Wednesday, May 18, 2005
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THIRTY-SIX CHARGED IN $360 MILLION DOLLAR BONANNO ORGANIZED CRIME FAMILY GAMBLING OPERATION; RING ALLEGEDLY RAN WIRE ROOMS IN KEW GARDENS HILLS AND FLUSHING, QUEENS AND OFF-SHORE IN COSTA RICA; ALLEGEDLY HANDLED UP TO 2,000 BETS DAILY TOTALING $500,000 ON HORSE-RACING, BASEBALL, FOOTBALL AND OTHER SPORTING EVENTS AND BOOKED OVER $2.5 MILLION IN ONE DAY DURING 2005 NFL PLAYOFFS
Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, joined by Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, today announced the indictment of 36 individuals on charges of operating an illegal gambling ring –- a highly sophisticated criminal enterprise controlled by the Bonanno organized crime family –- that handled illegal wagers on horse racing, professional baseball and football and other sporting events totaling in two years a staggering $360 million.
District Attorney Brown said, "Today’s arrests close down a highly lucrative gambling operation that benefitted the Bonanno crime family to the tune of millions of dollars each year. They send a clear signal to all who involve themselves in illegal gambling that law enforcement will keep up the pressure and not allow them to operate. Organized crime reaps huge profits from illegal gambling that evade taxation and underwrite its other more insidious forms of corruption, such as labor racketeering, drug trafficking, auto theft, insurance fraud and loan sharking. Illegal gambling is by no means a victimless crime -– it provides the fuel that allows organized crime to operate.”
Police Commissioner Kelly said, "There's no such thing as a friendly wager when organized crime is involved. I want to commend the outstanding work of the detectives and prosecutors in this case."
A 39-count Enterprise Corruption indictment filed in Queens County Supreme Court charges that the mob-run gambling ring operated three wire rooms that handled illicit wagers averaging $250 each at 136-72 72nd Avenue in Kew Gardens Hills; 147-19 Jewel Avenue in Flushing and at a shopping mall in San Jose, Costa Rica. Eleven of the defendants are also being sued civilly and have been named as respondents in a $360 million civil forfeiture action filed in Queens Supreme Court by the District Attorney's Special Proceedings Bureau.
The criminal enterprise allegedly handled about 2,000 bets each day that generated gross revenues of nearly $500,000 daily, $15 million a month and $180 million a year during the 28-month period covered by the indictment. It is alleged to have relied on modern technology to generate its criminal proceeds including computers, the Internet, e-mail and AOL instant messaging to safedepositsports.com and a toll free telephone number –- 1-800-582-1383 –- that ran up a monthly bill of over $50,000.
According to the indictment, reputed Bonanno captain Anthony "Tony Green" Urso -- identified in the indictment as an unindicted co-conspirator -- received a monthly tribute from the gambling operation in exchange for the protection of the Bonanno crime family.
District Attorney Brown said that detectives assigned to the New York City Police Department's Organized Crime Control Bureau, the District Attorney's New York City Police Department Squad and his New York State Police Unit arrested the defendants on charges of Enterprise Corruption -- a violation of New York State's Organized Crime Control Act -- as well as Promoting Gambling, Possession of Gambling Records and Conspiracy. The defendants face up to 25 years in prison, if convicted.
District Attorney Brown said that the investigation leading to the arrests began in January 2003 when detectives assigned to the Police Department’s Organized Crime Control Bureau developed information about an illegal betting ring and began a joint investigation with the District Attorney's Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau. The investigation included physical surveillance, intelligence information and court-authorized electronic eavesdropping that intercepted over 50,000 conversations.
The indictment charges that Christopher Bruno, 34, of 4022 Jean Avenue in Bethpage, New York was the ringleader and major bookmaker in the enterprise and that his partners were Joseph Amato, 40, of 439 North Queens Avenue in Massapequa, New York, who was also allegedly the ring's enforcer who ensured that its protocols and procedures were obeyed, and Dana Antal, 36, of 606 Martz Road in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Together, these three defendants allegedly managed the ring's day-to-day operations, settling bettor disputes, authorizing and accounting the debts and payouts and supervising numerous, lower-ranking employees.
