Saturday, July 4, 2015

N.J. men used off-shore website as front for mafia bookmaking


Two New Jersey men today admitted to conspiring with the Genovese organized crime family in an illegal sports betting website, said federal prosecutors.

Joseph Graziano, 77, and Dominick J. Barone, 44, each pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge in U.S. District Court in Newark. Both face sentences of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 when they are sentenced in November.

The scheme involved a marriage of current tech and old school organized crime.

The website, which they called “the office,” was ostensibly based off-shore in Costa Rica, the Central American nation that plays host to scores of legal gambling sites.

But according to prosecutors, only existed as a tool for old-fashioned bookmaking. Genovese associates based in northern New Jersey gave local customers a user name and a password to access the site and place bets.

“Instead of a guy with a pad and pencil in his pocket, they used the website,” said Matthew Riley, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney, District of New Jersey.

The site enabled the operators to track the betting. Collections and payouts were done in a more traditional manner: In person. If a bettor failed to make good on his gambling loses, the Genovese crew used threats of violence to collect.

In pleading to the racketeering charge, Graziano agreed to forfeit $1 million. Barone, also known as "Harpo," will forfeit $100,000.

Four other men previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the racketeering conspiracy: John “Johnny Fugazi” Breheney, 49, and Salvatore Turchio, 48, both of Little Egg Harbor; Jose Gotay, 76, of New Milford, N.J., and Patsy “Uncle Patsy” Pirozzi, 75, of Suffern, N.Y.
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