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Thursday, July 3, 2014

GEORGEKOPOULOS - Judgement Reversed

Misc Info FYI:  

In a May 15, 2014 ruling the Court of Appeals of Ohio, EIGHTH APPELLATE DISTRICT, COUNTY OF CUYAHOGA, reversed the earlier convictions of George Georgekopoulos, and Pete Georgekopoulos.

 see:  http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/rod/docs/pdf/8/2014/2014-ohio-2049.pdf



". . . This cause is reversed to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

It is ordered that appellant recover of appellees its costs herein taxed.

The court finds there were reasonable grounds for this appeal.

It is ordered that a special mandate issue out of this court directing the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas to carry this judgment into execution. 

A certified copy of this entry shall constitute the mandate pursuant to Rule 27 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure.

MELODY J. STEWART, JUDGE"

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Press Release
A Third Indictment Has Been Issued in Closing Illegal Internet Casinos in Cuyahoga County

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 18, 2013
 
11 Defendants and 8 Companies Indicted
 
CLEVELAND- Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty announced the indictment of eleven defendants and eight companies involved in illegal Internet casinos in Cuyahoga County. Today’s indictment is a result of the recent search warrants that were executed on six establishments located in the cities of Euclid, Cleveland, and Westlake.

Several individuals and companies named in today’s indictment are operating or working with owners of a multi-state Internet gambling syndicate known as "VS2" that is controlled by a computer server in the New Jersey headquarters of VS2 Worldwide Communications, LLC. VS2 takes twenty-five cents of every dollar gambled on these slot machines.

Their master computer tracks all wagers in New Jersey. In return, VS2 pays the necessary tribute to the politicians’ political funds in the various states and city councils, delays law enforcement by obstructive legal tactics with frivolous civil lawsuits, and otherwise provides attorney’s to defend the organization. If the local casino franchise owner does not pay in full and on time, VS2 disconnects their service and their casino is forced to close. In order to make the tracking of the millions of dollars in illegal gambling proceeds more difficult for law enforcement, VS2 operates largely with money orders and cash.

Prosecutor McGinty said, "There is no illegal casino that is safe from a search and seizure of its slot machines and illicit profits, nor are their operators safe from arrest in Cuyahoga County. Anyone who plans on continuing to commit felonies should have a lawyer and a toothbrush ready because they will need both."

To date, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office with assistance from New Jersey Law Enforcement Officials has seized approximately $84,000 in cash and $510,000 from various bank accounts.

The eleven defendants and eight companies were indicted on counts of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first degree felony; possessing criminal tools, a fifth degree felony; gambling, a misdemeanor of the first degree; gambling, a fifth degree felony; operating a gambling house, a misdemeanor of the first degree; and money laundering, a third degree felony.

The defendants are:
1) Phillip Cornick, 51, of Jackson, New Jersey
2) Richard Upchurch, 59, of Ramseur, North Carolina
3) Michael Koty, 50, of Bloomsbury, New Jersey
4) Georgia Buresti, 68, of Parma Heights
5) George Hasrouni, 42, of Stow
6) Sreyleak Ny, 30, of Parma
7) Robert Rogers, 40, of Westlake
8) Terry Fiala, 60, of Bay Village
9) George Georgekopoulos, 38, of Massillon
10) Pete Georgekopoulos, 41, of Massillon
11) Christos Karasarides, Jr, 47, of Canton
12) VS2 Worldwide Communications, LLC
13) P&E Technologies, Inc.
14) Elite Entertainment, Inc. dba VS2 Marketing Group
15) CKare Corp
16) Buresti Enterprises, Inc.
17) Hasrouni Investments, Inc. dba Emerald Isle
18) Black Diamond Tech, LLC dba Collinwood Cyber Café
19) Cyber Time Café Westlake, LLC dba Infinity 2

Illegal internet casinos will continue to be investigated.

