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Did Sheriff Nienhuis Turn a Blind Eye to Illegal Gambling at Local Moose Lodge?

HERNANDO – The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office is cracking down on illegal gambling establishments, especially flashy sweepstake businesses that pop up in local strip malls throughout Hernando County.

But patrons, especially the elderly, argue that it’s nobody’s business how they spend their hard-earned cash, because without sweepstakes they would have very little social interaction in the community. Unfortunately, for sweepstake-goers Sheriff Al Nienhuis is charged with enforcing State Law, regardless of who the violators might be – that is until a recent State Agency discovered that Nienhuis may have turned a blind eye to one Spring Hill social club because he and other local politicians may frequent the establishment.

On March 8th of this year, agents with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation Division of Alcohol Beverages and Tobacco Bureau of Law Enforcement (ABT) raided Moose Lodge #521 located at 5214 Mariner Blvd, after receiving information of illegal gambling activity.

The investigation that began in 2017, led to the arrest of 68-year-old Paul Michael Chmura of 8134 Winding Oak Lane in Spring Hill. But unlike previous raids on Sweepstake establishments, this one took place surreptitiously, without Nienhuis or his Detectives gloating about the bust on social media. As a matter of fact, there was no mention of the raid or Chmura’s arrest to the public or the media by any means at all.

Previous warrant executions were broadcast on the agency’s Facebook Page Live, like the one at Butter’s Place located at 90 Commercial Way and High Five Sweepstakes at 3616 Commercial Way. In 2016, Detectives raided at least three locations in Spring Hill, including the old Pickled Parrot Night Club.

What makes the Moose Lodge inquiry unusual is that the Sheriff’s Office never initiated an investigation, even though there are unconfirmed reports that Sheriff Nienhuis participates in club events and may even be a member. Despite reaching out to Sheriff Nienhuis, Spokesperson Denise Moloney, Agency Attorney Joel Fritton and Col. Mike Maurer six times since Chnura’s arrest, they have refused to comment or even reply to our inquisitions.

We also contacted Hernando County School Board Member, and candidate for County Commissioner Beth Kirshy Narvrerud, but she also declined to comment. Narverud’s Father, Rob Kirshy and Mother-in-law, Dorothy Kirshy are both high-ranking officers at the Moose Lodge.

We tried to speak with Paul Chmura but he also refused to comment.

During a search of the Lodge, ABT investigators discovered at least 4 illegal slot machines, gambling chips, bank ledgers, gambling ledgers, dice, and official bank documents with gambling ledgers attached. Nearly $750 was retrieved from the slot machines. An additional $11,359 was also discovered inside separate cash drawers, inside the business.

Special Agent Samuel Funaro found that Paul Chmura unlawfully and intentionally operated a gaming or gambling business inside the Moose Lodge, in violation of 849.01(1) and 49.15(1) FS.

Chmura taken into custody and booked into the Hernando County Jail, where he has since posted a $5,500 bond.

The Moose Lodge remains open at this time.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ™2013 – 2018 RNRF Incorporated.

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  • Sick of hearing about RNRF and HCSO dispute!

    Sunday, 25 March 2018, 6:02 pm
  • Barak Obomb ya, you’re so spot-on you are so correct Zippy Zupo De peshi, alla Patsy Boy is a flat-out arsehole and has been called out as such many times most irritating Arse on this site!!!!

    Sunday, 25 March 2018, 2:37 pm
  • Pat zupo it’s funny to me how you are always bashing people and pointing fingers and you even have the audacity to call people “meth heads” when a simple arrest search shows you have 8 arrests INCLUDING possession of METHAMPHETAMINE. Don’t throw stones if you live in a glass house it’s pathetic how you try to make yourself feel better. Keep hiding behind your keyboard.

    Saturday, 24 March 2018, 11:16 am
  • Legal /illegal is all a series of loopholes when it comes to gambling , lawmakers close one and someone finds another one ,change the way it pays out, change the game , how it’s played .but charitable organizations are allowed to have certain games of ” skill”

    Saturday, 24 March 2018, 4:43 am
  • Any Moose Lodge I have ever been in has done a lot of charity work. These people are seniors living on limited income and helping other families ..Why worry about the Moose Lodge and their doings when we have serious issues to be addressed? Whoever was so petty as to complain about their gambling should really get a life.

    Friday, 23 March 2018, 7:30 pm
  • Paul is not a criminal. He is one of the most hard working volunteers they have at the Moose Lodge! He is a man that would do anything for anybody! I know this because I am a member and also I am not old. You people want to talk about old people. You should only do what some of the old people at the Moose Lodge do for the good of other. They do a lot for different charities and also for the local families in Hernando County during the holidays. You might be running your mouth and they are the ones who might be filling your mouth when you are hungry.

