27 arrested in Roswell poker raid
By PAUL KAPLAN , MIKE MORRIS
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 04/11/07
It started a few years ago with a couple of guys getting together to watch Monday Night Football on a big screen TV and eating takeout pizza at a buddy's house in Roswell.
It ended early Tuesday morning with 27 people being hauled off to jail after Roswell police said they broke up a high-stakes poker game where players needed $10,000 in cash just to belly up to the table.
"I've been with the city for going on 27 years, and I've not seen an operation like this," Roswell police sgt. B.C. Brackett said.
Those arrested were from as far away as Pittsburgh, Savannah and Macon, and two were women hired to serve drinks to the high rollers.
Police said the game was Texas Hold'em, which peaked in popularity a couple of years ago along with the televised World Series of Poker tournament in Las Vegas, where top players win millions.
But this isn't Vegas.
This is the quiet, upscale Nesbit Ridge neighborhood in east Roswell, next to Centennial High School.
Roswell Police Chief Ed Williams said his officers had an arrest warrant signed by a judge. He said commercial gambling enterprises like this one can attract additional crimes like holdups that can be dangerous to neighborhoods.
Although petty gambling such as your friendly Friday night poker games, pool hall bets or your Final Four office pools are technically illegal in Georgia, police rarely monitor those games, Williams said.
"We have no idea what people are doing in their homes, or when they gather their friends together," Williams said. "We operate based on complaints the vast majority of the time. That's how this one originated."
Brackett said the arrests were the culmination of a six-month investigation that began when certain neighbors complained about traffic in the otherwise quiet little subdivision of 39 homes.
The house that was busted is a modern stucco and wood two-story on a quiet cul-de-sac. The owners are Dan and Angela Tyre, according to neighbors and public records.
Dan Tyre owns a car wash and his wife works for a wine distributor, said neighbor Mary Hager, who used to baby-sit for the couple's two young children, one of whom is under a year old.
Hager and her husband, Tracy, who are retirees, said the gatherings at the Tyre residence have been a Monday night tradition for a few years. They started as a Monday Night Football gathering ó the Hagers said they were invited but never went. Football then led to poker.
Brackett said the game was by invitation only, but potential players could apply to join through a Web site.
The Hagers said Dan Tyre always made sure there was no noise from the gatherings that would bother neighbors.
"They're wonderful people," Mary Hager said. "Andrea is a wonderful mother. Danny is friendly, always says hello."
Tracy Hager said "a swarm" of police, including a SWAT team, arrived around 10:30 p.m. Monday and forced their way into the basement of the house, where the card-players were gathered at three tables. There were at least 20 cars parked in the cul-de-sac, and most of them have been impounded.
"I stood out here and watched it until about 1:30 in the morning," Tracy Hager said. "It was still going on when I went to bed."
The Hagers said it felt to them like a bit of an over-reaction by police to what seems like a victimless crime.
Nineteen of those arrested were charged with illegal gambling, a misdemeanor. Four were charged with commercial gambling, a felony that indicates police believe they were involved in running the game.
Dan Tyre and Glenn Robert Gilbertti, who listed Tyre's house as his address, were charged with commercial gambling and drug possession. Jeffrey Thomas Girardi of Atlanta was charged with drug trafficking and gambling. Brian Everett Taylor of Macon was charged with illegal possession of a firearm and gambling.