On Friday, Alcohol Law Enforcement along with the Town of Littleton Police Department, served a search warrant on the Minit-Chek, according to Littleton P.D. Chief Philip Trivette.
The warrant involved Minit-Chek Owner Ali Abdo Saleh Ali and the fish table machines that were on the premises. The machines were disassembled and made inoperable. As a result of the search, Ali was charged with 12 warrants for arrest by ALE, according to Trivette.
A number of complaints have been made surrounding the Minit-Chek and the fish table machines in particular, Trivette said. ALE did an undercover operation in order to get the evidence in this case.
The Herald reached out to ALE Special Agent Brian White for more details including the warrants issued, but did not receive a response by press time.
To shed some light on the history and discussion of gaming in Littleton, some details have been pulled.
• Jan. 11, 2021
During the Town of Littleton Board of Commissioner’s meeting, an ongoing discussion of the town’s officials resulted in a public hearing for a revision to zoning ordinance 21-001, to prohibit video poker, sweepstakes and similar electronic gaming operations that simulate gambling and other games of chance, effective immediately.
If approved, the ordinance does two things:
• Removes the authorization of commercial amusements
• Confirms the enforcement would begin 10 calendar days after adoption
The two people who spoke during the hearing were Jonathan W. Trapp, attorney for one of Littleton Tobacco and Laundry owners Dhwanendra Patel, and Keith Anthony, representing the owner of Minit-Chek, Ali.
Anthony said the town does not have the authority to adopt this regulation, its authority comes from the state through the General Assembly, and even if it did, the short amortization period is unreasonable.
“For both those reasons, the town would be best served in not passing this ordinance,” Anthony said.
Trapp said his client purchased the convenience store with the reliance of using the gaming machines to attract customers, and the ability to do so was written in their lease. Without the machines they would lose tens of thousands of dollars, he said.
“If the board agrees to amortize, the time and the loss needs to be addressed,” Trapp said.
Gardner again said the town requested the financial information about a year ago and again in December.
“The town would really appreciate having as much information as possible,” he said. “The sooner you get that to us would be appreciated.”
After the hearing, Mayor K. Owen Scott said the item was tabled and would be discussed later in closed session.
Before that hearing, Littleton attorney Kris Gardner reminded folks that early in 2020, the board had sent out notices of the board’s intent to phase out the gaming machines and inviting the operators of Littleton Tobacco and Laundry and Minit-Check, who operate gaming machines in town, to submit a time they thought was reasonable to recoup some income from the loss of the machines.
• Feb. 25, 2020
Trapp attended the Town of Littleton Board of Commissioners meeting, speaking on behalf of Patel, who was also in the audience. Trapp said Littleton Tobacco and Laundry allows a place to wash clothes, play games, buy snacks and gas.
“This is a vital component to their business and for one to say, we will give you six months or eight months that you have to get rid of this, I think is unreasonable.”
Gardner was in attendance and said it is proper to allow the operators some period of time to recoup whatever they have invested. He had explained this was a continuation of the Jan. 28, 2020, meeting, when he said, “Instead of the town just picking a period of time, a year, six months, a month, it is better to speak with the people who could be affected by it, to see what financial impact it may have on them, so this is your opportunity to address the board.”
The discussion ended with Gardner tabling the item, giving more time to Jeremy Parker and the Minit-Chek owner.
• Jan 28, 2020
During the Town of Littleton Board of Commissioners meeting, Parker said he owns the machines and has supplied them to the Minit-Chek owner since 2012. Parker said he spoke with his attorney, Geoffrey Davis, who advised five years would be a fair amount of time to phase out the gaming machines at Minit-Chek. During that meeting, Gardner asked Parker to submit in an email to Town Clerk and Finance Officer Ellen Eller, outlining specific details justifying the length of time, including financial impacts. As of that meeting, Gardner said he still had not received the email from Parker, but wanted to give him a little more time.
• Dec. 15, 2020
During the Town of Littleton Board of Commissioners meeting, the board decided to go forward with an amendment to a zoning ordinance to prohibit video poker sweepstakes and similar electronic gaming operations that simulate gambling and other games of chance, effective immediately.
If passed, it will allow the town to go after gaming machines by banning them from town altogether, Chief Philip Trivette said.
“This ordinance gives me a lot more to work with and I think the town can finally be rid of the machines,” he said then.
In an unrelated incident, on Feb. 13, 2021, a fatal shooting happened at Littleton Tobacco and Laundry. Trivette said the shooter causing the fatality was one of the store owners, Dhwanendra Rangar.
At about 7:45 p.m., two men completely covered in dark clothing, entered the store and one of them brandished a gun at Rangar, Trivette said.
“Within 10 seconds of them being in the store, the shots broke out and the whole thing lasted about 30 seconds,” he said. “The owner had wounds, he was shot three times — all non-life threatening.”
One of the suspects died on the scene due to a gunshot wound from Rangar, Trivette said. The other suspect fled. Trivette said on Wednesday, one person is in custody and two more are outstanding in the shooting incident.
At the time, Trivette said it was a pretty dire situation.
“One of the owner’s 10-year-old son was behind the counter when it was happening,” he said. “He was not shot.”
He added, “This is an isolated incident. Other businesses should not be so concerned.”
As for the Minit-Chek incident, Ali has a court date in July for some other charges, according to court records. Trivette said he was previously charged on site for possession of marijuana, which may or may not be related to the July court date.
Ali's court date for the new charges is Aug. 26.