Ex-NYPD cop charged in New York Mafia gambling racket

Posted on: June 6, 2024, 6:20 am.

Last updated: June 6, 2024, 6:26 am.

Seventeen people have been charged for their alleged involvement in a mafia-related gambling and lending operation in Staten Island, New York, according to an indictment released Wednesday.

Fred Falcone Sr, John LaForte, Anthony Cinque and John Matera, Gambino, Mafia, New York, Letitia James, Staten Island
Fresh off prosecuting the Trump Organization, Letitia James, above, sets her sights on an alleged Gambino syndicate, which deals in traditional New York mafia stuff – illegal gambling and excessive lending. (Image: CNBC)

The defendants include a former NYPD officer, a troubled pizza restaurant owner and numerous reputed members and associates of the Gambino crime family.

Leading the operation were alleged Gambino soldiers John LaForte, Anthony Cinque and John Matera, prosecutors allege. Also named in the indictment are alleged Gambino associates Edward LaForte, Frederick Falcone, Sr., Giulio Pomponio, Daniel Bogan and alleged Colombo associate Charles Fusco.

Gambino agent?

Ex-cop Falcone’s role was to run the books, keeping careful track of who owed what exorbitant debt.

Falcone retired from the police force in 1992. In 1980, his patrol partner was Joseph Esposito, who later became chief of the New York City Police Department. Esposito died in January 2024.

Edward Laforte, John Laforte’s brother, operated the sports betting business using an offshore price-per-cap website, prosecutors said.

Several of those charged were ‘cloth keepers’, whose role was to collect the gambler’s bets and debts.

Often the gamblers who illegally gambled through these bank holders became indebted and the members of this criminal enterprise took advantage of this opportunity by making predatory loans and illegally charging and collecting high interest on these loans, thus making a profit on a gambler who had incurred debt,” prosecutors said.

The operation processed more than $22.7 million in bets and generated weekly interest on approximately $500,000 in predatory loans. Investigators used wiretaps, secret surveillance and warrants for offshore gambling sites to gather evidence against the group.

‘Piece of pizza’

According to prosecutors, the members would meet to discuss business at the Eltingville Shopping Center and the Greenridge Shopping Center on Staten Island. Edward LaForte often left the proceeds from the operation at Frank and Danny’s Pizzeria in the Eltingville Shopping Center, which was owned by Bogan.

According to wiretaps, “stopping for a slice of pizza” was a euphemism used by the group to divide the loot.

Illegal gambling and loan sharking are among the oldest rackets in the mob playbook,” New York Attorney General Letitia James, who recently successfully prosecuted the Trump Organization for fraud, said in a statement on Wednesday.

“While organized crime is still active in New York, today we are putting several Gambino family members out of business. These criminal enterprises have taken tens of millions of dollars from New Yorkers and plunged many into dangerous debt,” James added.

The charges, detailed in an 84-count indictment, include corporate corruption, promoting gambling, criminal usury and conspiracy.

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