10/22/09 – Justice Department authorities in New York announced this week that 30 people have been indicted in a half-billion-dollar gambling operation allegedly based in the city and involved with organised crime, reports NY1 News.
Some of the suspects allegedly belong to the Gambino crime family, including Joseph Fafone, who was arrested Tuesday at an airport in Rochester, N.Y. while boarding a plane to Panama with $23 000 in cash on his person.
The alleged gambling ring made about $23 million a month on sportsbetting websites including BetAllSportsHere.com, BetMSG.com and BetOnline.com. While the ring was run in the city, the websites' computer servers were based in Panama.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly revealed that investigations into the ring had taken over three years to complete, and that all but three of those involved were arrested in "Operation Betting It All". Presently, more than $3 million in cash has been seized. The 131-count indictment was filed in Queens County Supreme Court.
According to the indictment, between September 2006 and January 2009, the defendants conspired to make money illegally through the operation of an unlawful gambling enterprise that accepted bets on sporting events ranging from as little as $5 to as much as $20 000 on a single game.
"The principal in this case, Gambino associate Joseph J. Fafone, personally delivered $553 000 in winnings to one of the gamblers," said Kelly. "Most proceeds were seized soon thereafter [in Long Island] when the [gambler] was stopped by the police for driving while using a cell phone."
About 8 000 people placed bets on the websites.
"In this case, I believe that we will make a significant dent in the illegal gambling nationwide," said Brown.
Of the three suspects at large, two are believed to be in Panama.
All 30 suspects face up to 25 years in prison for enterprise corruption. A corporation titled JJF Consulting Services, Inc., was allegedly used as a "money launder" to funnel and obscure the illegal gambling proceeds, and is allegedly owned by Fafone and operated out of his personal residence.
In addition to the criminal charges, twenty of the defendants are being sued civilly and have been named as respondents in a $125 million civil forfeiture action filed in Queens Supreme Court by the District Attorney's Special Proceedings Bureau which alleges that they engaged in a criminal enterprise that promoted illegal gambling activities and generated illegal wages.
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