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Internet cafe company gets penalized

Judge orders forfeiture of $91,026 after guilty plea

YOUNGSTOWN — An owner of the Internet Palace, a company that operated an internet cafe in Austintown and one in Salem in 2014, pleaded guilty Thursday to five felony charges.

John Christopher appeared in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court on behalf the several owners of the company, pleading guilty for the company to three counts of money laundering and single counts of gambling and possession of criminal tools.

Judge Anthony Donofrio found the company guilty and ordered it to forfeit $91,026 in cash and other property — including computers — that were seized from the business when the cafes were raided in 2014.

Assistant Ohio Attorney General Dan Kasaris prosecuted the case.

The Mahoning County Drug Task Force carried out the raid on the Internet Palace and other similar internet cafes in June 2014 after a six-month investigation.

It was part of a larger crackdown on such facilities, which offered computers where customers could access the internet and email, but they also could access a gambling site.

In 2014, internet cafes proliferated across Ohio by selling internet and phone time to customers. With their purchase, they got a chance to win cash payouts by playing an electronic sweepstakes game that resembled a slot machine.

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