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Maspeth man, shop in betting ring: Feds

A postal worker from Queens and a Maspeth print shop were both involved in a massive numbers game run by postal and MTA employees, federal prosecutors in Manhattan said last week.

Maurice Palmer, 62, of Queens was one of 10 people arrested in conjunction with the illegal lottery game, which operated from public buildings, including the FDR Post Office in Manhattan, between at least 2005 until last month, prosecutors said. Prosecutors declined to provide more specific information about Palmer’s residence.

The other suspects were from Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island and Pennsylvania, prosecutors said.

Palmer was arraigned last Thursday along with Brooklyn residents John Alfonzo, 49, Alvin Blank, 73, Ruben Chaves, 22, and Frank Linsalata, 46; Bronx resident Romualdo Munoz, 59; Manhattan resident Juan DeJesus, 48; and Staten Island resident Michael Farraj, 45. Another defendant, former Metropolitan Transportation Authority worker James Monteleone, 52, was arrested in his hometown of Bethlehem, Pa., the U.S. attorney’s office said.

All nine are either current or former employees of the MTA, U.S. Postal Service or city Sanitation Department. All were charged with conspiracy to conduct a gambling operation, which carries up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000, prosecutors said.

Another suspect, Andrew Turelli, was arrested July 21 in a related case and was hit with a similar charge, prosecutors said.

Since at least May 2005, the operation tracked the numbers chosen for the New York State Lotto drawings and paid out $100,000 prizes monthly to players whose six numbers all matched the official Lottery. Each month, hundreds of players paid $20 per entry and the “Lottery books,” which listed each player’s name and the six numbers each chose to play, were distributed to players from a central storage facility by “runners,” prosecutors said.

Operating on tips from postal employees, FBI investigators allegedly observed Linsalata pick up a load of Lottery books from the print shop in Maspeth May 27 and drive them to a shed at Brooklyn storage facility registered to Monteleone, according to the criminal complaint filed in Manhattan Federal Court.

Agents also allegedly observed most of the other defendants arriving at the storage facility to drop off completed books and pick up new ones, the complaint said. Palmer, dressed in his postal uniform, was one of the defendants observed loading the books into a car, the complaint said.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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