SANTA ANA — At least four people will be charged with misdemeanor gambling offenses stemming from a two-year investigation of a Moose lodge in Huntington Beach, prosecutors said Friday.
Officers at the Loyal Order of the Moose Lodge No. 1832 will be among those charged, Deputy Dist. Atty. Nina Rose Brice said.
Huntington Beach police seized slot machines, poker machines, bookmaking documents and lottery records in a Sept. 7 raid. Officers said they also found $7,000 in cash and gambling receipts.
Brice said Friday that police had gathered evidence against eight people and that felony charges had been discussed. But Brice said that after reviewing the evidence, she decided to file misdemeanor charges against four or possibly five people.
She declined to name them until charges are filed, which will probably not be until Monday.
"Some people were so minimally involved that it doesn't seem appropriate to me for a filing," Brice said.
On the other hand, she said, some of those charged were "not only active participants but in a position to permit others to engage in this type of activity."
Brice said she ruled out felony charges because "they were not out taking the public's money, and they were not being deceptive about the purposes--there was never any suggestion that the money raised would be given to charity."
Nevertheless, Brice said, "a lot of money passed hands over these games," which she said also included Super Bowl pools.
"This is many, many, many thousands of dollars and many, many games, and they seemed to be going on all the time," Brice said. "It's like walking into a little casino."
Moose officials have said the organization raises money for such charities as the Blind Children's Learning Institute and sponsors the Special Olympics.
Police have said the investigation was prompted by citizen complaints against the lodge on Lorge Circle.