Three people have been arrested and five people have outstanding charges after police seized machines from four businesses in August.

Freddie W. Nichols, 46, of 118 Willow Creek in Mocksville, and Tammy Nichols, 48, of the same address, were charged with felonious operation of five or more video gaming machines at 2000 Johns River Loop in Morganton, misdemeanor gambling at the same address, felonious operation of five or more video gaming machines at 1460 U.S. 70 West in Valdese, and misdemeanor gambling at the same address, according to a press release from the Burke County Sheriff’s Office.

Lisa Byrd Branch, 56, of 2406 Antioch Road, was charged with felonious operation of five or more video gaming machines at 1575 U.S. 70 East in Morganton and misdemeanor gambling at the same address, the release said.

There are outstanding charges for five other people.

Rebecca Allendria McCloud, 38, of 6585 Hildebran View in Connelly Springs, has outstanding warrants for felonious operation of five or more video gaming machines at 2210 U.S. 70 East in Morganton and misdemeanor gambling at the same address, the release said.

Magdalena Villa-Gomez Kruse, 49, of 200 Reese Road Lot 3 in Morganton; Caitlin Shenae Nicole Hicks, 19, of 3555 Annas St. in Connelly Springs; Angela Page Hicks, 40, of 611 Independence Blvd. in Morganton; and Michael Andrew Sunflower all have one outstanding misdemeanor charge each for operating video gaming machines at different locations in the county, the release said.

The arrests came after police seized machines from four different gaming locations across the county, the release said.

Sheriff Steve Whisenant said this will start Phase 2 of the investigation.

He said BCSO sent letters to other skill fish games locations asking them to get in compliance with the law.

“We’re hopeful that all the rest of the sites that have gaming machines will close down voluntarily,” Whisenant said. “In the past, and we’ve done this two times previously, everybody did.”

Crime has been more of an issue with this round of gaming machines, Whisenant said.

“We’re having solicitation of prostitution, drug deals, stolen property being traded, people trespassing on other people’s properties,” Whisenant said.

The first round of investigations was into the four sites that BCSO received the most complaints about, Whisenant said.

If other sites don’t close on their own, Whisenant said his office will conduct an investigation and bring charges against them if applicable.

“There’s no charges for the other sites now, but if they continue to operate then we will end up investigating and arresting those people,” Whisenant said.

BCSO worked with the district attorney’s office and the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association to organize the charges, Whisenant said.

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Chrissy Murphy can be reached at cmurphy@morganton.com or at 828-432-8941. Follow @cmurphy MNH on Twitter.

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