    Friday, 23 March 2018, 7:09 pm
  • I think its funny the SO is going as far as trying to advertise alternate news sites on their facebook lol

    Friday, 23 March 2018, 6:47 pm
  • Hey Tom see the list of names you posted …Why ? These people are volunteers. They’re good people and you’re smearing their names like criminals. Maybe stop a minute and see why you’re having a fight with the sheriff and don’t include innocent people in it in crossfire

    Friday, 23 March 2018, 3:23 pm
  • Another witch hunt by criminal Tom Lemons. It is disgusting that Tom has turned this local news site into his own personal page to attack local officials even though he has not substance to his accusations.

    Friday, 23 March 2018, 12:38 pm
      • Unbelievable! Your taking out a personal vendetta on the sheriff, The moose is a charity organization and all staff and board are volunteers. A lawyer was hired before game machines were rented, and had a mandated statement that were permanently attached to all machines in order for the lodge to be legal with those 4 machines. Queen of hearts was legal and fell under bingo license . Money was returned to the lodge. Get your facts straight. Paul was arrested because he was the administrator, not because he’s in charge of some big illegal gambling establishment. He’s a good guy. The sheriff is not a member. The picture you showed was a first responder breakfast for fire dept and police, thanking them for being there for the community. Your pathetic, and your using a charity organization as part of your vendetta against the sheriff.

        Friday, 23 March 2018, 3:28 pm
          • HCSO sent 6 i said six deputies this week to a daycare a daycare with children to interrogate not question I say again interrogate and bully a employee because a child had a “red mark” on his arm and parents made a false accusation this Sheriff department is absolutely out of control and drunken with power and no accountability

            Friday, 23 March 2018, 8:43 pm
          • Sounds to me that your nothing more than a whinny little cry baby who got his hand caught in the cookie jar, so let’s drag down everyone else. I have been to that lodge and the people are very nice. I did not see anything different from any other organization

            Saturday, 24 March 2018, 5:47 pm
        • Ted, you may be half right but you’re also half wrong. Just because they put a sign on them saying “FOR ENTERTAINMENT ONLY” does NOT mean the establishments do not pay out on them. I should know since I worked at a couple of those establishments (bars serving alcohol). The moose lodge also pays out on them as well, I’ve seen it.

          Friday, 23 March 2018, 10:33 pm
      • Seriously, I think there are worse things going on that the sheriff is blind to. What’s up with the sudden rise in number of Asian massage parlors in Hernando County? IvI’ been to two and neither of the people performing massage had a license. Pasco county does a lot to crack down on the human trafficking issues, but seems like Sanctuary Hernando County is turning a blind eye again.

        Sunday, 25 March 2018, 1:39 pm
    • Hmmmm… $11,000 sounds like a lot but what about the ONE MILLION DOLLARS the “sheriff” tried to steal from the county 🤔

      Friday, 23 March 2018, 1:43 pm
  • Queen of Hearts games, machines, 50/50 drawings and other things are at all the members only clubs. Moose, Eagles, Elks, VFW an American Legion Halls. I don’t know how Hernando works with licensing, but Pasco requires that you have a Bingo license………the other gaming falls under that. It’s some tricky red tape, but it is attainable.

    Friday, 23 March 2018, 9:21 am
    • The Moose has A bingo license, thoose machines were legal according to the owner of the machines. Nothing is said about the money we raise for Moose Haven and Moose Heart. Go after Hillary and drug dealers.

      Friday, 23 March 2018, 11:44 am
      • Why was he arrested…do you see who investors were..not Tom Lemmons..not local police..dont be stupid

        Friday, 23 March 2018, 6:04 pm
  • It’s said to think that this is true!!! But they shut down high five for money laundering, gambling etc. but all other rooms remain open!!! Why????? There are bigger fish to fry in hernando county go after real crooks and leave well enough alone!! High five owner paid taxes so what’s the problem??? But her room got shit down and all others doing the same thing remain open where is justice in that???

    Friday, 23 March 2018, 9:03 am
  • Ice man, you are obviously an idiot. It is apparent that you have no parents that are elderly and one day you will get old. They pull in and out slowly because they are cautious. Maybe idiot drivers like you need to slow down a bit and give courtesy to those who may actually obey the laws.

    Friday, 23 March 2018, 8:56 am
    • That’s not correct. Being cautious and driving slow are two different things. And I never said I had a problem with them driving slow. It’s other drivers. Learn to read

      Sunday, 25 March 2018, 4:20 pm
  • As a former member in another state, I am moosfended. All the proceeds from adult games go to refugee Moose herds in Alaska.

    Friday, 23 March 2018, 8:54 am
  • Pat Zupo, criminal activity is a çrime. The fact that this sheriff, and I use that term loosely, picks and choses which crimes to investigate exemplifies the type of man/ person he is. He he will always protect his asshole buddies. Hopefully they will all share a cell soon.

