The eight-month-long investigation, dubbed "Operation Strikeout", focused on what authorities termed "traditional organized crime activities" occurring in and around Bergen County. The operation involved law enforcement officers from the FBI and local law enforcement agencies.
Search and arrest warrants were executed beginning Tuesday evening, with search warrants executed in Bergen County, Essex County, Somerset County, and Monmouth County.
The sports betting ring investigation began in September 2008, and also included alleged money laundering activities. According to authorities, undercover detectives infiltrated a bookmaking operation being run by Thomas Conforti and John "Blue" DeFroscia. Authorities state that DeFroscia is a documented "made" member (soldier) of the Genovese organized crime family, and Conforti is a high-level associate of the same crime family.
Each reportedly ran separate bookmaking and money laundering enterprises. Authorities claim that both passed a portion of their earnings to the hierarchy of the Genovese Family.
Conforti and DeFroscia reportedly had a large network of operatives or "agents" that ran gambling "packages" for them, who in turn were paid a "commission" or percentage of the profits being earned by those above them. Mid-level organization members were responsible for numerous gambling packages and would meet with the individual agents or package holders and then pass the proceeds to DeFroscia and Conforti, authorities say.
The investigation determined that hundreds of bettors utilized a system of code names and passwords to place wagers on various sporting events each week. It was the agents that actually collected losses from or paid winnings to the actual bettors. The wagers were placed via toll free telephone numbers or the internet. The actual "wire room" providing the betting lines and accepting the wagers is located in Costa Rica, which is reportedly a common practice employed by organized crime families to avoid apprehension of those running the wire room.
The investigation further determined that DeFroscia and Conforti used "middle men" as a buffer between themselves and their agents, to insulate themselves from law enforcement detection. In the case of Thomas Conforti, authorities claim that an individual identified as Michael Cirelli helped run the operation for him. John DeFroscia reportedly employed Paul "Shortline" Weber and Gerald "Jay" Napolitano, among others, to help run his network of agents. Authorities state that Napolitano would deliver weekly profits to DeFroscia by dropping envelopes of cash at Racioppi's Taralles, a store on Bloomfield Avenue in Bloomfield, New Jersey. According to authorities, Nicholas "Pigeon" Restaino would temporarily hold the cash at the store until "Blue" (DeFroscia) picked it up.
Authorities claim that Weber, Napolitano, and other ranking members of the enterprise would meet with co-conspirators surreptitiously in area parking lots, bookstores, diners, and on the street to exchange cash. For example, authorities state that Napolitano was observed on multiple occasions meeting with one of his agents, Louis Orangeo, in various parking lots in Clifton, New Jersey. Orangeo, who is employed as a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, would reportedly meet with Napolitano while on duty in his mail truck, and they would exchange an envelope through the mail truck window as if it were ordinary mail.
In addition, authorities state that Weber, who is employed as a vendor at both CitiField and Yankee Stadium, has been meeting with co-conspirators in each stadium while working. Detectives who conducted physical surveillance of Weber at the stadiums with the assistance and cooperation of Major League Baseball security, allegedly observed him exchange cash proceeds from this enterprise with various co-conspirators.
According to authorities, this illegal enterprise placed over one million dollars per week in illegal wagers. Individuals managed gambling packages in both New Jersey and New York.
The arrests were the result of cooperation among and between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bergen County Police Department, Bergen County Sheriff's Department, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, New Jersey State Police - Casino Unit, Westchester County District Attorney's Office, the New York City Police Department, Major League Baseball - Office of the Commissioner, and the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office.
The investigation is ongoing and more arrests are anticipated. The suspects are scheduled for their first appearance on Thursday, April 30 at 9:00 a.m. before Judge Harry G. Carroll at the Bergen County Justice Center in Hackensack, New Jersey.
Thus far, the following individuals have been charged:
2) DULO BOLIJEVIC, 36, Dover, NJ
3) COSMO BRONGO, 45, Nutley, NJ
4) WILLIAM BUDD, 47, Fort Lee, NJ
5) JOHN CAMIDGE, 50, Belmar, NJ
6) GERARDO CIANCI, 46, Bloomfield, NJ
7) THOMAS CONFORTI, 44, Fairfield, NJ
8) BIAGGINO CIRCELLI, 49, Summit, NJ
9) MICHAEL CIRELLI, 49, Nutley, NJ
10) PATRICK CUOMO, 55, Congers, NY
11) JOHN DEFROSCIA, 48, Warren, NJ
12) JOSEPH DIMAGGIO, 37, Garfield, NJ
13) SAMUEL ERIK, 29, New Milford, NJ
14) DAVID GREEN, 48, New York, NY
15) CHRISTOPHER HANSEN, 46, Glen Oaks, NY
16) EUGENE LEE, 33, Cliffside Park, NJ
17) ANTHONY LOMBARDO, 50, Bronx, NY
18) VINCENT MARCHELLO, 43, Belleville, NJ
19) MICHAEL McNAMARA, 64, Brooklyn, NY
20) PABLO NAPOLITANO, 29, Caldwell, NJ
21) GERALD NAPOLITANO, 60, Belleville, NJ
22) FRANK NISTA, 56, Bayside, NY
23) LOUIS ORANGEO, 41, Newark, NJ
24) AGOSTINO PETRILLO, Jr., 39, Livingston, NJ
25) NICHOLAS RESTAINO, 56, Bloomfield, NJ
26) RICHARD ROSENBLUM, 53, Bronx, NY
27) NURI SAYILIK, 45, New Milford, NJ
28) CORNELIUS O’SULLIVAN, 40, Nyack, NY
29) PAUL WEBER, 40, New Rochelle, NY
30) ROBERT WALSH, 44, Fort Lee, NJ
31) JOHN VENEZIA, 46, North Caldwell, NJ
32) PATRICK NUFIIO, 48, Cedar Grove, NJ
33) ROBERT CAPRIO, 53, Belleville, NJ
34) ANTHONY BOGOSIAN, 44, Paramus, NJ