Another major NYC sportsbook bust


RIP Brian
Feb 22, 2001

Ex-cops, strip club owners and suspended brokers caught in police net

As we went to press at the end of yesterday a story of police arrests of New Yorkers accused of generating betting activities for a Costa Rican based sportsbook was emerging, with a police press conference due in that timezone. This morning the US media is full of the $30 million bust which according to one report may have netted as many as 64 people.

Prominent among them were two ex-police detectives, a suspended broker and strip club owners.

Bloombergs reported that Timothy O'Connell (42) a former Merrill Lynch & Co. broker was arrested on state gambling charges in New York, postponing his federal trial for a previous case of selling access to trading information broadcast over his firm's office intercom.

He was one of 17 people charged in connection with an alleged $30 million online sports gambling ring, Kevin Ryan, a spokesman for the Queens District Attorney, said in the press conference. Reaching across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, several sting operations and the arrests themselves involved more than 300 police personnel, sources said.

``He was a runner,'' said Ryan. ``He was responsible for soliciting new bettors to the operation, maintaining the relationship with bettors and meeting with bettors to collect gambling losses and pay out winnings.''

O'Connell's arrest brought his trial in Brooklyn, New York, federal court to a halt this morning. U.S. District Judge I. Leo Glasser later adjourned the case for the day. The trial is scheduled to resume tomorrow.

O'Connell is one of seven defendants on trial for conspiring to trade on information broadcast over internal ``squawk boxes'' at top Wall Street firms. He and brokers at Citigroup Inc. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. allowed day traders at A.B. Watley Group Inc., an online brokerage, to eavesdrop on large institutional orders, according to prosecutors.

Other defendants initially charged in the gambling case couldn't be reached. All 17 were charged with enterprise corruption, promoting gambling and conspiracy, Ryan said. The most serious charge, enterprise corruption, carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.

Prosecutors claim the gambling ring was led by John Kinahan (56) a former New York City police officer who served prison time for protecting drug dealers, according to Ryan. Kinahan works as a manager at City Scapes, a topless club in Queens, one of two sites where the ring was based, Ryan said. It also operated out of a Queens restaurant, he said.

Kinahan's wife, Virginia (56) is charged in the indictment as the bookkeeper and day-to-day manager of the operation. She's listed as the owner of City Scapes and works as a secretary at the Atlanta-based law firm of King & Spalding, according to a statement issued by Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

The duo mainly ran their operation out of the Long Island City strip club and a Jackson Heights restaurant, authorities said.

Philip Buckles (59) a former New York police detective, was also named in the indictment.

Other alleged runners charged in the case include a U.S. postal worker who placed bets for bosses at a New York City post office and a city sanitation worker, according to Ryan. The ring accepted wagers on a broad range of professional sporting events including horse-racing, football, baseball, basketball, hockey, golf and tennis, Brown said in the statement.

The betting operation used a wire room in Costa Rica that the defendants accessed through a toll-free telephone number or online, through an Internet Web site,, he said. The 17 defendants conspired to run the illegal gambling operation from May 1, 2006 until March 22, 2007, according to a 16-count indictment unsealed in Queens State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens.

"When it comes to Internet sports gambling rings operating in Queens County, all bets are off," Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement. The investigation leading to the indictment began in January 2006 and involved court-authorised eavesdropping on six different telephones and a computer that intercepted nearly 50 000 conversations, Brown said.

The indictment alleges that Phillip Buckles (59) of Miller Place, and John "Bubba" Morrissey (43) of Commack, worked as mid-level "distributors" who supervised lower-level agents and runners who solicited new bettors and maintained relationships with existing bettors.

Morrissey owns the restaurant, Legends, in Jackson Heights, and Buckles is a former organised-crime detective with the New York Police Department, prosecutors said.

Those agents and runners included: Stephen Defranco, 40, of Mineola; Jeremiah Keating, 32, of Bellerose Village; Wai Y. Kong, 36, and Andrew G. Lamparter, 59, both of Maspeth; Glenn Mulhern, 44, of Oakland Gardens; Angelos Neos, 37, of Whitestone; Steven Nikolopoulos, 33, and Donald Ericksen, 40, both of Woodside; Timothy O'Connell, 42, of Carle Place; Peter Song, 30, of Jackson Heights; and Leo Stern, 59, of Bayside; Craig Sullivan, 37, of Calverton; and Salvatore Vaglica, 41, of New Hyde Park.

The defendants were all awaiting arraignment on charges of enterprise corruption, promoting gambling and conspiracy.

If convicted, they face up to 25 years in prison.

Disgraced broker O'Connell pleaded not guilty during an arraignment late Wednesday afternoon before Queens state Supreme Court Justice Robert Kohm. Assistant District Attorney Peri Kadanoff told the judge that an arrest warrant had been issued for O'Connell by Glasser based on wiretap evidence that he was an ``active participant in an illegal bookmaking enterprise while out on $500 000 bail'' in the federal case.

