LUMBERTON, NC (WMBF) One Lumberton man appeared in court Friday after police say he attempted to torch an internet gaming café occupied by eight people.
Lt. Brian Duckworth, spokesman for the Robeson County Sheriff's Office, says 20-year-old Randy Lee Locklear was arrested and charged for allegedly setting fire to the Match Point Internet Café on Wednesday.
There were two employees and six customers in the building at the time of the incident.
Duckworth says Locklear was in the café on Wednesday but had been asked to leave multiple times because he wasn't playing any of the games.
Locklear did exit the building, but moments later another customer entered and said the exterior of the building was on fire. The fire was extinguished with a bottle of water, Duckworth said.
Surveillance photos show Locklear setting fire to exposed wood outside of the building with a cigarette lighter.
Locklear was transported to the Robeson County jail appeared before a judge Friday morning. His bond was set at $10,000.
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CLEVELAND -- Following a hearing late Friday morning, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Nancy Russo issued another temporary restraining order, allowing more Internet sweepstakes cafes closed down May 30 by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason to reopen, according to court records.
That follows her first TRO issued on June 14, where Russo allowed four of the 51 Internet cafes closed down to reopen and another nine were allowed to reopen as of Monday (June 18).
Today's TRO covers, among others, the following owners of Internet cafes: CTC Entertainment, Las Palmas III, CVE Entertainment LLC, IBNEE, Cybertime Internet Cafe Maple Heights LLC, and ISHU Corporation, AMA Ventures Inc doing business as Internet Galaxy, according to court records.
On May 30, Mason announced that his office had indicted 10 people and seven businesses for distributing a gaming software system called VS2 that was used by 18 of those cafes.
The charges included racketeering, money laundering and gambling.
In her earlier TRO, Russo stated that sweepstakes games are not gambling and Internet cafes were legal.
On June 11, Governor John Kasich signed HB 386 into law. Once enacted, a one-year moratorium went into effect on all new Internet cafes. Existing Internet cafes are now required to register with the Ohio attorney general.
Other owners of Internet cafes will have a hearing Monday afternoon, including the owners of Lucky Palms, Feeling Lucky, Land of the Loot and Piggy Bank, according to court records.
So, are Internet cafes really gambling?
That's the billion-dollar question. Literally. And because chances are pretty much nil that Lake County commissioners will be able to answer it, they should leave it alone.
New Internet cafes have been banned from opening since January. The county, at the time, said it was waiting on a ruling in a Seminole County case and on the Legislature, which was to take up the issue during its last session. The lawmaking body did nothing, as usual, and the Seminole case is still pending.
These cafes typically open in a semi-deserted strip mall and offer customers time on the Internet and "credits." The player usually pays for a plastic card and swipes it when he sits down at a computer. Then, he can choose a slot-machine or other Vegas-type "gambling" game on which to spend the credits.
Under the theory of looking and quacking like a duck, law enforcement swears that the cafes are simply local casinos, which are prohibited under state law.
Operators, however, say the games do not involve chance, which is the key to whether they violate state law. Wins or losses are predetermined when the customer pays for the Internet time. So, they argue, playing games at Internet cafes is exactly the same as playing in a McDonald's fast-food sweepstakes, in which the participant can win a burger or fries. In fact, they say, there's an option to reveal immediately whether the customer has won or lost rather than playing out the games.
Assistant State Attorney Mark Simpson has said there's a loophole in state law favoring Internet cafes, and he should know. In late 2010, a jury handed him a big fat "not guilty" in the case of an Ocala woman who owned one of the cafes. The state quickly folded on charges it had filed in other similar cases.
Despite splashy police raids at some of the 1,000 or so cafes statewide, there has not been a single conviction.
So, why are officials so worked up? Two reasons: money and morals.
These Internet cafes literally are cash machines. The amount of money that flows through them is difficult to calculate, but it's no secret that some cafes take in as much as $100,000 a week. Experts believe that the take across the state in 2011 exceeded $1 billion. And no wonder: Some are open 24 hours.
The cash coming into such businesses is difficult to regulate, so it's hard for the state to be certain it is getting its cut. That's why some legislators prefer "regulation," a code word for ensuring that Florida snags its share.
