Monday, December 12, 2011

Coin operator is money man for Randy Plemons

He served as Buddy Skeen's treasurer for years

Six Shooter Junction – In the world of compulsive gamblers – the kind of guys who will take action on which raindrop will reach the windowsill first – eight-liner gaming machines were all the rage – for awhile.

Little-used or marginal storefronts on major highways and city thoroughfares sprung up throughout Central Texas and flourished until area lawmen and prosecutors shut them down as illegal gambling dens.

Inside, the patrons fed the electronic machines a steady flow of cash until it was learned in county after county that the proprietors of the game rooms were paying off in cash instead of bonus games, a form of gambling precluded by Texas penal statutes.

One of the major players in the new industry was J.R. “Jim” Hawkins, owner of JayHawk 1, a supplier of the machines and in some cases a financier for start-up operations in cities such as Waco and Marlin.

He recently resigned as Tax Assessor-Collector “Buddy” Skeen's campaign treasurer, a position he held from December 5, 2007 until December 1 of this year. At the time that Texas Rangers served a search warrant on Mr. Skeen at his office on July 11, listing in an affidavit of probable cause a failure to pay a little more than $1,300 in sales taxes on a personal pickup truck as part of the affidavit of probable cause, Mr. Hawkins told newsmen that the allegations “made me sick.”

Mr. Skeen has since been indicted by a McLennan County Grand Jury and arrested, then released on bond. He is running for re-election on the Republican ticket following his switch from the Democratic Party. He replaced Mr. Hawkins as his campaign treasurer with his wife, Mr. Lynda J. Sheen.

But Mr. Hawkins is still the campaign treasurer for Chief Deputy Randy Plemons, a candidate for the McLennan County Sheriff's office whose campaign website features pictures of – you guessed it – himself posing with confiscated eight-liner machines made at the time of raids on game rooms situated in such locations as W. Waco Drive in this city.

He signed on in that capacity on July 6, 2011 when Deputy Plemons appointed him, according to papers filed in the McLennan County Elections Office.

In his career, Mr. Hawkins has been able to more or less walk between the raindrops when it comes to his ongoing troubles with eight-liner gaming parlors.

In 2009, Falls County's 82nd District Judge Robert Stem ordered forfeiture of a building with a tax value of $45,920 in Marlin, $19,420 in cash and 61 eightliner machines owned by Tony Martin after the Falls County Sheriff's Department concluded an undercover operation in September of 2007.

When Mr. Hawkins joined the suit as an intervenor, he obtained the right to take possession of the building after filing a bond. Mr. Hawkins' attorneys proved that he had loaned Mr. Martin $545,000 to start the gaming business and secured the loan by taking out liens on that property and several others. He also proved he had lent Mr. Martin $225,000 to purchase 135 eight-liner machines from his financial and real estate company, which he operates fom a location in the 4500 block of Lake Shore Dr. in Waco.

In 2006, the Waco Police Department raided four gambling rooms Mr. Martin operated in Waco. He pleaded guilty to engaging in organized criminal activity, received a sentence of five years deferred probation, paid a $300 fine, and agreed to perform 300 hours of community service.

- La Panza

1 comment:

  1. Interesting, Mr. Hawkins was a grand supporter for our new D.A. It seems that the new D.A.'s wife is on the payroll of Hawkins under his daughter's business, who was married to Tony Martin that owned all the spin rooms that Hawkins did not know were operating illeagally.