June 25, 2016

Mostly sunny

47 slot machines seized from Internet cafe in morning raid

Agents from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation and local law enforcement raided two Internet sweepstakes cafes in Medina County Tuesday morning.

The owner of the cafes, Adam Syed, a Fairlawn resident, is suspected of operating two illegal casinos, in Brunswick and Sharon Township, according to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Medina County Sheriff's deputies carry out equipment Tuesday morning from Cyber City Internet & Sweepstakes Center, 2696 Medina Road, Sharon Township. The owner of the Internet cafe is suspected of running an illegal gambling house. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY KIERA MANION-FISCHER)

DeWine held a news conference after the raid at Cyber City, 2696 Medina Road, Sharon Township, where agents carried out 47 cash-operated slot machines.

“What’s amazing to me is that this is just open gambling,” he said. “There’s no pretense that it’s some Internet cafe. There’s no pretense about buying Internet time. You don’t have to show a card to get in, they don’t pretend that it’s a club, it’s just ‘come on in and gamble.’ ”

DeWine said eight people were found gambling at 10 a.m. Tuesday before the raid.

Syed is suspected of violating the Ohio Casino Control Act, which prohibits running a casino gaming operation outside of the four voter-approved casinos in Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo and Cincinnati, the attorney general said.

“We have four legal casinos. Everything else is illegal, pretty much,” DeWine said. “We have the racinos, which come under a different category, but besides that, casino gambling is illegal in the state of Ohio.”

Medina County Prosecutor Dean Holman said the searches were part of a yearlong investigation.

He said the customers would not be charged.

“It’s not our intention to charge customers, and we’ll look at the employees on a case-by-case basis,” the prosecutor said.

Syed was taken in for questioning Tuesday. Holman said charges are expected against Syed. Possible charges include gambling, operating an illegal gambling house, and casino gambling, a fifth-degree felony.

Attorney General Mike DeWine speaks to reporters Tuesday morning outside Cyber City Internet & Sweepstakes Center, 2696 Medina Road, Sharon Township, about raids at two Internet sweepstakes cafes in Medina County where slot machines were seized. Behind DeWine are, from left, Medina County Prosecutor Dean Holman; Karen Huey, director of enforcement at the Ohio Casino Control Commission; Brunswick Police Chief Carl DeForest; and Medina County Sheriff Tom Miller. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY KIERA MANION-FISCHER)

“We will be presenting these charges as soon as we can after we’ve gathered all the information from the various sites subject to search,” Holman said. “We’ll be debriefed by the officers probably in the next day or so as to the results of the search warrant.”

Another cafe owned by Syed in Brunswick also was searched, Cyber 777’s, 1733 Pearl Road, where more slot machines were removed.

Syed’s home, at 3681 Torrey Pines Drive in Fairlawn, and a vending business he maintained at 1180 Triplett Blvd., Akron, also were searched.

The investigation was a collaborative effort among the Ohio attorney general’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Ohio Casino Control Commission, the Medina County Prosecutor’s Office, the Medina County Sheriff’s Office and Brunswick police.

Brunswick Police Chief Carl DeForest praised the effort.

“The actions of the prosecutor locally and the sheriff, Tom Miller, were very instrumental in developing this case and getting us here today, so I appreciate the fact that people have worked diligently over the past several months to put a good case together,” he said.

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.