Stark County Trio charged with operating illegal casinos
Three people from Stark County were charged in federal court with conspiring to launder money and operate illegal gambling businesses in Canton, Ohio, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
A two-count criminal information was filed charging Jerry Warren, age 70, of Canton, Tracie Warren-Pastore, age 45, of North Canton, and Yabacushyanei Bennett, age 45, of Canton, with one count of conspiracy to conduct an illegal gambling business and one count of conspiracy to launder money.
Prosecutors are seeking to forfeit more than $1.3 million in cash as well as four vehicles – a 2011 Jaguar XJ8, a 2011 Mazda CX-9, a 2008 Land Rover and a 2000 Porsche Boxter.
“This trio ran their own illegal casino in Canton, complete with 200 slot machines,” Dettelbach said. “Now the game is up, and they will be held accountable for their actions.”
“Federal laws that regulate the reporting of financial transactions are in place to detect and stop illegal activities,” said Kathy Enstrom, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office. “IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to enforcing these laws and following the money, wherever it leads.”
“This case illustrates the need for vigilance in the enforcement of Ohio's Casino Control Act,” said Executive Director Matt Schuler of the state’s Casino Control Commission. “There are only four legal casinos in Ohio; this was clearly an illegal gambling house."
Warren, Warren-Pastore and Bennett conspired together to operate gambling businesses from 2008 through May 2013, including the Nugget, which was located in Canton, according to the information.
The group operated illegal gambling businesses, including the Nugget, as casinos, offering more than 200 slot machines where the public could gamble. These slot machines included but were not limited to the Frog Prince, Pharaoh’s Fortune, Lucky Meerkats, Treasure Diver, Enchanted Kingdom and others, according to the information.
The businesses remained in substantially continuous operation and sometimes had gross revenues of $2,000 or more in a single day of operation, according to the information.
If convicted, the sentences of Warren, Warren-Pastore and Bennett will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the person’s role in the offenses and the unique characteristics of the violations. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.
The investigation is being conducted by the Internal Revenue Service with assistance from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Ohio Casino Control Commission. The case is being prosecuted by Kevin Culum, Special Assistant United States Attorney.
An information is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.