Leo Pelletier, a sixty six year old city councilor of Fairhaven City, Massachusetts, was accused of operating illegal online gambling halls within his two internet cafes. A statewide Grand Jury indicted Pelletier and three other participants in the scheme says the official statement from the office of the Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley.
Prosecutors allege that visitors of Mr. Pelletier’s internet cafes, both called “Leo’s Place”, paid cash in exchange for online credit at illegal foreign based online casinos. However, the operators of the alleged online casinos in United States claim that if the customers were using the internet to gamble, play sweepstakes or watch pornography, it was their own free choice. The owners deny encouraging or facilitating any form of internet gambling.
The 28-year serving city official, Pelletier, defended its position by stressing that his customers only used internet access at his cafes. The establishment offered customers free sweepstakes, which are not prohibited under American gambling laws.
The internet cafe visitors claimed cash prizes for points, which they won playing twenty four free online games. Pelletier regards the accusations as the political attack on his public position in the city politics.
In an interview with United States gambling news he pretended to speak with the Attorney General Coakley: “You want to use me, Martha? All well and good. Is it to enhance your political thing? I don’t know. I don’t know what you’re doing.” He went on to add that the real victims of the events are the state Lottery customers.
The other defendants in the case are Ron Sevigny, Linda Pelletier (who strangely enough is not related to the councilor) and Donald Greenidge. New England Internet Cafes, LLC, Pelletier’s corporation, is naturally also under investigation.
The city councilor is charged with organizing and promoting gambling services, running an illegal lottery, allowing lotteries in a building, and also the sale and advertising of lottery tickets. All of which contradict current state and federal gambling laws.
Pelletier’s lawyers commented: “Our position is that our clients’ Internet cafe business was lawful under existing statues and court decisions. The decision to indict them all is therefore extremely disappointing.”
The indictment is based on the period from July 2010 to March 2011, when state police carried out raids in one of the cafes, seizing computer hard drives and business records. The investigators also froze around $109,000 in Pelletier’s bank accounts.