Arizona Woman Runs Drugs to Fund Bingo Habit

Although criminality is not commonly associated with bingo there have been some isolated cases of bingo fanatics stealing large amounts of money to fund their bingo habits. In the UK one woman stole thousands to feed her online bingo habit and another woman stole from relatives to finance her bingo addiction. Both of these cases received widespread publicity in the British press and on many online bingo blogs and forums. In Arizona a 62 year old grandmother found a highly unique way to fund her bingo habit; selling marijuana.

Leticia Villareal-Garcia was arrested while transporting 200 pounds of cannabis from her Douglas Arizona home to a casino in Leticia Villareal-Garcia. Acting on a tip police stopped Ms. Villareal-Garcia’s and noticed a strong smell of fresh cut pot. Law enforcement officials said they found 214 pounds of marijuana in her trunk. Villareal-Garcia insisted that she had no knowledge of the pot in her trunk. Police did not believe her claim and arrested her.

At her trial at in Cochise County Superior Court Villareal-Garcia said that the day before her arrest her son’s long-lost godfather had visited her and borrowed her car. Her lawyer, Robert Zohlmann, said that Villareal-Garcia had been a ‘blind drug mule’ and had been tricked unwittingly into transporting the pot. During the trial prosecutor Doyle Johnstun built his case on circumstantial evidence such as the fact that Villareal-Garcia was driving with her car windows down in chilly winter weather.

A string of character witnesses for Villareal-Garcia testified that she played bingo almost every night. When Villareal-Garcia said her only income was from her bingo winnings and a $275 monthly welfare check she received for caring for her granddaughter prosecutor Johnstun thought he had a motive for the drug running. Johnstun told the jurors that most people who play bingo almost every night of the week end up losing in the long run. Johnstun told the court “The underlying issue is that she’s got a bingo problem, which explains why an otherwise nice person might get sucked into something like this.”

The jury deliberated for less than two hours and found Villareal-Garcia guilty. At sentencing Villareal-Garcia maintained her innocence and said “I never, never had any knowledge of that car being loaded when I went to Tucson.” The judge sentenced Villareal-Garcia to three years in prison and fined her $150,000. If she had played online bingo none of this would have happened!

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