Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Alleged crime empire began crumbling in 2008

By the beginning of 2008, George Wylie Thompson was running a criminal empire out of his Cabot home, a short-lived enterprise that was crumbling by the end of the year, federal prosecutors allege. The first of three trials for the reputed Arkansas mobster begins here today when Thompson and co-defendant Ralph Francis Deleo, whom prosecutors allege is a leader in the Colombo crime family, face a federal judge and jury on drug charges.
George Wylie Thompson

After that, Thompson and North Little Rock Alderman Sam Baggett are set for trial in December on weapons charges, then Thompson and former North Little Rock Alderman Cary Gaines will go to trial next year on public corruption charges in an alleged scheme to rig bids for city public works projects.
The list of charges against Thompson is extensive. He is accused, among other things, of running large quantities of cocaine across state lines for the Mafia and running a gambling ring with at least five others in Central Arkansas, where thousands of people allegedly placed bets through Thompson’s organization.
He also is charged with illegally buying large quantities of guns and ammunition.
Federal prosecutors say it was the guns and ammo that tripped up Baggett, a former federally licensed arms dealer. They say it was Gaines who, during electronic surveillance of Thompson, was captured on tape placing a bet on a college football bowl game and days later talking to Thompson about rigging a public works bid in North Little Rock.
In the summer of 2008, former Blytheville police officer Thomas Charles Warren walked into the FBI’s Little Rock headquarters with a tale to tell about the time he allegedly spent working for Thompson collecting debts.
Prosecutors say Warren told agents Thompson was running an extensive gambling operation out of his home and that it involved public officials. Not all of Warren’s information checked out, but it was sufficient to get the FBI interested.
In recent court filings, FBI Special Agent Gerald Spurgers said Warren no longer is an informant in the case.
“He stopped working for Thompson when (Thompson) asked (Warren) to transport what (Warren) believed to be marijuana,” Spurgers said, adding that Warren had returned to Northeast Arkansas.
The first wiretap on Thompson was authorized Dec. 2, 2008, and then additional extensions were given, along with an eventual wiretap on Gaines’ phone. Thousands of phone calls were intercepted.
“The sheer volume of calls to and from (Thompson’s phone) … supported the conclusion that (Thompson) was conducting a gambling operation through his cell phone,” Spurgers said.
On Dec. 12, 2008, state troopers pulled over Tri Cam Le and found Le to be in possession of a large quantity of cocaine. Authorities believed Le was running cocaine as a drug “mule” for Thompson.
It wasn’t just wiretaps that the FBI used in investigating Thompson. The agency did not disclose exact numbers, but said at least a dozen agents were involved in physical surveillance.
Agents at Zack’s Place in Little Rock observed Thompson meeting with others as envelopes full of cash and paper betting slips were collected. It was an agent there who followed them into the bathroom and reportedly observed cash being distributed.
Other agents went to a west Little Rock clothing store that was connected to Thompson’s alleged gambling ring, and more envelopes of what were believed to be cash and betting slips were collected as the agents watched.
Spurgers also said trash bags at Thompson’s house in Cabot were examined but “very little” useful evidence was found, possibly because of Thompson’s alleged practice of burning the paper records he collected and using them as fertilizer in his flower beds.
Defense attorneys argued that the FBI didn’t do enough in its investigative efforts, such as having an undercover agent infiltrate Thompson’s alleged gambling operation. U.S. Magistrate David Young disagreed.
“Given what appears to have been a complex and evolving conspiracy, it is difficult to see how the government can be faulted for not fully utilizing other investigative techniques,” Young said.
Thompson was indicted in spring 2009. The indictment was unsealed in November, and U.S. marshals arrested Thompson in Bangkok, Thailand. He was then brought back to Arkansas.
He has since been in the Grant County jail, where he awaits his first trial.
Gaines resigned from the North Little Rock City Council before he was even named in the indictment. He and Baggett were added to the Thompson indictment shortly thereafter.
Thompson isn’t the only member of his family on trial. His son, George Allen Thompson, also is facing drug and gambling charges.
The younger Thompson was arrested in Jacksonville earlier this year. Among the items in his possession at the time were gambling slips and other paperwork that appeared related to his father’s alleged gambling operation.
In court filings five people are identified by authorities as being nonbettors in Thompson’s gambling operation, and of the five, the younger Thompson was the only person who has not obtained a plea deal from the government.
The others are Dana Kuykendall, Robert Clay, Tony Milner and Gene Baker Jr. All have cooperated in some way with federal authorities.



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