And politicians play to their right-leaning constituents if they vote against the cafes. County Commissioner Jimmy Conner said in January when he voted for the moratorium that "any type of gambling is not positive for our society."
PARMASome area seniors are angry that Cuyahoga County ordered all Internet cafes shut down two weeks ago.
For them, the cafes had become a way of life — a place they could socialize, enjoy complimentary meals and escape life’s problems.
Angie Fernback, a Parma senior, said she enjoyed playing the electronic sweepstakes games in the Internet cafes.
“Some folks would win a few bucks and many would break even after a couple hours,” Fernback said. “Still others made substantial winnings.”
For Fernback, playing the games was an adventure.
“You just never knew if Lady Luck was with you or against you, but one could always be sure of a nice time,” Fernback said.
Fernback said the cafes served free, well-balanced and nutritious meals to its customers. Coffee, tea and soft drinks were also available.
Internet cafes also provided a chance to make friends. That was especially important for seniors who had become isolated and lonely, Fernback said.
“As we age, little by little, there are less things we can do,” Fernback said. “We have to give up things that brought us tremendous enjoyment just a few short years ago.
Fernback said many seniors are devastated by that loss. They end up confined to their homes.
Internet cafes changed that by giving seniors a fun place to go in their own neighborhoods, Fernback said.
“They (the cafes) gave us a chance to reconnect with one another while having some fun, enjoying a nice dinner, wishing each other good luck and celebrating with friends when Lady Luck sat on our shoulder,” Fernback said. “For a couple of hours, we were back in the mainstream of life.”
Fernback said that visiting Horseshoe Casino Cleveland is not practical for seniors. She said it is a day-long trip that requires advance preparation.
In addition, the casino staff — unlike the Internet cafe staffs — is too busy to address the concerns of seniors. Also, even a sandwich costs a lot of money, Fernback said.
Fernback acknowledged that the county Prosecutor Bill Mason may have found legitimate problems with some Internet cafes.
“If a few establishments were found guilty of money laundering, then fine them,” Fernback said. “Don’t tear out the Laundromat over a couple of broken machines.”
Dolly Parisi, a Parma Heights resident, agrees. She said hundreds of people, especially seniors, are angry about the Internet cafe closings.
“Sure, they should be fined if they were not doing the right thing, but don’t close them down,” Parisi said.
Parisi noted that county Mason has called sweepstakes games in cafes illegal forms of gambling because Ohio permits gambling in only four locations.
But Parisi questioned why gambling is so geographically restricted.
“If people have fun and they are not out murdering someone, what’s the problem?” Parisi said.
Parisi said she is not a senior but she saw a lot of older people in the cafes. Some were on oxygen and in wheelchairs.
“Some would only play $20 and would leave,” Parisi said. “That’s less than what people pay for bingo.”
Parisi said the games took their minds off their problems.
“They were so happy to have an outlet,” Parisi said. “They loved it.”
Parisi loved the games, too. She said after her daughter passed away about 15 years ago, she did not want to go out anymore.
“When these cafes opened, I became a different person,” Parisi said. “I’m not winning a lot but I’m having fun. I’m not thinking. I’m getting dressed up and getting compliments.”
Parisi went to cafes throughout the county but her favorite was Sweepnet Cafe in Parma Heights, which served chicken and dumplings, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, hot dogs, dessert, coffee and soft drinks — all at no charge.
Parisi said the games were no more addictive than bingo or poker.
“Sure, I know someone can get addicted to it,” Parisi said. “But these games finally kept me from thinking and thinking.”
Parma resident Mary Ann Christian, 67, also visited the cafes. She said they were conveniently located and she did not need a lot of money to play.
“It’s a nice outlet, especially in the winter when the weather is lousy,” Christian said. “People should have the option to go there.
“I go to the big casinos but not often,” Christian said. “I want somewhere I can go by myself and talk to people. We laugh and have our coffee and play. They even feed us.”
Christian does not understand why Internet cafes were closed in Cuyahoga County but not other counties.
“If somebody is doing something wrong, correct it,” Christian said. “Don’t close all of them due to some people who are doing wrong.”