In a joint effort, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office and the following agencies have been involved in this ongoing investigation: Ohio Investigative Unit of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, the Parma Heights Police Department, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Marshal Service, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department, and U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Contact: Maria (Pinzone) Russo, Public Information Officer, (216) 698-2819, cell (216) 299-9326 or mrusso@prosecutor.cuyahogacounty.us

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Other info is at:  http://www.wsmv.com/story/21550956/9-defendants-and-5-companies-indicted
 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Cleveland-area Internet cafes and suppliers plead not guilty to gambling-related charges


internet cafes.jpg
Customers shown in this file photo at the Infinity Cafe choose among several dozen sweepstakes games. (Gus Chan, The Plain Dealer)
 
Peter Krouse, The Plain Dealer By Peter Krouse, The Plain Dealer
April 29, 2013 at 12:00 PM, updated April 29, 2013 at 12:11 PM
 CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Nine people and representatives for eight businesses connected to Internet cafes in Cuyahoga County pleaded not guilty this morning to gambling-related crimes.

The businesses include local internet cafes Emerald Isle in Euclid and Collinwood Cyber Cafe in Cleveland, as well as two New Jersery firms, software supplier VS2 Worldwide Communications and hardware supplier P&E Technologies.

Also entering not guilty pleas were, Akron-based Elite Entertainment, Canton-based CKare Corp. and Parma Heights-based Buresti Enterprises, all of which serve Internet cafes in Northeast Ohio.

Those arraigned before Common Pleas Judge Deena Calabrese were named earlier this month in an indictment containing charges of money laundering, conspiracy to engage in corrupt activity, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and possession of criminal tools.

Infinity 2, an Internet caf in Westlake, and its two owners will be arraigned at a later date.

County Prosecutors Timothy J. McGinty has accused VS2 of being a "multi-state Internet gambling syndicate" and has vowed to shut down the cafes, which he considers to be illegal gambling parlors.

Federal, state and local police raided six Internet cafes in Cuyahoga County on April 17, seizing video terminals and cash while searching for evidence of illegal gambling and other criminal activity.

The cafes contend they are legitimate businesses that sell internet and phone service to people who are then offered the chance to play slots-like computer games.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has also launched a special state unit to investigate the cafes.

======================================================

Three Internet cafes in Cuyahoga County among those indicted on gambling-related charges

Full article found at: 
http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2013/04/three_internet_cafes_in_cuyahoga.htmlBy    Peter Krouse, The Plain Dealer  The Plain Dealer - updated April 18, 2013 at 8:11 PM

 

Photo:  Law enforcement officials raid Players, an internet cafe, Wednesday in Euclid. Six cafes in Northeast Ohio were raided with machines confiscated and assets seized. John Kuntz, The Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Cuyahoga County grand jury indicted 11 people and eight companies connected with Internet cafes Thursday, accusing them of assorted gambling-related crimes.

The indictment came a day after federal authorities, along with state and local police, raided six cafes in Cleveland Euclid and Westlake, seizing video terminals and cash while searching for evidence of illegal gambling and other criminal activity.

Three of the raided cafes and their operators are among those charged in the 146-page indictment, which includes charges of money laundering, conspiracy to engage in corrupt activity, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and possession of criminal tools.

Indicted are Sreyleak Ny, 30, of Parma, who operates Black Diamond Tech, which does business as Collinwood Cyber Cafe; Robert Rogers, 40, of Westlake and Terry Fiala, 60, of Bay village, who operate Cyber Time Cafe Westlake, which does business as as Infinity 2; and George Hasrouni, 42, of Stow, who operates Hasrouni Investments, which does business as Emerald Isle; George Buresti, 68, of Parma Heights; George Georgekopolous, 38, of Massillon; Pete Georgekopolous, 41, of Massillon; and Christos Karasarides Jr., 47, of Canton.

McGinty's news release refers to VS2 as a "multi-state Internet gambling syndicate" that "pays the necessary tribute to politicians' political funds in the various states and city councils," engages in obstructive legal tactics and provides lawyers to defend the organization.

Indicted along with VS2 and hardware supplier P&E Technologies, also of New Jersey, are VS2 operators Phillip Cornick, 51, of Jackson, N.J., and Richard Upchurch, 59, of Ramseur, N.C.; and VS2 representative Michael Koty, 50, of Bloomsbury, N.J.; Elite Entertainment, CKare Corp., and Buresti Enterprises. Inc.

