West Seneca Man Pleads Guilty to Extortion Charge
BUFFALO, NY—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. announced today that Thi Nguyen, 40, of West Seneca, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara to conspiracy to collect extension of credit by extortion. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony M. Bruce, who is handling the case, stated that a confidential witness placed bets on NFL football games with Nguyen and other individuals during the 2012 season. On May 7, 2013, the defendant and co-defendant Eric Battistoni told the witness his outstanding debt of $24,000 On May 15. 2013, at a pre-arranged meeting, it was determined the witness would would make $300 payments every Friday until the debt was settled. Battistoni also threatened violence if the witness did not make a payment.
Nguyen and Battistoni were arrested on May 31, 2013. During the execution of a search warrant at Nguyen’s residence, officers seized numerous ledgers used in the defendant’s bookmaking activities.
Charges are pending against Battistoni. 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 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Sentencing is scheduled for August 26, 2015 at 1:00 p.m. before Judge Arcara.