Christian said that sweepstakes games in Internet cafes were no better or worse than casino games, bingo, the lottery and race-track betting.
“I think they closed the Internet cafes to keep competition from the casinos,” Christian said.
“People are upset,” Christian said. “It’s not right. Let us have our fun.”
Independence resident Larry Miller, 77, said he frequented 707 Sweepstakes Cafe in Brooklyn Heights.
“The people were friendly and there were no hassles or problems,” Miller said. “They had good security, cameras all over and the parking was fine.”
Miller said 707 served free hot dogs and pizza but no alcohol. At the casino it costs $25 just to enter the buffet line, he said.
A lot of seniors do not want to visit the downtown casino due to the difficulty of finding a parking space, and the cost of a space, Miller said.
Mary Phillips, a 67-year-old Brooklyn Heights resident, also played the machines in 707.
“I never won, but I liked to play,” Phillips said. “I liked the atmosphere. It was friendly and close to home.
“There is no way I’m going downtown,” Phillips said. “I am on a fixed income and can’t afford it.”
Phillips, like Christian, believes the Internet cafes were closed due to the opening of the casino.
“They want everyone to go to the casino,” Phillips said. “They didn’t want the competition.”
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The final fugitive sought in connection with the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system was arrested Friday.
Katsuya Takahashi, 54, was seized after an Internet cafÃ© worker phoned police to say that a man resembling the bespectacled former member of the Aum Shinrikyo cult was on the premises.
Takahashi evaded capture 12 days ago when he fled an apartment in the city of Kawasaki an hour before police arrived. Updated wanted posters were issued throughout eastern Japan and police stepped up surveillance at train stations and bus terminals. Police called on the public to be on the look-out for Takahashi, who has been working as a labourer on construction sites since 1995.
Takahashi is wanted on suspicion of murder and attempted murder for the 1995 sarin attacks, kidnapping, a bombing that maimed an official in the office of the governor of Tokyo and three attacks with VX nerve gas that were carried out in 1994 and 1995. His arrest brings to a close the 17-year hunt but will reopen the legal process.
A total of 189 members of the quasi-religious cult, whose name means "supreme truth," have been indicted for a campaign which had the aim of over-throwing the government. Many have already completed prison terms, but 12 members - including Aum's founder, Shoko Asahara - are on death row.
RICHMOND HTS. - MegaPlay Internet Cafe, 5164 Wilson Mills Road, is back up and running thanks to a temporary restraining order granted June 13 by Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Nancy Russo.
The restraining order temporarily protects the cafe’s owner, Bryan Sanshuck, and three other facilities against Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason’s cease-and-desist order issued May 30 that instructed internet cafes in Cuyahoga County to shut down.
Mason is trying to shut out approximately 50 cafes across the county on the premise they are engaging in illegal gambling activities.
Sanshuck said he filed an injunction immediately upon receipt of Mason’s order.
The injunction was sent over to federal court, and then Sanshuck made a filing to bring it back over to state court, which was granted.
The temporary restraining order allows MegaPlay and three other cafes to open their doors immediately, including cafes operated by JC Marketing, LLC. Remaining cafes in the county are still closed.
MegaPlay was closed for two weeks prior to the issuance of the restraining order.
Councilwoman Miesha Headen said Richmond Heights brings in nearly $100,000 in fees from Internet cafes, but that could change if Mason’s attempts to shut down cafe gambling succeed.
Gov. John Kasich is also working to regulate Internet sweepstakes cafes and signed legislation June 11 banning new cafes from opening. The legislation also requires existing cafes to register their gaming equipment with the state.
As a city already in dire economic straits, Headen said Richmond Heights could be significantly impacted by the final fate of Internet cafes.
"The potential closure would be of disastrous consequences to us," she said, noting the city cannot afford to lose another $100,000 in revenues.
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The local businesses include East Point Business Center Internet Cafe, 3097 Genesee Road, in Genesee Township and West Point Business Center Internet Cafe, 1493 S. Linden Road, according to a news release issued Tuesday.
"Citizens should steer clear of Internet Sweepstakes Cafes that are nothing more than unregistered, illegal casinos," said Schuette in the release.