Supporters say the cafes are legitimate businesses that sell Internet or phone time and, as a sweetener, offer customers a chance to win money on computerized games resembling those on slot machines. Critics, including Horseshoe owner Rock Ohio Caesars, say the storefront parlors are cover for unregulated and illegal gambling.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Update on Georgekopoulos Court Dates

Monday, 4/29/13 is the next court date in this matter. 

If you want to keep up on the charges you can go to the Court site via direct link and just put in their names: 
http://cpdocket.cp.cuyahogacounty.us/

 

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Updated:6/5/2012

$48 million profit generated from VS2 gaming system 

                                                                                                                                
By TERRY BRLAS
Strongsville Post Editor

Law enforcement agencies in Cuyahoga County are cracking down on those involved with illegal Internet sweepstakes cafes. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason, the Ohio Investigative Unit of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, the Parma Heights Police Department, the Ohio Attorney General's Office, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Marshal Service and U.S. Postal Inspector's Office announced the indictment of 10 defendants and seven companies involved in illegal Internet sweepstakes cafes in the county.

Ten individuals and seven companies operating, or working in close cooperation with the owners of an intricate Internet gambling system, were named in an indictment. The counts included engaging in in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first degree felony; conspiracy, a second degree felony; gambling, a misdemeanor of the first degree; gambling, a fifth degree felony; operating a gambling house, a fifth degree felony; and money laundering, a third degree felony.

The system is known as "VS2" that is controlled by a computer server in the New Jersey headquarters of VSW Worldwide Communications, LLC.

The principal operators and account holders of the VS2 gaming system were identified as Phillip Cornick, Edward Kaba and Richard Upchurch. These individuals perpetuated the expansion of the VS2 gaming system in Ohio during the past four years.

Ohio-based distributors and markers of the system George Georgekopoulos, 37, of Hinckley, Pete Georgekopoulos, Christos Karasarides, and Christopher Maggiore, assisted them. These individuals convinced many small business owners in Cuyahoga County that the VS2 Internet caf © gaming system operates as "sweepstakes," which are not illegal and unregulated in Ohio.

The distributors and marketers of the VS2 gaming system also benefitted from the assistance of local opportunists. Martin, 61, of North Royalton and Neil Sarcyk, owners of Union Vending, which already had a significant number of Cuyahoga County's bars and restaurants as existing customers for their vending machines, jukeboxes and arcade games, acquired many VS2 gaming system terminals from VS2 Worldwide Communications, LLC and VS2's partner company, P&E Technologies, Inc. The Sarcyk's, through their business, Union Vending, convinced several of their clients to add the VS2 gaming system terminals to their bars and restaurants.

VS2's expansion practices indicate how determined they were to control the Internet sweepstakes cafe business wherever it went, according to Maria Russo, spokeswoman for Mason.

When the owner of Good Times Charlies II in Parma Heights rejected suggestions that she get rid of her restaurant/bar altogether and dramatically expand her number of VS2 gaming terminals, another local opportunist, James Watson, opened the Sweepnet Internet Cafe © just a few business storefronts away. Unlike the majority of the cafes in Cuyahoga County, Sweepnet never registered with the Secretary of State, meaning it does not pay state taxes and is not a legal entity that can be held accountable in any way, except by Parma Heights.

The Ohio Investigative Unit and the U.S. Secret Service, with records acquired by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office, identified numerous company and individual bank accounts being used to "launder" the vast amounts of cash being generated by the network. The revenue is funneled to New Jersey to VS2 Worldwide Communications, LLC in the form of checks and money orders from the individual caf © owners, which collect cash from its local collaborators.

Since February 2008, VS2 has profited over $48 million from illegal gambling, according to Russo. This represents only 25 percent of the proceeds from the illegal Internet gambling caf ©s in Cuyahoga County.

"We are working hard with partners like Prosecutor Mason to crack down on illegal Internet cafes in Ohio," said Attorney General Michael DeWine. "These businesses, hundreds across Ohio, are totally unregulated and can be a real consumer rip-off."

The city of Strongsville is one community that drafted legislation three years ago to keep Internet cafes from doing business within its borders.

"The safety director, police chief and myself took a very strong position with respect to the Internet sweepstakes cafes," said Strongsville Law Director Kenneth Kraus. "I wrote a legal opinion at that time against a lot of pressures that were brought to bear on us in respect to different applicants ... Our position here has been vindicated by virtue of what's happened in Cleveland and what's happening now in Cuyahoga County."

