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Monday, May 23, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesGAMBLING, DRUGS AND SEX UNCOVERED IN RAID

GAMBLING, DRUGS AND SEX UNCOVERED IN RAID

Members of the V.I. Police Department, the Justice Department and the Gaming Enforcement Agency raided a St. Croix establishment 12:30 a.m. Sunday and confiscated eight illegal video gaming machines, $2,000 to $3,000 in cash and illegal drugs.
William Curtis, director of Justice's Special Investigation Division, said Monday that he also had reason to believe prostitution was being conducted at Cory's Place, in what is known as the Bingo Building at No. 4 Estate Orange Grove.
Elizabeth Cory, one of the owners of Cory's Place, was arrested. There are arrest warrants pending for Cory's husand, Andrew Cory, and Edward Powers, who is the sectretary/treasurer of the corporation that owns Cory's. Andrew Cory is currently in Texas due to illness.
Despite the arrest Cory's Place was not shut down. Attorney General Iver Stridiron said that matter would be turned over to Licensing and Consumer Affairs for a review of Cory's business license.
The Justice Department operation was part of an ongoing investigation that included the use of undercover agents who had run surveillance at Cory's prior to the raid.
The raid was made public at a late-morning press conference Monday called by Stridiron.
Stridiron said the "midnight raid" was the first in what will be a crackdown on illegal gaming in the territory and most immediately on St. Croix.
He said "cease and desist" letters were sent more than a year ago to establishments suspected of running illegal gambling activities. They were ordered to remove illegal gaming machines.
Stridiron said search warrants had been in place even before his tenure to conduct raids on establishments suspected of illegal gaming activities but "nothing ever happened."
Curtis said about 12 patrons were in Cory's at the time of the raid. Several were sitting at the bar playing the video gaming machines. He said a player would give the bartender $10 to get 100 points. When the player got over those 100 points, the player was paid back at a rate of $1 per point.
Strippers were on the second floor of the establishment, behind a "solid door" complete with bouncers, in what Curtis described as a VIP room. Having strippers entertain patrons is not illegal, he said.
However, also on the second floor were cubicles set up with beds, where the law enforcement officials said they suspected prostitution was taking place.
The "young ladies" were not there the night of the raid, according to Curtis. They were on St. Thomas for Carnival.
Curtis said the confiscated drugs appeared to be for personal use and not for sale. Marijuana, cocaine and ecstacy, a so-called designer drug, were found in the upstairs rooms where the strippers appeared to live.
Stridiron expressed concern about the presence of "designer drugs" in the territory.
Unfortunately, Stridiron said, the activities going on at Cory's "amount to misdemeanors," but there are "other sections of the code that could kick" them into felonies. The use of the gaming machines could be a federal offense under the interstate commerce provision that is often used in the territory to activate federal charges.
Stridiron warned other establishments that might be running illegal gaming operations that "they may find themselves the subject of midnight raids" too.
When asked about similar investigations on St. Thomas, Stridiron nothing is pending. The focus was on St. Croix because of the status of legal gambling on that island and because, he said, illegal gambling has been going on there for many years.
He added, "We're going to address it on all three islands."

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Members of the V.I. Police Department, the Justice Department and the Gaming Enforcement Agency raided a St. Croix establishment 12:30 a.m. Sunday and confiscated eight illegal video gaming machines, $2,000 to $3,000 in cash and illegal drugs.
William Curtis, director of Justice's Special Investigation Division, said Monday that he also had reason to believe prostitution was being conducted at Cory's Place, in what is known as the Bingo Building at No. 4 Estate Orange Grove.
Elizabeth Cory, one of the owners of Cory's Place, was arrested. There are arrest warrants pending for Cory's husand, Andrew Cory, and Edward Powers, who is the sectretary/treasurer of the corporation that owns Cory's. Andrew Cory is currently in Texas due to illness.
Despite the arrest Cory's Place was not shut down. Attorney General Iver Stridiron said that matter would be turned over to Licensing and Consumer Affairs for a review of Cory's business license.
The Justice Department operation was part of an ongoing investigation that included the use of undercover agents who had run surveillance at Cory's prior to the raid.
The raid was made public at a late-morning press conference Monday called by Stridiron.
Stridiron said the "midnight raid" was the first in what will be a crackdown on illegal gaming in the territory and most immediately on St. Croix.
He said "cease and desist" letters were sent more than a year ago to establishments suspected of running illegal gambling activities. They were ordered to remove illegal gaming machines.
Stridiron said search warrants had been in place even before his tenure to conduct raids on establishments suspected of illegal gaming activities but "nothing ever happened."
Curtis said about 12 patrons were in Cory's at the time of the raid. Several were sitting at the bar playing the video gaming machines. He said a player would give the bartender $10 to get 100 points. When the player got over those 100 points, the player was paid back at a rate of $1 per point.
Strippers were on the second floor of the establishment, behind a "solid door" complete with bouncers, in what Curtis described as a VIP room. Having strippers entertain patrons is not illegal, he said.
However, also on the second floor were cubicles set up with beds, where the law enforcement officials said they suspected prostitution was taking place.
The "young ladies" were not there the night of the raid, according to Curtis. They were on St. Thomas for Carnival.
Curtis said the confiscated drugs appeared to be for personal use and not for sale. Marijuana, cocaine and ecstacy, a so-called designer drug, were found in the upstairs rooms where the strippers appeared to live.
Stridiron expressed concern about the presence of "designer drugs" in the territory.
Unfortunately, Stridiron said, the activities going on at Cory's "amount to misdemeanors," but there are "other sections of the code that could kick" them into felonies. The use of the gaming machines could be a federal offense under the interstate commerce provision that is often used in the territory to activate federal charges.
Stridiron warned other establishments that might be running illegal gaming operations that "they may find themselves the subject of midnight raids" too.
When asked about similar investigations on St. Thomas, Stridiron nothing is pending. The focus was on St. Croix because of the status of legal gambling on that island and because, he said, illegal gambling has been going on there for many years.
He added, "We're going to address it on all three islands."