Florida Banned The Internet, Claims Cafe Owner Lawsuit
Remember that bill that was recently passed that outlawed Internet cafes? Well, apparently, one cafe owner is suing the state because, as he puts it, the bill basically makes smartphones, computers, and pretty much the entire internet illegal in Florida.
Consuelo Zapata, owner of Incredible Investments, LLC, says in his suit that the Florida Legislature's wording in the bill banning slot machines with the term "system or network of devices," reaches to other things outside internet cafes.
Constitutional law attorney and Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz is making the argument that the Legislature screwed up when they worded the bill, essentially making any device where one can play online slot machines illegal.
Even the very computers the Legislature used to draft the bill!
The case asks the court to throw out the law passed "in a frenzy fueled by distorted judgment in the wake of a scandal that included the lieutenant governor's resignation." It argues that the lawsuit unlawfully prohibits, commerce, violates free speech and due process and is overly broad and unworkably vague.
The scandal the suit references involved Allied Veterans -- a non-profit that had operated internet cafes -- whose leaders had been arrested on racketeering charges after an investigation by the IRS and Secret Service. Allied has been accused of money laundering, after the group allegedly used money from their nonprofit for personal gain, and by basically lying about the exact amount of money they donated to charities.
Then-Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll was found to have connections with Allied, and turned in her resignation to Gov. Rick Scott shortly after the arrests were made.
Carroll claims her connection to the group was a misunderstanding. She herself was not arrested or part of Allied's leadership.
As for the suit, Kaplan argues that the internet cafe ban violates the constitutional protections of due process.
House Speaker Will Weatherford released a statement addressing the suit:
"I am proud that we shut down the illegal Internet cafes in Florida. It's good policy, and I'm only disappointed it took this long to do it."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss New Times Broward-Palm Beach's biggest stories.