TRENTON – New Jersey authorities announced the indictment of 34 members and associates of the New York-based Lucchese crime family on charges of racketeering, conspiracy and money laundering.
The state grand jury indictment stems from Operation Heat, a Division of Criminal Justice investigation that uncovered an international criminal gambling enterprise that transacted billions of dollars in wagers, authorities said.
The indictment also charges a former New Jersey corrections officer and a high-ranking member of the Nine Trey Gangsters set of the Bloods in an alleged alliance with the Lucchese crime family to smuggle drugs and pre-paid cell phones into East Jersey State Prison in Woodbridge.
The indictment charges two members of the three-man ruling panel of the Lucchese crime family, Joseph DiNapoli, 74, of Scarsdale, N.Y., and Matthew Madonna, 74, of Seldon, N.Y., according to Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor. Ralph V. Perna, 64, of East Hanover, and Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., 44, of Ventnor were also charged. Perna allegedly became top capo of the New Jersey faction of the family when Scarfo was deposed in 2007, according to authorities.
“The Lucchese crime family allegedly employed sophisticated measures such as electronic record-keeping and offshore wire rooms designed to thwart detection of their illegal gambling activities by law enforcement,” said Attorney General Paula T. Dow. “I’m proud to say that their innovations did not stop our investigators from infiltrating their criminal enterprise and obtaining the evidence needed to indict their alleged top leaders in both New York and New Jersey.”
Most of the defendants were initially charged and arrested in Operation Heat in December 2007. However, Scarfo was charged today for the first time in the ongoing investigation. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.
The investigation uncovered an international criminal gambling enterprise that, according to records reviewed by the Division of Criminal Justice, transacted an estimated $2.2 billion in wagers, primarily on sporting events, during a 15-month period.
The gambling operation involved agents or “package holders,” each of whom brought in bets from a group of gamblers. The enterprise and all of its packages involved hundreds or even thousands of gamblers. Records showed that one high-rolling gambler wagered more than $2 million in a two-month period. Those indicted include package holders as well as individuals who allegedly acted as collectors for the operation, collecting and paying out wins and losses.
The illicit proceeds allegedly were divided by the package holders and the members they worked under, who in turn made “tribute” payments to the New York bosses. It is charged that collection operations at times took the form of threats or acts of violence.
The gambling operation received and processed the wagers using password-protected web sites and a Costa Rican “wire room” where bets were recorded and results tallied.
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