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Six face commercial gambling charges
Authorities: Stores were giving cash payouts
Allauddin Panjwani
A. Panjwani

Six people face commercial gambling charges after investigations at two Forsyth County convenience stores.

According to Forsyth County Sheriff’s reports, the unrelated cases began with anonymous tips in April.

At the Quick Stop Convenience Store, 2383 Canton Hwy., people who went into the store and played the video gaming machines were receiving cash payouts for winning credits, the reports said.

“We executed a search warrant at the store and seized approximately $6,500 in cash and made three arrests,” said Sheriff Ted Paxton.

Those arrested included: Srinivas Varaganti, 44, of Moor Pointe Drive, Cumming; the assistant store manager, 51-year-old Prakashbhai Patel of Atlanta; and Maria De Leon, 38, of Aaron Sosebee Road, Cumming.

Each faces one count of commercial gambling.

The second investigation reportedly involved a month-long undercover operation at Country Corner Shell, 601 Dahlonega St.

According to sheriff’s reports, an informant was paid out in cash, alcohol and lottery tickets three times from video poker machine winnings.

“We also made three arrests during this operation, but the business suffered a structure fire and was closed prior to us being able to execute the search warrant,” Paxton said.

The fire occurred overnight on April 23. At the time, officials said about 20 percent of the station had been damaged by smoke and fire. No one was injured and the business was not open at the time.

Arrested and charged with one count each of commercial gambling were the owner of the business, 57-year-old Allauddin Panjwani, and his son, Javed Panjwani, 32, who was the store manager. Both men live in Lawrenceville.

All five suspects in the cases have been released from the Forsyth County Detention Center after posting separate $11,110 bonds. They are scheduled to appear May 30 in Superior Court, according to the sheriff’s office.

A sixth person, 26-year-old Manuel Ramirez of Samaritan Drive in Cumming, remains in custody.

Ramirez, who sheriff’s reports identified as a clerk at the Country Corner Shell, faces two counts of commercial gambling.

He also had two outstanding warrants — for failure to appear on a driving under the influence charge in 2007, and a probation violation in 2008.