Since the city drafted legislation keeping Internet cafes out Kraus has received numerous communications from fellow law directors within Cuyahoga County.

"I've received calls from other law directors who have said to me, 'We really regret letting them in. Now we think they're illegal. What can we do?'" he said.

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office sent cease and desist letters to 51 businesses (66 individuals) to discontinue use of the VS2 gaming systems.

Mason said, "The end result is exactly what the members of the criminal enterprise intended - a complicated and elaborate, layered web of related companies dispersing and distributing money to each other with hopes of never being caught. The days of gambling with the law have come to a screeching halt."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A few Cafe's reopen but the criminal case continues

At least 9 more Internet sweepstakes cafes can open again in Cuyahoga County Published: Thursday, June 21, 2012, 5:35 AM  Updated: Thursday, June 21, 2012, 6:09 AM Mark Gillispie, The Plain Dealer
Update available at:
http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2012/06/at_least_nine_more_internet_sw.html

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Georgekopoulos' Ohio Problems:

Cuyahoga County gambling probe nets Akron-area arrests

Posted on May 31, 2012   HYPERLINK  "http://legalohiosweepstakes.com/?author=1"

Beacon Journal staff report Published: May 30, 2012 – 03:42 PM | Updated: May 30, 2012 – 11:11 PM

Four Akron-area men are among 10 indicted Thursday in Cuyahoga County in a crackdown of illegal Internet sweepstakes cafes.

The indictments were announced by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason along with the Ohio Investigative Unit of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, the Parma Heights Police Department, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification, the Secret Service, the U.S. Marshal Service and U.S. Postal Inspector’s Office. Seven companies were also cited for their involvement in the gambling operation.

The probe centered on an Internet gambling system known as "VS2" that authorities say was controlled by a computer server in the New Jersey headquarters of VS2 Worldwide Communications.

Authorities charge the New Jersey-based operation was assisted over four years in moving gambling machines into Northeast Ohio by George Georgekopoulos, 37, of Hinckley (330) 854-6544, 7917 Lutz Ave NW, Massillon, OH 44646; Pete Georgekopoulos, 39, of Stow; Christos Karasarides Jr., 46, of Canton; and Christopher Maggiore, 46, of Canton.

They are accused of convincing small business owners in Cuyahoga County that the VS2 Internet cafe gaming system operates as "sweepstakes," which are not illegal and are unregulated in Ohio.

Most of the machines were initially placed in Cuyahoga County bars and restaurants and later in unregulated Internet cafes.

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office said it was able to obtain bank records that helped the Ohio Investigative Unit and the U.S. Secret Service identify numerous company and individual bank accounts being used to "launder" vast amounts of cash being generated by the machines in Cuyahoga County.

Authorities say the revenue from the machines was funneled to New Jersey to VS2 Worldwide Communications by check and money order.

Since February 2008, authorities say, VS2 has profited from illegal gambling by an estimated $48 million and those funds have been distributed to various individuals, including Karasarides, George Georgekopoulos and Pete Georgekopoulos.

Mason said that those indicted created "a complicated and elaborate, layered web of related companies dispersing and distributing money to each other with hopes of never being caught."

The indictments include charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, conspiracy, gambling, operating a gambling house and money laundering.


===================================================
Hinckley Township man indicted on 9 felony counts
Filed by Jennifer Pignolet   May 31st, 2012 in News. 
CLEVELAND  —  A Hinckley Township resident was indicted on nine felony counts Wednesday in Cuyahoga County for allegedly marketing the software used in Internet Sweepstakes Cafes.

Maria Russo, public information officer of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, said George Georgekopoulos, 37, is charged with one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first-degree felony; two counts of conspiracy, a second-degree felony; one count of gambling, a fifth-degree felony; and five counts of money laundering, a third-degree felony. He could receive a maximum of 26 years in prison.

Georgekopoulos was one of 10 people and seven companies indicted on related charges, Russo said, including his brother, Pete Georgekopoulos, 39, of Stow.

County Assistant Prosecutor J.D. May said the charges target those responsible for manufacturing the software as well as those selling it in Cuyahoga County.

