Operation "Off The Hook" busts 42 in NJ


RIP Brian
Feb 22, 2001

Police claim gambling ring handled $1 mllion a month in offshore sports bets

New Jersey state and local county authorities have announced 42 arrests, mainly for the promotion of gambling in an investigation labelled "Operation Off the Hook." The seven-month investigation resulted in the seizure of $5 million along with five pounds of marijuana and five vehicles.

Police claim that the ring was controlled by known associates of the New York-based Genovese crime family, reports by local media such as APP.com and NJ.com indicate.

Among those arrested was John Prato (36) a teacher and Jerry Maietta (37) the popular North Bergen High athletics director and coach, prosecutors said. Both have been charged with promoting gambling and conspiracy to promote gambling, and in Maietta's case with possession of gambling records.

James J. Skinner (40) and his retired father, James W. Skinner (69) were identified as ringleaders. Others named by the auithorities included Brian P. Hynes (39) and Thomas Navatta (41) each charged with promoting gambling and conspiracy to promote gambling; and Mary Capabianca (47) charged with hindering apprehension and marijuana possession.

North Bergen school district aide Ralph Marino (52) was charged with promoting gambling and conspiracy to promote gambling, officials said. Marino, a quadriplegic, is a social worker who was a high school baseball star until he was and was paralysed in a baseball accident.

Kevin G. Murphy (48) and Charles Fahrenholz were charged with promoting gambling and conspiracy to promote gambling, officials said.

The investigation began as a probe of illegal gambling in Bergen County and then rapidly expanded to money laundering and narcotics distribution, investigators said.

They said the illegal gambling was controlled by Mark Iafelice (49), Brian DiGuilmi (48) and the two Skinners, all described as Genovese affiliates. The three face charges of racketeering, promoting gambling and conspiracy to promote gambling.

Investigators said Bernard Duffy (63) acted as a mid-level manager for the Skinners. He also has been charged with racketeering.

The organisation included a large network of operatives or "agents" who were running individual gambling "packages" on the larger group's behalf, State Police Superintendent Joseph R. Fuentes said. These alleged co-conspirators were paid a "commission" or percentage of the profits being reaped by the organisation, he added.

These street agents were then responsible for meeting with individual bettors to pay out winnings or collect losses, investigators said.

The bettors were wagering on a plethora of sporting events, including college and professional sports as well as horse racing. Wagers were placed with an offshore "wire room," located in the Dominican Republic. Bets were placed by telephone and the Internet, authorities said without identifying specific websites.

The gambling investigation eventually led to the discovery of a street-level drug distribution operation in northern New Jersey, police said.

The marijuana and gambling records were seized during the execution of a total of 24 search warrants and the arrests were made in Bergen, Hudson, Monmouth and Ocean counties, officials said.