Buford charity shut down amid allegations it was undercover illegal gambling

Police said a Buford charitable organization was really an undercover illegal gambling operation.

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Police said a Buford charitable organization was really an undercover illegal gambling operation.

For the past six years, Little Kings and Queens, a Gwinnett County nonprofit, has billed itself as a charitable organization that hosts food drives, toy giveaways and back-to-school fundraisers to help the community.

Authorities painted a starkly different picture of the Buford charity when they shut it down Friday, alleging the head of the nonprofit was secretly running an illegal gambling operation, Gwinnett police said in a news release.

Owner Dennis Shane Maxwell, 51, of Flowery Branch, was arrested and charged with felony commercial gambling and a misdemeanor count of keeping a gambling place, police said.

Little Kings and Queens has operated out of a large brick building in the 500 block of West Main Street near downtown Buford.

Georgia Secretary of State records show that Maxwell founded Little Kings and Queens in February 2016. He remained in custody Friday evening at the Gwinnett County Jail with no bond set in his case.

Little Kings and Queens was listed as one of Buford’s best nonprofits for four consecutive years and was named the city’s best charitable organization in 2020, according to the company’s website.

The organization sold fireworks, sponsored apprenticeships and hosted fundraising events like casino night and charity poker tournaments.

Little Kings and Queens’ website indicates those proceeds allowed volunteers to support charities both near and far that helped cancer patients, students, veterans and animals as well as people in financial straits.

“We are focused on raising money for our local community and other organizations in need,” the organization said on its YouTube page, which showcased its charity poker table.

A police spokesperson said that was all a “guise” for the illegal gambling operation. Authorities seized more than $30,000 in illegal funds and shut the business Friday, according to the news release.

Leaders of the charity group did not immediately return phone calls or respond to an email from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday.