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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Man arrested after MCSO discovers hidden internet cafe inside clothing store

A 46-year-old man was arrested after the Marion County Sheriff’s Office received a complaint that he was secretly operating an internet cafe in Citra.

On Wednesday afternoon, an undercover MCSO detective went to the location in the 17000 block of N Highway 301 and discovered that the door to the business was locked. After the detective knocked on the door and rang the doorbell, a man later identified as Ralph McNish opened the door.

Ralph McNish
Ralph McNish

McNish informed the detective that the business was a clothing store. When the detective mentioned an interest in “playing some tables,” McNish allowed the detective to walk inside, and he led the detective to the back of the business where 16 “fish game” stations were observed.

Man arrested after MCSO discovers hidden internet cafe inside clothing store 7
Clothing was on display in the front of the store (Photo courtesy of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office)
Man arrested after MCSO discovers hidden internet cafe inside clothing store 9
Hats were behind the counter (Photo courtesy of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office)

The detective utilized $40 to play the games and confirmed that they constituted “simulated gambling devices.”

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There were 16 games located in the back of the store (Photo courtesy of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office)
Man arrested after MCSO discovers hidden internet cafe inside clothing store 3
Another photo of the game room in the back of the store (Photo courtesy of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office)
Man arrested after MCSO discovers hidden internet cafe inside clothing store 1
A handwritten sign offering a “Fish Table Promotion” (Photo courtesy of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office)

After the detective left the store, additional MCSO units responded to the location and detained McNish. He refused to answer any questions or provide a statement.

Man arrested after MCSO discovers hidden internet cafe inside clothing store
McNish refused to speak with MCSO units (Photo courtesy of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office)

McNish was arrested, transported to Marion County Jail, and he was later released on $8,000 bond. He is facing 16 counts of violating Marion County’s ordinance prohibiting the management, possession, or use of simulated gambling devices for commercial purposes.

A court date has been scheduled on Wednesday, September 7 at 9 a.m., according to jail records.