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October 26, 2013

Gambling operation lands three Cullman residents in jail

A Cullman family of three was arrested after agents from the Cullman Narcotics Enforcement Team shut down a homegrown gambling venue and retrieved multiple devices on Wednesday.

Willard Craig Knighten, 52, his wife Tammy Jo Knighten, 48, and their son Justin Tyler Knighten, 21, all of Cullman, were arrested at their home at 335 Alabama Highway 69 around 11 a.m. on Wednesday. Sheriff Mike Rainey said CNET agents were able to obtain enough probable cause for a search warrant at the residence.

“The family had a room set up in the back of the metal building they were living in,” Rainey said. “The CNET agents located nine gambling machines when they executed the warrant. I received several complaints and this has been an on-going investigation for about a year. We want to thank the public for their help. We wouldn’t be able to do this without their assistance. It might take us a little while, but we will shut them down.”

 Rainey said pending the trial, the machines will be destroyed. The agents also recovered a small amount of marijuana during the search and seized $966 in cash, which will go to the state.

Willard Knighten was charged with two counts of possession of gambling devices, a Class-A misdemeanor and unlawful possession of a controlled substance. Tammy Knighten was charged with possession of a gambling device, and Justin Knighten was charged with two counts of promoting gambling, also a Class-A misdemeanor. They have each bonded out of jail since their arrests.

Lauren Estes can be reached at laurene@cullmantimes.com or 256-734-2131, ext. 137.

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