Of the county’s 51 operating Internet Cafes, May said, 18 have been using the software, called VS2, which is manufactured in New Jersey. Those cafes were sent cease and desist orders, he said, but have not been charged.

May said Georgekopoulos, his brother and one other defendant own Elite Entertainment Inc., which is doing business as VS2 Marketing Group.

“The only thing the corporation does is accept checks for VS2 in New Jersey and redirect checks to themselves,” May said.

While there is no legal definition of a sweepstakes or Internet cafe, they are largely known for selling time cards, or phone cards, for customers to use to gamble or play games online to be entered into sweepstakes through the business.

In March, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine issued an opinion calling for regulation of the cafes.
While sweepstakes cafes are not illegal, May said gambling laws apply.

“These are basically casinos on computer screens,” May said. “People are going in to use these places to gamble.”

George Georgekopoulos’ arraignment is scheduled for Friday.

Russo said eight agencies were involved in the investigation that led to the indictments, including the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Marshal Service.

Contact Jennifer Pignolet at (330) 721-4063 or jpignolet@medina-gazette.com.
============================================================
Illegal Internet cafes shuttered


CLEVELAND, OH  (WOIO) -
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason, along with the Ohio Investigative Unit of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, the Parma Heights Police Department, the Ohio Attorney General's Office, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Marshal Service, and U.S. Postal Inspector's Office announced the indictment of ten defendants and seven companies involved in illegal Internet Sweepstakes Cafes in Cuyahoga County.

The individuals and companies named in Wednesday's indictment are operating, or working in close cooperation with the owners of an intricate internet gambling system known as "VS2" that is controlled by a computer server in the New Jersey headquarters of VS2 Worldwide Communications, LLC.

The Ohio Investigative Unit of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, working with the U.S. Secret Service, have identified the principal operators and account holders of the VS2 gaming system as Phillip Cornick, Edward Kaba, and Richard Upchurch. Over the last four years, these individuals have perpetuated the expansion of their VS2 gaming system into Ohio with the assistance of Ohio-based distributors and marketers of the system: George Georgekopoulos, Pete Georgekopoulos, Christos Karasarides, and Christopher Maggiore. These individuals have convinced many small business owners in Cuyahoga County that VS2 internet café gaming system operates as "sweepstakes," which are not illegal and unregulated in Ohio.

In addition, the distributors and marketers of the VS2 gaming system have benefitted from the assistance of local opportunists. Martin and Neil Sarcyk, owners of Union Vending, which already had a significant number of Cuyahoga County's bars and restaurants as existing customers for their vending machines, jukeboxes and arcade games, acquired many VS2 gaming system terminals from VS2 Worldwide Communications, LLC and VS2's partner company, P&E Technologies, Inc. The Sarcyk's, through their business, Union Vending, convinced several of their clients to add the VS2 gaming system terminals to their bars and restaurants. Two of these establishments were: Good Time Charlies II and Mr. B's, both operating in Parma Heights.

VS2's expansion practices indicate how determined they were to control the Internet sweepstakes cafe business wherever it went. When the owner of "Good Times Charlies II" rejected suggestions that she get rid of her restaurant/bar altogether and dramatically expand her number of VS2 gaming terminals, another local opportunist, James Watson, opened the Sweepnet Internet Café just a few business storefronts away. Unlike the majority of the cafes in Cuyahoga County, Sweepnet never registered with the Secretary of State, meaning it does not pay state taxes and is not a legal entity that can be held accountable in any way, except by Parma Heights.

With records acquired by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office, the Ohio Investigative Unit and the U.S. Secret Service identified numerous company and individual bank accounts being used to "launder" the vast amounts of cash being generated by the network. The revenue is funneled to New Jersey to VS2 Worldwide Communications, LLC in the form of checks and money orders from the individual café owners, such as James Watson, and vendors such as Union Vending, which collect cash from its local collaborators. Watson and Union Vending would then only send checks to VS2.

Since February 2008, VS2 has profited from illegal gambling to the tune of over $48 million. Their profit of over $48 million represents only 25% of the proceeds from the illegal Internet gambling cafés in our County.

