Bobby Medford is a convicted criminal. He's guilty of extorting money from gambling operations. He's guilty of money laundering. He's guilty of conspiracy to run an illegal gambling operation.
When he was breaking those laws, Bobby Medford was the sheriff of Buncombe County, North Carolina. That's Asheville. The story of backroom kickback and illegal operations was just laid bare during a federal trial this week. The US Attorney prosecuting the case says Medford was, "Prostituting the office of sheriff."
Here's how it all went down.
Medford and three others were arrested in December of 2007. The indictment said they were using the office of sheriff to protect a Spartanburg, South Carolina company that was running illegal gambling operations in his juristiction.
The US Attorney says that company raked in $5 million in profit by running poker machines and they were placed, with Medford's knowledge, and protected from any busts with kickbacks to him and two top deputies.
Medford was elected sheriff in Buncombe County in 1994. He lost in the Novermber election in 2007.
Once the trial started we strated getting details of just how this complicated system of codenames and kickbacks really worked.
Eddie Caldwell was a lawyer for the Sheriff's Association. He testified that Medford's deputies had no oversight in ordering special stickers for gambling machines. In North Carolina, starting in 2000, they banned NEW poker machienes but grandfathered the old ones in. Medford's deputies ordered THOUSANDS of the stickers and kept them on hand for any machines that they wanted to "legalize".
Medford held an annual golf tournament to raise money for his campaign. Thousands of dollars came from video game operators and that money went straight to Medford himself. A former deputy, Lt. John Harrison, testified he kept that money in the trunk of his patrol car.
He said they didn't have a checking account for the illegal money so he'd just keep it in the trunk until Medford needed some cash and he'd hand a handful over.
In one specific case, Harrison testified a store owner wanted to change from one illegal gambling operator to another because he was unhappy with his cut. Medford, according to Harrison, allowed the change but only in exchange for envelopes with $3,000 in cash for both Harrison and Medford.
Nick Anagnostopoulos ran a convenience store in Medford's juristiction and said he had several of the illegal machines. He said Medford and his deputies would actually use his store to cash the kickback checks. He also said Lt. Harrison played the machines and was paid out but they never arrested him.
He testified that since 1999 he cashed $69,000 in checks made out to the "Medford Golf Classic."
MEDFORD ON THE STAND
Bobby Medford was the first witness called in his own defense. Prosecutors asked him if he could accound for the $150,000 dollars the gambling company claimed to have given him over the course of his years in office.
He could not.
Prosecutors asked him to account for the $30,000+ dollars that mysteriously appeared in his account in one year alone.
He could not.
Now he's going to jail.
In the poker game of life the house always wins.
Just be be careful your house isn't in the shadow of a mansion.