The indictment further charges that Chi Lam and Edmond Wong were "controllers" for the ring who maintained the daily and weekly handle figures, the total win-loss figures for various clerks and runners and for very large bettors. It is alleged that they resolved disputes and accounting discrepancies and dealt with other administrative issues including betting locations, assignment of runners to betting locations and telephone numbers used by members of the ring to conduct business.
The indictment additionally charges that the ring used 25 "runners," including Dominic Valila, the head groundskeeper at Shea Stadium, who maintained lists of bettors, paid their wins and collected their losses and recruited new bettors to the bookmaking enterprise. These defendants, in addition to Dominick Valila, include Thomas Cullinane; Albert Chan; Thomas Bruno, the brother of defendant Christopher Bruno; Michael D'Allesandro; Michael Paulino and Marc Rovner. It is alleged that defendant Chan handled about $80,000 in bets for the ring each day and that defendant Valila handled bets totaling over $200,000 each year. It is further alleged that each of the ring's "runners" in exchange for a share of the ring's gambling profits managed his own group of bettors by accepting and relaying bets or by providing bettors with a phone number and runner's code for a particular wire room, then settling up their bettors' win-loss amounts.
The indictment further charges that the ring used "money collectors and clerks," including Cheong Hoong, Robert Machacyk and Yoke Seng Chow who performed a variety of duties, including accepting bets, managing bettors' accounts, maintaining gambling figures, safeguarding gambling proceeds and manning traditional "wire room" locations that accepted wagers via telephone and maintained gambling accounts for numerous runners and bettors.
During its busiest times the ring allegedly booked wagers in the millions of dollars. On January 23, 2005 during the National Football League Playoffs the ring is alleged to have handled 5,328 wagers totaling over $2.5 million. The ring's largest bets allegedly included:
- a $15,000 losing bet placed on the January 23, 2005 American Football Conference Championship game between the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers won by the Patriots;
- a $10,000 losing bet placed on the January 23, 2005 National Football Conference Championship game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles won by the Eagles.
The indictment also alleges that the ring used a non-traditional "wire room" in the form of an off-shore, internet-based gambling service used by bettors and runners to actually place their wagers. It is alleged that the ring used the off-shore wire room to maintain numerous runners' and bettors' gambling accounts through the Internet website in an effort to evade law enforcement detection through traditional methods.
Law enforcement crackdowns on traditional mob-run wire rooms have led to the use by illegal gambling rings of off-shore gambling websites where action is available around the clock. Bettors can click on an off-shore gambling website over the Internet and be assigned individual login codes and passwords. Their wagers and win-loss amounts are recorded in "sub-accounts" maintained in "runner's" and "agent's" accounts. These gambling websites typically store their information on computer servers outside the United States –- some in Costa Rica and Curacao –- and "bounce" their data through a series of server nodes in efforts to evade law enforcement.
The civil forfeiture action alleges that eleven of the defendants engaged in a criminal enterprise which promoted illegal gambling activities and generated illegal bets amounting to about $360 million from April 2003 to April 2005.
The District Attorney said that his office had received the full cooperation of the New York Mets in its investigation and that he had no reason to believe that any Mets player or any member of the Mets managerial or coaching staff or its front office is involved.
The investigation was conducted by Detectives Kelly Glaser and Joseph Chimienti of the New York City Police Department's Organized Crime Control Bureau, Vice Enforcement Division under the supervision of Inspector James O'Neil and Captains Michael Ameri and Louis Lombardi and the overall supervision of Chief Douglas Ziegler and Deputy Chief Kevin T. McBride. Also conducting the investigation was Detective Richard Sullivan of the NYPD Computer Crimes Squad under the supervision of Lieutenant John Otero and the overall supervision of Chief of Detectives George F. Brown; Detective Sergeant Frank Horvath of the District Attorney's NYPD Squad under the supervision of Lieutenant Kenneth E. Corey and the overall supervision of Chief Brown and the District Attorney's New York State Police Unit under the command of Senior Investigator Joel Downing and the overall supervision of Major Mark Smith and Superintendent of State Police Wayne E. Bennett. Additionally conducting the investigation were Supervising Investigator Angelo Polito and Criminal Auditor Kimlee Stewart of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance under the direction of Nicholas Reynolds, Director of the Revenue Crimes Bureau.
