Arlington and Fairfax county police have seized betting slips and more than $200,000 in gold, jewelry and cash from nine businesses and homes in an investigation of a Vietnamese sports-betting ring, police said.
The alleged bookmaking ring operated out of Vietnamese businesses in Arlington's Clarendon section, and took bets on college and professional football games every weekend this fall, according to police affidavits filed in Arlington County Circuit Court.
No criminal charges have been filed, but Arlington police said evidence seized in raids Sunday will be presented to a grand jury next month. Police declined to comment in detail on the gambling operation, or to estimate how much money it took in.
The "office" of the alleged bookmaking operation was in the Annandale home of Nguyet Thi O'Rourke, 41, who left Vietnam in 1975, said the affidavit by Arlington Det. Mark McMahan.
O'Rourke, of 7910 Charles Thompson La., said in a telephone interview that she took bets of from $10 to $100 on football games from Vietnamese people, but said she wasn't certain whether bookmaking is legal or illegal.
"We just accept small bets from Vietnamese people," O'Rourke said. "The police try to make a big thing out of it." She said she began taking bets this football season.
The 12-page affidavit, filed in support of a request for a search warrant, said that several Vietnamese business owners in Clarendon took football bets every week, collected money, and called in the bets to O'Rourke's house.
The affidavit said the information was based on statements by an informant who observed bets being placed, and on wiretapped conversations.
Police sources said they believe that this is part of a larger Vietnamese gambling ring in the area.
Police said that in the past they have investigated Vietnamese gambling rings that run card games, but that this is one of the area's first Vietnamese operations taking bets on American sports.
"Every weekend I stay home and watch football," O'Rourke said. "I love it. I don't make any money off it. . . . We like to have fun, too."
Police said they seized a large amount of betting slips and the some $200,000 in cash, gold chunks and jewelry from O'Rourke's house. She denied that the money or property represented winnings from bookmaking, saying she brought the items from Vietnam nine years ago.
Nuoi Hoang, manager of the Pacific Cafe on Wilson Boulevard, yesterday denied allegations in the affidavit that he took football bets. "We like sports here," he said, "but we just watch it on TV."
Kim Thach Huynh, owner of Kimson Jewelers on Wilson Boulevard, also denied the affidavit's allegations that he took bets. "I never knew about football games," Thach said. "I don't know the players."
Operators of other businesses mentioned in the affidavit could not be reached for comment.
O'Rourke said in the interview that she charges a bettor 10 percent of the amount of his wager.
According to the affidavit, the police informant placed bets and tape-recorded conversations with employes of the businesses who use some of the lingo of sports betting. Nuoi was quoted as saying: "Miami, 7 points," and "Redskins, minus 8."
The affidavit also listed numerous phone calls from residences of people named in the affidavit to Las Vegas sports betting services, which offer advice about the "point spread" in football games.