Six Men Busted for Running $11m Illegal Sports Betting Ring

  • Six men charged with conspiracy and gambling promotion charges in a Brooklyn court
  • The men from New Jersey and Staten Island allegedly operated two illegal sports betting sites
  • Accepted $11m in bets over a six-month period between September 2018 and April of this year
  • All six defendants have pleaded not guilty and were released without bail
males hands in handcuffs
Six men from New Jersey and Staten Island are facing charges over an illegal sports betting ring that handled $11m in bets over a six-month period. [Image:]

Busted and arraigned

An illegal sports betting operation that took $11m in bets over the course of just six months has been busted, with six men from New Jersey and Staten Island facing charges over its operations.

took $11m in bets over the course of just six months

The defendants have been accused of accepting bets through two websites, in-person, and over the phone.

The six defendants include Ross Branca, 40, and Stephen Barone, 56, both from New Jersey. The other four defendants are from Staten Island. They are Bryan “Faith” Kelly, 45; Petrit “Pete” Lusha, 60; Joseph “Joe Brooklyn” Melfi, 58; and Anthony Sclafani, 73.

All six have pleaded not guilty to gambling promotion and conspiracy charges. This case is taking place in the Brooklyn Supreme Court. The men were released without having to post any bail. They will be back in court on March 9, 2020 for their next hearing.

Took bets through two websites

According to prosecutors, Branca was the main man behind one of the betting websites. He is also facing charges relating to money laundering, of which he pleaded not guilty. This charge was brought about due to his alleged laundering of $100,000. He allegedely oversaw the bookmaking services of three of the men who are also facing charges. 

It has been alleged that these men were accepting bets through and, with the former being operated from Costa Rica. This was the website that Branca was allegedly in charge of and it took in about $9m in bets through the website and by phone. 

Melfi who was allegedly in charge of the website and handled as much as $1.92m in bets during the period it operated.

these men were accepting bets through and

If you try to go to these websites, you will see that they are no longer in service. Both sites were live from September 2018 and until April 2019.

As well as accepting bets online, the ring was also taking bets directly and over the phone. Most clients were from New Jersey and New York City.  

Illegal gambling crackdown

Commenting on this case, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said: “Illegal gambling is not a victimless crime, but an unlawful conduct that is often connected to loansharking, money laundering and to organized crime.”

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