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Major N.Y. sports betting ring busted

May 25, 2011, 7:15 am

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Online GamblingOnline Gambling: Major N.Y. sports betting ring busted

Operated out of strip malls; 14 classic cars worth $100K each seized in raids

Authorities busted a multi-million dollar sports gambling ring Tuesday that started out in a Staten Island video store and grew into an online operation run out of Costa Rica, officials said.

More than a dozen raids were executed in three states Tuesday, leading to 28 arrests and the seizure of $5.7 million in assets — including a Staten Island strip mall, real estate and 14 classic cars worth $100,000 a pop.

The ring took bets on all sports, but it did some of its best business during the National Football League season, when it would rake in $100,000 per week on wagers, sources said.

Suspects were also accused of loansharking, authorities said. The ring, whose members had ties to New Jersey and Pennsylvania, took loans from a moneyman. They paid a "vig" — street slang for interest rate — of 4% per week, and up to 200% a year, authorities said.

In turn, the ring squeezed their bettors, wiping out some of the gamblers' life savings. One unlucky bettor, prosecutors said, owed $175,000 and paid $5,000 a week in interest alone.

"It had a devastating effect on our communities, burying people under insurmountable debt — debt that destroyed families and, in some cases, businesses," said Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan Jr.

In March 2009, a tipster dropped a dime on shady activities inside Monte's Video on Manor Rd. in Castleton Corners, where cash was taken for more than just copies of box-office hits, authorities said.

The NYPD's Vice Enforcement Division began investigating. The probe soon involved Donovan's office and New Jersey authorities.

Federal agents from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement were brought on board when investigators uncovered evidence of money laundering that reached down into Costa Rica.

Authorities said that the suspected ringleader, Joseph (J.J.) Stentella, 56, used ill-gotten gains to purchase the strip mall that housed the video store.

The group also operated a wire room on Sunset Ave. in Staten Island, authorities said.

Stentella supervised the work of "sheetholders," his minions who kept tabs on a group of bettors, collecting losses and distributing winnings, authorities said.

There were also collectors and a "banker," who organized the money laundering. Cash was shipped by FedEx to places in Florida and Arizona and then sent by courier to Costa Rica.

When the group felt heat from investigators, they closed the Staten Island wire room and moved it down to Costa Rica, authorities said.

They set up websites known as "Jerry's Worldwide Sports Book" and "Momo Sports Book."

Bettors then placed wagers online using screen names, and a member of the group ran everything from the Costa Rican wire room.

"The sports betting operation and the so-called video store are no longer open for business," NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

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Thanks to truesee for the tip.

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3 comments. Last comment 10 years ago by sully16.
Page 1 of 1
surimaribo24's avatar - photo11 zpsfffd70be.jpg
United States
Member #106367
February 17, 2011
9716 Posts

NYPD has nothing better to do . i just dont get it whats the big deal about online gambling. you got spam site you got porn site . all those crap is normal for nypd but gambling they make a big deal about .

    ttech10's avatar - blobdude
    United States
    Member #92326
    June 5, 2010
    887 Posts

    NYPD has nothing better to do . i just dont get it whats the big deal about online gambling. you got spam site you got porn site . all those crap is normal for nypd but gambling they make a big deal about .

    I think the major issue for them was the fact that they were also loansharks, forcing people to play up to 200% interest rates, and when the bettors didn't pay up they were "squeezed" for the money. Plus the whole thing about most of the stuff being done in Costa Rica/having the money shipped to Costa Rica after they got paid.


    It's not like this was just some website that allowed simple, legit online gambling.

      sully16's avatar - sharan
      President Elect
      United States
      Member #81738
      October 28, 2009
      78363 Posts
      200% interest, bad, just bad.

      Safety First, no, COFFEE FIRST!  Coffee