11th of April 2010 Author: Glo Wood
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and his enforcers strike again
Online sports betting is once again under the spotlight in New York following police raids that have culminated a prolonged investigation by Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and his now experienced enforcement team.
Two online sports gambling rings, one believed to be centred on the Jazz Sports website, are alleged to have taken in nearly $178 million in bets around the country in less than three years, prosecutors charged Wednesday after arresting 38 persons on enterprise corruption charges.
Suspected money collectors, agents and bookies were arrested in Nevada, Louisiana, Florida, New York and Arizona after a three-year investigation led by the New York Police Department's organised crime division. Those arrested include three New York City employees: a firefighter, sanitation worker and a highway repairman.
Six people from Louisiana, including William Bryant III, the premium sales manager for the NBA's New Orleans Hornets, were also arrested, although it is understood from team spokesmen that he was acting independently and for his own account.
Charges assembled by the prosecutorial team include money laundering, promoting gambling and conspiracy.
Brown told media reporters that the suspects operated two nationwide rings using sports betting Web sites filtered through Costa Rica. They took bets on professional and college football and basketball, as well as professional baseball and hockey games.
Brown named Robert Baselice and Charles Cicalo, both from Staten Island, as bookmakers on Crownsports.com and Jazzsports.com, employing agents and other people to collect and disburse money.
A second indictment charges Robert Ackrish, a sanitation worker, and his father, Lewis, both from New York, with running a second ring that also used some of the same Web sites. All suspects are awaiting arraignment, and no lawyer information was available.
Cash and millions of dollars in property were seized after more than a dozen search warrants were executed in New York, Florida, Michigan, Nevada and Louisiana.
"Such computerized wire rooms operate around the clock and can handle a large volume of bettors at any one time, thus allowing the organizers to increase their illicit profits without having to bother with the time-consuming, record-keeping aspects of a more traditional, paper-based bookmaking operation," Brown said. "Unfortunately for the defendants, the law enforcement community is just as adept in using new technology to stop those involved in such criminal pursuits."
In addition to Bryant (39) the other Louisiana suspects are: Ashley Perry (33); Shane Muscarello (37); Craig Goodwin (49); David Theriot (45); and David Carazo (40). The government charged all six with operation of an illegal gambling business, which employed the use of an offshore betting service based in Costa Rica.
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