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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s Attorney General’s Office says gambling enterprise stretching everywhere from Cache County to Washington County was dismantled after a lengthy investigation that ended with convictions and fines earlier this year.
The state issued several warrants across Utah and ended with cleaning out gambling machines across the state. That came after more than two years of investigating, said assistant attorney general Steven Wuthrich.
John Leslie Honeycutt, 48, of Hooper, and Pierre Luc Marcoux, 34, a Florida native that also had a residence in Utah and traveled back and forth between the two states, were the primary individuals involved in the gambling enterprise case.
Court records show both pleaded guilty to two counts of gambling promotion, a class B misdemeanor, and a plea of abeyance to a felony count of money laundering in January after being indicted in 3rd District Court in 2017.
The indictment noted the state attorney general’s office received complaints from numerous state jurisdictions about electronic gaming device kiosks and mechanical coin-pushers placed in convenience stores and other stores across the state and marketed as promotional sweepstakes.
The machines were found to be owned by Intermountain Vending, Inc. and Western Coin, LLC, which was later sold to two other companies, which prosecutors said Honeycutt and Marcoux were “significant stakeholders” of after beginning their business partnership in 2015.
The companies the two owned “made a significant amount of money during the course of their operation, which was used to continue to finance the operation as well as pay stakeholders in the company,” according to a 2017 charging document.
More than 20 police agencies from across the state filed complaints in the case, Wuthrich said.
“(We had) various complaints from various jurisdictions not just in Salt Lake County, but in other counties and cities whose prosecutors didn’t feel like they had the wherewithal to take on these two companies,” he said.
Wuthrich said the individual and corporate defendants agreed to the forfeiture of seized money from bank accounts, as well as removing all gaming machines in the state. The entire process was finalized last week
More than $900,000 was seized in the agreements, Wuthrich added.
The convictions highlight the effort prosecutors put into stopping gambling in Utah, which Wuthrich said is something Utah prosecutors take seriously.
What constitutes gambling?
The state defines it as “risking anything of value for a return or risking anything of value upon the outcome of a contest, game, gaming scheme, or gaming device when the return or outcome,” which includes an element of chance and is in accord with an agreement that an individual will receive something of value in a certain outcome.
Gambling, according to state law, includes lottery or fringe gambling, but not a lawful business transaction or playing an “amusement device” that doesn’t exchange value in return.
Utah law prohibits gambling, lottery or a video gaming device that is "given, conducted, or offered for use or sale by a business in exchange for anything of value; or given away incident to the purchase of other goods or services.”
Gambling bets and online gambling is also prohibited in Utah, so things such as betting on a sports game, cards games or even playing Bingo can fall under this realm.
Assistant attorney general Thom Roberts explained to the Deseret News in 2013 that anything that doesn't involve risking something in an attempt to gain from an outcome likely isn't illegal.
Contributing: Brianna Bodily