25 Defendants Arrested & Indicted in Queens Gambling Bust: DA Claims PinnacleSports.Com, JazzSports.Net, Wager4You.Com and PlayHera.Ag Violated Criminal Laws

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown has once again flexed his prosecutorial muscle and demonstrated that the epicenter of white collar crime may have shifted to one of New York’s outer boroughs. According to a press release, Queens prosecutors obtained an indictment charging Enterprise Corruption (one of New York’s most serious non-violent criminal charges), Money Laundering, Promoting Gambling and other felony offenses against alleged illegal gambling crews. According to prosecutors, the 25 men and women caught up in the sweep are not mere gamblers, but are involved in an international gambling conspiracy.

These new arrests are not the first time, nor likely the last, DA Brown has vigorously pursued illegal gambling operations. Netted in the alleged $50 million conspiracy are:

Alleged bookmakers Kelly Barsel, Cincent Basciano, Jr., Andrew Belardino, Jerald Branca, Steven Diano, Michael Duong, Brandt England, Edward Iazetti, Gadoon Kyrollos, Thomas Lacerra, George Molsbarger, Daniel Monreal, Jospeh Paulk, John Tognino, and Stanley Tomchin. Alleged money collectors and distributors Daniel Belardino, Daniel Bornico, Christian Rodriguez, Paul Sexton and Flora Wu. Alleged money collectors and agents Edward Cappucci, Thomas Chiantese, Michael Colbert, Joseph Kornreich and Ian Mandell.

In some capacity, many of these defendants were tied to betting and gambling websites including www.pinnaclesports.com,www.jazzsports.net/com, www.wager4you.com and www.playhera.ag.

Not overly complicated, prosecutors contend that in varying degrees, the defendants recruited players, exchanged financial transactions and either made payouts from or to businesses in Costa Rica and Panama while circumventing New York State law. These bets generally involved football, basketball, baseball and other “sports book” type events.

In terms of the criminal charges, Enterprise Corruption (New York Penal Law 460.20) is the most significant offense. While other crimes may be equal, it is on par with the most serious non-violent or non-sexual crimes in New York. In general terms, you are guilty of Enterprise Corruption if you are part of an illegal enterprise where you share a common goal to benefit the organization. Further, that organization must have a structural component as opposed to a lose knit group of people working together. If any defendant is found guilty of Enterprise Corruption, he or she will be sentenced to a minimum of one to three years in prison with a maximum exposure of 25 years in custody.

First Degree Money Laundering is also a “B” felony and punishable in the same manner as Enterprise Corruption. A convoluted statute, Money Laundering occurs (this is a very minimal explanation) where a person is involved in criminal activity and disguises the nature or means by which certain property (here money) is generated or possessed. Although there are different financial thresholds that directly relate to the level of the crime, in the instant case that threshold would be $1 million. Further, prosecutors are able to aggregate or add together monies that were obtained, disguised, etc, where those dollars were involved in the promotion of criminal activity.

While one might assume that because this indictment involves gambling fraud the most serious offense would be Promoting Gambling in the First Degree (New York Penal Law 225.10), that is not the case. An “E” felony punishable by up to one and one third to four years in prison, the parties here would be guilty of this crime if and when they knew that they were profiting from gambling through bookmaking. Additionally, they must also have been involved in receiving six or more bets valued greater (in aggregate) than $5,000 in a particular day. Prosecutors may choose to pursue this crime even if a particular defendant was not the bet taker, but acting in concert with a person who did the same.

Gambling crimes are fascinating to many people outside of those charged with or arrested for the offenses. After all, the same conduct in Las Vegas may be legal, but it is punishable by prison in New York. As intriguing as the conversation is about legalizing this conduct in New York State, that conversation is for another time and place. At this juncture, the defendants and their criminal lawyers must ascertain the best defense to limit or even avoid incarceration and criminal records. While Crotty Saland PC recently obtained a dismissal of an Enterprise Corruption indictment based on a failure of the prosecution to establish the structure and common goals of the enterprise, it may be that these elements are strong here. Even if an attorney finds this defense as a viable option, other crimes and offenses must be surmounted as well.

To learn more about New York gambling crimes such as Promoting Gambling as well as the offenses of Enterprise Corruption and Money Laundering, review the content available in the links above as well as through our websites and blogs listed below.

Crotty Saland PC is a New York criminal defense firm founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors. The New York criminal lawyers and gambling defense attorneys at Crotty Saland PC represent clients throughout the New York City region.

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