Madison revokes barber shop’s business license after illegal gambling raid

MADISON, Ala. – The Madison City Council voted unanimously Monday to revoke a business’s license because Madison Police found illegal gambling machines there earlier this year.

Madison Police Chief, Dave Jernigan, told the council during the public hearing on Monday that Picture Perfect Kutz, adjacent toThe Braiding Factory, located on Madison Boulevard was a front for illegal gambling. He said that after an investigation also involving the Madison-Morgan County HIDTA Drug Task Force (STAC), police  seized 7 illegal slot machines and collected $671 from them last March. He said they also found evidence of  narcotics transactions including scales and bags.

“We believe these machines were operating with the knowledge of the owner and proprietor as the house profiting from their operation. And the police department has the belief that this was an ongoing, continuing criminal enterprise,” said Jernigan. “We believe it has operated as a front for an illegal gambling business.”

Jernigan said the police department recommended revocation of the license because illegal activity was going on behind the scenes.

“Madison does not need a type of business operating illegally,” he said. “This also tends to draw other illegal activity, and also where is the tax being paid on these illegal profits? More than likely, there is not any. We are concerned with this.”

The Madison City Attorney said the business owner, Bivens Mayo, pleaded guilty to possessing the gambling machines in city court. It is a misdemeanor charge. The business has remained operational throughout that process.

But Mayo spoke at the public hearing in his own defense, pleading with the council for mercy with regard to his longtime business’s license.

“I apologize for the skill machines that were caught here. I’ve made mistakes. It’s not a front. It’s what we’ve been doing. We’ve been cutting hair. We’ve been braiding,” he said, explaining that he brought along with him some plaques that prove his business has contributed to the community through service.

Mayo explained that he does not want his business to leave Madison.

“I don’t want to lose my business license. I love Madison. Madison has been good to me,” he said. “I’ve made mistakes before and I’ve cleaned it up. Got a good group of guys in there. Some of the guys who were not doing right, they’re gone. I’m here asking for your mercy.”

Mayo said the business cuts hair every day, and he loves what he does.

“I just want to keep on cutting hair in Madison,” he said. “It’s a blessing. It’s a gift what I have.”

But the council voted unanimously to revoke the business license.

“I can appreciate you maybe not knowing what your employees were doing in the parking lot and in the back,” said Maura Wroblewski, Council Member, “but  you can’t overlook slot machines.”

She added that she does not believe Madison is the place for Mayo to keep doing business.

“I do believe the Lord will bless you. I saw  your Facebook page. You’re a talented barber. And I believe that you can give back to the community. I’m just not  sure  this is the  place for you to do that right now,” she explained to Mayo.

“Hopefully you can get back on your feet somewhere,” said Teddy Powell.

“I have empathy for  you, but I’m not sure I have sympathy for you,” commented John Seifert after hearing that Mayo was not responsive to city notices through this process, “when you have the opportunity to engage with folks that can help you.”

Mayo can reapply for a business license, but leaders made it clear there is little support to grant another one to him anytime soon.