The money is then distributed from the business account of VS2 Worldwide Communications LLC to various individual accounts owned by Phillip Cornick, Edward Kaba, Richard Upchurch, and a mysterious bank account in the Ukraine, as well as back to Ohio to the business account of Elite Entertainment DBA VS2 Marketing Group, an account controlled by Christos Karasarides, Jr., George Georgekopoulos and Pete Georgekopoulos.

The ten defendants and seven companies were indicted on counts of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first degree felony; conspiracy, a second degree felony; gambling, a misdemeanor of the first degree; gambling, a fifth degree felony; operating a gambling house, a fifth degree felony; and money laundering, a third degree felony. The defendants are:

1) Phillip Cornick, 47, of Jackson, New Jersey
2) Edward Kaba, 45, of Toms River, New Jersey
3) Richard Upchurch, 56, of Ramseur, North Carolina
4) George Georgekopoulos, 37, of Hinckley
5) Pete Georgekopoulos, 39, of Stow
6) Christos Karasarides, Jr, 46, of Canton
7) Christopher Maggiore, 46, of Canton
8) James Watson, 61, of Canton
9) Martin Sarcyk, 61, of North Royalton
10) Neil Sarcyk, 25, of Parma Heights
11) VS2 Worldwide Communications, LLC.
12) P&E Technologies, Inc.
13) Elite Entertainment, Inc. DBA VS2 Marketing Group
14) Cyber Cov, LLC
15) CKare Corp
16) CMKare LLC
17) Union Vending

"We are working hard with partners like Prosecutor Mason to crack down on illegal internet cafes in Ohio," said Attorney General DeWine. "These businesses, hundreds across Ohio, are totally unregulated and can be a real consumer rip-off."

Prosecutor Mason said, "The end result is exactly what the members of the criminal enterprise intended - a complicated and elaborate, layered web of related companies dispersing and distributing money to each other with hopes of never being caught. The days of gambling with the law have come to a screeching halt."
Copyright 2012 WOIO. All rights reserved

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Four local men in court on gambling charges
by Tim Botos
  Story at:   http://www.cantonrep.com/newsnow/x1842807277/Four-local-men-in-court-on-gambling-case
CantonRep.com staff writer -   Posted Jun 01, 2012 @ 10:22 PM

Earlier this week, authorities in the Parma-area targeted three men they believe are at the top of a pyramid that supplied and outfitted illegal gambling at some Internet cafes.

In the process, they charged four Stark County businessmen, described as middle-men in the Cuyahoga County operation:

• Christopher Maggiore, 46, of 4788 Nobles Pond Drive NW, Jackson Township
George Georgekopoulos, 37, of 7917 Lutz Ave. NW, Jackson Township
• Christos Karasarides, 46, of 2231 Dunkeith Drive NW, Hills and Dales
• James Watson, 61, of 205 Smith Ave. SW, Canton

"We’re calling them ‘marketers,’ " said Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Paul Soucie, who heads the office’s economic crimes unit. "They ... install the (gambling) software."

All four were arrested Wednesday and appeared in court for the first time on Friday. All face similar multiple criminal charges of conspiracy, gambling, money laundering and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

MANY CHARGES
Every charge, Soucie said, is related to use and distribution of gaming software that originated with New Jersey-based VS2 Worldwide Communications, which wound up in 18 Cuyahoga County cafes.

Typically, patrons of such cafes buy Internet time or phone cards, which gives them access to laptop computers to play games that look similar to those in casinos. Winners are paid in cash.

The heart of the cases, Soucie admits, is the legal definition gambling. Those who offer the VS2 games say its akin to a sweepstakes, no different than those offered by national fast-food chains.

Authorities disagree.

"It’s essentially slot machines on a laptop," Soucie sad

The three owners of VS2— called the top of the pyramid — were among 10 people and seven businesses named in a sweeping 44-page secret grand jury indictment. Those charged are accused of using multiple bank accounts, including one in the Ukraine to launder gambling proceeds.

Soucie said VS2 collected more than $46 million in the past four years, one-fourth of the revenue brought in by the cafes during that span.


STARK COUNTY, TOO
Maggiore’s attorney, Rick Pitinii, says his client had no role in distributing any VS2 equipment. "Chris was not a marketer," said Pitinii. "He does no business in Cuyahoga County."


Attorneys for the other three Stark County men did not return phone calls this week seeking comment.