"The letters come as the result of an ongoing investigation by the Michigan State Police, the Michigan Gaming Control Board and the Attorney General's office," the release further states. "Last month, Schuette's office announced it has already closed eight such operations after coming to an agreement with a gaming software provider."
Wording in the letters states anyone found guilty of operating an unlicensed gambling operation may face 10 years in prison, a $100,000 fine or both, and the businesses have 14 days upon receipt of the letters issued June 8 to cease the alleged gambling operations.
A similar letter was issued in April to the Flint Business Center on Fenton Road, which has since closed its doors, along with seven others across the state after officials reached an agreement with Innovative Entertainmen to voluntarily close eight locations.
The legality of the businesses has been questioned by some local authorities, with several of the facilities offering internet access and sweepstakes opportunities having opened in Genesee County.
CLEVELAND (AP) — An Internet “sweepstakes” cafe owner is challenging efforts by a prosecutor in Ohio’s largest county who wants to shut down such businesses and says they’re really illegal gambling operations.
The businesses offer games that function like slot machines with cash prizes. Last week, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor sent letters to about 50 cafe operators in the county ordering them to close immediately.
The Plain Dealer reports (http://bit.ly/M7i1Tp ) two of those facilities are owned by JC Marketing LLC, which is asking a county judge to block the prosecutor from enforcing that order. A hearing is set for Monday. An assistant prosecutor said the county was preparing a response to the court filing. He says most of the county’s sweepstakes cafes have closed since the order, but a few remain open. Last month, all 28 charges against Fremont Internet cafe owners and staff were dismissed. The businesses were raided by city police in January. Attorneys for the defendants met with Assistant Prosecutor Jeff Kane on May 9 and came to a temporary agreement that included dismissal of all the charges, Law Director Jim Melle said at the time. Melle said the city reserved the right to refile the charges within 60 days.
Canadian Luka Rocco Magnotta, who allegedly videotaped the murder of his lover and mailed his body parts, has been captured in a Berlin Internet cafe, according to the Berlin Police Department.
Magnotta, 29, is wanted by Canadian authorities for first-degree murder and other charges.
He has been the focus of an international manhunt for the murder of his Chinese boyfriend who he allegedly killed on videotape before posting the video online and mailing parts of Lin's body to Canadian government offices.
Kadir Anlyisli, a Turkish employee at Helin Internet Caffe in Berlin, told ABC News that a foreign looking man came into the cafe at around 12:30 p.m. Anlyisli gave the man, now identified as Magnotta, a username and password for a computer, but watched him carefully.
Anlyisli, 42, thought the man resembled the fugitive Magnotta, so as Magnotta perused YouTube, Anlyisli flipped through a newspaper to find a story and photo about the manhunt for Magnotta in order to confirm his suspicions.
When Anlyisli saw a police car passing by, he rushed to stop them and said, "I think there is a guy you are looking for inside the cafe."
Police entered and asked the man for his passport.
"At first, he tried to tell several different names, but at last he said, 'Okay, you got me,'" Berlin Police spokesman Thomas Neuendors told ABCNews.com.
Anlyisli recalled Magnotta saying, "I am the one" when he finally conceded his identity.
Authorities had an arrest warrant for Magnotta and he was taken to prison at around 2 p.m. He is expected to make his first court appearance Tuesday, Neuendors said.
The Montreal Police Department said in a statement that they received confirmation via Interpol of Magnotta's arrest this afternoon.
Magnotta was the subject of an Interpol "red notice" and on Sunday Interpol posted three photos of a man passing through security at an unidentified airport. In the photos, a man who appeared to be Magnotta was circled in red. The photos were removed from the website later in the day without explanation.
The victim was Chinese student Jun Lin, 33, who has been studying in Montreal since last July. He was last seen on May 24 and was reported missing to the Chinese consulate on May 29, according to the Montreal Police Department.
On the same day, a human foot was discovered by a receptionist who received a blood-soaked package at the Ottawa headquarters of the Conservative Party of Canada. A second package containing a hand was seized at a post office in Ottawa later in the day.
