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Bars, Bingo Parlors Targeted in Gambling Investigation

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Hundreds of law enforcement officers searched bars and bingo parlors Monday as part of a multi-county investigation into illegal gambling operations, officials said.

"The citizens who participated in these games were led to believe their donations were going to those in need," said Lt. Gov. Maureen O'Connor. "Through the cooperation of city, county and state law enforcement agencies, the criminal activity of this particular operation is coming to a halt."

The searches were part of an investigation into instant bingo operations in which an undisclosed amount of money meant for charities was allegedly being diverted, said Joe Case, spokesman for Attorney General Betty Montgomery.

"Very little money is making it to the charity," Case said. He said the type of gambling varies but generally involves bingo cards with pull-off tabs.

Montgomery planned a news conference Tuesday in Richfield - at the state's Northeast Forensic Laboratory and Training Center - to discuss details of the investigation.

Summit County Sheriff Drew Alexander said the investigation began about a year ago based on a complaint involving two locations in Northfield Village in northeast Ohio.

On Monday, officers served 127 search warrants in Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Portage, Stark and Summit counties. At least 300 officers were involved, Case said.

"Some of these illegal locations can pull down as much as $10,000 in a week. When you start to add that up with 25 or 30 locations, it can become millions of dollars quickly, and that money is not going to a charity," said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor William Mason.

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