Queens prosecutors consented to hand over O'Connell to federal custody. David W. Guy, a Queens attorney assigned to represent him in the gambling case, had no comment.

Subsequent news emerging in U.S. media suggested that the original New York arrests were boosted by another 40 or more arrests in New Jersey and that police operations staffed from a number of police departments were ongoing.

"We have struck a powerful blow at the organisational level of an illegal gambling organisation that has been reaping millions in illegal profits," Monmouth County Prosecutor Luis Valentin said.

He identified three ringleaders of the operation as Joseph Pasquale (50) of Brick Township, Richard Crossan (43) of Hillsborough in Somerset County, and Ralph Santoro (52) of Bridgewater. All three were charged with money laundering, conspiracy, racketeering, and promoting gambling.

The three men are being held on $1 million bail and are due to make an initial court appearance today (Thursday).

Reports are that over 70 locations were visited by police operatives, and that some $2 million in cash was confiscated, together with the execution of warrants freezing several bank accounts. 14 vehicles and a 28-foot yacht owned by Pasquale that was ironically named "Risky Business" were also seized by the authorities.
I wonder if the cops received any 'tips' from the Feds -- info gleaned from their subpoenas of banks, and or/payment processors that have been strong armed into 'cooperating' ....


Former Assemblyman charged

The total of persons charged in what is probably New York's largest sportsbetting bust yet (see previous InfoPowa reports) has topped 50 with the prosecution of a former New Jersey Assemblyman this week.

The arrests took place recently across New York, New Jersey and Connecticutt and several media reports are now claiming that the gambling ring took as much as $500 million in wagers since 2005 for a Costa Rican based sports betting website. Over 300 police personnel were involved in the operation, code-named Thunderbird which raided more than 70 addresses belonging to everyone from restaurant and strip club owners to legal secretaries.

The operation was the culmination of months of surveillance and investigation with teams well briefed and equipped with search warrants and orders to freeze assets, seize evidence and arrest those suspected of working within the sports gambling enterprise.

Authorities have estimated that during monitoring between August 2005 and February of this year, over $500 million in bets were placed and over $35 million was lost to the operation.

Former Assemblyman Raul Garcia (43) a Union City resident and its former mayor, became the 51st defendant charged when he surrendered to authorities. Garcia made an initial appearance before Superior Court Judge Paul Chaiet before the weekend on four charges related to his alleged role promoting gambling and collecting bets.

At a March 28 press conference in Freehold, Monmouth County Prosecutor Luis Valentin detailed the workings of the operation, which was based out of a "wireroom" in Costa Rica. Bettors were able to place wagers by logging on to Web sites with a user name and password or by calling toll-free phone numbers.

Although the operation's Internet presence was maintained overseas, dozens of employees in New Jersey known as managers, agents, controllers and runners were used to take bets and make collections, sometimes using the threat of force, Valentin said. No individual bettors have been charged in the sting, he said.

"Illegal gambling is a quality-of-life crime that may seem harmless, but is often perpetrated by organised and sometimes violent, criminal enterprises," State Police Lt. Col. Gayle Cameron said in a press release. "This racketeering operation had no government oversight and paid no taxes. It took from society without returning anything."

In New Jersey, three men alleged to have been the principals in the operation were charged with financial facilitation of criminal activity, a first-degree crime that carries a maximum of 20 years in jail and up to $200 000 in fines. The Prosecutor's Office identified the three partners as Joseph Pasquale (50) of Brick, Richard Crossan (48) of Hillsborough, and Ralph Santoro (50) of Bridgewater.

Over $2 million in cash, 32 firearms and 14 vehicles were seized in the raids, as well as another $300 000 from frozen banks accounts. All of the searches took place without incident.

Pasquale felt the brunt of the sting harder than any other suspect, since $1.5 million of the total $2 million in cash seized in the sting reportedly came from his home. In addition, authorities seized his 28-foot Thunderbird yacht (the inspiration for the name Operation Thunderbird) named "Risky Business", and placed a forfeiture order on his bayfront home. His wife, Carol (56) was also charged in the investigation.

Most defendants were charged with racketeering and conspiracy to commit financial facilitation of criminal activity, second-degree crimes that carry a maximum 10-year sentence and up to a $150 000 fine. Some face charges of promoting gambling, a third-degree crime that carries five years and up to $35 000 in fines.

Bail was set at $100 000 for each of the defendants except Crossan, Santoro and Joseph Pasquale, whose bail was set at $1 million.

Valentin said that although his office had struck a "powerful blow" at the heart of the gambling enterprise, the investigation was ongoing and there were more arrests to come.

"We're not done by any stretch," he said.

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