Illegal Sports Betting Ring Busted In New York Mob Takedown

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The New York Police Department arrested 17 people on Wednesday involved in a $23 million illegal sports betting ring linked to the Gambino Crime Family.

An 84-count indictment alleges the illegal sports betting operation entangled roughly 70 bettors in massive debts, subsequently leading to a high-interest predatory loan-sharking scheme that racked weekly payments on $500,000 in loans.

The illegal sports betting operation reportedly handled $22,753,964 in bets from September 2022 to March 2023, using Costa Rica-based Among those arrested were alleged Gambino associates and foot soldiers, including John J. LaForte, Anthony J. Cinque Jr., and John Matera, who is a convicted racketeer.

Vast illegal sports betting network

According to the indictment, alleged Gambino associate Edward LaForte supervised betting activities on the offshore betting website, overseeing bets and collections, and managing several “sheet holders” who handled individual bettors. Amy McLaughlin assisted in maintaining and organizing the gambling ring, keeping records, and managing the distribution of proceeds.

John LaForte and Anthony Cinque Jr. also funded part of the illegal gambling activities to assist with the payment of winning bettors, according to the indictment.

Details also named retired NYPD officer Frederick P. Falcone Sr. and Edward LaForte working as loan sharks, maintaining detailed ledgers of victims and their respective usurious loan amounts.

Multi-agency investigation

The arrests were part of a broader investigation spearheaded by the New York Attorney General’s Office in collaboration with the NYPD, the New York Waterfront Commission, and the United States Department of Labor Office of Inspector General.

“Illegal gambling and loansharking schemes are some of the oldest rackets in the mob’s playbook,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. “While organized crime may still be active in New York, today we are putting several Gambino family members out of business. These criminal enterprises took tens of millions of dollars from New Yorkers and trapped many in dangerous amounts of debt.”

Transcript details illegal sports betting ring

Conversations among alleged conspirators detailed in the indictment shed light on the elaborate scheme. The exchanges reveal coded discussions about debts and collections, such as Edward A. LaForte’s remark, “Let’s call it fifty,” and Daniel M. Scarabaggio’s remarks “I’m just looking to make everybody earn somehow” regarding limits on the types of bets that were accepted.

In a subsequent exchange, Edward A. LaForte expresses reluctance towards a certain individual gaining momentum, stating, “Nah, I just don’t want this … kid because it’s, it’s fifty-three, and it’s already four next week.”

In another exchange, Giulio Pomponio casually dismisses a minor win, saying, “He won two hundred dollars. So, no big deal. It’s a washout.”

Additional discussions reveal the pressure to maintain profitability, such as Falcone, Jr.’s remarks, “Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you,” to which his father, Frederick Sr., replied, “He … ate us. I think he must be losing because he said, I’ll probably be giving it back to you next week.”

Charges and potential sentencing

The defendants face multiple charges, including:

They face up to 25 years in prison. Defendants are next scheduled to appear in state court on August 13, according to the Staten Island Advance.

“With the numerous legal gambling opportunities available in our state, there is no legitimate reason to wager with offshore operations and blindly line the pockets of alleged gangsters,” New York State Gaming Commission Chairman Brian O’Dwyer added in a statement.

Photo by Shutterstock/Karolis Kavolelis