Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents have taken the first step in a process to shut down a Lawrence bar and a fraternal organization where gambling machines, cash and financial records were seized in a raid last week.
David Sim, KBI special agent, said Wednesday that he had filed notices of potential forfeiture claim on the property of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, 1803 W. Sixth, and the Jet Lag Lounge, 610 Fla.
The notices, filed with the Douglas County Register of Deeds office, cover the real estate, structures and fixtures of the property.
Kyle Smith, an assistant attorney general assigned to work with the KBI, said the notices serve to protect the government's interest in the property and to warn potential buyers that the property may be subject to a forfeiture action.
Sim said that the next step in the forfeiture process would be an investigation into allegations that gambling was going on in the buildings.
If state authorities found sufficient evidence, he said, they would try to persuade the U.S. attorney's office to pursue a forfeiture action under a federal law that allows law enforcement agencies to seize property being used for gambling.
State law does not allow authorities to seize property in gambling cases, Sim said.
Meanwhile, authorities are deciding whether criminal charges may be filed. The forfeiture action would be filed in civil court and would be separate from any criminal proceedings.
Sim stressed that authorities had not decided whether to seek forfeiture.
"We're not at the point yet where we know what's going to happen," he said.
The notices stemmed from a raid on the properties May 19 by 23 officers from the Douglas County Sheriff's Department, KBI, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Kansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Unit.
About a dozen video poker machines were seized. Investigation that led to the raid began late last year after the sheriff's department received information about illegal gambling at the two locations.
A man who answered the telephone at the Eagles office referred questions about the raid to Topeka attorney Mark Bennett Jr., who did not return telephone calls. Michael Jones, owner of the Jet Lag Lounge, could not be reached for comment.