Police say topless dealers and more involved in illicit gambling tournaments - Thursday 21st of January 2010

An undercover sting has broken up an illicit operation in Kent County.

The bust took place over the weekend at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Kentwood and police say it was the culmination of a long investigation.

Detectives also say that gambling was just the start of what was happening during the illegal tournaments, including topless dealers and hostesses providing entertainment.

Now the investigation is continuing, and police say theyre not ruling out the possibility that workers at the hotel could have been involved.

On Craigslist, the operation was billed as the next meeting of the Grand Rapids Poker Club, inviting gamblers to the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Kentwood for a night of food, drinking, Texas hold em, and topless dealers and hostesses.

"Thats how it came on our radar screen, they were so open about it," said Lt. Curt Schram of the Michigan State Police.

On Saturday, police broke up the meeting, arresting 20 people, including four topless dealers, but no employees of the hotel. Lt. Schram says the club held three meetings at the hotel in recent months. Those meetings were held in the Kentwood Room of the Ramada, and on at least one occasion a dealer was totally nude.

"These topless dealers would perform different aerobic exercises," said Lt. Schram. "Twister games for tips, Jello shots for tips."

As many as 40 people attended the meetings dating back to November. The meetings gained attention through Craigslist and fliers that were allegedly handed out.

In a statement the owner of the hotel said "we are truly proud of the men and women who make the Ramada so successful, and are deeply saddened that a single client, that misrepresented its intentions, could in any way be associated with the hotel."

"They were aware of it," said Lt. Schram, "but they didnt know it was illegal. They were told by the person running the tournament that it was okay."

The operator of the illicit tournaments is not yet under arrest, but police say they know who he is, and that hes based out of Detroit. Apparently that operator tried to set up tournaments at a hotel in Muskegon, but was denied.

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