27 Arrested in First Online Gambling Bust Since Bush Signed Law Banning Internet Wagering
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
NEW YORK — Prosecutors brought charges Wednesday against 27 people — including a Major League Baseball scout — in connection with a billion-dollar-a-year Internet sports gambling ring, the first such case since President Bush signed a ban on Internet gambling last month.
The charges were brought in connection with a site called Playwithal.com, run by professional power player James Giordano, 52, of Pine Crest, Fla., New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
Also charged was Frank Falzarano, 52, of Seaford, N.Y., identified by prosecutors as a scout for the Washington Nationals and a former scout for the San Francisco Giants. His alleged role in the operation was not immediately clear.
Search warrants executed in several locations resulted in the seizure of gambling records, computers and hundreds of millions of dollars in property.
The property includes four Manhattan condominiums, millions of dollars in cash, tens of thousands of dollars worth of casino chips from the Bellagio casino in Las Vegas, art, jewelry, gold coins, and a football signed by the 1969 New York Jets following their Super Bowl victory.
The scheme involved placing sports bets through bookies via a secure Internet site. The bets were taken on all kinds of sports, including football, baseball, basketball, hockey, car racing, and golf.
The charges include enterprise corruption, money laundering and promoting gambling.
Police said arrests were made in New York, New Jersey, Florida and Nevada.
Kevin Ryan, a spokesman for the Queens District Attorney, said "we have initiated a $500 million asset forfeiture case," one of the largest in state history.
The charges, which followed a two-year international investigation on Internet gambling, come a month after President Bush signed into law the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.
Brown and Kelly had scheduled a news conference, at which seized cash and assets — including artwork, jewelry, gold coins and sports memorabilia — were to be displayed.