Legal Blotter

Legal Blotter

A Dayton business owner has pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to operate an illegal gambling business, operation of an illegal gambling business, conspiracy to defraud the United States and witness tampering.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Reece Powers II recruited local nonprofit charitable organizations to sponsor poker fundraisers that included casino-like card games. He entered into arrangements with the charitable organizations to control all funds raised by these poker fundraisers.

Under the laws at the time, these type poker fundraisers were permissible provided that all funds received, minus prizes paid out and necessary expenses sanctioned under the law, were given to the charitable organization. Instead, Powers paid his co-conspirators and employees who worked the fundraiser, a violation of state and Federal gambling laws.

Sentencing has not yet been set. Powers could go to prison for a maximum of 35 years and be fined $1 million. All his co-defendants have pleaded guilty to illegal gambling and obstruction of justice charges.

A Pickaway County business has been raided on suspicion of being an illegal gambling operation. Agents from the OCCC, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and deputies from the sheriff’s office seized 143 gambling machines, cash and documents. The raids took place at Spinners, in Circleville, and at the home of Stephen Cline, owner of the business. Cline was a major proponent of Internet cafes. His attorneys unsuccessfully argued against the restriction on payouts before the Ohio Supreme Court in 2010.

The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that owners of Internet cafes are entitled to some of the investigative materials produced during gambling investigations.

J&C Marketing owned two such cafes in Cuyahoga County. In May 2012, seven companies and ten individuals were indicted on charges of illegal gambling. J&C Marketing was not indicted. However, the county prosecutor sent cease and desist orders to owners of other Internet cafes, threatening criminal prosecution. As a result of one such letter, J&C Marketing closed. They ultimately sued, claiming they weren’t promoting gambling. As part of the lawsuit, they asked to see materials from the law enforcement investigation of Internet cafes. Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas granted the request. County Prosecutor appealed, first to the 8th District Court of Appeals, then to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Justice Kennedy wrote the opinion of the court. She stated that prosecutors don’t have an absolute privilege to refuse to turn over materials in discovery. Names of informants and undercover officers could be redacted. Emails between prosecutors and investigating officers were protected by the law enforcement investigatory privilege and the attorney-work-product privilege.

/ Other Gaming / Tags: ,