Bradenton cafe among those in racketeering bust

ejohnson@bradenton.comMarch 14, 2013 

MANATEE -- A Bradenton Internet cafe was among those busted in Operation Reveal the Deal, an investigation exposing illegal gambling activity.

The doors of MegJon, LLC, 5108 15th St. E., were locked Wednesday after the state announced multiple arrests for illegal activity of Allied Veterans of the World and its affiliates after a three-year investigation that reached outside the state of Florida.

An employee did come to the door when a reporter approached. He said the business' computers were down and that the cafe would be closed "for a couple of days."

Previously boasting an Allied Veterans name, documents show the business later became MegJon, LLC. Anthony Alascia, of Spring Hill, and the law office of Mathis & Murphy are listed as the corporate officers and registered agent before and after the name change.

"The AVOTW Enterprise owners and operators have made efforts to give the appearance that AVOTW sold their affiliate locations by changing their names, however in fact, they still own and operate them as evidenced by State of Florida corporate records and financial documents," the master affidavit states.

The property in the Oneco-area shopping center, opened in 2009 as an Internet cafe. Law enforcement agents first visited it in an undercover inspection on Jan. 9, 2012. It was inspected again eight months later.

Records from a Bank of America account for MegJon, with Alascia as the signee, shows from June 23, 2009, to March 31, 2012, nearly $1 million was deposited from the cafe's earnings. On March 31, 2012, nearly $4,000 remained in the account. MegJon also received $1,016 from Mathis & Murphy sometime between 2011 and 2012, documents state.

In this investigation, it was alleged that MegJon is an illegal gambling business operating in violation of state lottery, slot machine and gambling house statutes.

Alascia, along with several other individuals and organizations, faces charges related to the Bradenton business. Others facing charges from the Manatee County operation are: John Cucciniello, AVOTW, Mathis & Murphy, International Internet Technologies, Johnny Duncan, Linda Duncan, Jerry Bass, John Hessong, Michael Davis, Moses Ramo, Chase Burns and Kelly Mathis.

Alascia, 52, who has a criminal history of fraud charges, also faces counts involving businesses in Sarasota and Hernando counties.

He is in custody on charges including racketeering (RICO), conspiracy and money laundering.

Elizabeth Johnson, Herald crime reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. Follow her on Twitter @EJohnsonBHcrime.

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