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Grand Blanc man sentenced to serve probation, pay $625 in fines for violating state charitable gaming law

Detroit, June 27, 2018 – A 44-year-old Grand Blanc man was sentenced June 18 in 66th District Court, Corunna, to three months of probation and $625 in fines and court costs for conspiracy to violate state charitable gaming law. Charges were filed in November 2017 against James R. Johnston Jr. following an investigation by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office and the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

Investigators said Johnston Jr. violated the Bingo Act by requiring a licensed supplier, Calvin Leeps, 61, of Flint, to pay him gambling profits between August 2014 and October 2015 at Owosso Poker Room, 1405 East M-21, Owosso. Leeps also was sentenced June 18 to $900 in fines and costs in 66th District Court for a charitable gaming supplier violation. Judge Ward L. Clarkson presided over Johnston Jr.’s and Leeps’ cases.

“As the location owner, Johnston Jr. could not require the charity or a supplier to turn over any portion of the charitable gaming proceeds to him,” said Richard Kalm, executive director, MGCB. “The money Johnston Jr. took should have gone to the charities.”

Both men pled guilty in 66th District Court on March 20.

As part of his plea agreement, Johnston Jr. is prohibited from taking part in any charitable gaming authorized by the Bingo Act.

Leeps agreed voluntarily to withdraw his supplier license and may not reapply for a license for two years.

Under Michigan law, charities manage their own gaming events or may obtain help from a licensed gaming supplier who may provide dealers, cards, chips and similar items.

Johnston has since relinquished his interest in the location, and charitable gaming continues at the Owosso Poker Room with a different licensed supplier and a new owner.

"The Michigan Gaming Control Board shall ensure the conduct of fair and honest gaming to protect the interests of the citizens of the State of Michigan."