Rochester Man Pleads Guilty to Gambling, Extortion, and Money Laundering Charges
ROCHESTER, NY—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Joseph Ruff, 32, of Rochester, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr., to conducting an illegal gambling business, conspiracy to collect an extension of credit by extortion, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The charges carry a maximum possible penalty of 20 years in prison, a fine of $500,000 or both, with the sentence expected to be 41 months in prison.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Ruff will also forfeit over $100,000 consisting of approximately $20,489 in funds on deposit in certain bank accounts; the real property at 360 Edgemere Drive in Rochester, $30,000 in lieu of a second piece of real property and any interest in approximately $60,886 seized as part of the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Marangola, who is handling the prosecution of the case, stated that Joseph Ruff admitted conducting an illegal gambling business with his brother Mark Ruff, 40, of Connecticut and Paul Borrelli, 66, of Rochester. The gambling operation involved sports betting through multiple offshore Internet gambling websites. It’s estimated the illegal gambling business involved $76,000,000 in total gross wagers.
Joseph Ruff also admitted his role in an extortion scheme. In one instance, he induced a bettor to make repayment on the extension of credit by telling the bettor that a third person had threatened to physically harm him (the defendant) if the bettor did not make repayment on the extension of credit. Thereafter, the bettor endorsed and delivered to Joseph Ruff a check for $230,000, the money referenced above, as a repayment of the extension of credit for the bettor’s past gambling debt from sports wagers the bettor had placed with the him in connection with the illegal Internet gambling business.
Joseph Ruff also pleaded guilty to conspiring with Mark Ruff and others to launder $230,000 in illegal gambling proceeds. The defendant delivered and deposited cash and check payments from bettors into his personal bank accounts and/or business accounts of co-conspirators. Joseph Ruff also made cash withdrawals from these bank accounts and wrote checks to third party payees from these and other bank accounts.
On June 24, 2014, defendants Joseph Ruff, Mark Ruff, and Borrelli were indicted by a federal grand jury in Rochester on illegal gambling charges. The indictment also charged Borrelli with 12 counts of money laundering. Mark Ruff pleaded guilty to money laundering and gambling charges and agreed to a nine year sentence and forfeiture of $230,000. The case against Paul Borrelli remains pending. The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The plea is the culmination of an investigation conducted by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, which included the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service, under the direction of Shantelle P. Kitchen, Acting Special Agent in Charge, New York Field Office, Rochester Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael Ciminelli, Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt, New York Field Division, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Cannon, New York Field Division, Greece Police Department, under the direction of Chief Patrick Phelan, the Webster Police Department, under the direction of Chief Gerald Pickering, and Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of District Attorney Sandra Doorley.
Sentencing is scheduled for March 30, 2015 at 3:00 p.m. before Judge Geraci.