SPRING HILL, FL – On Thursday, January 14, the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office Vice and Narcotics Unit executed a search warrant at 82 Commercial Way in Spring Hill. The business, “Ocean Breeze,” was an illegal gambling “game room.” The Sheriff’s Office has been working for months to educate the owners and operators of these establishments to work within the Florida State Statute.
Businesses were provided a “cease to desist” letter advising them they are operating illegally, allowing the owners to adjust their operations to comply with Florida Statute. Several establishments changed their practices or shut down completely. An investigation revealed that Ocean Breeze remained operating in violation of Florida State Statute. Upon execution of the search warrant, two employees were charged with Keeping a Gambling House, Florida State Statute 849.01.
Seventeen patrons were observed on scene and actively gambling. The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office educated the patrons explaining that they too can be charged with a crime for participating in these game rooms. The 17 patrons were issued warnings and released on scene.
During the execution of the search warrant, detectives seized $13,000 in cash, several computers and monitors, various gambling machines, and a projector. Two arrests have been made at this time, Miguel Deleon, 25 and Debra Castelli, 62.
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Deleon was transported to the Hernando County Detention Center where he’s being held on a $1,000 bond. Castelli was given a Notice to Appear.
While these types of establishments are considered enjoyment by some citizens, they also attract a criminal element to the area. Drug use and sales, weapons disturbances, fights, and robberies are known to occur at these types of establishments. This creates a safety concern for the patrons and employees of these game rooms as well as the surrounding businesses and neighborhoods. The Sheriff’s Office will continue to investigate other businesses in violation of Florida gambling laws, and are committed to educating citizens on the matter.– Hernando County Sheriffs Office