NEWARK — Two Springfield residents admitted in U.S. District Court in Newark to charges that they conspired with the Genovese organized crime family in an illegal sports betting website, said U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman.
Joseph Graziano, 77, and Dominick J. Barone, 44, each pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge federal court and both men face sentences of up to 20 years in prison plus a fine of $250,000 when they are sentenced in November.
The scheme involved a website supposedly based in Costa Rica, a Central American nation that plays host to many legal gambling sites.
Prosecutors discovered that Beteagle.com existed only as a bookmaking front for Genovese associates based in northern New Jersey who gave local customers a user name and a password to access the site and place bets.
“Instead of a guy with a pad and pencil in his pocket, they used the website,” said Matthew Riley, a spokesperson for Fishman.
The site allowed operators to track wagers while collections and payments were made in person. If a gambler failed to make good on his loses, the Genovese crew used threats of violence to collect cash.
In pleading to the racketeering charge, Graziano agreed to forfeit $1 million. Barone, also known as “Harpo,” will forfeit $100,000.
Four others previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the racketeering conspiracy: John “Johnny Fugazi” Breheney, 49, and Salvatore Turchio, 48, both of Little Egg Harbor; Jose Gotay, 76, of New Milford, N.J., and Patsy “Uncle Patsy” Pirozzi, 75, of Suffern, N.Y.
The Genovese Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra operates in northern New Jersey and elsewhere out of smaller groups, sometimes referred to as “crews.”
Each crew – headed by a “captain,” “capo,” or “skipper” – consists of “soldiers” and “associates.” The captain was responsible for supervising the criminal activities of his crew and providing members with support and protection. In return, the captain often received a share of the crew’s earnings.
Various criminal activities of a group of associates referred to as the “Lascala Crew” were allegedly directed by 81-year-old Genovese gangster, Joseph Lascala, of Monroe Township in Middlesex County.
These activities included the theft of goods and cargo, the receipt of stolen property in interstate commerce, extortion, illegal gambling, and the collection of unlawful debt.
Members and associates of the Lascala Crew and others, together with individuals that own and operate the website Beteagle.com, used it to profit through illegal gambling operations in northern New Jersey and elsewhere.
High-level associates of the Lascala Crew acted as “agents” of an illegal gambling business that was operated through the website. Before the advent of computerized betting, these agents would be referred to as “bookmakers” or “bookies.”
Through the use of a username and password, the agents accessed the website and tracked the bets or wagers placed by their bettors. This “electronic portfolio” was referred to as the agent’s “package.”
The agent also had the ability, through the website, to create packages for sub-agents. Sub-agents, who also were members or associates of the Lascala Crew, operated under the agent, maintained their own bettors, had access to the website related to their package, and were required to share their profits with the agent and ultimately, Lascala.
Graziano and Barone were among 13 men charged with racketeering conspiracy in a 2012 criminal complaint.
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