Gambino Mobsters Charged in $22M Illegal Gambling Ring on Staten Island

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Seventeen individuals have been arrested in connection with a sophisticated network of illegal gambling and loansharking on Staten Island, allegedly under the control of the notorious Gambino crime family. This operation, detailed in an 84-count indictment, revealed the inner workings of an illicit enterprise that raked in $22.7 million in illegal bets and issued over half a million dollars in usurious loans.

At the heart of this criminal activity were alleged Gambino soldiers John LaForte, Anthony Cinque, and John Matera, along with a network of associates. The arrests come after extensive investigations led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who highlighted that “illegal gambling and loansharking schemes are some of the oldest rackets in the mob’s playbook.” These individuals face charges including enterprise corruption, promoting gambling, criminal usury, and conspiracy.

The Investigation Unveils Extensive Operations

The extensive investigation into the gambling ring utilized wiretaps, covert surveillance, and warrants for offshore gambling sites. Authorities discovered that the illegal sports gambling enterprise was managed by LaForte, who utilized an offshore website to facilitate bets, involving over 70 bettors. The proceeds from these operations were allegedly shared among the accused, contributing to a substantial illegal revenue stream.

Former NYPD members Frederick Falcone Sr. and Edward LaForte played critical roles in the loansharking aspect of the operation, meticulously logging victims and their exorbitant debts. Amy McLaughlin, LaForte’s common-law wife, was also implicated for her role in maintaining records of the weekly gambling figures and handling the distribution of proceeds.

Impact on the Community and Law Enforcement’s Response

The disruption of this extensive gambling network signifies a major victory for law enforcement in their ongoing battle against organized crime. “While organized crime may still be active in New York, today we are putting several Gambino family members out of business,” stated Attorney General James.

The operation’s impact on the community was significant, with tens of millions of dollars extracted from New Yorkers, trapping many in dangerous levels of debt. The enforcement of new gambling laws and regulations aims to protect the public from such criminal enterprises and ensure a safer environment.

Historical Context and the Gambino Crime Family

The Gambino crime family, one of the infamous “Five Families” of the American Mafia, has a long history of involvement in various criminal activities, including racketeering, gambling, and loansharking. This family’s structure, often romanticized in popular culture through films like “The Godfather” and TV shows like “The Sopranos,” includes a hierarchy of a boss, an underboss, a consigliere, and captains who manage crews of soldiers.

The recent investigation also unveiled a separate mortgage fraud scheme involving John LaForte, his wife Tracy Alfano, and their nephew Joseph LaForte Jr. The trio allegedly orchestrated a fraudulent mortgage loan to purchase a $600,000 home in New Jersey, with John Palladino acting as the broker.

Legal Proceedings and Future Implications

All defendants were arraigned at the Staten Island Courthouse, with bail arguments extending over three hours, handled by an “army of defense attorneys.” The defense claimed to have been aware of the impending charges since authorities executed warrants in May 2023. The case has been adjourned to August 13.

This crackdown follows another high-profile case last year, where ten alleged Gambino mafiosi were indicted for attempts to dominate New York City’s garbage hauling and demolition industry. These consistent efforts by law enforcement highlight the ongoing struggle to dismantle organized crime networks and protect the integrity of the community.

Conclusion

The arrest of seventeen individuals connected to the Gambino crime family underscores the relentless efforts of law enforcement to combat organized crime. The extensive illegal gambling and loansharking operations on Staten Island illustrate the sophisticated methods employed by these networks to generate illicit profits. As legal proceedings unfold, the focus remains on ensuring justice and preventing further exploitation of vulnerable communities.