Secret indictments against three Amherst residents were unsealed Sept. 19 following a series of raids on alleged gambling dens.
So-called Internet cafes across Lorain County were targeted Aug. 15 by Amherst police, county sheriff’s deputies, Lorain police, Sheffield Village police, the Ohio Department of Taxation criminal investigations division, the Ohio Casino Control Commission, and the prosecutor’s office.
Search warrants were executed in six counties — Cuyahoga, Erie, Ottawa, Stark, and Summit in addition to Lorain — and illegal gambling machines, cash, documents, and other items were seized, according to the casino commission.
As a result, a grand jury has indicted 55 people and businesses with counts ranging from corruption to running illicit casinos.
“The indictments address the drain on our community tax base and the victimization of members of the community who are among the most vulnerable to financial manipulation,” the state casino commission asserted in a written statement.
One indictment names Diana Scribner, 62, of Amherst, who faces felony counts of corruption and casino gaming as well as a misdemeanor count of operating a gambling house.
Investigators seized $183,180 from a single bank account related to the alleged criminal enterprise, which the indictment said operated starting in January 2014.
Scribner was named along with Audrey Cole, 45, of Stow; James Cole, 52, of Stow; Donald Pasters, 52, of Grafton; Mad Squirrel Investments LLC; Player’s Choice Entertainment; and Eclipse Compliance Testing.
She has posted $10,000 bond.
Another indictment names Kimberly Strader, 55, and Robert Werner, 74, both of Amherst, and Michael Allen, 35, of Lorain.
They are charged with felony counts of corruption, money laundering, and casino gaming as well as misdemeanor counts of operating a gambling house.
Strader is also accused of tampering with evidence by allegedly trying to destroy or cover up records after learning she was targeted by an investigation, according to the indictment.
The document claims that from Oct. 2013 to August 2018, the trio ran an illegal gambling operation as Lucky’s Skill Based Amusement Center LLC.
Grand jurors identified a number of bank accounts used in the alleged criminal enterprise and had the assets seized — $129,400 as well as a Ford Mustang and Ford F-450.
Strader has posted $25,000 bond and Werner and Allen have been released on $10,000 bond.
Also named in the mass indictments is Gamer’s Club Amherst, Inc.
“Although significant progress has been made in combating illegal gambling in recent years, these operations continue to flourish due to their lucrative nature,” wrote Ohio Casino Control Commission director Matthew Schuler in a statement following the raids. “Illegal casinos prey on vulnerable Ohioans, operate without proper oversight, and offer no recourse for consumers. The commission will continue to use all of the tools at our disposal to shut down those establishments that disregard Ohio law.”
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.