North Carolina Politicians Facing Gambling Charges Following Fox 46 Hidden Camera Investigation

Posted on: May 10, 2018, 12:00h. 

Last updated on: May 10, 2018, 10:18h.

A Fox News sting on a “high-stakes” poker game in a bar in Charlotte, North Carolina has landed one current and one former elected official in hot water.

Fox 46
Fox’s hidden camera records former Stanfield Town Councilman Jason Smith handling money at the poker table. He later repeatedly denied to a reporter that any gambling had occurred on the premises. (Image: Fox 46)

Fox 46 Charlotte confirmed Wednesday that former Stanfield Town Councilman Jason Smith and current Oakboro Commissioner Ernest Broadway, who is also the chairman of the Oakboro Police Department, will be charged with misdemeanor illegal gambling after they were filmed playing poker at the Morgan’s Tavern by a hidden camera.

The tavern, which is situated directly next door to the Stanfield Police Department, is owned by Smith and his wife.

Gambling is illegal in North Carolina outside of the state’s two tribal casinos, with the exception of the state lottery and charitable bingo and raffles. Authorities even take a hard line against poker home games, particularly if a rake is involved, and friends exchanging money for chips is illegal. When alcohol and bars are involved, it’s a more serious offence.

Preferential Treatment

Fox was tipped off about the twice-weekly illegal game by the bar’s previous owner, Terry Pennington, who was prosecuted in 2014 for operating illegal video gambling machines. He claimed Smith installed a poker table in the bar the day after he sold it to him.

At the time, Smith was sitting on the town council, as well as, allegedly, at the poker table twice a week, and Pennington believes authorities turned a blind eye because of his political status.

“They all knew what was happening and they let it happen,” claimed Pennington. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know he’s being left alone intentionally.”

 Whatever you think about North Carolina’s hardline gambling laws, it shouldn’t be one rule for politicians and another rule for everyone else, which prompted Fox 46 to investigate.

Caught Red-Handed

When the TV crew tried to doorstep the game, Smith refused them entry, but the players were unaware a hidden camera had been installed. It showed Smith handling a large amount of cash.

“Get it off the table,” one player is heard saying, referring to the cash. “They can’t prove nothing as long as they can’t see it on the table.”

Later confronted by a FOX 46 reporter, Smith repeatedly denied that any gambling had occurred at the bar.

Next door, Stanfield Chief Corrie Faggart also professed himself to be shocked – shocked! – that gambling had been going on at the premises. He showed the reporter that Stanfield PD had issued a number of alcohol violations to Smith and Morgan’s Tavern to prove the former councilman was not receiving preferential treatment.

“You would think that being this close to a police department you would be crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s and making sure you’re not breaking the law,” suggested Faggart.