03/12/08 — Sheriff raids illegal lottery in Mount Olive

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Sheriff raids illegal lottery in Mount Olive

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on March 12, 2008 2:09 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Duplin County Sheriff officers and other investigators descended Murphy's Place on Center Street in Mount Olive and the home of the bar's owner Tuesday, searching for evidence of an illegal lottery ring.

But the restaurant and bar and the owner's house were not the only locations being investigated for "numbers running," a criminal enterprise once associated with organized crime before state-controlled lotteries became commonplace in the 1980s.

Authorities said "count houses" were located in both Duplin and Wayne counties, but Duplin County officials were performing most of the investigation work.

Duplin County Sheriff Blake Wallace declined to comment about the investigation on Tuesday evening and was not available for comment this morning.

Wayne County Maj. Ray Smith, who was briefed on the case, said the investigation involved federal authorities including, to his knowledge, the Internal Revenue Service.

Smith said Wayne authorities sent four deputies to assist with Duplin County's searches.

"The federal government has the jurisdiction to go anywhere they want to," Smith said, adding that agencies usually try to work together in such cases.

Smith said he "had no idea" where other searches were performed on Wednesday.

Between 4 p.m. and 5:30, numerous Duplin County law enforcement vehicles were parked at the home of Lynn Beavers Sox, who has also gone by the name Vonnie Lynn Beavers Oates, according to Wayne and Duplin county tax records.

Mrs. Sox owns both Murphy's Place, the home and a tract of vacant land behind the home on Garner Chapel Road where deputies searched Tuesday evening.

The Murphy's Place search in Mount Olive took place around 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Signs were posted on the restaurant's door around 5 p.m. saying the restaurant would reopen for business at 11 a.m. today.

"Numbers" or "running numbers" refers to any illegal lottery.