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An East Elmhurst man was one of 25 people from areas including New York and California who were arrested in connection with a more than $50 million illegal sports betting ring, the Queens district attorney said last Thursday.
East Elmhurst resident Joseph Kornreich, 60, was identified as an alleged money collector and charged with enterprise corruption, money laundering, promoting gambling and conspiracy as part of a nationwide illegal sports betting enterprise, according to Queens DA Richard Brown.
“Illegal gambling is not a victimless crime,” Brown told a news conference at his offices. “Those who participate in these criminal enterprises often use threats, intimidation and even physical force to collect debts and oftentimes charge usurious interest rates on outstanding debts.”
Kornreich was arrested along with 24 others, including Vincent Basciano Jr., the son of Bonnano Mafia leader Vinny “Gorgeous” Basciano, Brown said. Basciano was accused to be one of the roughly 15 bookmakers in the betting ring, the district attorney said.
The 25 arrests also included three owners of a sports betting website, where Brown said bookmakers took bets on football, baseball, hockey and other sports, bringing in more than $50 million over an 18-month period.
“The defendants in this case gambled and lost that their illegal activities would fly under the radar,” NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
While in operation, the group would make threats to customers while attempting to collect money, Inspector Brian O’Neill, of the New York Police Department’s Organized Crime division, said. An FBI investigation found the group used offshore sports gambling websites to operate under the police’s radar, O’Neill said.
“This action is an important step in policing illegal sports wagering, from hockey to horse racing,” said acting FBI Assistant Director in Charge Mary Galligan. “This is yet another example of the collaboration between the FBI and our partners that is increasingly necessary to combat evermore sophisticated crimes and the criminals who commit them.”
Eight arrests were made as early as last week in New York, Brown said. The defendants each face up to 25 years in prison, if convicted, according to the district attorney.
“The defendants are accused of operating an incredibly lucrative illegal gambling operation, taking in more than $50 million in a year and half,” Brown said. “Such unlawfully earned profits are often — and easily — diverted to more insidious criminal enterprises.”
According to the indictment, the illegal betting ring used “wire rooms” in the form of offshore, Internet-based gambling services, including pinnaclesports.com or jazzsports.net to record wagers. At least 15 of the 25 defendants were labeled as bookmakers, who allegedly oversaw agents who would build a clientele of bettors who would regularly bet with the enterprise, Brown said.
The enterprise also allegedly employed money collectors, money distributors and banks, Brown said, who would handle the illegal flow of money between those involved with the betting ring. These individuals, Brown said, were responsible for the collection and distribution of illegal gambling proceeds between the bookmakers and the agents.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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