RACKETEERING SHAKEDOWN GENERIC
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- First Coast News is taking a closer look at some of the people behind Allied Veterans of the World.
Specifically, FCN is examining their criminal histories. New information has come to light that many people who were running the Allied Veterans internet cafes had lengthy criminal records.
Anthony Alascia, who lives in the Tampa area, is a prime example. He is facing several charges including racketeering. He has a record of arrests that stretch from New Jersey to Florida, dating back to the 1970s and continuing through his arrest last month.
Alascia's arrests history includes assault with a weapon, computer crimes, grand theft, driving under the influence, passing checks and tax evasion.
Now Alascia and his co-conspirators in Allied Veterans are charged with bilking millions of dollars from people like Peggy Johnson.
"They have drained everything, bank accounts 401k, everything," Johnson said.
Johnson, who says she lost more than $50,000 at an Allied Veterans café, puts some blame on the state.
"I'm amazed it took this many years for this to be discovered," she said.
Now the state is cracking down on the cafes, with an indictment that led to the resignation of Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, who was involved promoting the cafes. The legislature is aiming to outlaw internet cafes.
Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam said he hopes the legislature will move quickly to regulate or put remaining internet cafes out of business.
"They are clearly a gateway into organized crime and racketeering, as this investigation proves, and I'm hopeful law the legislature will take swift action," he said.
First Coast News