruption,' he said. '...We're not interested in the individual gamblers, we're interested in the illegal profits. We're going to be following all logical leads and we'll go wherever that takes us. We're simply following the money.'
Opponents of video poker, including the state's 100 sheriffs, contend that the industry is trying to buy off tougher legislation with campaign donations. The industry successfully blocked a ban on video poker machines two years ago and has succeeded in keeping similar legislation off the North Carolina House floor this session.