New York AG James indicts 17 associates of Gambino crime family in bust of illegal gambling and loan-sharking schemes

 June 7, 2024

New York Attorney General Letitia James just made a bold move against a powerful family in the Empire State, and this time it has nothing to do with the former president and his family's business.

On Wednesday, AG James announced that she had arrested and indicted 17 associates and members of the Gambino and Colombo crime families on dozens of criminal charges, according to Newsweek.

Underlying the mass arrests and indictments are allegations of a criminal loan-sharking operation as well as an illegal and unsanctioned offshore sports gambling operation, from which tens of millions of dollars in illicit proceeds were derived.

Mob-linked illegal gambling and loan-sharking operations busted

In a Wednesday press release, AG James said in a statement, "Illegal gambling and loan sharking schemes are some of the oldest rackets in the mob’s playbook. While organized crime may still be active in New York, today we are putting several Gambino family members out of business."

"These criminal enterprises took tens of millions of dollars from New Yorkers and trapped many in dangerous amounts of debt," she added. "I thank all of our partners in law enforcement for their collaboration in this investigation to bring these individuals to justice and keep New Yorkers safe."

The press release noted that the illegal gambling operation had netted more than $22.7 million in illicit bets over the past few years while the loan-sharking operation was said to have brought in roughly $500,000 per week from the repayments of usurious loans with exorbitant interest rates.

The two criminal enterprises had been uncovered through a joint investigation by the AG's Office, the NYPD, the New York Waterfront Commission, and the U.S. Labor Department's Inspector General's Office, who made use of court-authorized wiretaps, audio and video surveillance, and multiple search warrants.

That investigation also led to a separate spin-off probe involving allegations of mortgage fraud that resulted in a separate indictment against four individuals, some of whom were also at the center of the primary investigation.

The indictments and charges

The illegal gambling and loan-sharking operations were described in detail in a 103-page indictment that included 84 criminal counts against 17 individuals with ties to the Gambino crime family.

Some of those charges, which could result in decades behind bars if convicted, included "Enterprise Corruption, Criminal Usury in the First Degree and Second Degree, and Promoting Gambling in the First Degree," among other conspiracy-related counts.

Separately, AG James also unveiled an eight-page indictment that included four criminal counts against four individuals. The charges included Conspiracy, Second and Third Degree Residential Mortgage Fraud, and Falsifying Business Records.

That indictment alleged that a top Gambino associate involved in overseeing the gambling and loan-sharking operations had separately schemed with his wife, his nephew, and a mortgage broker to fraudulently engage in a straw purchase of a $600,000 home in New Jersey.

Organized crime still exists in New York City

"This case is a stark reminder that organized crime continues to thrive in the New York metropolitan area," New York Waterfront Commissioner Paul Weinstein said. "The Gambino Crime Family has historically exerted its influence on the Port of New York. Disruption of its profits from gambling and loan-sharking weaken that family’s grip."

"As we have seen for over a century and once again here, illegal bookmaking is often intertwined with organized crime," Brian O'Dwyer, chairman of the New York State Gaming Commission, said. "This is why we have regulated gaming with strong safeguards, player protections, and revenue to make our communities better. With the numerous legal gambling opportunities available in our state, there is no legitimate reason to wager with offshore operations and blindly line the pockets of alleged gangsters."

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