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Fish arcade company drops suit against Rowan County Sheriff’s Office

SALISBURY — The owner of fish arcade businesses being targeted by local law enforcement has dropped a lawsuit that sought to stop a criminal case from moving forward.

Golf Fish, LLC on Friday filed a notice of voluntary dismissal in its Rowan County Superior Court case. The group, represented by Durham attorney Jonathan Trapp, first filed suit in February 2020, but the case hasn’t been heard by a judge. The company alleged a conflict of interest by the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office and questioned the validity of claims that its operations constituted illegal gambling.

The dismissal will not materially affect the Rowan Sheriff’s Office investigation into fish arcades or recent attempts to shut them down. Fish arcades, which get their name because of the animals depicted in its games, choose winners “randomly by chance” instead of skill or achievement, according to the Rowan Sheriff’s Office.

In March, sheriff’s deputies in Rowan and Cabarrus counties raided businesses and houses associated with Gold Fish LLC, seizing about $800,000 in cash and more than 100 gambling machines. Since then, several people have been arrested in Rowan and elsewhere in North Carolina connected to the case. Charges include unlawful gaming promotions, operating slot machines as well as felony and misdemeanor gambling.

While Rowan Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy David Ramsey says he expects more charges in the case, people currently charged and not arrested include Ektaben Yogeshkumar Patel, a clerk at D D Xpress Discount Mart who faces felony and misdemeanor gambling violations, and Yunikka Yvette Price, a clerk for a fish arcade at 2143-C Statesville Blvd. who faces the same charges.

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