WALKER -- Four people were charged in Cass County District Court Monday on forgery and fraud charges following a Minnesota Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement investigation of the Ski Gull charitable gambling site at Kelly's restaurant.
Three of the four men; Robert John Martin, 34, Brainerd, Lee Timothy Johnson, 35, Brainerd, and Ryan Todd VanBrunt, 27, Nisswa, were charged with felony aggravated forgery and misdemeanor lawful gambling fraud. The fourth man, Delbert Alan Laughlin, 29, Lake Shore, was charged with seven counts of felony aggravated forgery and one count of gross misdemeanor lawful gambling fraud. On the gambling fraud charges, Martin, Johnson and VanBrunt are accused of using false prize receipt information on prize receipts of more than $500 and Laughlin is accused of using false prize receipt information on prize receipts of more than $2,500.
Martin's next court date is Nov. 5. Johnson, VanBrunt and Laughlin's next court dates are Nov. 19.
The four men are accused of peeking at pull-tabs in order to determine winning tickets, the criminal complaint said. The men used the names of people who had lost driver's licenses to forge winning tickets, the complaints said.
Johnson told law enforcement officials he and Laughlin, Martin and VanBrunt had played pull-tabs after hours but denied having "peeked" at any of the tickets, the criminal complaint said.
Authorities were notified of the alleged fraud after Vern Winslow, assistant charitable gambling manager for the Ski Gull Organization, received a customer complaint about buying pull-tabs that appeared to have been partially opened, or "peeked," the criminal complaint said.
Winslow reported the complaint to a Minnesota Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement special agent in May.
Individuals working the games are not allowed to play the games as they would obtain an unfair advantage pursuant to gaming rules, the criminal complaint said.
Duff Erholtz, owner of Kelly's restaurant and bar, said today all four men remain employed at Kelly's and he doesn't believe the accusations against the four men are true.
"They are outstanding people, I trust them with my own money and the pull-tab money," said Erholtz. "If (the charges are) proven to be true in any of the four cases, I would be quite shocked and sad."
Erholtz said there have been no pull-tabs at Kelly's while the matter is in court, but he stands "110 percent" behind his men.
"Unless they're found guilty, I do not believe there was any criminal wrongdoing in their actions," added Erholtz.
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