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May 13--  The Montgomery County Sheriff's office is cracking down on video gambling.

Three convenience stores were raided Friday night, according to Sheriff's investigator Justin Fountain.

"They were operating video poker machines. You can give out merchandise for winnings off of poker machines, but they were giving out money to players who were playing the machines."

Fountain believes the stores have been involved in commercial gambling for two or three years.

"We had word they were doing it before.  They actually took the machines out at one time, but then they put them back in and that's when we went back in and did an investigation," he said.

After a three-month investigation, the raids at Rabbit's Truck Stop in Vidalia, Buzzy's in Uvalda and Uvalda Foods were conducted by sheriff's deputies assisted by the Georgia Department of Revenue, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Mount Vernon Police, Georgia State Patrol and the District Attorney's office.

Charged with commercial gambling are store proprietors Mittala Patel, Smida Patel and Ketankumar Patel.

"We didn't want to take their stores.  it was a more a learning lesson for them not to do this anymore.  We're not into ruining their business or anything like that," Fountain said.

He reports the three were booked and released on bond.