Thursday, January 31, 2008

Federal Authorities Bust Sports Gambling Ring with Close Mafia Ties

Raid On Mafia- Related Sports Betting Ring

FBI agents and the local police worked together to carry out an enormous raid on an alleged illegal sports gambling operation in the suburbs of Detroit last week. Thirteen men and one woman were arrested in the raid.

Prosecutors said that the operation was aimed at stamping at organized crime, although U.S. Attorney Stephen Murphy III did not explicitly say that the illegal sports gambling ring was run by the Mafia. There is no doubt, however, that the ring had close ties to the Mafia: The ring was run by a nephew of Detroit mob boss Jack Tocco, Peter Dominic Tocco, 55, of Troy, Michigan. Jack Tocco’s son Peter, 27, was also allegedly involved in the online casino gambling ring. Dominic Corrado, 35, of Glen Ellyn, Ill., is the son of the late Anthony (The Bull) Corrado, and Jack Giacalone, 56, of West Bloomfield, is the son of Vito (Billy Jack) Giacalone, both mob bosses.

The gambling ring took in millions of dollars from gamblers around the country, using a network of bookies. Profits were laundered through a used car lot, Patrick Auto Sales on 8 Mile in Warren. Prosecutors are seeking to seize almost $6 million in real estate and cash from the defendants.

According to FBI Special Agent in Charge Daniel Roberts, “from the FBI’s perspective in Detroit, it’s probably the biggest gambling investigation we’ve got going on.”

The operation allegedly included an “enforcement unit,” which strong- armed gamblers into paying their debts using threats of violence. The indictment did not say whether any of the threats had ever been carried out.

The suspects were arraigned on Friday and released on personal bond.

Real Threat or Publicity Scheme for Detroit Authorities?

While defense attorneys for several of the accused refused to answer reports’ questions, others accused federal prosecutors of using their clients as scapegoats in order to regain the public’s respect for their department.

“We’re losing the battle on terrorism but we’ve got enough time and enough agents to go out and arrest a self-described degenerate gambler,” said David Griem, representing Vincenzo Bronzino, 40.

Griem said four agents came to pick up Bronzino, and his wife of only several weeks “freaked out when they hit the door.”

“My client’s guilty of gambling, but not guilty of money laundering,” Griem said.

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