Cops Arrest Six For Illegal Gambling Machines, Mistake Gramps' RoboCop Game For Maquinita

A week after Rick Scott signed into law legislation outlawing video gambling machines, Miami Police raided gas stations, cafes, and bars around the city, arresting six men and confiscating ten maquinitas. Unsurprisingly, the operation occurred just as politicians attended the public crushing of 48 such machines.

The publicity stunt wasn't without hiccups, however. When cops swept into Wynwood bar Gramps, they mistook four vintage video games for illegal gambling machines.

"They were particularly concerned with my RoboCop arcade game," said bar owner Adam Gersten when contacted by Riptide. The cops eventually left, but not without getting a quick demo on how to beat the ED-209.

Miami Police spokeswoman Kenia Reyes admitted that the cops had made a mistake.

"We got some information that there were illegal gambling machines [at Gramps]," she said. "We went to the location to check it out... but the machines were not illegal."

The maquinita crackdown did net six illegal gambling suspects, according to records provided by the police:

  • Guillermo Schloeter, 26, Cuban, Sunflex Fuel, 1599 W. Flagler St.
  • Mavis Fernandez Martin, 36, Cuban, Laundro Mat, 1019 SW 8th St.
  • Joao Fernandes, 25, Brazilian, Marathon Gas, 1699 SW 8th St.
  • Ayman Jadallah, 47, Palestinian, 5th Avenue Supermarket, 712 NW 5th Ave.
  • Malek Brouri, 66, Algerian, Food Mini Market, 1843 NW 2nd Ct.
  • Justo Lopez, 28, Honduran, The Loft Cafeteria, 132 NE 2nd Ave.

How, exactly, a Wynwood bar like Gramps got lumped in with a bunch of gas stations and Calle Ocho cafeterias is unclear.

"The only thing I can say at this time is that at around 11a.m., many members of the Miami Police Department came into my bar while I was receiving deliveries and accused me of having illegal gambling machines," Gersten says. "I told them I did not have illegal gambling machines. I told them that I have four vintage video arcade games that I keep on free-play. They are similar to classics like Asteroids and Street Fighter."

Gersten then turned on RoboCop so the real cops could verify that he wasn't swindling little old ladies out of their savings.

Maybe the officers just needed a little midday job inspiration?

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes. Follow this journalist on Twitter @MikeMillerMiami.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael E. Miller was a staff writer at Miami New Times for five years. His work for New Times won many national awards, including back-to-back-to-back Sigma Delta Chi medallions. He now covers local enterprise for the Washington Post.