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17 arrests in New York arrest

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The New York State Attorney General’s Office on Wednesday unsealed an indictment charging 17 individuals in connection with “lucrative” illegal gambling and lending operations controlled by alleged members of the infamous Gambino crime family.

Prosecutors accused the individuals of participating in a sports gambling operation that took in more than $22.7 million in illegal bets, and a lending operation that generated approximately $500,000 in predatory loans. The 17 individuals were charged with multiple crimes, including corporate corruption, first- and second-degree criminal usury, and first-degree promotion of gambling, according to the 84-count indictment.

Among those arrested and charged Wednesday are alleged Gambino soldiers John Laforte, 56; Anthony Cinque, Jr., 39; Johannes Matera, 53; and alleged Gambino associates Edward LaForte, 58; Frederick Falcone, Sr., 66; Giulio Pomponio, 61; and Daniel Bogan, 41. Prosecutors said John LaForte and three others were also charged in a separate indictment Wednesday in a mortgage fraud scheme to buy a $600,000 home in New Jersey.

“Illegal gambling and loan sharking are among the mafia’s oldest practices,” Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement on Wednesday. “While organized crime continues to operate 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.”

Wednesday’s indictment is the latest operation involving alleged members and associates of the Gambino crime family, one of the most notorious criminal organizations in America, according to the Crime Museum. Last November, prosecutors said 10 members and associates were charged with various offenses related to the organization’s attempt to dominate New York City’s carting and demolition industries.

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‘Stopped for a slice of pizza’

The investigation included court-approved wiretaps and listening devices, secret video surveillance cameras, search warrants on an offshore illegal gambling website and search warrants for some homes, prosecutors said. Most of the lending and bookmaking activity took place at meetings at the Eltingville Shopping Center and the Greenridge Shopping Center on Staten Island.

Investigators discovered that Edward LaForte operated the gambling website, where more than 70 gamblers placed more than $22.7 million in bets between September 2022 and March 2023, according to the indictment. Prosecutors said Edward LaForte supervised several of his co-defendants, who were “cloth keepers,” or individuals who managed the betting and collections.

“Often, the gamblers who gambled illegally through these sheetholders fell into debt 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, thereby making a profit on a gambler. who had fallen into debt,” the New York State Attorney General’s office said in a news release.

Prosecutors also alleged that the gambling operation was run in conjunction with 44-year-old Amy McLaughlin, who helped organize the gambling ring, kept weekly gambling figures and collected and distributed the proceeds.

Other people involved in the operation included John LaForte, who received the proceeds and served in a supervisory role, the indictment said. John LaForte and Anthony Cinque, Jr. also financed part of the operation for payments to winning gamblers.

According to the indictment, Edward LaForte sometimes left loan and gambling proceeds at Frank and Danny’s Pizzeria in the Eltingville Shopping Center, which was owned by Bogan. A phone conversation in November 2022 revealed that Edward LaForte had “come over for a slice of pizza,” in which Bogan had responded, “Okay, okay, yeah, yeah, I’ve got you here.”

Edward LaForte, along with former NYPD member Falcone, also acted as loan sharks who kept detailed ledgers listing the victims’ names and their extortionate loan amounts, the indictment alleged. The two would meet their victims at the malls, another restaurant on Staten Island, their homes or the victims’ homes.

The indictment added that in some cases, Falcone and Edward LaForte required permission and financing from John LaForte and Cinque to distribute the loans. The operation “generated weekly payments of approximately $500,000 in predatory loans,” prosecutors said.

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The Gambino crime family is one of five traditional organized crime families, also known as the “Five Families,” that operate in the New York area and sometimes abroad, according to the indictment.

The other four families are the Bonanno crime family, the Colombo crime family, the Genovese crime family and the Lucchese crime family, the indictment adds. They are part of a criminal network called ‘the Mafia’, ‘the Mafia’ and ‘La Cosa Nostra’.

The Gambino family emerged in the early 20th century and is named after Carlo Gambino, who was “the most powerful and respected don of the American Mafia from the late 1950s until he died a peaceful death of natural causes in 1976 as the face of the organized crime in New York City. ‘, according to the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement. Although federal prosecutions have executed Gambino members and associates in recent decades, the family still runs criminal operations in Brooklyn and Staten Island.

“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 in a statement Wednesday. “The Gambino Crime Family has historically exerted its influence on the Port of New York. Disruption of gambling profits and lending weakens that family’s hold.”

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