By Linda Cicoira
A Virginia Beach man who does business in Northampton County pleaded guilty Monday in Northampton Circuit Court to possession of an illegal gambling device.
Fifty-six-year-old Raymond T. Garcia, of Red Mill Boulevard, owns El Rey LLC, which operates Lucky 13 Smokes, on Lankford Highway, in Exmore.
Garcia was initially charged with counts of operating an illegal gambling business, illegal possession of gambling equipment, and being an owner who permits illegal gambling at that business. Those charges were not prosecuted.
In a plea bargain, Garcia agreed to pay more than $4,000 in storage fees for the gambling equipment that was seized. The machines will be returned to him. He is not supposed to plug them in. Also seized was $5,337 in cash, which will be forfeited to a local literacy organization.
Garcia was given a 30-day suspended sentence and was fined $250.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Jack Thornton said when the business was setting up shop in 2020, Exmore officers told Garcia that gambling was not allowed. But the activity continued so the police went in. The equipment there included slot machines called skill games.
In another case, 31-year-old Christa Lynn Mariner, also known as Christa Lynn Brady, pleaded guilty to possessing meth, possession with intent to distribute meth, and possession of a gun while possessing meth. The incidents occurred in Dec. 2022 and May 2023.
Sentencing was set for Feb. 12. Mariner was granted an unsecured bond of $2,500 to allow her to be with her five-month-old child for Christmas. She also has four other children between the ages of 1 and 9.
Thornton said, “She does have a profound drug habit. The main concern is for her safety. The terms of (the) bond include zero tolerance for alcohol, drugs, or marijuana. She does not need to be dead for her children.”
In another case, 46-year-old William Parke Custis, of Seaside Road in Exmore, was sentenced to five years in prison for assault and battery of Sgt. J. Gonzalez, of the Exmore Police Department. Two years of the term was suspended. The incident occurred on May 3, 2022. Five years of supervised probation was ordered and will begin when he is released. A jury convicted Custis.