MUSKEGON COUNTY, MI – A former school board member has been convicted of six felonies for operating illegal gambling operations in Muskegon County.
Bruce Zitka, who resigned in 2018 from the Orchard View Schools Board of Education, and his wife, Susan Zitka, were convicted of three counts of operating a casino without a license and three counts of using a computer to commit a crime.
Each of the felonies is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
The convictions by an Ingham County Circuit Court jury are related to the Zitkas’ three unlicensed gambling operations in Muskegon called the Landing Strip, Lucky Mouse and Fast Lane, according to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office.
The Landing Strip, which was on Grand Haven Road in Norton Shores, and the Lucky Mouse, on Heights Ravenna Road in Cloverville, were described as an Internet “lounge” and “café,” respectively. Those typically are locations where people can use computers to access the Internet.
Charges against the Zitkas had been filed in 2016 after an investigation by the Michigan Gaming Control Board and the Michigan Attorney General’s Office.
“When individuals conduct these illegal operations, it robs Michigan public schools of the dollars they need to provide quality education to our students and it robs the state and local government of important tax revenue,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a prepared statement about the convictions.
Zitka, 69, was elected to the Orchard View school board in 2007, serving 11 years before his resignation. He was treasurer of the board when he resigned.
Business and bank records found in the Zitkas’ home during the execution of a search warrant, showed that the three businesses grossed nearly $1 million in revenue in 2015 alone, according to a press release from Nessel’s office. Tax filings show the couple wrote off most of that revenue and claimed very little in taxes, the press release states.
The Zitkas, who are from the Muskegon area, are scheduled to be sentenced on June 12 by Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina.