Alleged gambling operation busted

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A 47-year-old Galax man has been indicted for operating an "illegal gambling enterprise," stemming from a Sept. 16 search of Blue Ridge Lanes bowling alley in Galax.

An indictment from the Carroll County grand jury, which met in a special session Oct. 16, identified the man charged as Michael Howard Bobbitt of the Hebron section of Carroll County.

Initially sealed by the court, the indictment was released on Friday. An indictment is a formal charge, not a finding of guilt.

The charge was brought after Galax police obtained a search warrant for Blue Ridge Lanes at 545 East Stuart Drive in September to search for "any devices, machines, paraphernalia, equipment" or any books, records or other papers or money used in any illegal gambling operations, according to Carroll County Circuit Court paperwork.

The warrants were sought by Detective Robbie Isom of the Galax Police Department.

The search warrant listed the items that police seized from that operation, including a "Queen Bee Reel Amusement," a phone card vending machine and four video machines, pay sheets dated Sept. 9-12 and two pay sheet cards from two of the machines, $259 in cash and keys to the machines' locks.

The bust came after a Virginia State Police Special Agent entered the business as part of an undercover investigation.

While undercover, the agent saw and "operated the gambling devices" and his "winnings were then paid in cash by the owner/manager of the business," according to the search warrant.

Also unsealed last week were 11 counts of rape against Simon Carlos Cortez, 40, of Galax, for sexual intercourse with a female child.