Authorities bust illegal betting operation involving Bonanno crime family

10th July 2013 10:18 am GMT

Nine members of one of New York’s most notorious organised crime families have been arrested for a wide array of illegal activities including a Costa-Rica based multi-million dollar online sports betting operation.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R Vance Jr. announced the arrests and indictment Tuesday of a crew of the Bonanno crime family, one of five long-time organized crime families that comprise a nationwide criminal network variously known as La Cosa Nostra, the Mafia, and the Mob.

Nine defendants are charged in New York State Supreme Court with enterprise corruption under New York State’s Organized Crime Control Act, and related crimes for their roles in a crew that sought to make money through a wide array of illegal activities including extortion, loansharking, gambling, drug dealing, and possession of firearms for use or sale.  

The indictment details 299 pattern criminal acts underlying the enterprise corruption.

The charges are the result of a two-year-long investigation conducted jointly by the District Attorney’s Office’s Rackets Bureau and the NYPD’s Organized Crime Investigation Division (OCID), using a variety of law enforcement investigative techniques, including undercover police work, surveillance, court-ordered eavesdropping, and the execution of search warrants for both physical and internet evidence.

Members of the alleged criminal enterprise include Nichola Santora, Vito Badamo, Ernest Aiello, Anthony Santoro, Dominick Siano, Nicholas Bernhard, Scott O’Neill, and Anthony Urban.

“Today’s indictment is the absolute heartland of what organized crime prosecutions are about – prosecuting in one fell swoop the diversified rackets of organized crime families,” District Attorney Vance said: “The charges against this Bonanno crew and their captain, Nicholas Santora, make clear that traditional organized crime refuses to go away.”

According to the indictment and court filings, the crew engaged in illegal gambling by means of a “wire room” in Costa Rica, through which bettors were able to place bets online for various sporting events, including professional football, baseball, basketball, hockey, and soccer leagues.

The betting was monitored by several defendants, who also collected the illegal gambling proceeds. Between July 2011 and February 2012, nearly $7m in illegal bets were wagered on 227 days.  

Police Commissioner Raymond W Kelly said: “The organized crime activity described in the indictment is as old as the Bonnano crime family, and as relatively new as online betting and trafficking in highly addictive Oxycodone.

“Either way, it’s corrosive to society and lines the pockets of those who use or sanction violence to enrich themselves.”

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