Eleven men, including residents of Rego Park and Middle Village, have been indicted in a $6 million sports betting ring run out of two Whitestone houses and a Bronx wire room, authorities announced.
Nine local residents, including money collector Robert Corby, 58, of Saunders Street in Rego Park and agent William Rankel, 54, of 79th Street in Middle Village, were arrested Wednesday in New York, while two other men were taken into custody in Texas. All were charged with enterprise corruption, first-degree promoting gambling and fifth-degree conspiracy and face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
According to a 19-count indictment filed in Queens County Supreme Court, the gambling ring brought in $6 million over a 10-month period by accepting wagers on various sports events including horse racing and professional and college football, basketball, hockey and baseball. The two top defendants, Dennis Cermak, 54, and Donald Abo, 50, are accused of running a large part of the business out of their Whitehouse homes and out of a wire room in the Bronx.
“Illegal sports betting reaps millions of dollars in cash profits that are easily diverted to more insidious criminal enterprises,” said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. “Oftentimes, these operations are run by individuals who have no qualms about using threats, intimidation and physical force to collect on debts owed to them.”
The investigation into the ring began in September 2007 when State Police and the Queens District Attorney’s Rackets and Organized Crime Bureau developed information about an illegal sports begging operation. The investigation included physical surveillance, intelligence information and court-authorized electronic eavesdropping.
The “unlawful gambling enterprise” made money by accepting bets ranging from as little as $30 to as much as $1,000 on single events. Investigators executed search warrants and recovered miscellaneous gambling records at Cermak’s house along with gambling records and a tape recorder next to a telephone at Abo’s house. In addition, gambling records, tape recorders and cassette tapes containing betting calls were recovered from the Bronx wire room, according to authorities.
“The indictments resulting from this collaborative investigation are evidence that we are serious about pursuing illegal gambling operations and will bring their ringleaders to justice,” said State Police Superintendent Harry J. Corbitt.
Also charged in the ring were the following individuals, who were listed as “agents” by authorities: James Farnochi, 61, of Flushing, Michael Lauria, 65, of Flushing, Christopher Mallon, 43, of Mineola, Michael Parente, 53, of Lynbrook, Jeffrey Richards, 62, of Merrick and James Morales, 53, and Marc Levy, 48, both of Texas.