Thursday January 30,2014 : GUILTY PLEAS IN ‘LOOT IN THE GARDEN' CASE
Multiple guilty pleas in online gambling bust that dates back to 2010.
A 2010 federal bust for organising online gambling in New England is still creating headlines as a growing number of defendants in the case agree to a group guilty plea.
Increasing the interest level in the case is the much-reported element where enforcement officials dug up the back yard of one defendant and found a million dollars in allegedly illegal proceeds from the gambling enterprise.
Principal accuseds in the case, which involves at least sixteen other defendants, are brothers Joseph Mastronardo Jr. and John Mastronardo, who are charged with using offshore accounts and other means to launder gambling proceeds from a huge offshore online sports betting organisation.
The indictment unsealed last year alleges that the Mastronardos ran a multi-million-dollar gambling ring with ties to Florida, New Jersey and Costa Rica. At its peak, more than 1,000 active bettors took part, placing online or telephone bets.
The Associated Press news agency reports that Joseph "Joe Vito" Mastronardo and his son, Joseph F. "Joey" Mastronardo, are scheduled to plead guilty to unspecified charges on Friday. Five others have also pleaded guilty or are set to plead guilty this week.
Dennis Cogan, a lead lawyer on the case, told Associated Press that about a dozen of the defendants charged with racketeering and gambling have agreed to take part in a group guilty plea as part of a prosecution deal requiring that all of them plead guilty.
The Philadelphia Daily News first reported on the arrangement, but full details of the plea bargain were not available on the court's online docket.
Joseph Mastronardo's wife Joanna – the daughter of a former mayor of Philadelphia – has been charged with the lesser crime of arranging bank deposits in such a way as to avoid corporate reporting rules.
John Mastronardo, a one-time All-American football player at Villanova University, is set for a plea hearing next Monday.
AP reports that Joseph Mastronardo, who was convicted in 1987 on federal gambling charges, once ran a gambling operation that grossed $50 million a year, according to a 1990 report by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.