Ten charged with gambling at country club

By Sharna Johnson: Freedom New Mexico

A Portales city councilor and former Roosevelt County manager have been charged with illegal gambling in connection with a Dec. 30 undercover investigation at the Portales Country Club.

Councilman Oscar Robinson and former County Manager Michael Miller were among a group of 10 charged with petty misdemeanor gambling, according to records obtained Tuesday from New Mexico Department of Public Safety.

The charges were filed in the 9th Judicial District Court on Jan. 20, records show.

Portales Country Club was also cited for commercial gambling on licensed premises, records show.

Penalty for a petty misdemeanor is a maximum of six months in jail and $500 fine.

Robinson, 70, and Miller, 54, declined comment when contacted Tuesday.

Robinson, a retiree and business owner, was elected to hold the Ward B position in March 2010.

Miller served as county manager from 1994 to 1999 and Ward D councilor from 2002 until 2010.

Around 11 p.m. Dec. 30, the group was observed by an undercover officer playing Texas Hold’ em at the country club, records show.

Included with the report was video footage captured with a hidden camera worn by Agent Victor Rodriguez of the special investigations division.

On the video the nine men and one woman can be seen chatting as they play cards and exchange chips until a man is seen taking money from his wallet and handing it to another man, who then hands him poker chips.

In the report, Rodriguez notes he watched as Jerry Wood, 71, handed a $20 bill to Miller in exchange for poker chips.

A few moments later Rodriguez can be heard on the video identifying himself as an investigator to the players and asking them to produce identification.

Rodriguez collected the money and counted the cash in front of the players to document $580 in cash was seized.

In the report it was noted Wood was holding the money and that players usually gather on Thursdays, with a different player holding the money each game.

A man who identified himself as Jerry Wood, whose cell phone number was obtained from the report, on Tuesday denied knowledge of the incident.

Others charged declined comment or could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

The video shows Rodriguez told the players gambling is a fourth-degree felony, but he documented in his report the decision was made to pursue petty misdemeanor charges after reviewing the case with District Attorney Matt Chandler.