(Don’t) Make Mine A Mafia With Illicit Toppings

On perfect cue; following an authoritative report stating that some three-quarters of online GGR In New York State is generated by nefarious gambling operations; law enforcement officials have busted an US$22.7 million illegal betting ring run by one of New York City’s major Mafia crime families.

And to add a spicy twist to proceedings, much of the illicit sportsbetting and loansharking–which prompted wiretaps, bugs, surveillance, the whole 360 cinematic “GoodFellas” vibe–was run out of a pizza parlour on Staten Island, one of New York City’s five boroughs.

Frank and Danny’s Pizzeria, in the Eltingville Shopping Center, is owned by Daniel Bogan, 41, an alleged associate and “footsoldier” of the Gambino crime family, named after Carlo Gambino, who was America’s most powerful and feared Mafia don until his death in 1976.

According to the New York State Attorney General’s Office, Bogan and 16 other Gambino associates were running an illegal sports betting operation that generated US$22.7 million (£17.85m) in illicit bets and some US$500,000 (£393,298) in usurious loans, so-called loansharking.

Earlier this month a report by intelligence platform Yield Sec, which was commissioned by independent gambling reform group the Campaign For Fairer Gambling, calculated that–despite the legalisation of online sports betting in New York State in January 2022–some three-quarters of total online gambling GGR in the state is harvested by underground or illegal off-shore operators.

An estimated US$3.4 billion (£2.67bn) is raked-in by illicit iCasino platforms; while 27 percent, representing US$1.9 billion (£1.49bn), is generated by illegal online sportsbooks, the report concluded.

Rackets

“Illegal gambling and loan sharking schemes are some of the oldest rackets in the mob’s playbook,” said New York State Attorney General Letitia James in a statement following the arrest of the 17 alleged gangsters on Wednesday (June 5).

“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.”

The 84-count indictment centred on the activities of an unlicensed gaming site called Ubet1288.com between September 2022 and March 2023.

“Often, the gamblers who were wagering illegally would fall into debt,” the New York State Attorney General’s Office said in a news release.

“And the members of this criminal enterprise would exploit this opportunity by providing a usurious loan and charging and collecting illegally high interest on these loans, making a profit off of a gambler who had fallen into debt.”


As well as the aforementioned “pizzaman” Bogan; among those arrested and charged are reputed Gambino soldiers John Laforte, 56; Anthony Cinque Jnr., 39; John Matera, 53; and alleged Gambino associates Edward LaForte, 58; Frederick Falcone Snr., 66; and Giulio Pomponio, 61.

A named Edward LaForte allegedly managed the gambling website and supervised a gang of so-called “sheetholders”, individuals who managed the bets and collections.

Five Families

The Gambino crime family is one of five traditional organised crime families, also known as the “Five Families,” who operate in the New York area and at times abroad, according to the indictment.

The Bonanno, Colombo, Genovese, Lucchese, and Gambino are the five principal crime families who operate in the Big Apple and beyond.

“This [latest] case is a stark reminder that organized crime continues to thrive in the New York metropolitan area,” attested New York Waterfront Commissioner Paul Weinstein after the arrests.

“The Gambino Crime Family has historically exerted its influence on the Port of New York. Disruption of its profits from gambling and loansharking weaken that family’s grip.”

Added New York State Gaming Commission Chairman Brian O’Dwyer:

“As we have seen for over a century, and once again here, illegal bookmaking is often intertwined with organised crime.

“This is why we have regulated gaming with strong safeguards, player protections, and revenue to make our communities better.

“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.”

The 17 defendants are charged with multiple crimes including Enterprise Corruption, Criminal Usury in the First Degree and Second Degree and Promoting Gambling in the First Degree.

If convicted, they face a maximum of 25-years in prison.

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