SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - The owner and the business partner of Cafeno's Internet Café in Chicopee Falls were arraigned Wednesday morning on charges of operating an illegal slot parlor.
In a news release, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said that owner Steven Sheldon and his business partner Steven Megliola ran a cyber café that "was nothing more than an illegal, unregulated slot parlor with no protections for consumers."
Both men pleaded not guilty during their arraignments and were released on personal recognizance.
In September 2010, State Attorney General's office began an investigation into Cafeno's after receiving a number of complaints.
Then in March 2011, Chicopee and State Police entered the café on Main Street and found computers with sweepstakes games where customers could buy points or dollars to play casino-style games with the opportunity to win cash prizes. Soon after, the city issued a cease and desist order.
Under Massachusetts Law, it is illegal to run or promote gambling services, and in this case, State Attorney Office alleges Cafeno customers were paying nearly exclusively for the right to gamble and play lottery games, which had predetermined results, rather than just the Internet time.
If found guilty, Sheldon and Megliola could face a penalty of up to $250,000 fine per electronic machine that operated unauthorized sweepstakes and/or up to 15 years in state prison.
Last year, a Statewide Grand Jury also indicted the owners of two "Leo's Place" Internet cafés in Fall River and Fairhaven on similar charges.