Another New York Sports Betting Ring Broken by Investigators
Investigators in the New York City metropolitan area have continued their biannual tradition of busting an illegal sportsbetting ring operating in the metroplex. In the latest series of arrests regarding a New York sports betting operation, Rockland County (NY) officials announced the arrests of 14 people accused of “unlawfully operating a sports betting enterprise that stretched from Rockland County to New York City and from Bergen County, New Jersey to Palm Beach, Florida.”
The defendants ranged in age from 27 to 74 and included at least one defendant with an extensive criminal background for other gambling offenses. The defendants were variously charged with a range of crimes including promotion of gambling, possession of gambling records, money laundering and other offenses, though not all of the defendants have yet been publicly identified.
Rockland County, comprising many of New York City’s northern and northwestern suburbs, sits across from New Jersey’s northern border in the southeastern part of New York State.
A press release issued by Rockland County District Attorney Thomas P. Zugibe describes the gambling ring as a “large scale” sports betting operation, alleging that the ring’s members processed millions of dollars a month in illicit bets, which are illegal under New York law. The ring was under investigation since at least the middle of 2013 and is alleged to have accepted bets in a variety of sports, including professional football, basketball, hockey, baseball and college basketball. Roughly 60 search warrants were executed in New York, New Jersey and Florida, where one of the case’s primary defendants maintained a residence.
According to Rockland County District Attorney Zugibe said, “The defendants are accused of operating an incredibly lucrative gambling operation – taking in millions of dollars a month. Such unlawfully earned profits are commonly diverted to more insidious criminal enterprises. In fact, the investigation uncovered evidence that the enterprise had links to organized crime.”
“Illegal gambling is not a victimless crime. Those who participate in these criminal enterprises often use threats, intimidation and even physical force to collect debts and regularly charge usurious interest rates on outstanding debts,” added Zugibe, though no mention of extortion or other violent crime was made in the presser regarding the arrests.
Exactly what the alleged “organized crime” links were also remains unclear, pending the filing and court publication of the full criminal complaint, though a local news report on the arrests mentions a related case in the same jurisdiction and refers to possible links to the Genovese crime family.
It is noted that all of the defendants who were arrested were quickly released on their own recognizance without posting bail.
The Rockland County DA presser also touted the seizure of more than “$3 million dollars” [sic] in cash and property already connected to the case’s defendants, part of the ongoing prosecutorial patterns in NYC-area sportsbetting raids. Such busting of rings has occurred like clockwork for years, featuring two or three busts per year, most typical late in the calendar year or immediately prior to the Super Bowl, when football betting is at its peak.
Though touted as a “large scale” raid, the seizures and asset forfeitures in this case pale in significance to the amounts forfeited in the Taiwanchik-Trincher case, which included many well known members of the high stakes poker community. In that case, which was handled by the nearby federal-level Southern District of New York office, more than $80 million in cash and other assets was ultimately forfeited into government coffers.
Identified so far among the case’s defendants are Pasquale “Patsy” Capolongo, West Palm Beach, Florida; Carmine Potenza, Pearl River; Harry Floershiem, Stony Point; Thomas Feeney, Nanuet; Brian Kelly, Pearl River; Richard Simko, Stony Point; Richard Lacava, Pelham Manor; Eric Wachter, Brooklyn; John Tognino, the Bronx; and Robert Wisiak, Queens. Other arrests may be forthcoming.