Posted on: August 16, 2022, 03:28h. 

Last updated on: August 16, 2022, 03:28h.

Illicit gambling operations were run for years out of New York-based front businesses, indictments unsealed on Tuesday revealed. Nine reputed members or associates of the Genovese and Bonanno crime families were indicted for the lucrative schemes.

Sal's Shoe Repair in Merrick, N.Y.
Sal’s Shoe Repair in Merrick, N.Y., pictured above. It was one of several fronts for illegal gambling linked to organized crime families, feds claim. (Image: ABC News)

Most were arrested this morning. The gambling dens operated in both Queens and Long Island, N.Y.

The illegal gambling fronts included Sal’s Shoe Repair in Merrick. Among those apprehended by the feds was Salvatore Rubino, 58, also known as “Sal the Shoemaker.”

He is a Genovese crime family associate, feds claim. He is charged with alleged racketeering.

Also charged with racketeering are: Anthony Pipitone, a captain and soldier in the Bonanno crime family, Vito Pipitone, a Bonanno soldier, Agostino Gabriele, a Bonanno associate, Carmelo Polito, an acting captain in the Genovese family, Joseph Macario, a Genovese soldier, and Genovese associate Joseph Rutigliano, feds said. Rutigliano remains at large.

Sports Betting

Polito also allegedly operated an illegal online gambling scheme. Bets were placed on sporting events through a website called “PGWLines,” prosecutors claim.

Polito also allegedly tried to extort a man who lost several thousand dollars in bets he placed through the website, prosecutors add. In 2019, Polito threatened to “break” a debtor’s face. Polito further relayed a message to the debtor: “Tell him I’m going to put him under the f*****g bridge,” prosecutors said.

In total, eight defendants were arrested Tuesday morning. Seven of the suspects were to be arraigned sometime Tuesday before federal Magistrate James R. Cho in Brooklyn.

Vito Pipitone was arrested in Florida. He is to appear in Miami federal court.

Other gambling sites included Centro Calcio Italiano Club, the Soccer Club, La Nazionale Soccer Club and Glendale Sports Club, feds said.

The operation likely began at the Gran Caffe in 2012 or earlier, prosecutors said. (It is located in Lynbrook, which was made famous as the hometown of the fictional Barone family in the Everybody Loves Raymond TV show.)

Crime Families Cooperate for Gain

The investigation also revealed how two organized crime families cooperated in an illegal operation, Michael Driscoll, assistant director-in-charge of the FBI’s New York office, explained.

Eastern District of New York US Attorney Breon Peace
Eastern District of New York US Attorney Breon Peace, pictured above. He announced the arrests of several suspects, linked to organized crime. for alleged illegal gambling. (Image: Associated Press)

“Current members of the five families demonstrate every day they are not [averse] … to working together to further their illicit schemes, using the same tired methods to squeeze money from their victims,” Driscoll said in a statement… The mafia refuses to learn from history, and accept that at some point they will face justice for their crimes.”

Breon Peace, US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, added that the arrests of members from “two La Cosa Nostra crime families demonstrate that the Mafia continues to pollute our communities with illegal gambling, extortion, and violence while using our financial system in service to their criminal schemes.”

The loot raised from the gambling scheme was laundered, feds add. The operation led to “substantial revenue,” officials said, with money heading to higher ups in the crime families.

Police Detective Charged

Also charged in the roundup was Long Island detective Hector Rosario. He allegedly took money from the Bonanno organization to organize raids of competing gambling operations. He allegedly obstructed a grand jury investigation and lied to the FBI.

Peace called the allegations against Rosario “disturbing” and “shameful.” He “betrayed his oath of office and the honest men and women of the Nassau County Police Department when he allegedly aligned himself with criminals,” Peace alleged.

Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly added that the “case is further proof that organized crime is alive and well in our communities.

These violent criminal organizations operated secret underground gambling parlors in local commercial establishments, generating substantial amounts of money in back rooms while families unknowingly shopped and ate mere feet away,” Donnelly added in a statement.

Beyond racketeering, other charges faced by the defendants are: illegal gambling, money laundering conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and related counts, prosecutors said.

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