Internet cafe investigation included local sites - WFLA News Channel 8

Internet cafe investigation included local sites

Posted: Updated:
This internet cafe in Spring Hill was one of 4 in the Bay area closed after an investigation. This internet cafe in Spring Hill was one of 4 in the Bay area closed after an investigation.
SPRING HILL, FL (WFLA) -

An extensive investigation into illegal gambling and so-called Internet cafes connected to Allied Veterans of the World has some customers wondering what will happen to other sites that offer sweepstakes games.

Authorities say conspirators ran a racketeering and money laundering scheme that used shell companies and illegal gambling centers passed off as "Internet cafes" to help hide millions in gambling proceeds.

 "It's a shame what they did, now it gives a bad name for all of the others,"  Pat Fomook said about Allied Veterans of the World, which is targeted in what authorities call a $300 million conspiracy.

Authorities say the group was registered as a tax-exempt veterans organization and claimed to give proceeds to charity, but that less than 2 percent of its revenues were given to charity.

Rocco Cassela says he's been in the group's cafes and remembers seeing messages on computer screens advertising the money given to charity.

"They would have on the screen, ‘$5 million or a million dollars given'," he said.

Former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll resigned Wednesday in light of her past ties to the group. She has not been accused of wrongdoing.

The investigation, which touched other states including Oklahoma and South Carolina, included local cafes in Sarasota, Bradenton and two in Spring Hill.

Those cafes were allegedly run by a group of three men – Anthony Alascia of Spring Hill, John Cucciniello of Spring Hill, and Charles Bartlett of Hudson – associated with a company called A.V. A. Business Offices, LLC/GINLIN LLC, according to an affidavit. The three men were arrested and face charges including conspiracy, racketeering and money laundering.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has said that while Allied Veterans was the target in the first phase of its operation, the investigation into other gambling sites continues in a second phase.

Internet cafes offering computer sweepstakes games that may resemble slot machines or other games have been under scrutiny by local governments. Hillsborough County banned them in 2011, but the cafes operate elsewhere.

In Hernando County, at least two other cafes were operating in the same plaza where one of the now-closed cafes under the GINLIN name is located.

"A lot of elderly people, citizens like to go in there because they forget their aches and pains and it gives them something to do," said Fomook, who had brought her aunt to one of the closed Spring Hill sites to see if it was open.

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Mold takes over St. Pete condo, creeps into neighbors' homes

    Mold takes over St. Pete condo, creeps into neighbors' homes

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:48 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:48:06 GMT
    Josephine Ramos is literally sick about the toxic black mold growing in the St. Petersburg condominium beside hers. She's been feeling ill for months with headaches and breathing problems. Recently, she had peak inside the condo next doors and couldn't believe her eyes.
    Josephine Ramos is literally sick about the toxic black mold growing in the St. Petersburg condominium beside hers. She's been feeling ill for months with headaches and breathing problems. Recently, she had peak inside the condo next doors and couldn't believe her eyes.
  • Lakeland neighborhood has continuing water problems, asks 8OYS for help

    Lakeland neighborhood has continuing water problems, asks 8OYS for help

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:03 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:03:34 GMT
    Some Lakeland residents are tired of wondering whether they'll have water at home. Over the past month, they tell 8 On Your Side that they've lost water with no warning at least five times. And what's worse, the water stays off for up to eight hours at a time
    Some Lakeland residents are tired of wondering whether they'll have water at home. Over the past month, they tell 8 On Your Side that they've lost water with no warning at least five times. And what's worse, the water stays off for up to eight hours at a time
  • Abercrombie dropping logo to boost brand

    Abercrombie dropping logo to boost brand

    Friday, August 29 2014 7:15 AM EDT2014-08-29 11:15:46 GMT
    The Abercrombie & Fitch logo has lost the power it once wielded, so the struggling teen retailer plans to strip off the once-prized logo from its clothing. Shares tumbled Thursday after it reported weak sales as more teens shop elsewhere. 
    The Abercrombie & Fitch logo has lost the power it once wielded, so the struggling teen retailer plans to strip off the once-prized logo from its clothing. Shares tumbled Thursday after it reported weak sales as more teens shop elsewhere. 
  • NewsMore>>

  • Police: 3 dead in Brooksville shooting

    Police: 3 dead in Brooksville shooting

    Saturday, August 30 2014 12:51 AM EDT2014-08-30 04:51:46 GMT
    Brooksville Police say at least three people have been killed and a fourth person was flown to a hospital after a shooting at a home near Main Street on Friday night.
    Brooksville Police say at least three people have been killed and a fourth person was flown to a hospital after a shooting at a home near Main Street on Friday night.
  • Pepin supports 64oz growlers, regulations

    Pepin supports 64oz growlers, regulations

    Friday, August 29 2014 10:29 PM EDT2014-08-30 02:29:28 GMT
    He's the president of Pepin Distributing but he's extending an olive branch to craft brewers in Florida.“One key piece of misinformation is that we are opposed to a 64 ounce growler, we support a 64 ounce growler,” said Tom Pepin.
    He's the president of Pepin Distributing but he's extending an olive branch to craft brewers in Florida.“One key piece of misinformation is that we are opposed to a 64 ounce growler, we support a 64 ounce growler,” said Tom Pepin.
  • Riverview traffic light turned on following crashes

    Riverview traffic light turned on following crashes

    Friday, August 29 2014 10:08 PM EDT2014-08-30 02:08:02 GMT
    Two days ago, a newly installed traffic light on a busy Big Bend road in Southern Hillsborough County was not working.Power had not been supplied to the light yet, but that light is on after two crashes sent drivers to the hospital.
    Two days ago, a newly installed traffic light on a busy Big Bend road in Southern Hillsborough County was not working.Power had not been supplied to the light yet, but that light is on after two crashes sent drivers to the hospital.
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.