July 1, 2016

Partly cloudy

Tuesday Internet cafe raid begets felony charge

A Fairlawn man accused of running two illegal casinos in Medina County was charged Wednesday with running a casino gaming operation.

State and local law enforcement on Tuesday raided two businesses owned by Adam Syed, 30, and confiscated dozens of what they described as “cash-operated slot machines.” Both locations had signs on the outside advertising them as Internet sweepstakes cafes.

Adam Syed

Syed was being held on a $500,000 bond at the Medina County Jail on Wednesday. He has a preliminary hearing at noon June 14 in Wadsworth Municipal Court.

The casino gaming operation charge is a fifth-degree felony punishable by up to a year in prison.

Medina County Prosecutor Dean Holman said the charge was filed in the Wadsworth court because it has jurisdiction over Sharon Township, where one of the cafes is located. The charge is only for that location, and more charges are expected after the case is presented to a county grand jury, Holman said.

“It was not an Internet cafe; it was just illegal gambling,” Holman said. “It was electronic slot machines.”

The businesses raided were Cyber City, 2696 Medina Road, Sharon Township, and Cyber 777’s, 1733 Pearl Road, Brunswick.

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

“What’s amazing to me is that this is just open gambling,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said Tuesday.

DeWine was on hand for the raids.

“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.’ ”

The Ohio Casino Control Act prohibits running a casino gaming operation outside of the four voter-approved casinos in Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo and Cincinnati.

The investigation was a collaboration 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.

On the same day as the raids, Gov. John Kasich signed a law that effectively bans Internet sweepstakes cafes.

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