Genovese crime family members busted for illegal sportsbook operation22nd October 2014 11:56 am GMT
US authorities in the state of New Jersey have charged eleven alleged members and associates of a New York-based Genovese organized crime family for a number of offences including operation of an illegal multi-million dollar offshore sports betting business.
New Jersey’s Acting Attorney General John Hoffman said that seven people were arrested and one more is being sought on an arrest warrant on first-degree racketeering charges, for allegedly reaping millions of dollars in criminal profits in New Jersey through loansharking, unlicensed check cashing, gambling and money laundering.
Three other alleged associates were charged by summons, bringing the total number charged to eleven.
According to US authorities, most of the illicit revenue was collected and laundered through licensed and unlicensed check-cashing businesses in Newark, run by alleged Genovese associate Domenick Pucillo.
Pucillo and the other associates charged are said to be part of a New Jersey crew operating under the supervision and control of two “made” members of the Genovese crime family – Charles Tuzzo, a Genovese “capo,” and Vito Alberti, a Genovese “soldier” – who answer to the Genovese hierarchy in New York. Tuzzo, Alberti and Pucillo were among the seven men who were arrested earlier this week.
The charges stem from Operation Fistful, an ongoing joint investigation by the NJ Division of Criminal Justice and the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, conducted with assistance from the New York and Queens County District Attorneys’ Offices and other law enforcement agencies.
The eight men targeted for arrest face racketeering and money laundering charges that carry consecutive sentences of 10 to 20 years in prison for each charge, including lengthy periods of parole ineligibility.
“We charge that this crew of the Genovese crime family was up to many of the Mafia’s old tricks in New Jersey, including loansharking and illegal gambling, to the tune of millions of dollars,” said Hoffman. “History teaches us that as long as demand exists for illegal loans, illicit gambling, drugs, and other black-market goods and services, organized crime is going to turn a profit by preying on society. Our message to the Mafia is that as long as they do, we’re going to be here to send them to prison.”
The illegal sports betting operation was run by a network of Genovese associates including Vincent Coppola, son of imprisoned Genovese capo Michael Coppola. The multi-million dollar illegal sports gambling enterprise was based in New Jersey and utilized an off-shore “wire room” in Costa Rica to process bets.
Coppola was an “agent” who managed sub-agents or package holders, each of whom had a “package” of bettors under him. He allegedly supervised sub-agents John Trainor and Jerry Albanese. Agents decide which bettors can open accounts and gamble using the enterprise’s website and toll-free phone number. They also dictate how much a bettor can gamble per game and per week, and monitor the action and balances of the packages they oversee.
In 2011, Coppola’s packages allegedly handled more than $1.7m in bets, and Coppola, Trainor, Albanese and the Genovese crime family – through Alberti and Tuzzo – allegedly made more than $400,000 in profits.
“This case illustrates that the Mafia has evolved and learned to exploit sophisticated financial systems to hide and launder the proceeds of traditional street crimes such as loansharking and illegal gambling,” said director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Through it all, as always, the Mafia makes its money largely through the ever-present threat of violence. This case demonstrates that, as much as the Mafia may change its criminal tactics, we will work tirelessly to remain one step ahead and root out their corrosive influence.”