Man OKs plea in case of grocery gambling

The last defendant of five charged with professional gambling in Columbus has entered into a plea deal in Bartholomew Circuit Court.

Mauricio Nolasco-Vazquez, 55, Indianapolis, pleaded guilty Monday to one Level 6 felony charge of professional gambling.

The plea bargain filed with Bartholomew Circuit Court calls for the state to dismiss charges of felony charges of corrupt business influence and promoting professional gambling and will require Nolasco-Vazquez to pay monetary restitution.

Judge Pro Tem William Vance from Jackson County, who was sitting in for Judge Stephen Heimann, set Nolasco-Vazquez’ sentencing date for 10 a.m. Dec. 29.

Nolasco-Vazquez, who spoke through an interpreter, told the judge that he understood he had not been promised anything at sentencing and the case will be considered by Heimann as a guilty plea to a felony.

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.

The illegal gambling investigation included combing through trash collected by Indianapolis Department of Public Works employees from Nolasco-Vazquez’s home. After investigators went through it, they found blank betting slips and pieces of paper with a partial list of those who had placed bets, a probable cause affidavit states.

Four other defendants last month agreed to plead guilty in plea bargain agreements and have paid fines and been placed on probation.

The Indiana Gaming Commission, which investigates illegal gambling, said the investigation into professional gambling in Columbus began based on an anonymous tip to investigators.

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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.