A former Georgia Department of Revenue special agent-in-charge, who resides in Statesboro, was arrested Friday on charges he violated the state’s Racketeering and Influenced Corruption, or RICO, Act.
Ronald C. Huckaby, 53, allegedly took bribes from Nitalkumar J. Raval, a man arrested last week on racketeering charges by the Region 5 Georgia Bureau of Investigation, according to a press release issued Friday by Macon Judicial Circuit District Attorney David Cooke.
The Macon County DA’s office filed a civil forfeiture action last week, stemming from a “multi-jurisdictional racketeering enterprise that profited from tax evasion, money laundering, public corruption and illegal gambling,” Cooke said.
Raval was one of several people charged with racketeering. The civil forfeiture action names a number of gambling master license holders including Raval and S&W Amusement Inc. as defendants. Cooke said Bulloch, Bibb and Chatham counties are “hubs” for the illegal activity.
“Huckaby is accused of accepting (from Raval) five sets of round-trip airline tickets valued at more than $2,000 and a $13,000 Hublot watch in return for influence and information,” Cooke said.
He said Huckaby and people he supervised “investigated Raval’s competitors at Raval’s direction, including, but not limited to, his competitor Manoj Patel.” Patel was also arrested in last week’s racketeering roundup.
In addition to the bribery allegations, Huckaby is also accused of using the Department of Revenue’s tax computer system in July 2017 “to provide private tax-related information regarding a competitor’s tobacco license to Raval,” Cooke said. “Such conduct is a violation of Georgia’s computer invasion of privacy statute.”
Cooke said an arrest warrant signed Thursday stated that Huckaby, who resigned July 8, worked as the special agent-in-charge for the Georgia Department of Revenue’s Alcohol and Tobacco Division since Jan. 1, 2016. A sworn peace officer and supervisor who directed other agents, he oversaw the Pooler and Douglas regions, which includes Statesboro and Savannah. He resigned in lieu of termination.
Cooke reiterated the significance of illegal gambling and his office’s intent to eradicate it statewide.
“This arrest further supports my call for the Legislature to ban these gambling machines that are a cancer on our community,” he said. “Although we intend to hold every offender we uncover accountable, we cannot prosecute our way out of this problem.
“It’s clear that the limitless amount of money this industry generates is used to buy influence wherever it can, and the only way to stop it is for our Legislature and our governor to act.”
Huckaby is being held at the Bibb County Law Enforcement Center, according to Amy Leigh Womack, spokesperson. Bibb County Sheriff’s Office records showed he did not yet have a bond Friday.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.