Court Sentences Former Employees of Ypsilanti Internet Café to Community Service

Jessica Aletor
By:
Jessica Aletor
23/11/2023/
Legal
Michigan Casino News

Highlights

  • In April, a Romulus senior citizen, Connie Durham was sentenced to 50 hours of community service and a one-year probation for illegal gambling activity.
  • Six months later, the former cohorts of Durham have also now been sentenced to community service and instructed to pay fines.
  • This marks the legal end of a case that started with a raid on a Ypsilanti Township café in 2022 and led to the confiscation of dozens of devices.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board has secured yet another landmark conviction of suspected unlicensed gaming operators as part of its crackdown on illegal gambling in the state. This time, the colleagues of the Ypsilanti Gamblin’ Granny who got sentenced to community service in April have also earned themselves a similar sentence.

About six months ago, all of these four individuals were charged with at least one felony count and one high court misdemeanor each, both relating to illegal gambling operations. Now, a Washtenaw County Circuit Court sitting in Ann Arbor has found the employees guilty as charged.

43-Year-Old Defendant Earns One Year Probation in Addition to Fines 

This case started with a joint raid conducted by the MGCB, the office of the Michigan Attorney General and the Michigan State Police on an internet café back in 2022. The location which was later revealed as Stony Creek Internet Café operates out of 2040 Whittaker Road in Ypsilanti Township. Authorities reported seizing 37 gaming machines, $6,012 in cash and gift cards as well as multiple computers.

In the aftermath, four employees and Connie Durham, the mastermind of the operation, were charged on felony and misdemeanor charges. Two of the four defendants were senior citizens, above the age of 60 while the other two were aged 36 and 43. The names of the defendants are Cecil Roberson, Angela Amperez-Lopez, Beverly Weatherspoon and Timothy Reardon, all of whom pleaded guilty to their respective charges.

However, while the first three were sentenced to community service and instructed to pay fines, Reardon who faced the same charges as the Ypsilanti Gamblin’ Granny was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay additional fines.

The sentences were handed down on October 23 and November 14. Here’s a breakdown of who got what.

  • Cecil Roberson, aged 77, was sentenced to community service and ordered to pay $125 in fines and court costs after pleading guilty to a high court misdemeanor.
  • Angela Amperez-Lopez, aged 36, was sentenced to community service and ordered to pay $198 in fines and court costs after also pleading guilty to a high court misdemeanor.
  • Beverly Weatherspoon, aged 67, was sentenced to community service and instructed to pay $198 in fines and court costs after also pleading guilty to a high court misdemeanor.
  • Timothy Reardon, aged 43, was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay $198 in fines and court costs after pleading guilty to a one felony count of attempted gambling operations.

Attorney General Nessel Restates Commitment to Compliance with Business Regulations 

The MGCB chief executive and the Michigan Attorney General have continued to record success from their collaborative efforts at stamping out illegal gambling.

“[Illegal gaming] activities undermine the regulated industry that promotes safe, responsible gaming and perpetuate a host of societal problems. The Michigan Gaming Control Board will continue to enforce established laws and send the message that illegal gambling will not be tolerated in the state of Michigan,” MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams said in a press release.

This year has been a significant leap for Michigan authorities as they have secured multiple convictions and seized items or cash running into hundreds of thousands of dollars. Recognizing that illegal gambling hurts legitimate business and licensed Michigan online casinos or sportsbooks, Attorney General Nessel is keen on maintaining regular business rules.

“My department remains committed to upholding Michigan’s business rules and regulations, and that includes our state’s gambling laws,” said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. “I appreciate our partnership with the Michigan Gaming Control Board, and for their hard work in combating these illegal operations which divert taxes and revenue from our communities.”

Michigan Residents Further Urged to Report Suspicious Gaming Activity 

Both the MGCB and the Michigan Attorney General’s Office have encouraged Michigan residents to be on the lookout for any suspicious gambling activity. Ultimately, unregulated gambling hurts Michigan residents, either by making unsuspecting players susceptible to fraud or diverting important revenue used for social projects. So, it is important that citizens contribute meaningfully to the ongoing war against illegal gambling activity.

You can report alleged illegal gambling by contacting the MGCB at 1-888-314-2682 or sending a message to [email protected].

Jessica is a news contributor to Gamble Online Michigan. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Economics but has over three years of experience working in the hospitality and gambling industry. Despite her core finance and investment banking background, she has been a casino feature writer for N1 Interactive Limited and multiple gambling affiliate sites. Her work has been featured on the bet365 blog, casino.zone and Max Force Racing. She spends her time between Michigan and California, staying up-to-date on the latest industry developments