11 Florida residents were arrested this week, and one is still being sought, following a three year anti-online sportsbetting operation in which detectives from the Broward County sheriff's department infiltrated a well established gambling ring.
Most local media outlets were carrying the story, quoting from a police detective sergeant and reporting that the multi-million dollar, eight year old sport betting ring linked to a Costa Rica online gambling company called Chappy's Sport Gambling and Betting, and allegedly had connections to a New York organised crime family.
Among those arrested on racketeering and money laundering charges were a Boca Raton podiatrist, Dr. Michael Schwartz (40); Samson Mandell (33) a manager at a Boca Raton sports bar and Eric Spinosa (30). Police claimed that the main mover in the ring was one Norman Weissman (79), who has previously been questioned regarding bookmaking charges.
Police said that Dr. Schwartz's Boca Raton office was used as a money drop for the operation, and the ring acted as an intermediary for dozens of bettors and the Costa Rican gambling company, which was allegedly set up by the conspirators as part of a long running scheme that netted millions of dollars a year.
Detective Sgt. Tony Lanza, whose organised crime squad spearheaded the three-year investigation, revealed that members often gathered at a Coral Springs sports bar, placed high-level bets and took out loans. "The business was doing several million dollars per year," Lanza revealed.
The detective added that the ring had ties with a New York orgnaised crime family, although he declined to expand upon this.
Lanza's team seized $278 000 after executing search warrants and making the arrests. As we went to press, bail of $1 million each had been set for Schwartz and Mandell, who were being held in Palm Beach County. One fugitive, believed to be a bookmaker, was still being sought.