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Pay lake owner indicted

Charged with money laundering, corrupt activity

Nearly two years after gaming machines were rolled out of Sky Lake and into the custody of law enforcement, the owner and several employees of the pay fishing lake business have been indicted for gambling and money laundering.

Tracy L. Ellis, 54, of Chesapeake, owner of the business, was indicted on 24 criminal counts this week by a Lawrence County grand jury. The business, listed as Sky Lake Inc., was separately indicted on identical charges.

Those charges were two first-degree counts of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, 12 counts of third-degree money laundering, four counts of fifth-degree possession of criminal tools, three counts of misdemeanor gambling and three counts of misdemeanor operating a gambling house.

According to the indictments, Ellis allegedly purchased nearly two dozen gambling machines and had them installed at the business, located at 153 Eaton Road in Chesapeake, and allowed patrons who used them to receive cash payouts.

The indictment also alleges “from January 2009 to July 2014, the common purpose of the enterprise regarding its ongoing illegal conduct was to gamble, to profit from gambling and to hide money in assets with such money being the proceeds of illegal gambling.

“A specification in the indictments alleges $68,071, which was confiscated in the July 2014 raid, is considered “contraband and/or property derived from or through the commission or facilitation” of the crimes.

Also indicted in connection with the case were: officer manager Loretta L. Akers, 56, of 1441 County Road 32, Chesapeake, two first-degree counts of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, 10 counts of third-degree money laundering, four misdemeanor counts of gambling and a fifth-degree count of possession of criminal tools; employee Laura Black, 57, of 14989 State Route 243, Chesapeake, one misdemeanor count of gambling; Nancy C. Salmons, 62, of 583 County Road 68, Chesapeake, two misdemeanor counts of gambling; and Ginger D. Chapman, 34, of 15003 State Route 243, Chesapeake, one count of misdemeanor gambling.

Lawrence County Prosecuting Attorney Brigham Anderson said the investigation into Sky Lake lasted for several months before the raid in 2014 and had gone on up until the grand jury met this week. He said his office hired a forensic accountant to help with the “voluminous” bank records seized in the case.

“That’s why there has been such a time delay,” Anderson said.

The raid in 2014 came about after citizens allegedly reported gambling activity at the business to the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Anderson said.

Other indictments this week, according to the office of Lawrence County Prosecuting Attorney Anderson’s Office are:

• Shane Yates, 28, of 409 Center St., Ironton, trafficking in drugs;

• James Bowling, 58, of 507 Westview Drive, Ashland, making terroristic threats and misdemeanor aggravated menacing;

• Lori Ellis, 52, of 28 Private Drive 53 Apt. 10A, Proctorville, forgery and theft;

• Nickie Lyons, 27, of 214 Brubaker Drive, South Point, forgery and theft;

• John Knotts, 30, of 214 Brubaker Drive, South Point, forgery and theft;

• Matthew Lindsey, 25, of 245 Township Road 1057, Proctorville, burglary;

• Joseph Swanson, 43, of 3877 16th St., Huntington, two counts of possession of a controlled substance and two misdemeanor counts of possession of drug abuse instruments;

• Deshannon Montez Lee AKA Cuzo, 27, of 409 Center St., Ironton, trafficking in drugs and tampering with evidence.