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HCSO probes illegal gaming operation in Spring Hill

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An employee and two customers are facing various charges in connection with an investigation into a robbery at a gaming establishment in Spring Hill.

The arrests stem from a probe that began on Nov. 7 when deputies responded to a call about a robbery at the Fish Games Skill Games at 3484 Commercial Way.

According to HCSO Media Relations Manager Denise M. Moloney, a customer called 911 to report that another irate customer demanded money and subsequently struck an employee.

Upon arrival, deputies met with the employee who told them that one of the establishment’s regular customers was playing on one of the establishment’s gaming systems for more than an hour when he complained about “losing money,” and that he was owed $240 in cash to cover the alleged losses.

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Deputies said that the employee told the customer that he was not owed any money, but that customer threatened to harm him if he did not turn over the cash.

The customer subsequently walked behind the establishment’s counter and grabbed a bank bag and grappled with the employee. The employee retrieved the bank bag after giving the customer the $240 that he demanded.

The customer then left the establishment and was seen leaving the area in a white Chevrolet SUV. Investigators continue to seek the suspect.

The incident was turned over to investigators from the HCSO Vice and Narcotics Unit who, acting on a warrant on Nov. 18 observed two employees and eight patrons inside the establishment, and who confirmed the activities taking place inside the establishment were, in fact, illegal.

As a result, employee James Joseph Salmons, 27 was arrested and charged with Operating Gambling Establishment, Lottery Operating/Operating Games of Chance, Possession of a Slot Machine, and Conducting/Operating a Lottery.

Another person employed as security was not charged with any crime.

Patron Michelle Marie Botsch, 28, was charged with Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and patron Thomas Robert Cannariato, 39, was charged with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Six other patrons were uncharged and warned that they would likely be charged if they were found in an illegal gambling establishment in the future.
The investigation continues.

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