Jeffco Sheriff's Connection to Planned Gambling Hall Under Scrutiny

Alabama attorney general Steve Marshall, who has criticized Jefferson County's new sheriff for failing to enforce the state's gambling law, Monday declined further comment, citing an "ongoing criminal investigation." Sheriff Mark Pettway, a Democrat, last month announced that enforcement of the law prohibiting electronic bingo machines is not a priority for his office. It was a dramatic reversal of the policy implemented by Pettway's predecessor, Republican Mike Hale, who as sheriff ordered raids of suspected illegal gambling operations. Pettway's motives came under scrutiny following the revelation that his brother, Bruce Pettway, recently obtained a business license to operate an electronic bingo hall in Graysville. The city's mayor, Clark "Julio" Davis, said that the sheriff told him he would not be enforcing state law prohibiting the devices, WBRC Fox 6 reported last week. Davis was also quoted as saying Marshall's office contacted him, seeking information on who purchased licenses for electronic bingo. The sheriff's spokesman, Capt. David Agee, Monday denied that the family connection influenced Pettway's policy. "It has no bearing on our enforcement, our priorities," said Agee, claiming that the office is focused on fighting drugs and violent crime.

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