Two Men Sentenced to Prison, Third Pleads Guilty in Racketeering Conspiracy and Illegal Online Gambling Enterprise
NEWARK, NJ—An Ocean County, New Jersey, man who is a reputed associate of the Genovese Crime Family was sentenced today to prison for his role in a racketeering conspiracy and tax evasion conspiracy, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced. Also today, a New York man was sentenced to prison and a Hudson County, New Jersey, man pleaded guilty in connection their respective parts in the scheme.
John Breheney, a/k/a “Fu,” 49, of Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey, was sentenced to 38 months in prison. He previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi, who imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court, to an information charging him with conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, or RICO, statute by participating in the activities of the Genovese Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra through a pattern of racketeering activity and through the collection of unlawful debt. He also pleaded guilty to tax evasion.
Patsy Pirozzi, 75, of Suffern, New York, was also sentenced today to 22 months in prison. Pirozzi previously pleaded guilty before Judge Cecchi to an information charging him with conspiracy to violate the RICO statute.
And Eric Patten 37, of Bayonne, New Jersey, pleaded guilty today before Judge Cecchi to an information charging him with conspiracy to violate the RICO statute.
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.
Breheney, Pirozzi and Patten each pleaded guilty to being associates of and conspiring with the Genovese crime family.
Mark Sanzo, Robert Scerbo, William Bruder, Michael O’Donnell, Graziano, Barone, Salvatore Turchio, 48, of Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey and Jose Gotay, 76, New Milford, New Jersey have also 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.
In addition to the prison terms, Judge Cecchi sentenced Breheney three years of supervised release, fined him $16,000 and ordered him to pay forfeiture of $400,000. Pirozzi was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay forfeiture of $31,400.
The conspiracy count to which Patten pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential punishment of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 3, 2014.
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.
- Breheney: Anthony J. Pope Jr. Esq., Newark
- Pirozzi: Michael D’Alessio Jr. Esq., Roseland, New Jersey
- Patten: Alan Dexter Bowman Esq., Newark