Brown County Sheriff's officials had little comment Monday morning about Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Bob Wall's allegation that Greg Holder — the brother of political opponent and sheriff's office employee Mike Holder — has operated illegal eight-liner machines.
Wall, in a letter to the editor published in the Feb. 19 Bulletin, asked "how could Mike and Michelle Holder not know about this operation?" Michelle Holder is a deputy, while Mike Holder is not a deputy.
"We're looking into allegations. It would be premature for us to comment about this right now," Chief Deputy Bobby Duvall said.
Mike Holder is one of two candidates challenging Wall in the March 4 Republican Party primary election. John Lawson is also challenging Wall.
Sheriff Bobby Grubbs said it would be "premature for us to make comments about it at this time until we've arrived at a conclusion."
Wall wrote in the Feb. 19 letter that Mike Holder's brother, Greg, owns the Monte Carlo game room at North Lake. Wall wrote in the letter that he had filed "a criminal complaint with the Brown County Attorney (Shane Britton) which sets forth violations of the Texas Penal Code" related to "the illegal use of eight-liners equipment."
Britton confirmed via text message that Wall "delivered a formal complaint to my office. Since my office does not conduct criminal investigations, the complaint was forwarded to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
"My understanding is that an investigation has been started. Once it is complete, I would anticipate than an investigative report will be sent to me for my review."
Mike Holder could not be reached for comment.
Greg Holder, reached by phone at the Monte Carlo game room, said a Department of Public Safety officer visited the game room last Wednesday said the 10 eight-liner machines needed to be turned off and not turned back on.
Holder said the game room gave "playback cards" to eight-liner winners. He said the cards could be used to play more games or traded for "anything we sold" except lottery tickets. Holder said he'd believed that his eight-liners were legal as long as players did not win cash.
Holder said he'd never talked "to anyone in authority" but the consensus from people he talked to who are involved in gaming was that his eight-liners were legal.
The Texas Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that awarding gift certificates as prizes is the equivalent of awarding cash, which amounts to gambling and makes the machines illegal, the Associated Press reported then. State law allows electronic or mechanical gambling devices that are solely for "amusement purposes" if the rewards are non-cash merchandise prizes, toys or novelties, the AP reported.
Holder said it's his understanding that "Judge Wall admitted he came and ate at the game room" several months ago to eat and said nothing about the eight-liners then. "How could he not know?" Holder said.
Holder also said Wall began making allegations about the eight-liners in retaliation for a large political ad published in the Bulletin and signed by several people including Greg Holder. The ad was critical of Wall.
Wall could not be reached Monday for comment.
Additionally, Greg Holder said other law enforcement officers have been in the Monte Carlo including an occasion when officers responded to a report of a break-in, and have also stopped in to use the restroom. None of those officers said anything about illegal eight-liners, Holder said.