Assistant District Attorneys Peri A. Kadanoff, Unit Chief, and Suzanne H. Sullivan, of the District Attorney's Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau are prosecuting the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Gerard A. Brave, Bureau Chief, and Marc P. Resnick, Deputy Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Peter A. Crusco and Deputy Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Linda M. Cantoni. The civil action is being litigated by Assistant District Attorney David S. Zadnoff of the District Attorney's Special Proceedings Bureau under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Anthony M. Communiello, Bureau Chief, and Oscar W. Ruiz, Deputy Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney Crusco and Deputy Executive Assistant District Attorney Cantoni.
It should be noted that an indictment is merely an accusation and that defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
1- Nicholas Anest, 76, 79-07 57th Avenue, Elmhurst;
2- Joseph Amato, 40, 439 North Queens Avenue, Massapequa;
3- Dana Antal, 35, 606 Martz Road, East Stroudsburg, PA;
4- Eric Bard, 38, 119 Grohmans Lane, Plainview;
5- Christopher Bruno, 33, 4022 Jean Avenue, Bethpage;
6- Thomas Bruno, 32, 41 Holyoke Road, Rockville Center;
7- Eric Calandra, 40, 156-15 80th Street, Howard Beach;
8- Edward Calandrelli, 63, 259-10 Hillside Avenue, Floral Park;
9- Joseph Carnato, 41, 6F Revere Lane, Staten Island;
10- Michael Caruso, 24, 267 Nassau Street, Brooklyn;
11- Albert Chan, 56, 621 East 9th Street, Manhattan;
12- Yoke-Seng Chow, 34, 37-43 78th Street, Jackson Heights;
13- Thomas Cullinane, 41, 34 Gaulton Drive, North Babylon;
14- Michael D'Alessandro, 40, 3671 West Oceanside Road, Oceanside;
15- Ben Delucia, 42, 110-50 107th Street, Ozone Park;
16- John Diamond Jr., 34, 45 St. James Street, Inwood;
17- John Fogarile, 64, 104-51 111th Street, Richmond Hill;
18- Alvin Gottlieb, 78, 300 East 56th Street, Manhattan;
19- Neil Gottlieb, 49, 1233-33 Beach Street, Atlantic Beach;
20- William Hartnett, 41, 49-19 Francis Lewis Boulevard, Bayside;
21- Cheong Hoong, 46, 152-72 Melborne Avenue, Flushing;
22- Eric Kahane, 30, 3497 Margie Street, Oceanside;
23- Chi Lam, 36, 15 St. James Place, Manhattan;
24- Chin Hwa Lim, 36, 25-31 121st Street, Flushing;
25- Robert Machacyk, 44, 135-23 77th Avenue, Flushing;
26- Anthony Mirone, 42, 2026 West 4th Street, Brooklyn;
27- Dennis Mooney, 45, 58 Amber Lane, Levittown;
28- Peter Neiberg, 42, 260 Whitman Drive, Brooklyn;
29- Cheryl O'Connor, 24, 267 Nassau Street, Brooklyn;
30- Michael Paulino, 48, 206-06 Emily Road, Bayside;
31- Marc Rovner, 42, 15 Oxford Road, East Rockaway;
32- Timothy Smith, 34, 87-86 257th Street, Floral Park;
33- Dominic Valila, 39, 383 Plainfield Avenue, Floral Park;
34- Michael Weiss, 59, 123-60 83rd Avenue, Kew Gardens;
35- Edmond Wong, 35, 99 East Broadway, Manhattan;
36- Edward Wozniak, 39, 19 Point Beach Drive, Milford, CT