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In cases involving skills games in Stark County, federal prosecutors have charged seven additional defendants

  • Federal prosecutors have filed charges against seven new defendants in the Stark County skill-game cases.
  • The defendants face charges of operating illegal gambling businesses and often failing to pay taxes on their illegal profits.

Seven more people who prosecutors allege operated now-closed illegal gambling businesses in Stark County are facing criminal charges.

Federal indictments in Cleveland unsealed on Thursday added further charges against at least one defendant already charged in connection with the "skill games" operations shut down in 2018, according to a statement from the U.S. Justice Department.

Federal prosecutors allege that:

  • Stephanie Condric of Canton operated the illegal gambling establishment known as Gametastic. According to a 2018 complaint filed by federal prosecutors seeking the forfeiture of seized funds, Gametastic was also known as Match Play 777, formerly at 4220 12th St. NW in Canton Township.
  • Condric and others listed another person as the owner of Gametastic, did not list all payroll on employment tax returns filed with the Internal Revenue Service and failed to disclose her earnings from Gametastic on her 2016 and 2017 income tax returns, according to the Justice Department. A message seeking comment was left for Condric.
  • Christos Karasarides, Jr., a current or former Hills and Dales resident who was charged in June 2022 with tax evasion, money laundering, witness tampering and falsification of records, now with his son Christopher Karasarides also faces an additional charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States. A third superseding indictment alleges that from 2016 to 2022, the son helped his father hide cash in the son's bank safety deposit box. The document also accuses the father of putting an investment entity in his son's name to hide the father's assets and misrepresenting that a 20% stake in a company was owned by the son when it was owned by the father. And the indictment accuses Christopher Karasarides of signing a false promissory note linked to the investment entity, lying to his tax preparer and knowingly filing false tax returns by saying he owned the company and claiming its income as his own. Attempts to reach Christopher Karasarides were not immediately successful. His father Christos Karasarides, who has pleaded not guilty, was released on a $20,000 bond in June 2022. A message seeking comment was left for Christos Karasarides' attorneys.
  • Melissa Bragg, was charged with operating the illegal gambling business Belden Connection 777 from 2013 to July 11, 2018, the date a law enforcement task force raided skill-game parlors around Stark County. It's not clear if it was the same operation as the Belden Internet Connection, which prosecutors said Bragg operated in 2018 at 4623-4627 Whipple Ave. NW in Jackson Township. Bragg could not be reached for comment.
  • Michael Moneypenny of Norton faces four counts of operating an illegal gambling business known as Skilled Shamrock at 4225 Hills and Dales Rd. NW in Plain Township, Redemption at 2824 and 2826 Whipple Ave. NW in Plain Township, Gametastic and Gametastik. Prosecutors allege Moneypenny fixed and sold slot machines and rented out slot machines in Ohio and Florida. Moneypenny said Thursday night he wanted to consult his attorney before deciding whether to comment.
  • Isaiah Worlow, Stephen Fluharty and Tiffany Kerekes face federal charges of operating illegal gambling businesses. They are alleged to have operated Got Skillz, Skillz 777 at Atlantic Boulevard NE in Plain Township and Café 62 at 3007 Harrisburg Road NE in Plain Township. Worlow declined to comment. Fluharty and Kerekes couldn't be reached.

Related:Feds reveal indictment against fifth defendant in skill game parlor case

Court appearances tied to Stark County skill games

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Condric and Moneypenny made an initial appearance Thursday in U.S. District Court in Akron before Magistrate Judge Amanda Knapp, the Justice Department said.

Christopher Karasarides made an appearance the same day in U.S. District Court in Cleveland before Judge Donald Nugent, who is overseeing most of the skill-games cases in Stark County. Bragg appeared Thursday in U.S. District Court in Akron before Judge John Adams.

The defendants making court appearances face maximum sentences of three to five years for each of the charges, the Justice Department said. The other defendants will be arraigned later.

As of early Thursday afternoon, the charging documents for the new indictments were not yet available on the federal courts system's website.

Also facing charges is Thomas Helmick, Christos Karasarides' nephew, accused in charges unsealed in May 2021 of operating an illegal gambling business, defrauding the United States and filing false income tax returns related to not reporting income from Redemption.

Ronald DiPietro also faces federal felony charges of conspiracy to illegally operate a gambling business, defrauding the United States, and failing to pay owed federal income taxes. DiPietro has also been charged with helping to prepare false and fraudulent income tax returns. He's a certified public accountant who prosecutors say knowingly prepared false tax returns for the other defendants in the case, operated Skilled Shamrock and owned a business that leased gaming machines to the parlors.

Related:Former Stark County skill game parlor operators facing federal indictment

Steven Saris of the Canton area also faces a felony charge of operating an illegal gambling business, Café 62, which was on 3007 Harrisburg Rd. NE in Plain Township from 2013 to 2018.

Related:Canton-area man who owned Cafe 62 charged with running illegal gambling business

The trial date for Christos Karasarides, DiPietro, Helmick and Saris is set for Oct. 3 before Nugent. With new charges filed against Christopher Karasarides and new defendants, that date may be postponed again.

Guilty pleas and resolved cases

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Three defendants in the case pleaded guilty in July 2022

Rebecca Kachner, 45, formerly of the Canton and Massillon area who was among those charged in the skill game parlor cases in May 2021, pleaded guilty to one count of defrauding the U.S. government as part of a plea agreement. Prosecutors say that she helped operate Redemption Skill Games and Skilled Shamrock and that she and her husband failed to report $2.3 million on their income from the businesses and failed to pay income taxes. She was sentenced to 24 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $1.18 million.

Related:Stark County woman gets 2 years in federal prison for role in illegal skill games stores

Kachner's husband, Jason Kachner, who faced many of the same charges as his wife and also helped operate the skill-games establishments, pleaded guilty to two counts of tax fraud in July 2022. His sentencing has been postponed to Oct. 26.

Larry Dayton, a resident of Florida, pleaded guilty to defrauding the U.S. government from 2008 to 2018 as part of being an owner of Redemption and Skilled Shamrock and failing to report the income from the establishments on his tax returns. Nugent in November sentenced him to three years in prison followed by three years of supervised release and required him to pay restitution of $938,000.

Related:Third defendant guilty of running skill game parlors in Stark County

Reach Robert at [email protected]. Twitter: @rwangREP.


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