Four individuals have been charged by officers with the Burke County Sheriff's Office and other agencies with felony counts in connection to the operation of gaming locations in Burke County. Misdemeanor charges have been filed against four additional suspects.
46-year-old Freddie W. Nickols and 48-year-old Tammy Nichols, both of Mocksville, are each charged with felonious operation of five or more video gaming machines at two different locations, one in Morganton and one in Valdese. They're also charged with misdemeanor gambling at those two locations.
38-year-old Rebecca Allendria McCloud of Connelly Springs is charged with felonious operation of five or more video gaming machines and misdemeanor gambling at a location in Morganton. 56-year-old Lisa Byrd Branch of Morganton is charged with felonious operation of five or more video gaming machines and misdemeanor gambling at a location in Valdese.
Working with the District Attorney’s Office and the NC Department of Public Safety Alcohol Law Enforcement, the Burke County Sheriff’s Office issued search warrants on four gaming locations. The gaming businesses were at 1460 US 70 West in Valdese; 1575 US 70 West in Valdese; 2210 US 70 East in Morganton; and 2000 Johns River Loop in Morganton. The warrants were served on August 23, 2019. The searches were conducted simultaneously by over 50 officers from the BCSO; ALE; NC DPS Probation; NC DPS Corrections; and officers from Morganton Department Public Safety, Valdese, Drexel and Glen Alpine Police Departments.
The BCSO and ALE have conducted undercover operations determining that the machines in these locations were being operated in violation of the N.C. Statutes. The gaming machines were seized and stored as evidence pending court proceedings.
The BCSO and other Burke County law enforcement agencies have received complaints from citizens alleging crimes at or near these gaming sites ranging from solicitation of prostitution, illegal sale and use of controlled substances, possession of firearms, and possible sales of stolen property. Complaints have also included break-ins and larcenies of property, trespassers on private property, and residents living near these properties being concerned about their family’s safety.