Saturday April 16,2016 : RHODE ISLAND AUTHORITIES DETAIL ONLINE GAMBLING BUSTS (Update)
Press conference throws interesting light on the dramatic police actions earlier this week.
Members of the Rhode Island State Police, along with state Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, held a news conference Friday to brief media on the police raids on alleged organised criminal gambling enterprises and subsequent arrests earlier in the week.
The conference was held at the State Police headquarters, and details of "Operation Freeroll" were given regarding the internet sports betting prosecutions now in train.
Officials revealed that the investigation began after police received information that one of the defendants was operating an alleged illegal bookmaking operation out of his restaurant, the Cozy Grill.
State Police raided the restaurant and a beachside home in Narragansett and arrested 17 men, charging them with various crimes, including bookmaking, organised criminal gambling, and conspiracy.
An additional three people have since also been arrested – making for a total of 20 people, including 19 men and one woman.
The investigation then led officers to identify a second alleged illegal enterprise run by James Petrella and Timothy Moretti, and involving six other individuals, all of whom were arrested.
Both gambling rings used the internet to perform most of the betting and record keeping, according to police. The Cosy Grill operation used the betcapri.com site and Petrella and Moretti used VIPbettors.com.
Both sites appear to be based in Panama and Costa Rica, according to police.
“Both these websites, BetCapri.com and VIPBettors.com are offshore gambling websites based in Panama and Costa Rica,” State Police spokesman Col. Steven O’Donnell revealed.
“There’s no taxes, it’s clandestine and we allege that these individuals made a lot of money in an illegal business.”
Officials say the criminal charges against the co-conspirators relate to “the collection of debts owed to the alleged criminal gambling operations for which the co-conspirators received compensation.”
During the investigation, the police Intelligence Unit received further information that another defendant, Zhen Wu, was trafficking large quantities of marijuana. In further operations officials seized $1.5 million in marijuana in connection with the investigation.
Wiretaps also led investigators to find more than 300 pounds of marijuana inside a storage unit.
The State Police executed search warrants at eight different locations within the state, seizing computer and communications equipment, vehicles, counting machines, large amounts of cash and marijuana, officials revealed,