Two men accused of being the ringleaders of an illegal video poker operation in Flint-area bars have being found guilty of violating the state's gaming control and revenue act.
Attorney General Bill Schuette and Michigan State Police Director Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etue announced the felony convictions on Tuesday.
Michael Paul Kremski, 55, of Grand Blanc, plead guilty to two counts of violating the act, a ten-year felony, and paid a $200,000 fine, the largest to date for such a criminal violation.
Police said Kremski assisted bar owners with cash flow by providing bags of money for large jackpots.
Kremski was sentenced to five years probation and will forfeit an additional $80,000 to the Michigan State Police.
"Illegal gambling is a crime we will not tolerate," said Etue. "I applaud the Attorney General and the Michigan Gaming Control Board for working with us to crack down on illegal gaming operations that threaten public safety and cheat the State."
His employee, Robert Allen Murray, 54, of Flint also pleaded guilty and will serve three years probation and pay $10,000 in fines.
Police said Murray, played the role of a "runner," who would travel from bar to bar, collecting cash from the machines and splitting the proceeds 50-50 with the bar owners.
In total, 37 defendants, bar owners and bar employees, were each convicted for their roles in the illegal operation.
The only gambling authorized under current state law includes pari-mutuel horse racing, bingo, the state-sponsored lottery, charity "millionaire parties" and casino gambling operated by individuals licensed under the gaming act.
"Allowing bar owners to conduct illegal gambling that is unregulated and relies upon machines designed to maximize profits to a few individuals feeds organized crime," said Rick Kalm, Director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board. "Michigan citizens should beware - not only do the odds heavily favor the distributors and bar owners, but the public has no recourse when ripped off, since the activity is illegal."
To report illegal gambling call the 24-hour anonymous tip line, 1-888-314-2682.