April 13, 2024

Citrus Times

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CCSO continues gambling den push; more arrests

2 min read

The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office’s (CCSO) “Operation Go Fish” is a countywide clean-up operation of illegal gambling storefronts.

On Feb. 11, the CCSO continued the second phase of this operation.

Once again, CCSO’s Tactical Impact Unit (TIU), along with the assistance of Major Crime’s detectives, Community Crimes detectives, and patrol deputies, served another two simultaneous search warrants – the first at the Cafe Gold Mine, located at 2780 N Florida Ave, in Hernando, Florida and the second at the Dragon House at 2820 West Dunnellon Road in Dunnellon.

The search warrant executions are part of the continued efforts of the Sheriff’s Office’s extensive investigation into illegal gambling establishments in the community.

During this second phase of Operation Go Fish,’ detectives continued their undercover operations to gather information on these illegal operations, to include how winning players receive a payout predetermined by the owners of the establishment.

While executing the search warrants at both businesses, detectives, deputies, and forensics personnel confiscated 14 gambling computer processing units and consoles from the Caf Gold Mine and 21 similar items from the Dragon House. Officials on scene seized a grand total of $36,535 in cash from these two illegal gambling sites.

Two arrests were made during this phase of the operation.

Michael Schlak, 30-years-old, of Inverness, was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and possession of paraphernalia. Twenty-seven-year-old Gregory Simmons of Inverness was arrested for possession of paraphernalia. Once all available intelligence is gathered, additional arrests will be made for those responsible for these illegal gambling storefronts.

“Illicit gambling facilities are not only illegal, but they are detrimental to our community. Illegal gambling businesses pay little to no tax to our county by manipulating their revenue streams and paying their employees under the table all while making upwards of $3,000 a day,” said Sheriff Prendergast.

“What these facilities do provide our community with is an increase in drug activity and violence. One establishment maintained a list of reasons why certain individuals were banned, ranging from beating a girlfriend on camera, to leaving children in a vehicle, and selling drugs on the property; none of which were ever reported. These illegal establishments are no good for our community and we plan to shut them down.”

Charges for operating an illicit gambling establishment include-

* FSS 849.01 Keeping gambling house, etc. – 3rd degree felony to own, rent, lease or manage. (Property Manager)
* FSS 849.02 Agents or employees or keeper of gambling a house. – 3rd degree felony as well.
* FSS 849.08 Gambling – Whoever plays or engages in a game of chance for money or other things of value – 2nd degree misdemeanor.

The CCSO will continue to investigate illegal gambling establishments throughout the county, ending their illegitimate operations and arresting those associated with the criminal activity.

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