4 defendants in gambling case get probation

All but one of five defendants who were arrested on charges of professional gambling based out of two Columbus grocery stores have been sentenced to probation and ordered to pay a fine.

A change-of-plea hearing for the fifth defendant, Mauricio Nolasco-Vazquez, 55, Indianapolis, has been set for 2:15 p.m. Monday in Bartholomew Circuit Court, court officials said. Nolasco-Vazquez is charged with felony corrupt business influence, felony professional gambling and felony promoting professional gambling, court records state. His trial date is set for Dec. 13.

The sting operation, conducted by the Indiana Gaming Commission, began in January after commission investigators began looking into professional gambling on Mexican soccer team games in Columbus, with bets being made at two Mexican grocery stores. People who gambled on the games were offered chances to win up to $5,000 on a $10 wager on the games, court records indicated.

Undercover commission representatives made repeated wagers at La Guanajuato at 2361 S. Henry Lakes Boulevard, and Mi Tierra, 1461 Central Ave., before search warrants were issued April 29, resulting in several of the arrests.

Sentences for the other four defendants, who entered into plea bargains Sept. 30 in Bartholomew Circuit Court, were as follows:

Oswaldo Martinez-Ramirez, 32, 2554 Sycamore St., pleaded guilty to promoting professional gambling as a Class A misdemeanor, sentenced to four months and two days in the Bartholomew County Jail, given credit for one day served, balance of jail sentence suspended. Martinez-Ramirez was placed on eight months probation and ordered to pay court costs, probation fees, administration fees and a $150 fine, all coming from his cash bond posted upon arrest. A second count of professional gambling was dismissed.

Florencio Roblero-Aguilar, 37, Indianapolis, pleaded guilty to promoting professional gambling as a Class A misdemeanor, sentenced to four months and two days in the Bartholomew County Jail, given credit for one day served, balance of jail sentence suspended. Martinez-Ramirez was placed on eight months probation and ordered to pay court costs, probation fees, administration fees and a $150 fine, all coming from his cash bond posted upon arrest. A second count of professional gambling was dismissed.

Manuel Villalbazo, 49, 1902 Indiana Ave., pleads guilty to promoting professional gambling as a felony, judgment entered as a Class A misdemeanor, sentenced to the Bartholomew County Jail for four months and two days, given credit for one day served, balance of jail sentence suspended, placed on probation for eight months, ordered to pay court costs, probation fees, administration fees and a $150 fine, all coming from his cash bond posted upon arrest.

Jessica Hernandez-Cruz, 35, 2719 Tyler Drive, pleads guilty to Class B misdemeanor unlawful gambling, sentenced to 60 days in the Bartholomew County Jail receiving credit for one day served, balance of jail sentence suspended, placed on probation for six months, ordered to pay court costs, probation fees, administrative fees and a $150 fine, all coming from the cash bond posted upon arrest.

The defendants were free from jail after posting 10 per-cent cash bonds on bonds ranging from $30,000 to $50,000.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.