By Pat Raia
Two employees of a Spring Hill business were arrested when Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) detectives searched the establishment suspected to be an illegal gambling “game room.”
HCSO Deputy Public Information Officer (PIO), Michael Terry said that on Jan. 14, members of the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office Vice and Narcotics Unit executed at search warrant at the Ocean Breeze, 82 Commercial Way in Spring Hill on grounds that it was operating as a game room for illegal gambling.
Months prior to the search, the HCSO had been working with the owners and operators of allegedly illegal gaming establishments to educate them about operating within the Florida State laws governing gaming.
According to Terry, owners of those businesses were given “cease to desist” letters advising them they were operating illegally, and should adjust their operations to comply with Florida Statute. Several establishments either changed their practices or shut down completely.
An investigation revealed that Ocean Breeze was operating in violation of Florida law, he said.
While executing the warrant, investigators observed 17 patrons actively gambling at the scene. After being advised that they could be charged with a crime for participating in these game rooms, they were issued warnings and released.
Also at the scene, detectives seized $13,000 in cash, several computers and monitors, various gambling machines, and a projector.
Employees Miguel Deleon and Debra Castelli were arrested and each charged with Keeping a Gambling House.
Deleon was transported to the Hernando County Detention Center. He is free on a $1,000 bond.
Castelli received a Notice To Appear (NTA) on the charge, but did not go to jail.
Their cases are pending.