20-five people including Mike Colbert, the head oddsmaker for Cantor Gaming, an affiliate of brokerage firm Cantor Fitzgerald, were indicted today for allegedly running a massive illegal nation-wide sports betting ring, according to a release. The Queens District Attorney, the NYPD and the FBI allege that the group brought in more than $50 million running the illegal sports operation between April 13, 2011 and October 18, 2012.
Cantor’s Colbert, 32, was arrested yesterday and charged with enterprise corruption, fourth-, third- and first-degree money laundering and fifth-degree conspiracy, according to the release.
Seven others were arrested yesterday as well. If convicted, they each face up to 25 years in prison.
Colbert, who was described by a source from the Vegas betting community as “a very big deal,” is a vice president at Cantor Gaming.
Cantor Gaming is a huge player in Vegas operating seven sportsbooks in Las Vegas, including the Venetian, Palazzo, M Resort, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Tropicana, Cosmopolitan and the Palms. Colbert runs the book at the M Resort.
Here’s an excerpt from the release on how the investigation went down: (emphasis ours)
District Attorney Brown said that the investigation leading to today’s indictment began in February 2011 when NYPD organised Crime Investigation Division detectives developed information about an illegal sports betting operation and began a joint investigation with the District Attorney’s organised Crime and Rackets Bureau. The investigation included physical surveillance, intelligence information and court-authorised electronic eavesdropping.
According to the indictment, between April 13, 2011 and October 18, 2012, the defendants conspired to acquire money illegally through the operation of an unlawful gambling enterprise involving the use of Internet web sites that accepted bets on sporting events.
The indictment also alleges that the ring used non-traditional “wire rooms” in the form of offshore, Internet based gambling services – such as www.pinnaclesports.com, www.jazzsports.net/com, www.wager4you.com and www.playhera.ag – used by bettors and agents to actually place their wagers. It is alleged that the members of the enterprise used the off-shore wire rooms to maintain the gambling accounts of numerous agents through the Internet website in an effort to evade law enforcement detection through traditional methods.
Law enforcement crackdowns on traditional mob-run wire rooms have led to the use by illegal gambling rings of off-shore gambling web sites where action is available around the clock. Bettors can click on an off shore gambling website over the Internet and be assigned individual login codes and passwords. Their wagers and win-loss amounts are recorded in “sub-accounts” maintained in the accounts of “agents.” These gambling web sites typically store their information on computer servers outside the United States – such as in Costa Rica and Panama – and “bounce” their data through a series of server nodes in an effort to evade law enforcement.
The indictment charges that at least fifteen of the defendants were “bookmakers”– Daniel Monreal and PinnacleSports owners Stanley Tomchin and George Molsbarger, in California; Steven Diano, Jerald Branca, Kelly Barsel, Joseph Paulk and Pinnacle Sports owner Brandt England in Las Vegas; Andrew Belardino, Michael Duong and Gadoon Kyrollos in New Jersey; and Vincent Basciano, Jr., Edward Cappucci, Edward Iazzetti and John Tognino, in New York. These bookmakers were allegedly responsible for overseeing “agents” – such as Thomas Chiantese in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Joseph Kornreich in New York and Ian Mandell, and Michael Colbert in Las Vegas – whose jobs allegedly were to build a clientele of bettors who would regularly bet with the enterprise. It is alleged that the agents were the intermediaries between the bettor and the enterprise itself, and were responsible for “squaring up” or “settling up” with the bettors – usually on a designated day each week – by collecting and paying out money owed.
According to the indictment, the enterprise also employed “money collectors,” “money distributors” and “banks” – such as Paul Sexton in Las Vegas, Flora Wu and Daniel Bornico in New York, and Danny Belardino and Christian Rodriguez in New York and New Jersey – to handle the illegal flow of money between the participants of the enterprise. These individuals were allegedly responsible for the collection and distribution of illegal gambling proceeds between the bookmakers and the agents. They also allegedly transported money throughout the United States and to and from Panama and/or Costa Rica via courier. It is additionally alleged that the money collectors and distributors that acted as banks were responsible for holding large amounts of money for the operation. Bookmaking enterprises use money collectors, distributors and banks to avoid wire transfers and credit card transactions which are prohibited by federal law for the payment and collection of gambling debts.
“Illegal gambling is not a victimless crime,” Queens DA Richard Brown said in a statement.