Fairfax Poker Game Is Raided; 2 Charged

By Ian Shapira
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 23, 2005

The Texas Hold 'Em game in Great Falls last week was so rich and so enterprising that Fairfax County police said it could well have been in Las Vegas.

Sixty people showed up with wads of money at the home of Tariq "Rick" Rahim, president and founder of VMC Satellite Inc., who, in his spare time, plays in professional poker tournaments.

Games were running at five tables, the cost for a buy-in was $300, an off-duty cop with two weapons stood sentry, and, police said yesterday, the homeowner was taking a cut.

More than a dozen Fairfax police officers raided the house Dec. 15 and interviewed each player twice. Afterward, Rahim and Robert A. Hoffman Jr., 39, a two-year member of the police force in the tiny town of Haymarket, were arrested, police said yesterday.

Rahim, 37, was charged with operating an illegal gambling enterprise and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Hoffman, 39, who has been suspended from the Haymarket force, was charged with two misdemeanors: participating in an illegal gambling operation and being an accessory to an illegal gambling operation.

"It's perfectly legal to have a friendly poker game in your home -- if the house is not taking a cut," said Mary Ann Jennings, a Fairfax County police spokeswoman. "The house was taking a cut of the money being played. We don't have gambling rights like Nevada does."

In a brief interview, Rahim denied that anything illegal occurred during the game. "We had a friendly game of poker with some friends," he said.

His attorney, Jonathan Frieden, declined to comment about the charges. But he said Rahim used Hoffman to guard the game because "he was concerned that there had been robberies in the surrounding Great Falls area."

The players were friends and acquaintances of Rahim's, Frieden said. "I think he was surprised and afraid," when police arrived between 9 and 10 p.m., he said. "That's a scary thing to go through."

Jennings said the game occurred on a regular basis and had been advertised on the Internet. She said police are still investigating how much of a cut Rahim allegedly took.

Police also were concerned about the weapons at the game. Rahim was carrying a gun, Hoffman had two, and two other players had firearms. Some of the weapons were carried legally.

"You never know what's going to happen when you get a bunch of people together gambling and there are guns. It's not a good situation, and we don't want it in our community," Jennings said. "Plus, when you say you have a police officer there, it may or may not translate into some people's minds that it's safe and it's a legal game."

Hoffman did not return a message left with his brother.

His arrest marks another problem to hit the nine-member police department in Haymarket, an incorporated town in western Prince William County. In June, Hoffman filed a complaint that led to a sexual harassment investigation of the department's top two officers, Chief James E. Roop and Sgt. Gregory Breeden, who were later suspended.

Haymarket Town Council members said Hoffman's suspension will last at least until the charges against him have been resolved in court. Meanwhile, Hoffman, whose annual salary is $38,500, will resume being paid Jan. 8.

Rahim reveals a little bit about himself on his personal Web site, which featured photos of numerous cars, including Hummers and Lamborghinis.

Police said the investigation is ongoing.

Staff researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.

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