Three Hudson County Men Guilty in Racketeering Conspiracy Related to Illegal Online Gambling Enterprise
NEWARK, NJ—Three men from Hudson County, New Jersey, today admitted conspiring with a criminal enterprise that engaged in illegal online sports betting in New Jersey and elsewhere, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Mark A. Sanzo, 56, Robert J. Scerbo, 56, and William A. Bruder, 44, all of Bayonne, New Jersey, each pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi in Newark federal court to separate informations charging them with one count of racketeering conspiracy.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Joseph Lascala, 80, of Monroe, New Jersey, was the alleged “capo” and a made member of the Genovese family operating in northern New Jersey. He directed the criminal activities of a smaller group of associates, referred to as a crew, whose activities included illegal gambling and the collection of unlawful debt.
Joseph Graziano, 77, of Springfield, New Jersey, was the principal owner of Beteagle.com, a website located in Costa Rica and used to facilitate illegal online sports betting. Dominick J. Barone, 44, also of Springfield, New Jersey, worked with Graziano in carrying out the daily activities of the website. Both men conspired with the Genovese Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra in the operation of Beteagle. Graziano and Barone pleaded guilty on July 29, 2014, to their roles in the racketeering conspiracy, each admitting that they were associates of the Genovese Crime Family. Beteagle, through the individuals that owned, operated, and controlled it, was a “criminal enterprise” that operated in interstate and foreign commerce.
Lascala’s organized crime crew and the criminal enterprise joined forces to allow traditional organized crime members and associates to use the Internet and current technology to conduct traditional organized crime by engaging in and profiting from illegal sports betting through the website. Associates of the crew were given access to Beteagle and were considered “agents.” Before the advent of computerized betting, these agents would have been referred to as “bookmakers” or “bookies.” The agents had the ability to track the “sub-agents,” or bookies, under them and the wagers placed by their bettors. The agent or sub-agent maintained a group of bettors (the “package”) and were responsible for those bettors.
To place bets online, the agent or sub-agent issued the bettor a username and password to access Beteagle. This access was not given online and no money or credits were made or transferred through the website. Associates of the crew paid out winnings or collected losses in person. If a bettor failed to pay his gambling losses, the crew used their LCN status and threats of violence to collect on these debts.
The agent or sub-agent paid a fee to the website for each bettor added to a package. Barone and others made weekly collections of cash in furtherance of the scheme.
Sanzo, Scerbo, and Bruder each admitted that they conspired with the criminal enterprise to commit racketeering acts, namely, the illegal sports betting operation, and that they and their conspirators profited through this criminal venture.
In addition to Graziano and Barone, John Breheney, a/k/a “Johnny Fugazi, Fu, Johnny Fu,” 49, and Salvatore Turchio, 48, both of Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey; Patsy Pirozzi, a/k/a “Uncle Patsy,” 75, Suffern, New York; and Jose Gotay, 76, New Milford, New Jersey have pleaded guilty to their role in this racketeering conspiracy and await sentencing.
As to the remaining defendants, the charges and allegations contained in a criminal complaint sworn in May 2012 are merely accusations and they are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
At sentencing, Sanzo, Scerbo and Bruder each face a maximum potential punishment of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Sentencing for Sanzo is scheduled for Sept. 19, 2014; for Scerbo, Sept. 20, 2014; and for Bruder, Nov. 13, 2014. All defendants were previously released on bail.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark; the Bayonne Police Department, Special Investigations Unit, under the direction of Chief Drew Niekrasz; IRS-Criminal Investigation under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen; the N.J. State Police, under the direction of Superintendent Rick Fuentes; and the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty pleas.
The government is represented by Assistant United States Attorneys Serina M. Vash and Anthony Moscato of the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.