IN RE SEARCH WARRANTS OF VS2 WORLDWIDE COMMUNICATIONS, L.L.C. AND P&E TECHNOLOGIES, INC.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted October 21, 2013
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, Docket No. M-2013-501.
Jack Venturi, and Mark E. Schamel (Womble, Carlyle Sandridge and Rice, LLP) of the Ohio Bar, admitted pro hac vice, attorneys for appellants VS2 Worldwide Communications, L.L.C., and P&E Technologies, Inc. (Mr. Venturi on the brief).
Christopher J. Gramiccioni, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor, attorney for State of New Jersey, (Mary R. Juliano, Special Deputy Attorney General, Acting Assistant Prosecutor, of counsel and on the brief).
Before Judges Ashrafi and Leone.
Appellants are two New Jersey corporations, VS2 Worldwide Communications, L.L.C., and P&E Technologies, Inc. They challenge search warrants issued in New Jersey in aid of a criminal prosecution of them and their principals in the State of Ohio. The Law Division denied appellants' emergent motion for return of the property that was seized pursuant to the search warrants. We affirm.
Appellants have engaged in the business of selling products and licensing computerized sweepstakes games used in internet cafés in Ohio and other states. Appellants' offices and facilities are located in Monmouth County in this State. A principal of the two corporations is Philip Cornick, a resident of Jackson, New Jersey.
The State of Ohio alleges that Cornick and his corporations engaged in illegal gambling and money laundering by means of their internet café activities, and Ohio sought search warrants to aid in their prosecution. Appellants contend that the search warrants were obtained through a fraud upon the New Jersey court that issued them, and that the property seized pursuant to the warrants should be immediately returned to them, and also that the New Jersey prosecutor and detective who obtained the warrants should be sanctioned.
In May 2012, appellants and their principals were indicted in Ohio for gambling and other related offenses. The charges involved the sale of "network access time" in Ohio internet cafés that could be used in conjunction with entries into "sweepstakes" that resemble casino games. Appellant P&E Technologies sold the game equipment and computer hardware used in the sweepstakes. Appellant VS2 developed and distributed the software for the sweepstakes games. VS2 receives proceeds through licensing of its software and network access time.
Ohio investigators allege that the purchase of network access time by participants in the sweepstakes was a façade for gambling activity. They allege that internet café patrons would get credits in an account for network access time they purchased, which credits could be wagered on games of chance, and patrons would be paid cash by the internet café for winning games. Ohio alleges that facilitation of this activity violates its gambling and money laundering laws.
The application for search warrants stated that the Ohio business operations of VS2 and P&E Technologies were remotely conducted from locations in New Jersey. Mail was routinely sent from internet cafés in Ohio to VS2's place of business in Farmingdale, New Jersey, and money was wired to bank accounts associated with VS2 and Cornick.
In April 2013, Ohio prosecutors sought the cooperation of New Jersey law enforcement authorities to gather evidence pertaining to the Ohio case. They provided their information to the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office and requested assistance in obtaining and ...