Meanwhile, a janitor in Montreal found a male torso in a suitcase behind a apartment building in the Cote-des-Neiges neighborhood. Magnotta was a resident of that building and Montreal police said that he was in a romantic relationship with Lin.
"We know that the suspect and the victim knew each other. It was not a random attack," Lafreniere said. "[Magnotta] knew the victim. They were having an affair."
Magnotta has no prior criminal history that police are aware of. Authorities have confirmed that the mailed body parts did indeed belong to the torso that was found and that the body parts mailed to Ottawa originated in Montreal.
"The state of the body is so bad. It was cut. It was dismembered," Lafreniere said. "This is a very hard case for us in terms of being extremely gross. We're still missing body parts."
Lafreniere said police do not currently believe that any of the missing body parts are in the mail, but said they are working with the postal service while they investigate.
MONTREAL (AP) — Packages containing a human foot and hand were discovered at two schools in Vancouver on Tuesday, in what could be the latest gruesome twist in the case of a Canadian porn actor suspected of dismembering and eating his former lover.
Police said they could not immediately confirm if the body parts in question were the missing extremities of Chinese student Jun Lin, whose hand and foot were discovered last week when they were mailed to Canada's top political parties.
The suspect, Luka Rocco Magnotta, 29, was caught Monday at a cafe in Berlin, after evading police for days while he partied in Paris. He told German authorities he would not fight extradition to Canada.
German authorities are now waiting on the formal request for extradition from Canada, Martin Steltner, a spokesman for Berlin prosecutors, said Wednesday.
After that arrives, Magnotta will then officially have to tell the court whether he objects to the request, and if he does it could drag the process of extradition out, Steltner said. If he does not, it's possible he could be back to Canada by the end of the week.
In Vancouver, Deputy Police Chief Warren Lemcke said a package containing what appeared to be a human hand was opened by staff at False Creek Elementary School after 1 p.m. Tuesday. Another package containing what appeared to be a human foot was found by staff at St. George's private school for boys later in the day.
The British Columbia Coroner's Service and the Vancouver police's major crime investigators have been called in.
"There is no indication any student or staff has been targeted at any school," Lemcke said. "This must have been a very traumatic incident for all involved in the schools involved in opening the packages and the Vancouver Police Department will assist any way we can with our victims services section."
Zheng Xu, a press spokesman at the Chinese consulate in Montreal, said four of Lin's family members, including his parents, arrived in Montreal on Tuesday night. He said they will meet with Montreal police. He also said they will meet with the media at an opportune time.
Video footage of what authorities believe to be the killing seems to show the suspect eating the body, said police in Montreal, where the death occurred.
Montreal Police Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere said that although police have not been able to conclusively confirm it, they suspect Magnotta ate parts of the victim's body.
"As gross and as graphic as it could be, yes, it was seen on the video," Lafreniere said.
Authorities allege Magnotta filmed the slaying in his Montreal studio apartment and posted it online.
A copy of what police believe is the video of the killing, viewed online by AP, shows a man with an ice pick stabbing another naked, bound male. He also dismembers the corpse and performs sexual acts with it.
It did not show anyone eating the body but did show a man using a fork and knife on it. Police suggested Tuesday that they have access to more extensive video of the killing, possibly an unedited version.
"We're keeping some details for ourselves," Lafreniere said.
Shortly after the killing, authorities say, Magnotta flew from Montreal to Paris.
Scores of French police hunting for him were inundated with hundreds of tips and alleged sightings of the suspect, whose photo was splashed in newspaper papers, TV screens and websites worldwide, thanks to an Interpol alert. The suspect monitored news reports about what police knew and took steps to evade authorities.
Witnesses contacted French police with claims of having seen Magnotta partying in the Bastille area of east Paris, said Christophe Crepin, a police union official who shared details about the manhunt in a phone interview with The Associated Press. One tipster said Magnotta drank a late-night Coca-Cola at a bar in the northwestern Batignolles quarter, which police collected for fingerprints. Pornography magazines and an air-sickness bag from the plane he had taken from Montreal to Paris were found in a dingy hotel room where he stayed in Bagnolet, northeast of Paris.
