Two New Jersey Men Sentenced to Prison for Their Roles in Illegal Online Gambling Enterprise
NEWARK, NJ—Two members of a racketeering conspiracy involving the Genovese Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra and an online sports betting operation were sentenced today in federal court, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Dominick J. Barone, 45, of Springfield, New Jersey, and Eric Patten, 38, of Bayonne, New Jersey, were sentenced to 18 and 22 months in prison, respectively. Barone and Patten previously pleaded guilty before District Judge Claire C. Cecchi to separate informations charging them with one count of racketeering conspiracy. Judge Cecchi imposed both sentences today in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Joseph Graziano, 78, of Springfield, was the principal owner of Beteagle.com, a website located in Costa Rica and used to facilitate illegal online sports betting. Barone worked with Graziano in carrying out the daily activities of the website and both men conspired with the Genovese Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra in the operation of Beteagle.
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.
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,” 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. Patten was a one of the sub-agents who assisted in the illegal gambling business conducted through the website.
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 La Cosa Nostra 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.
In addition to the prison terms, Judge Cecchi ordered Barone and Patten to each serve three years of supervised release and pay a $5,000 fine. As part of his plea agreement, Barone must forfeit $100,000.
Graziano has pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme and is currently scheduled for sentencing on June 25, 2015.
Charges against Lascala are still pending. The charges and allegations against him are merely accusations and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel in Newark; the Bayonne Police Department, Special Investigations Unit, under the direction of Chief Drew Niekrasz; IRS-Criminal Investigation under the direction of 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 sentencing.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Moscato of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.