Politicians facing gambling charges following FOX 46 investigation

- At least one current and former elected official will be charged with misdemeanor gambling following a FOX 46 Charlotte investigation.

Jason Smith (former Stanfield Town Councilman) and Ernest Broadway (current Oakboro Commissioner) were each caught on camera gambling in a high-stakes poker game at Morgan's Tavern in Stanfield.

Morgan's Tavern used to be named Wishbone Pub and was under a different ownership -- by a man named Terry Pennington. Pennington was charged with illegal video poker machines by Alcohol Law Enforcement back in 2014. Shortly after, Pennington sold the bar to Smith, who was, at the time, sitting on town council.

"The day I sold it to him he put a poker table in it the next day," Pennington said.

Morgan's Tavern is located directly next door to the Stanfield Police Department. Pennington said Smith hosted illegal poker games, twice-a-week, up until recently, when FOX 46 Charlotte began investigating.

Neither the Department or A.L.E. ever made a gambling charge to Smith. Pennington believes it's a "double-standard" because of Smith's political status.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know he's being left alone intentionally," Pennington said.

FOX 46 Charlotte investigated, however, and found that Stanfield P.D. and A.L.E. have helped issued a number of violations to Smith and Morgan's Tavern, related to alcohol.

A drug investigation surrounding LSD also occurred, relating to a female bartender, but authorities said she left town before it could be concluded.

"You would think that being this close to a police department you would be crossing your T's and dotting your I's and making sure you're not breaking the law," Stanfield Chief Corrie Faggart said.

Chief Faggart said he had never seen any gambling, despite it being next door to the department and the game, regularly, being played out in the open of the bar.

"If Mr. Pennington would have came to [the police department] instead then we would have conducted an investigation as well," Faggart added.

Former Councilman Smith denied the gambling allegations to FOX 46 Charlotte but did not know there was an undercover camera inside the bar on Wednesday, March 28. Broadway admitted to gambling and said he would not do it again.

FOX 46 Charlotte viewed money being exchanged, chips at the table and conversations related to poker.

"Get it off the table," one person said when FOX 46 Charlotte's David Sentendrey knocked on the door. "They can't prove nothing as long as they can't see it on the table."

FOX 46 Charlotte spoke with an undercover A.L.E. agent who said the undercover video is enough to secure criminal charges.

"They know better and that's obvious by looking at the video," the agent said. 

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