PokerNews Op-Ed: Player from Watauga Texas Poker Raid Fights Back Against D.A.
Last October, the Watauga Social Lounge Poker Club in Watauga, Texas – which is situated between Fort Worth and Dallas – was raided by police during Day 2 of one of their bigger tournaments.
Arrests were made and 49 players were fined $360 each. In April, those players had their charges dropped and fines dismissed. While most players were relieved, many are still discontent with how the entire situation was handled. Also, the fact that Tarrant County still has $205,000 in cash from the tournament in which they had participated, not to mention $150-$200K in equipment.
Some of those players are not going down without a fight.
A Letter to the District Attorney
With his permission, PokerNews is publishing the letter sent by 80-year-old Gerald L Foreman, a player who was a part of the raid last October, recently sent to the District Attorney of Tarrant County,. As you will read, Foreman is extremely displeased with how the authorities handled the situation and are doing what he can to fight back.
April 25, 2023
To: Mr. Phil Sorrells, Tarrant County District Attorney From: Gerald L Foreman Re: Real Justice
I left a message on 4/20/2023 on an anonymous voicemail that the person who answered the phone at your office said was the “person I needed to talk to”. Of course, I received no return call in the tradition of not caring and just plain old meanness from your office. Today is my birthday. I was only age 80 when your office robbed me and allowed your law enforcement harm to further damage me.
At the direction of your predecessor, The Watauga Social Club, a poker establishment in Watauga, TX was raided by law enforcement officials from Tarrant County at the behest of the Tarrant County’s office. This was the final day of a poker tournament with about 350 players to begin with over a period of a few days. The 350 narrowed down to 54 who qualified for the final day. Each of us who qualified was guaranteed a return of $1500 for making it to the final day. My seat at my assigned table had my back to the entrance of the establishment. Less than a half hour into this final day, we heard the words: “Hands over your heads now.” It was a raid by law enforcement. At first, I thought we were being robbed by criminals, but it turned out to be worse. Indeed, we were going to be robbed, sadly by our own government, a government funded by citizen tax dollars.
About me: I have neuropathy in my feet and legs. I am under the care of a cardiologist. I have balance problems and often walk with a cane. I need to eat at certain times, and I am a vegetarian --- and I become hypoglycemic if I don’t eat when my body tells me to. My food bag was on a side table about 3 feet away from where I was sitting, and I requested the law enforcement official lurking over my table if I may move to get my lunch bag or if he would hand make the lunch bag. He told me I must wait. It was time for certain medicine and supplements for me to ingest and I explained my need as to my health issues and he replied again that I would have to wait. Lest I forget, I also take an evening medication to avoid getting up 5-6 times a night to urinate and I was denied for over 2 hours the opportunity to use the men’s room. I was shaking from hunger, needed to urinate to the point I was in pain, and I told him that if I couldn’t go to the toilet, I was going to “piss my pants.” His reply was: Okay, but somebody else is in there and you can go when they finish. So, it seems that others could use the toilet when needed, but not me. When the men’s room became available, he accompanied me to it. It has only one door to get in and out of and it is windowless. Nevertheless, he stood behind me and watched while I urinated. I still can’t figure that one out. On the way back to the poker table, I grabbed my lunch and wolfed it down. Eventually, my name was called, and I was directed to a table where a law enforcement officer questioned me. The questions he asked me were if I had played there previously and if I saw anything illegal going on. I replied that I never saw anything illegal, and he looked at me with a cynical and doubtful look as if he knew I was lying. He gave me that sardonic grin that spoke volumes. I guess he wanted to be sure that insult was added to my injury.
I paid $485 (as I recollect) to play in that tournament and I was denied the $1500 guarantee I had coming to me from tournament proceeds and a chance to win a lot more. I had to research for many hours my potential defense for the jury trial I was going to demand. I had to pay $20 for parking and lose a whole day to sit in a courtroom for 3 hours where I was offered a deferred sentence if I allowed Tarrant County to rob me of another $100 for court costs. Tarrant County caused me, and many others, much anguish over this issue, and the cherry on top of the poisonous sundae your office served is the letter I received from the court stating that my case was dismissed in THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE. I see no justice in denying me the opportunity to embarrass the Tarrant County DA’s office in front of a jury of 6 of my peers. So, you not only stole my time and my money, but you also stole my dignity once again. I was fortunate that in my analysis of the case brought against me and the other players led me to the conclusion that I did not need a lawyer to represent me. This case was so stupid and so malicious that I could be the fool who represents himself. Some of the other players paid their hard-earned dollars to have lawyers represent them. They are out even more money. What is most offensive is that you ran a warrant search on all the players and your law enforcement officials came up empty. We were just nice people, not criminals, and just playing poker recreationally. One of the players at my table was a Captain in the Air Force, a fighter pilot. Here was a young man who has flown combat missions in defense of our country being harassed by corrupt officials sanctioned by your office seeking to make a money grab. I surmise this young man, a military officer, had to cop a plea, pay the court costs (a further insult) to protect himself from military retribution and ruination of his military career. THIS IS NOT IN THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE.
This establishment, the Watauga Social Club, like other clubs I have played at in Dallas County provided a safe environment in which folks such as me could enjoy their game, poker. You damaged the owner of this business irreparably. He ran a business enterprise precisely as others who operate freely in other locations in Texas. This was easy to see it for what it was: A MONEY GRAB by Tarrant County. Plus, your office acted as if a trial had been accomplished as your enforcement arm stole not only the money, but also all the furnishings in the establishment. In other words, punishment without a trial. Some justice!!! What’s next, spying on golfers who make side bets and taking their golf clubs? Perhaps you’ll go after Super Bowl bettors. The power of authority was violated by your office. It’s so plain to see. On top of punishing the owner of the business who ALLEGEDLY did something illegal, you elected to punish all of us with citations. Next thing you know, when speeding tickets are issued to drivers in Tarrant County, the passengers will receive citations too.
I request, no I demand reimbursement to make me financially whole and an apology from your office. If not, I want my trial. My phone call to the anonymous voicemail at your office has not as I said been returned and failure to contact me to resolve the issue I have brought forth in this communique will result in my taking appropriate action. It is your choice to do the right thing or face the embarrassment of me picketing in front of your building with news outlets recording the event for local print and TV media. Perhaps it may even make national news. I guess you have a choice here to do the right thing or not, to right the wrong committed by your predecessor. You wouldn’t want to be ignored and neither do I. I sincerely hope you do not take this as an extortion attempt. It isn’t in any way. It’s simply a citizen’s attempt for justice for himself and for the other victims of wrongful action on the part of the Tarrant County DA at the time of this wrongful, malicious, and hurtful event. I also hope that you don’t, as your predecessor did, use your authority to harass or damage me or others further. I am hopeful that common decency rather than retribution will prevail for me and all who have been damaged by the Tarrant County DA’s office.