SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - WFTV's Kenneth Craig sat down with the Army veteran who authorities credit with helping take down a multimillion dollar illegal gambling operation.
"I wandered in. First thing I saw was an armed guard, and next thing I saw was about a hundred different slot machines. I said, 'Whoa. What is this?'" said Thomas Brennan.
It was one of 49 Allied Veterans strip mall casinos. Brennan, a Vietnam-era Army veteran, said that happened nearly three years ago in Seminole County.
Brennan said he went into the Allied Veteran's building under the impression that that it was a charity that helped veterans like him. He said he quickly realized it was anything but that.
"It was obvious that it was a
full-blown casino operation," said Brennan.
Brennan said he was outraged, and called Seminole County leaders and the Sheriff's Office. That was among the first complaints that Seminole County received. It helped launch a massive investigation that took years.
On Wednesday federal and local authorities announced that they had finally dismantled the $300 million illegal gambling operation, arrested 49 people, seized houses, and raided some of the strip mall casinos.
Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger credited Brennan as the person who started it all.
"I called him today, and hadn't talked to him in three years, and I said, 'As a result of your complaint and others we have reached this phase in our investigation,'" Eslinger said.
Investigators said only 2 percent of the illegal proceeds went to veterans and the rest padded the pockets of those who were running Allied Veterans.
"I think it was magnificent they've done this," said Brennan. "It was pretty apparent that [Allied Veterans] weren't doing any good at all."