Cafe owners and those who played the games were not charged. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason also told other cafe operators: Stop illegal gaming or face criminal prosecution.

The proliferation of Internet cafes is not unique to the Parma area. Locally, many communities, including Canton, have taken steps to license and regulate them. Stark County Prosecutor John D. Ferrero said he’ll speak with local police agencies and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office about how best to approach the situation in this area.

"It’s a difficult kind of case to prove," Ferrero said.

In the Cuyahoga County investigation, the Parma Heights Police Department was assisted by the Ohio Investigative Unit of the Ohio Department of Public Safety and the U.S. Secret Service.

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Illegal Internet cafes busted in Cuyahoga County; 10 people, 7 companies indicted


Posted: 05/30/2012By: Shay Harris, newsnet5.com
By: Shay Harris, newsnet5.com
 
CLEVELAND - After eight months of in depth investigating Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason announced the indictments of 10 people and seven companies that have been operating or working in conjunction with an out of state company involved in illegal internet sweepstakes cafes in Cuyahoga County.

Ohio law states that no person shall establish operate knowingly engage in conduct that facilitates any game of chance conducted for the profit or scheme of chance.

"It's illegal because you have to pay to play, the players have no influence over the outcome of the game, the player receives a prize or something of value when they complete it,30 then they can turn that prize into more opportunities to keep playing," explained Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason, "Internet sweepstakes cafes sell internet access time to onsite consumers for 25 cents per minute with added chances to win prizes or cash by playing the sweepstakes game on a computer terminal."

Mason said most of the machines found in the county are controlled by a New Jersey company called VS2 Worldwide Communications, LLC.

Since February 2008 the alleged criminals have amassed millions of dollars in Cuyahoga County alone. "Their profit of 48 million dollars represents only 25 percent of their cut of the proceeds from the illegal gambling and internet cafes in Cuyahoga County alone," said Mason.

On Tuesday a Cuyahoga County grand jury returned a secret indictment against ten individuals and seven companies working with VS2. The indictments were unsealed after arrests were made.

Mason said that over the last four years these individuals have have perpetrated the expansion of the VS2 Gaming System into Ohio with the assistance of Ohio distributors and marketers of the system.

Alleged principal operators arrested were Phillip Cornick, Edward Kaba, and Richard Upchurch. Mason said these men and their co-horts George Georgekopoulos, Pete Georgekopoulos, Pete Georgekopoulos, Christos Karasarides, and Christopher Maggiore were able to convince small businesses to operate their games as a sweepstakes by telling them it's not illegal and unregulated. In addition, the distributors and marketers of the VS2 gaming system have benefitted from the assistance of local opportunists. Martin and Seil Sarcyk, owners of Union Vending, which already had a significant number of Cuyahoga County's bars and restaurants as existing customers for their vending machines, jukeboxes, and arcade games, acquired many VS2 gaming system terminals from VS2 Worldwide Communications, LLC and VS2's partner company, P & E Technologies, Inc. The Sarcyk's, through their business, Union Vending, convinced several of their clients to add the VS2 gaming system terminals to their bars and restaurants. Two of these establishments were Good Time Charlies II and Mr. B's, both operating in Parma Heights.

Investigators said the money gained from Cuyahoga County was distributed from the business account of VS2 Worldwide Communications, LLC to various individual accounts owned by Cornick, Kaba, and Upchurch, to a mysterious bank account in the Ukraine, as well as back to Ohio to the business account of Elite Entertainment DBA VS2 Marketing Group, an account controlled by Karasarides, George Georgekopoulos, and Pete Georgekopoulos.

The defendants and seven companies were indicted on counts of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, conspiracy, gambling, operating a gambling house, and money laundering.

Attorney General Mike Dewine said he went before state legislators with the illegal internet cafe issue last year, now the problem has grown even bigger. "We don't know who runs them we don't know who owns them we don't know if they have criminal records not have criminal records they are ripe for money laundering it's literally the wild wild est in the state of Ohio," he said.
Mason said he made the decision not to charge patrons who've been playing these games at the illegal cafes. Today they sent letters to the owners of the establishments ordering them to shut down to forego facing criminal charges. However, if they choose to remain open, Mason said they'll face legal consequences.

On your side, Shay Harris, NewsChannel 5.