"He needed to be seen, and to party," said Crepin, who relayed information he received from agents in the judicial police unit that tracks fugitives. "Naturally some of the people who saw him broke out into a cold sweat when they recognized him."
Magnotta's refusal to stay low eventually got him caught. He was arrested while reading about himself at an Internet cafe in Berlin after an employee recognized him from a newspaper photo and flagged down a police car.
Magnotta appeared before a German judge in the afternoon and was ordered held pending extradition, police spokesman Thomas Neuendorf said. He was then transferred to a Berlin prison from a police detention center.
He will have to go before a German court for an extradition hearing once Canada formally requests that he be returned for trial, Neuendorf said.
"I assume there will be no problems," he said. "According to his statements to prosecutors he will not fight his extradition."
That means Magnotta could be returned to Canada as early as this week, according to authorities. The Canadian Embassy in Berlin declined to comment on when Ottawa may file the official papers seeking extradition.
Cmdr. Denis Mainville, the head investigator of the Montreal police major crimes unit, said investigators will review hundreds of homicide cases over the last 30 years in Montreal and throughout Quebec for any possible links to Magnotta. Mainville said such a review is routine in such cases.
Magnotta arrived in Berlin on Saturday on a bus from Paris, Steltner said.
It appears he may have stayed with a friend, or someone he knew from the internet, for the two nights before he was captured, Steltner said. Investigators are currently looking for more information on the person.
Crepin said Magnotta had contacts in Paris from a previous visit in 2010.
"He didn't come to Paris by chance. He knew he could get along in Paris, he knew people," he said. Police, for example, trailed a large-framed man who had been in contact with Magnotta, he said. Police questioned another man with whom Magnotta spent two nights. The man didn't immediately realize who his companion was, Crepin said.
At times, French investigators grew frustrated with leaks in the media — notably a French TV report indicating police had used technology to track Magnotta's mobile phone. As a result, Magnotta turned it off, Crepin said.
"He had closely monitored what we police were doing to concoct his strategy," he said.
Crepin said surveillance camera footage showed Magnotta boarding a bus to Berlin on Friday evening. He said German officials were alerted that Magnotta might be in Berlin at some point before the arrest, but he did not specify when.
The case's full horror emerged on May 29 when a package containing the severed foot was opened at Canada's ruling Conservative Party headquarters and a hand was discovered at a postal facility, addressed to the Liberal Party of Canada. A torso, meanwhile, was found in a suitcase on a garbage dump in Montreal, outside Magnotta's apartment building.
As they unraveled his background, police discovered that Magnotta changed his name from Eric Clinton Newman in 2006 and that he was born in Scarborough, Ontario. He is also known as Vladimir Romanov. Police said he has 70 Facebook accounts under different names.
Montreal police on Tuesday said DNA tests have confirmed that the body parts mailed to the political parties were Lin's remains, and that they have footage of Magnotta mailing the two parcels that were sent to Ottawa.
In addition to the victim's torso, Mainville said investigators found more human body parts, including a left arm without a hand and a left leg missing its foot, in garbage bags left in the dump behind Magnotta's apartment building during the 18-hour processing of the crime scene that began after the suitcase was found on May 29.
"The head is still missing," Lafreniere said, hours before the parcels were discovered in Vancouver. "And one hand and one foot is still missing."
In Vancouver, Kurt Heinrich of the city's school board said no students saw the package at False Creek Elementary.
Larissa Warrington, the chair of the False Creek elementary parent advisory council, said students were in school at the time and police vans were present when she picked up her three kids.
"I came to pick up my children as I usually do and was told there was a suspicious package at the school," an emotional Warrington said.
"It is disturbing. It's awful. Why would anybody do that? It's very unsettling, as you can imagine, having children at this school."
At St. George's, Grade 7 student Devon Mussio said his mother told him the news.
"I thought she was lying and I was like, 'Whoa, that's disturbing,'" said Mussio, who was standing outside the school with his mother, Penny. "This guy's, like, a creep."
Keaten reported from Paris. Associated Press writers David Rising in Berlin. Rob Gillies in Toronto, and Phil Couvrette in Ottawa, Ontario, also contributed to this report.