Sunday, May 27, 2018
News Roundup

Feds: Sweepstakes cafe operator engaged in illegal gambling

One of the state's largest Internet sweepstakes cafe outfits has run illegal online casinos that trick the public into believing money spent and lost goes to a Veterans Administration charity, a federal affidavit asserts.

The affidavit, filed Monday as part of an investigation into an Oklahoma company that provides sweepstakes software, accuses Allied Veterans of the World & Affiliates of violating Florida gambling laws, obscuring the amount of money that actually goes to charity and engaging in a sham to pretend it is no longer in the industry.

The criminal investigation, which the affidavit says began by the Seminole County Sheriff's Office, now includes the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Volusia County Sheriff's Office, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and the IRS.

The Florida Times Union, citing an unnamed source, reported Tuesday that three people with Allied Veterans and two executives with the Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police were arrested by the FDLE as part of a racketeering investigation. The three associated with the company, the Times Union reported, were Jerry Bass, head of the veterans group; Mike Davis, an executive with the group; and Kelly Mathis, the group's attorney.

Allied, which has been one of the state's largest sweepstakes cafe operators, has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on lobbyists and contributed $25,000 for a Gov. Rick Scott inauguration event. It has battled sheriffs and slapped Seminole County with a lawsuit. Its former public relations firm was once headed by Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll.

At the cafes, customers buy Internet time loaded onto a card and get free sweepstakes entries they can reveal by playing games on computer screens that mimic slot machines.

In an affidavit filed in Oklahoma to obtain search warrants, an IRS investigator wrote that Allied "engaged in a conspiracy and scheme to defraud" the public and governmental agencies into believing proceeds went to a charity affiliated with the VA.

Allied said that it devoted at least 70 percent of its net proceeds to charity, the affidavit states, when only about 2 percent actually was.

"Instead of going to charity as is represented, the vast majority of the revenue earned from the gambling operation went to for-profit companies and the individuals who operated Allied Veterans and its 'Affiliates,' '' it states.

The affidavit sough searches of 50 locations in Florida — most outside the Tampa Bay area, but two in Spring Hill — and one in Oklahoma.

Allied began operations in Florida in 2007 and supposedly ended in 2012. But the affidavit asserts the "alleged sale" of cafes was to "the same entities that were already operating them" and the names simply changed.

Comments
Rays pitchers Ryne Stanek, Anthony Banda dominate in 5-1 win over Orioles

Rays pitchers Ryne Stanek, Anthony Banda dominate in 5-1 win over Orioles

THE BASEBALL LABORATORY IN ST. PETERSBURG — Up is down. Down is up. Hello is goodbye. Goodbye is hello. A reliever is a starter. A starter is a reliever.These are your 2018 Tampa Bay Rays.You never know what's going to happen. And just when you...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Rays journal: After Alex Colome trade, Rays’ closer situation is fluid, Kevin Cash says

Rays journal: After Alex Colome trade, Rays’ closer situation is fluid, Kevin Cash says

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays have had to get creative in how they start games. Now, after Friday's trade of closer Alex Colome, they might have to get creative in how they finish them.How they handle the ninth inning going forward will be a fluid ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman says he’s retiring from football

Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman says he’s retiring from football

Former Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman, who was trying to resurrect his career with the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, said Saturday that he is retiring from football.Freeman, 30, was a first-round draft pick of the Bucs in 2009 and was their starting ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Her husband wouldn't apologize to her father — so she shot him, police say

Her husband wouldn't apologize to her father — so she shot him, police say

RIVERVIEW — A Riverview woman shot and killed her husband Saturday because he punched her father and wouldn’t say sorry, the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office said. Sabrina Michelle Hendley, 40, faces a first-degree murder charge in th...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Thomas Bassinger’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Orioles game

Thomas Bassinger’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Orioles game

Interesting decision by the Rays to start RH reliever Ryne Stanek on Saturday. The Orioles' Nos. 1 through 5 hitters were righties, and Stanek came in allowing a 1.228 OPS against righties and a .592 OPS against lefties. It ended up working.How ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Hernando officials seize 36 neglected dogs from sanctuary

Hernando officials seize 36 neglected dogs from sanctuary

WEEKI WACHEE — A woman who runs an animal sanctuary will face dozens of animal cruelty charges after Hernando County animal enforcement officers said they found dogs, equine, pigs, cats and chickens housed in poor conditions on her property.Animal of...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Police investigating shooting outside nightclub

ST. PETERSBURG — Police are investigating a fatal shooting that occurred outside a south St. Petersburg nightclub early Saturday morning.Brennan-Aire D. Williams, 28, was pronounced dead shortly after arriving by cab at Bayfront Health. Police invest...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Vegas envy: Is Tampa Bay ready for a Vegas’ birth-to-best story?

Vegas envy: Is Tampa Bay ready for a Vegas’ birth-to-best story?

What in the name of the 0-26 Bucs is going on here?The breathtaking Vegas Golden Knights are the greatest expansion team in professional sports history. They are the best (or worst) thing to ever happen to our games, having won 51 times during the re...
Updated: 12 hours ago

Woman dies in Plant City after SUV flips off road

PLANT CITY — A Seffner woman died Saturday from injuries sustained when her sports utility vehicle flipped off the road and crashed into a fence near the intersection of Tanner Road and State Road 574.Amanda K. Cepeda-Duque, 21, was traveling west on...
Updated: 12 hours ago

Published: 05/26/18