What does a barber and a mobster have in common? Arraignments, after Police clampdown on illegal gambling across three states.
In an ongoing fight against corruption and illegal sports betting, more than a dozen arrests were made on Tuesday, December 2, as the climax to a 16 month old investigation. The investigation, spearheaded by the Rockland County DA involved the cooperation of police departments from New York, New Jersey, Palm Beach as well as the FBI and Homeland Security.
Most of the 14 criminals arrested had their photos pasted all over the online gambling news in the US. They were mostly residents from the Rockland and Westchester counties. The youngest among those arrested was 27 years old and the oldest, 74 years old. They were charged for promoting gambling, possession of gambling records and money-laundering, among other crimes.
Illegal sports betting draws in millions
The suspects were accosted after the police followed their multimillion-dollar-a-month-sports-betting trail. The ring drew in millions of dollars from illegal bets placed on professional football, basketball, baseball and college sports including hockey.
• $3 million dollars seized in raid
• Mobster connection to gambling ring
• Loansharking and usury arraignments
• Multi-state arrests from New Jersey, New York to Florida
Over $ 3 million were seized in the raids, which required over 60 search warrants, and which were carried out between Rockland and Florida. The money generated from these illegal betting operations was used for funding more serious organized crime of a mafia-type nature. County District Attorney, Thomas Zugibe, declared that ‘Such unlawfully earned profits are commonly diverted to more insidious criminal enterprises”.
The mob connection
Tuesday’s arrests were a spin-off of the Rockland’s District Attorney’s Office Organized Crime Unit arrests of the ill-famous Ramapo organized crime personage, Daniel Pagano and his partner-in-crime Michael Palazzolo, in August of this year.
Pagano, who is the son of the now defunct mobster, Joseph Pagano, currently heads the Genovese mob, the most powerful Mafia group in America. Both Palazzolo and he were charged with loansharking and other crimes. They both pleaded innocent and were released on bail.
Need to make a bet? Go to the barber’s.
And still earlier on in the year, on May 29, a seasoned gambler and barber, Anthony Depalma, alias “Harpo, pushing seventy, was also arrested for loansharking from his barbershop. Harpo has been associated to illegal gambling rings in Rockland County for over 40 years.
Investigating officers found more than $60,000 and loan records for gambling purposes. Zugibe added that the barber basically coerced vulnerable gamblers who incurred debts into paying him interest rates of up to 200% per year.
Officials confirmed that that often targets were beaten up and menaced in order to collect debts or the loan sharks solicited interest rates at ridiculously elevated levels. The criminals were therefore breaching US gambling laws which the Rockland DA and the other authorities in the investigation vowed to uphold.
The illegal activities, related to lucrative online betting in the US, spanned across counties and state borders, from Bergen County New Jersey to New York City and stretching down to Palm Beach. The suspects hauled in came from Pearl River, Nanuet and Tomkins Cove in Rockland County and Pelham Manor in Westchester County, New York.
Among those arrested was Pasquale Patsy Capolongo, residing in West Palm Beach, who has already been arrested on several occasions for illegal gambling. All the suspects were arraigned without bond by Town Justice, Rolf Thorsen.