A Five Families affair
Federal authorities in Brooklyn have busted a long-established illegal online sports betting operation allegedly run by one of New York’s Five Families.
millions of dollars in profits”
The US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York (USAO-EDNY) announced the high-profile bust Wednesday. The Department of Justice (DOJ) later took to Twitter to reveal that the alleged betting business made “millions of dollars in profits” under the protection of the Luchese crime family:
Operational for over 15 years, the mob-run business used “dozens” of NY bookmakers and a Costa Rica-hosted online betting site — known as Rhino Sports — to take millions of illegal sports wagers.
An indictment unsealed in Brooklyn on Wednesday charged six defendants, including a Luchese family soldier, for their alleged roles in “overseeing and operating a large-scale illegal, online gambling business.”
On Wednesday, the feds arrested four of the defendants in New York, including Luchese enforcer Anthony Villani and alleged associates Louis “Tootch” Tucci Jr., Dennis Filizzola, and James “Quick” Coumoutsos. The arrest of Michael “Platinum” Praino took place on the same day in West Palm Beach, Florida.
received more than $1m per year
The indictment names Villani as overseer of the Rhino Sports operations – a role for which he received more than $1m per year. He allegedly hired co-conspirators Tucci, Jr. and Filizzola as runners for Rhino Sports.
According to the DOJ news release, officials have charged Villani with “racketeering in connection with participation in various criminal schemes, including illegal gambling, money laundering and attempted extortion.”
The illegal gambling business was allegedly operational from at least 2004 through December 2020. Records taken from the illegal betting website revealed it regularly received wagers from between 400 and 1,300 bettors every week. The bettors were mostly based in NY City and the metropolitan area.
Assistant director-in-charge of the FBI’s New York field office, Michael J. Driscoll, commented on the operations. He said it signified mobsters were sticking to their traditional criminal ways despite the explosion of legal sports betting.
Driscoll added that the mafia members allegedly ran the illegal betting business by telling customers to “do what they say or face terrifying consequences.”
The FBI man ended his statement with a warning: “One thing these criminals can bet on – the FBI will continue our pursuit.”