Police bust gambling ring operating at internet cafes

A valley man is in trouble with the law, accused of running an alleged gambling ring worth thousands of dollars.

It's not the first time this man has been accused of doing this.

Eric Stelljes is accused of running gambling locations in the valley. FOX 10 searched court records and show he was indicted for the same thing two years ago.

From the outside it looks like an internet cafe, but law enforcement officials say it's just a disguise and inside thousands of dollars, were trading hands in an illegal gambling operation.

"People were paying consideration, or money for an opportunity to win a prize based on a chance, therefore, it is gambling under Arizona laws," said

The man behind the operation, according to the Department of Gaming is Eric Stelljes. He was indicted in 2013 for similar crimes in Arizona and California. After the Department of Gaming had finished a thorough investigation with Phoenix Police and DPS, they served search warrants. 

Six locations were raided including the Barbershop Internet Cafe near 15th Ave. & Indian School and the Mouse Pad Internet Cafe near 35th Ave. and Northern. From those locations, they seized multiple weapons, computers, gaming devices, cash, cars, and six ATVs.

"There was a bunch of young kids, it was open 24/7 and I never had any problem with them," said a woman who works nearby. She didn't want to be identified, but says she knew something wasn't right. 

"Oh my goodness, for a full day that I work probably 50-60 people came," she said.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is a former head of the Department of Gaming and had this to say about these types of crimes. 

"The important message we want to get out, is that illegal gambling will not be tolerated in our communities," said Brnovich.

Stelljes was not arrested while the investigation continues however charges are pending. He could be facing a number of charges, up to money laundering that holds a penalty of anywhere from 3 to 12 years behind bars. 

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