April 18-- The video game gambling raids conducted last year in Toombs and Emanuel counties collected over $1.2 million dollars from asset seizures and settlements with 29 convenience stores hit by the operation.
In response to a Freedom of Information request, District Attorney Hayward Altman reports his office received nearly $735,000. An Atlanta law firm got over $390,000 in settlement commissions and a court-appointed receiver has collected more than $103,000 in settlement money. The Macon law firm also received an undisclosed amount of money from store owners for overseeing property seized in the raid.
The district attorney is being sued in Toombs County Superior Court to have some of the money collected by Atlanta attorney Ekonomou Atkinson and the Lambros Law Firm returned to the Toombs County general fund.
Former Toombs County Commission Chairman James Thompson brought the suit claiming Georgia law requires forfeitures made as a result of illegal activity in Toombs County should go to the county.
The District Attorney says Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens has assured him the actions he took last year to employ outside lawyers on a contingency fee basis were legal under Georgia law at the time. However, neither he nor other prosecutors will be able to do it again. The Georgia legislature has passed a new law effective July 1 prohibiting the practice.
The raids in Toombs County generated nearly $440,000 to the district attorney's office, almost $210,000 to the Atlanta law group and over $92,000 for the court receiver lawyers in Macon.
Altman says the $440,000 will be divided among his office, the East Central Georgia Drug Task Force, the Toombs County Sheriff's Office, and police departments in Vidalia and Lyons.
Other funds have already been distributed to law enforcement agenices in Emanuel County, he reports.
The District Attorney is planning to file a motion in the next two weeks requesting Thompson's law suit be dismissed.