    Friday, 23 March 2018, 8:41 am
  • Someone should check into the queen of hearts game at the moose. Last jackpot was over $30k TAX FREE!!! It is an unspoken rule at the Moose that they never talk about the payout from that game.

    Friday, 23 March 2018, 8:22 am
    • Hmmm, sounds like your a member….Johnoone. Disgruntled because you didn’t win something? Hiding behind an alias ?

      Friday, 23 March 2018, 3:12 pm
    • Hey no one, how do you know if that’s true. Don’t spread false information

      Friday, 23 March 2018, 3:30 pm
  • I don’t really worry about gambling in an establishment, I worry about violent crime.

    Friday, 23 March 2018, 8:04 am
  • I can understand hitting the so-called “sweepstakes” places…but the private clubs depend on that little money they make off the machines to pay the bills. Otherwise, small clubs would be going under due to falling membership. The clubs pay taxes on the money they get from the machines. This is all real petty. Time to focus on the real crime in Hernando County.

    Friday, 23 March 2018, 6:48 am
  • Vice laws are worthless, If someone wants to gamble they should be allowed to, That being said however the county Sheriff must enforce the laws that are on the books regardless of his opinion. If he knew about the gambling at the moose club dereliction of duty is what he would be guilty of. I will wait to see what comes of this.

    Friday, 23 March 2018, 6:45 am
  • You folks need to recognize that fraternal nonprofit organization are covered under “849.0935 Charitable, nonprofit organizations; drawings by chance…” and get machines that meet 849.0935’s requirements.
    I would urge you to go through all of 849 before too long.

    Friday, 23 March 2018, 12:30 am
  • I love this site, because it is a great contribution to the community. This constant drama regarding the Sheriff is a bit much. I totally understand your desire to report news, regardless of who’s involved, but I think the site is better without the drama.

    No offense, Tom. I appreciate what you do here

    Thursday, 22 March 2018, 10:45 pm
  • Why would the sheriff post anything about an investigation that was not conducted by his agency? If he had, I’m sure you would have reported that he was trying to take credit for something he didn’t do. And all these posts would be bashing him for it also. Talk about fake news!!

    Thursday, 22 March 2018, 10:24 pm

    Thursday, 22 March 2018, 9:29 pm
    • that would be COPWTM.

      Thursday, 22 March 2018, 9:58 pm
  • IT WOULDN’T SURPRISE ME. “Fat- Boy” and his good-for-nothing deputies look for opportunities to not do their job correctly. Is this a petty issue? Yes, but it exemplifies the ineptness we must endure in this county.

    Thursday, 22 March 2018, 9:21 pm
    • Can we not include all deputies in this? In ever occupation there is always the 10% whom are POS. I know deputies who don’t agree with what is going on, but they still work there butts off

      Thursday, 22 March 2018, 10:52 pm
      • You are correct, although I don’t agree with your numbers, my comment shouldn’t include all deputies, I apologize.

        Friday, 23 March 2018, 12:02 pm
  • You have to remember what is petty to most of us is a really big deal for ABT. That’s where the Sheriff came from before a political appointment under Bob White. For a guy used to checking beer licenses this would be a big deal. Why do u think they did the ridiculous facebook live posts. He is not a real cop, simple as that!

    Thursday, 22 March 2018, 9:12 pm
    • Did he used to work for ATB? Wouldn’t he have known those things was illegal when he was there for the other things? Beef or not RNRF is onto something like it or not. Maybe hes the only one willing to say it

      Thursday, 22 March 2018, 10:38 pm
      • Of course he knew it was illegal..but only arrested his friends competition .

        Friday, 23 March 2018, 6:07 pm
  • I always wondered what that place was. There’s always a bunch of idiots pulling in too slow or driving out too slow causing a lot of road rage in that area. Now I know why they are driving too slow, it’s a bunch of old people.

    Thursday, 22 March 2018, 8:42 pm
    • WOW!!! Did you figure that out all by yourself. Good job Skippy.

      Friday, 23 March 2018, 8:04 am
      • No I read the article to figure it out

        Friday, 23 March 2018, 9:39 pm
  • Get the heroin and meth heads and the junkies nevermind this petty

    Thursday, 22 March 2018, 8:25 pm
    • Tom are you able to tell us if the ATB had the case and this is why the sheriff didnt investigate maybe to not duplicate a case like with pickled parrot? Its common that both state and local law enforcement shut these places down.

      Thursday, 22 March 2018, 10:04 pm
    • This is honestly not even worth worrying about…it really is time meth and theheroin that is killing people and making up families

      Friday, 23 March 2018, 1:24 am

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