29 People Arrested in Suspected New Jersey and New York Sports Betting Ring
John Molinella, Bergan County prosecutor, says 29 people were arrested on June 12 for operating a major multi-state sports betting ring. The prosecutor says the betting ring ranged over parts of New York and northern New Jersey. The prosecutor also mentioned that the alleged ringleaders are ex-convicts in their 70’s.
The operation was active in the New York City metropolitan area, as well as an 8-county area of northern New Jersey. The syndicate was well organized into a three-tiered operation for taking bets. Despite having senior citizens running the operation, it is alleged they were tech-savvy enough to use sophisticated online wire rooms to handle and obscure much of their illegal activities. These wire rooms also might have helped the operators to launder money.
Leading up to the arrests, investigators researched their activities over a 5-month period. The number of people arrested not only implies the extent to which the network reached, but also indicates the thoroughness of investigators. Under such circumstances, the alleged operators will find it difficult to blame others or hide their guilt.
Sports Betting Ring
The ring accepted bets on most of the major types of sporting events. The most common wagers were on horse racing, NFL football, NCAA football, Major League Baseball, NBA basketball, and NHL hockey.
The gambling ring includes at least 29 alleged members. The operation collected $3 million in winnings over a 12-month time span. Warrants were executed in New York City, as well as 8 different counties in New Jersey: Bergen, Hudson, Union, Ocean, Passaic, Monmouth, Morris, and Essex.
Operation: Back in the Game
In the arrest raids, two vehicles are around $800,000 in cash were seized. Molinelli said the 5-month investigation was called “Operation: Back in the Game“. The ringleaders have been indicted on racketeering and money laundering charges, while the less-involved members of the operation were charged with gambling and conspiracy charges.
The operation’s name, “Back in the Game”, refers to the fact the ringleaders were old ex-convicts who had decided to delve into a life of crime once again. The term “old” is literally, as the key members of the syndicate were septugenarians.
Details on the Ringleaders
The ringleaders were Gary Latawiec, a 76-year old resident of Clifton, and Anthony Pintabona, a 72 year old resident of Secaucus. The men are said to be well-known in the New York/New Jersey gambling scene. Both of them are ex-cons. Gary Latawiec was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 1992. His convictions were releated to gambling, income tax evasion, and organized crime. At the time of his arrest, Latawiec was trying to escape to Costa Rica.
Pintabona also served time. His priors involved participation in similar sports betting rings. Latawiec and Pintabona are being held on $1 million bonds until their appearance at a court in Hackensack.
Agents of the Betting Ring
Two other men acted as the mid-level management in the gambling ring. Gary Patrick Caporizzo, a 65 year old resident of Toms River, and James Roberts, a 62 year old resident of Clifton, acted as network operators who ran local gambling rings. Latawiec and Pintabona are alleged to have taken a commission on any profits, while presumably bankrolling Caporizzo and Roberts. These operators or “agents” for the sports betting ring were responsible for meeting with individual gamblers to collect losses and pay winnings.
To avoid detection by law enforcement, the gambling ring used Internet-based “wire rooms” to place the bets at off-shore websites. Molinella said these rooms had a remarkable turnover. The wire rooms had $50 million in action over one calendar year.
Illegal US Sports Betting Rings
Multiple sports betting rings have been quashed by law enforcement officials here in 2014. A sports gambling ring was busted in Kentucky just a few short weeks ago. In New York state, a gambling ring was sentenced in recent weeks, too. Eastern European organized crime figures are thought to have been involved.
Florida has had two separate sports-related betting rings. One of these was fairly minor in nature, but another ring operated for 20 years, involved perhaps $100 million in gaming cash, and could traced back to a Boston-area mobsters. In all these cases, authorities eventually busted the criminal activity. Their exhaustive investigations lasted between 5 months and 5 years. No doubt, more such investigations are underway at this very moment.
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