Image via WikipediaKings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes and New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly Monday announced “Operation Bettor Days.” Prosecutors and police said that they have successfully taken down five illegal sports-gambling rings, which took bets totaling roughly $20 million annually.
“As I’ve said before, illegal sports gambling is a cash cow for organized crime, and this case shines a bright light on the connection between the two,” said District Attorney Hynes.
The investigation began with one target, but grew into a major case against five separate rings and has resulted in 17 arrests to date.
“Anyone who insists that illegal gambling is a victimless crime need only consider, as in this case, the ubiquitous presence of organized crime,” said Commissioner Kelly. “Illegal gambling profits are the fuel that helps to keep a host of criminal activities running.”
The first indictment charges six members and associates of the Gambino crime family’s “18th Avenue Crew,” with taking wagers through a sports betting website, Touchdown Bets.com. An analysis of betting receipts shows the crew’s business was valued at more than $5 million, prosecutors claim.
Reputed Gambino family soldier Pietro “Tall Pete” Inzerillo, 43, is charged with running the operation, with fellow reputed Gambino soldier Joseph Lanni, 39, serving as his deputy. According to the indictment, Inzerillo gained control of a block of betting accounts associated with the website TouchdownBets.com, which Lanni managed and delegated to lower-level members of the conspiracy, including alleged Gambino associates John Gallo, Anthony Parrelli and Pasquale Parrellli, who are charged with running sports gambling, loan-sharking and extortion operations. The indictment also charges that Parrelli supervised sports betting and extortion activities of other, lower-level members of the crew, including defendant Gambino associate Fabio Grippi.
The second indictment charges Genovese crime family associate Alfredo Correa and two alleged accomplices, Gerard Bruzzese and Pasquale Parrelli, with arranging illegal bets through the website nysportswager.com. Their alleged criminal enterprise took in more than $17 million in bets over the course of the two-year investigation, prosecutors believe.
The indictment charges that Correa acted as a “Super Agent,” meaning he took bets directly from his own clients and supervised lower-level accomplices, such as Bruzzese, who served as an “agent,” and Parrelli, who acted as a “subagent,” managing a small clientele of bettors and reporting to Bruzzese. Parrelli was also responsible for collecting payments from losing bettors, according to the indictment.
In the third indictment, Gerard Bruzzese, Matthew Essel, Anthony Loporto, Carl Mormile, Pasquale Parrelli and Louis Tropia are charged with operating a sports betting ring, under Bruzzese’s leadership, that took bets by telephone and text message.
The fourth indictment charges Anthony Falco, Lewis Falco, Nicholas Falco, Gerard Bruzzese and Pasquale Parrelli with running another, unrelated sports gambling operation. The indictment charges that the crew accepted wagers through manual distribution of betting “tickets,” via telephone and text message, and on the gambling website Bet1010.com.
The members met weekly during the 2008 and 2009 football betting seasons to discuss the business they had done in the previous week, and used Bet1010.com to help maintain their records, according to the indictment. They are charged with taking in $1 million in bets over Bet1010.com and an additional $700,000 in paper betting tickets.
In the fifth indictment, Antonio Spagnolo, Gerard Bruzzese, and Pasquale Parrelli are charged with participating in a loan-sharking conspiracy, in which they allegedly loaned money at the usurious annual interest rate of 156 percent.