Westfield man indicted for gambling charges

BOSTON – A city man and his business partner have been indicted on gambling charges as a result of an investigation staged by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office into a Chicopee internet café operated by a corporation the two men own.
Steven Sheldon, 48, of Westfield and his partner, Steven Megliola, 52, of Longmeadow, were indicted along with their corporation, Cafeno’s Inc., by a special statewide grand jury on charges of organizing or promoting gambling services and operating an illegal lottery. Sheldon was also indicted for allowing lotteries in a building and for the sale and advertising of lottery tickets.
The indictments were announced in a statement released by Attorney General Martha Coakley Thursday , who alleges that the Cafenos, the internet café operated in Chicopee by the two men, “was nothing more than an illegal, unregulated slot parlor with no protection for consumers” where patrons “were paying nearly exclusively for the right to gamble.”
Coakley’s statement reports that the investigation into the activities at Cafeno’s began in September, 2010, and revealed that the customers there were not merely paying for time connected to the Internet but playing a free sweepstakes. The investigators found the “no purchase required” options were “trivial and insignificant” and concluded that “gambling was the only clear purpose for these cafes.”
The investigation, the statement said, is a “direct result of complaints regarding alleged unlawful gambling operations that have recently opened for business across the Commonwealth.”
The statement went on to say that while these new businesses “purport to sell goods or services, such as Internet access or phone cards” the investigation by the attorney general’s office found “those sales were “a pretext for unlawful and unregulated lotteries, online slot parlors, sweepstakes and similar gambling.”
The attorney general’s office secured indictments in October against the owners of similar internet cafes in Fall River and Fairhaven on similar charges.
Massachusetts Generals Laws, in Chapter 271, Section 16 A, provides that anyone convicted of organizing or promoting gambling shall be sentenced to “imprisonment in the state prison for not more than fifteen years or by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars, or by both such fine and imprisonment.”
Under Section 7 of Chapter 271, a person convicted of operating an illegal lottery “shall be punished by a fine of not more than three thousand dollars or by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than three years, or in jail or the house of correction for not more than two and one half years.”
According to the press release, the defendants will be arraigned in Hampden County Superior Court at an unspecified future date.

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