03/13/08 — Law officers keeping mum about 'numbers running' raids

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Law officers keeping mum about 'numbers running' raids

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on March 13, 2008 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Federal and local officials released little about Tuesday's police raids on an illegal lottery ring reportedly involving a local restaurant and bar.

The Duplin County Sheriff's Office played a lead role in the investigation, although four Wayne County deputies were dispatched to assist raids in both counties.

Duplin County Sheriff Blake Wallace said the investigation into the "numbers running" operation is not yet complete.

Wallace did not himself confirm that illegal lotteries were the focus of the investigation, but other local authorities said "running numbers" brought the attention of the Internal Revenue Service.

Wallace said he was not ready to divulge details about the raids.

"I'm afraid we're really not ready to release anything just yet," Wallace said.

Other area authorities said there were multiple "count houses" in both Wayne and Duplin counties, leading to a number of raids.

Murphy's Place is a restaurant and bar on northwest Center Street in Mount Olive, located near the town hall and police department.

Mount Olive police were at the raid on Murphy's restaurant before 11 a.m. on Tuesday, and were at the bar owner's home in Duplin County's Wolfscrape Township that evening.

Between 4 and 5:30 p.m., 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.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gaston Williams is connected to the case, a local authority said.

Williams deferred all comment to spokesperson Robin Zeir, who said she was unable to comment.

"I cannot confirm or deny any investigations going on in our office," the Raleigh U.S. Attorney's office spokeswoman said.

Local authorities also said I.R.S. Special Agent Nancy Hatfield had been assigned to the case.

Ms. Hatfield said today that agents of the I.R.S. were involved in the investigation.