I know Staten Island…and it ain’t no Vegas…Whether its cards, ponies, or the pigskin classic, Staten Island (Richmond County, New York) District Attorney Dan Donovan doesn’t want any of it in his county. Unfortunately for 28 people allegedly involved in a gambling ring, this lesson was learned the hard way. Charged with Enterprise Corruption, Money Laundering and Promoting Gambling in the First Degree, many of the defendants face up to 25 years in prison as well as a mandatory minimum term of up to three years incarceration if they are convicted of being a part of the fraud scheme. While not out of the woods, more than half of the alleged co-conspirators are charged with Promoting Gambling in the Second Degree. This “A” misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year jail on Rikers Island.
According to prosecutors, over $5.5 million was seized in law enforcement raids and search warrants executed in New York and New Jersey. The investigation, which culminated in the arrests today and earlier indictments, began two years ago when police began to use wire taps and surveillance to track their targets. These targets, now defendants charged with the more serious felonies, include:
Joseph Stentella, Vito W. Maccarone Jr., Anthony J. Stentella, Steven J. Carannante, Thomas Trapas, Daniel A. Venditti, Nedzad Karastanovic aka Najo, Keith Mory, Ramon R. Quevedo and Sanela Karastanovic. Mr. Karastanovic is charged with Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree as opposed to the gambling related crimes. If convicted, Mr. Karastanovic faces up to one to nine years in prison as a first time offender.
The following defendants are each charged with the misdeanor of Promoting Gambling in the Second Degree:
Kevin Costello, Frank Bavosi, Charles Deverin, James Fischetti, Donald Hawkins, Mark Kampe, Rose Igneri, Shawn Lamaestra, Alfred Madsen Jr., Michael O’Brien, Vincent Palumbo, Gerald Penna, Kevin Shimrock, Thomas Stuart, Alfred Tumolo Jr. and Roger Wuy.
Although I cannot comment on the strength and weakness of the case as I am not privy to any of the facts, generally, one is guilty of Enterprise Corruption when he is part of an ascertainable structure, an actual criminal enterprise exists, and he has the common goal of that enterprise. If there is no structure and instead there is a lose knit group of fraudsters, Enterprise Corruption will not stand. Having said that, New York State’s RICO statute is significantly more complicated and complex than defined here.
The crimes of Promoting Gambling are much less complicated. For one to be guilty of the lesser second degree offense, one must knowingly advance or profit from unlawful gambling activity. There are numerous ways to bump this crime up to the felony level first degree crime. The likely subsection utilized by prosecutors in Staten Island is that those defendants charged with this offense engaged in bookmaking and received or excepted in any given day at least five thousand dollars worth of bets through at least five separate bets. Promoting Gambling in the First Degree is an “E” felony punishable by up to one and one third to four years in prison for a first time offender. As noted above, however, this crime while likely the substantive offense of the scheme is the least significant of all of the felonies charged in terms of potential punishment.
Certainly, time will tell what defenses are implemented and the manner in which each defendant confronts the case. Unfortunately, many of these men are likely sitting in local jails throughout New Jersey awaiting extradition to Las Ve…errr…Staten Island with ample time to determine their next step.
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