Taking down the leaders
The father-son leaders of an illegal gambling ring in Western Pennsylvania have pleaded guilty to running the operation. The father’s involvement in illegal gambling dates back more than half a century.
90-year-old Robert “Bobby I” Iannelli and his 60-year-old son Robert “Rusty” Iannelli entered guilty pleas on September 16 in Westmoreland County to charges of operating illegal lotteries in Westmoreland and Allegheny counties, as well as overseeing a corrupt organization.
sentenced both of the men to ten years probation
Judge Meagan Bilik-DeFazio sentenced both of the men to ten years probation as per the negotiated plea bargains. They must also pay $225,000 each as a forfeiture of the funds they got from the illegal gambling operation. Another $75,000 is to be jointly paid for the cost of the five wiretaps that the state investigators used during their six month operation, ending in April 2017.
Deputy Attorney General Mark Serge described the gambling operation as “substantial.”
Grand jury investigation
Eleven other individuals were also charged along with the Iannellis following a grand jury investigation that began in 2015, led by the state’s attorney general’s office. Court records detail how the Iannellis were using a local wedding vendor as a way to launder the illegal gambling money.
Three other men pleaded guilty on Wednesday for their roles in the illegal gambling operation. 70-year-old John Harkins pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy relating to the gambling operation. He has to pay a fine of $1,000 and forfeit $5,500 that was seized upon his arrest.
Two other men from Westmoreland County also pleaded guilty to partaking in the illegal operation. Victor Machitello and Frank Joseph Pasquino both admitted to operating illegal lotteries over the course of six months, concluding in April 2017. Deputy Attorney General Serge said that the two men were running independent illegal gambling operations and would transfer some of the bigger wagers over to the Iannellis.
Four other members of the operation pleaded guilty in July, with another four to appear on Friday in front of Judge Bilik-DeFazio.
Links to organized crime
Robert Iannelli was identified through a Pennsylvania Crime Commission report in 1990 as being an associate of the LaRocca-Genovese organized crime group in Pittsburgh.
prosecuted for his role in multimillion dollar illegal sports betting operations
Prosecutors laid out his numerous gambling arrests dating as far back as the 1950s. He was prosecuted for his role in multimillion dollar illegal sports betting operations in both the 1970s and the 1990s.
Robert Iannelli was in a wheelchair during his court appearance and was using an oxygen tank to aid his breathing. His defense attorney noted that Iannelli currently lives in Florida and Pittsburgh and has a heart condition.