Cuyahoga County

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office Seizes Approximately 1.8 Million Dollars in Illegal Gambling Funds

3/12/2013 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 12, 2013

CLEVELAND- Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty announced that to date the Prosecutor’s Office has seized approximately $1.8 in illegal gambling funds from several bank accounts belonging to defendants that have been involved in illegal internet sweepstakes cafés.

The individuals and companies named in a recent indictment are operating or working in close cooperation with the owners of an intricate internet gambling system known as “VS2” that is controlled by a computer server in the New Jersey headquarters of VS2 Worldwide Communications, LLC.

Over the last four years, from 2009 through 2012, these individuals have perpetuated the expansion of their VS2 gaming system into Ohio with the assistance of Ohio-based distributors and marketers of the system. These individuals have convinced many small business owners in Cuyahoga County that VS2 internet café gaming system operates as “sweepstakes” which are not illegal and unregulated in Ohio. 

VS2 Worldwide Communications, LLC is located at 5140 West Hurley Pond Road, Wall Township (Farmingdale), New Jersey. The company began operations in 2004, and at the time was owned by Phillip Cornick and/or Richard Upchurch. This company provided the necessary software that ran the machines which the State of Ohio considers are gambling machines. It is believed that the software was developed in the Ukraine.

Prosecutor McGinty said, “The flim, flam, and scam on the vulnerable by the casino cafés and their rigged slots is coming to an end in Cuyahoga County. The little old ladies pension money is hers when she walks in and it's theirs and on its way to New Jersey and assorted overseas bank accounts by the time she walks out of the casino café. We are going to work with Attorney General Mike DeWine to halt this exploitation.”

VS 2 will have to take their hustle and army of lawyers and lobbyists elsewhere to ply their trade. If they can sell themselves as small businesses improving the vibrancy of the neighborhood’s commerce, then so can the operators of brothels and opium dens.”

Even after the many bank accounts were seized and frozen, the unregulated internet casinos continued to set up additional accounts outside of Ohio to hide and lauder their money. Currently, the following individuals have had accounts seized as part of this ongoing investigation and prosecution: Philip Cornick, Christos Karasarides, Pete Georgekopoulos, and George Georgekopoulos.

On Monday, March 11, 2013, an additional order was signed by the Court to freeze an account at the First Financial Credit Union in New Jersey which was opened in February 2013, under the name VS2 Worldwide Communications, LLC with Philip Cornick listed as the President. As with the other accounts that were frozen, the funds in this account were from illegal internet casinos in Cuyahoga County. When the account was opened, employees of the Credit Union required a signed waiver stating monies deposited would not be in connection with any illegal gambling transactions. The waiver was ultimately signed which shows that even under indictment and further investigation these individuals will continue to operate their criminal enterprise. The funds seized in the new account total $957,895.60.

Illegal internet sweepstakes cafés continue to be investigated. In a joint effort, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office and the following agencies have been involved in this ongoing investigation: Ohio Investigative Unit of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, the Parma Heights Police Department, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Marshal Service, and U.S. Postal Inspector’s Office. 

Contact:  Maria (Pinzone) Russo, Public Information Officer, (216) 698-2819, cell (216) 299-9326 or mrusso@prosecutor.cuyahogacounty.us http://prosecutor.cuyahogacounty.us.

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