Read more: http://www.newsnet5.com/dpp/news/local_news/oh_cuyahoga/illegal-internet-cafes-busted-in-cuyahoga-county-10-people-7-companies-indicted#ixzz1wZzkYeJ4

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Cuyahoga County gambling probe nets Akron-area arrests

Beacon Journal staff report Published: May 30, 2012 - 03:42 PM | Updated: May 30, 2012 - 11:11 PM

Four Akron-area men are among 10 indicted Thursday in Cuyahoga County in a crackdown of illegal Internet sweepstakes cafes.

The indictments were announced by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason along with the Ohio Investigative Unit of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, the Parma Heights Police Department, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification, the Secret Service, the U.S. Marshal Service and U.S. Postal Inspector’s Office. Seven companies were also cited for their involvement in the gambling operation.

The probe centered on an Internet gambling system known as “VS2” that authorities say was controlled by a computer server in the New Jersey headquarters of VS2 Worldwide Communications.

Authorities charge the New Jersey-based operation was assisted over four years in moving gambling machines into Northeast Ohio by George Georgekopoulos, 37, of Hinckley; Pete Georgekopoulos, 39, of Stow; Christos Karasarides Jr., 46, of Canton; and Christopher Maggiore, 46, of Canton.

They are accused of convincing small business owners in Cuyahoga County that the VS2 Internet cafe gaming system operates as “sweepstakes,” which are not illegal and are unregulated in Ohio.

Most of the machines were initially placed in Cuyahoga County bars and restaurants and later in unregulated Internet cafes.

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office said it was able to obtain bank records that helped the Ohio Investigative Unit and the U.S. Secret Service identify numerous company and individual bank accounts being used to “launder” vast amounts of cash being generated by the machines in Cuyahoga County.

Authorities say the revenue from the machines was funneled to New Jersey to VS2 Worldwide Communications by check and money order.

Since February 2008, authorities say, VS2 has profited from illegal gambling by an estimated $48 million and those funds have been distributed to various individuals, including Karasarides, George Georgekopoulos and Pete Georgekopoulos.

Mason said that those indicted created “a complicated and elaborate, layered web of related companies dispersing and distributing money to each other with hopes of never being caught.”

The indictments include charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, conspiracy, gambling, operating a gambling house and money laundering.

Attorney General Mike DeWine said that the indictments are an example of collaboration between state, federal and county officials to crack down on illegal gambling cafes.
“These businesses, hundreds across Ohio, are totally unregulated and can be a real consumer rip-off,” DeWine said.

http://www.woio.com/story/18657623/authorities-shut-down-several-illegal-internet-cafs-in-cuyahoga-county

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7 Companies Indicted for Illegal Internet Cafes

Posted on: 4:43 pm, May 30, 2012, by , updated on: 06:04pm, May 30, 2012


The arrests are the culmination of an eight-month undercover joint investigation, conducted by prosecutors, the FBI and local police. Investigators say the scheme was complex. Vendors from a company by the name of VS2 based in New Jersey would find local bars and internet cafes to place these illegal gaming systems, then rake in millions of unregulated cash.

The defendants include George Georgekopoulos, 37, of Hinckley, Pete Georgekopoulos, 39, of Stow, Christos Karasarides, Jr., 46, of Canton, Christopher Maggiore, 46, of Canton, James Watson, 61, of Canton, Martin Srcyk, 61, of North Royalton and Neil Sarcyk, 25, of Parma Heights.

“They’re the ones who were making all the money, getting 25-percent of the proceeds that were generated. But these individuals down below were selling and helped marketing these machines to establishments in their county,” said Cuyahoga Prosecutor Bill Mason.

Two establishments involved in the investigation are Good Times Charlie’s II and Mr. B’s both operating in Parma Heights. Back in January, investigators went in and confiscated about 80 gambling machines. Investigators say many business owners may not have known the internet sweepstakes machines were illegal. And they say it’s almost always the gamblers being ripped off, to the tune of millions of dollars.

The owners of the internet cafes have not been arrested, and they are still in operation. But prosecutor Mason says they have now been put on alert, and if caught with these illegal gaming systems in the future, they will be arrested and shutdown.

George Georgekopoulos


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Pete N. Georgekopoulos




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