Anthony Argila (52), a professional poker player from North Bellmore, has admitted in court to being the boss of a multimillion dollar international gambling operation centred on Costa Rica.
Argila pleaded guilty to 17 felony counts of first degree promoting gambling, a felony count of first degree possession of gambling records, and two misdemeanor counts of fifth degree conspiracy. The charges were originally laid in June, and Nassau County prosecutor Kathleen Rice announced that in addition to possible jail time, Argila still has to answer to a lawsuit by her office seeking $4 million, the estimated amount of money wagered with his organisation annually.
Sentence will be passed by Judge Phillip Grella on October 15th.
The prosecution claimed that Argila’s betting ring took bets through dozens of bookmakers and runners in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, and then placed the bets through a “wire room” in Costa Rica. Bettors would either collect their winnings or pay their losses through the operation’s local intermediaries in Nassau County. Wagers could also be made through a sophisticated Web site or through toll-free phone numbers, where customers could wager on sporting events and online casino games. Each Monday, Argila and his associates would meet in hotel rooms across Long Island to discuss the week’s wins and losses.
The Nassau County Police Department’s DA Squad began investigating the ring in August 2005, eventually infiltrating it in 2007. Investigators were able to track the ring’s weekly hotel meetings. Extensive physical surveillance was conducted through photographs and global positioning system (GPS) devices and a court-ordered phone tap on the telephone of Angelo LePore, a runner with the gambling ring.
LePore (58) had earlier pleaded guilty to fifth degree conspiracy and received a conditional discharge and $1 000 fine. Alan Wayne (52), another runner, pleaded guilty to the same charge and received the same sentence.
In 2006, Argila made it to the final table of the World Poker Tour’s Borgata Open, finishing fourth in the tournament and collecting more than $366 000 in winnings.
Defence attorney Dennis Lemke said Argila pleaded guilty so that two friends who had worked for him could plead to lesser charges. He said that Argila's sentence would be five years probation instead of jail as he had no prior criminal record and no ties to organised crime.
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