Three months after pleading guilty to two counts of illegal gambling, 33-year old Michael Pepe, was officially sentenced by U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant to one year in prison last week for his involvement in supervising a gambling ring associated to the Gambino crime family.
“I am here today to accept full responsibility for my actions,” Pepe said at the sentencing last Friday, November 16, at the Hartford Federal Building, as quoted by the New Haven Register.
All things considered, Pepe’s one-year sentence can be looked at as a moral victory considering that initial reports indicated that he could have faced up to five years in prison for the crimes. But Pepe’s attorneys argued that his high standing in his community, coupled with his admission of his involvement in the illegal activity, might have played a part in the decision to dock him “only” a one-year sentence. In addition to the 12 months and one day in prison, Pepe was also ordered by Bryant to forfeit $100,000, divided as such: $50,000 within 90 days and $50,000 by the end of his two-year probationary period. On top of that, Pepe also will amend his tax returns to reflect his earnings during the four to five years he operated the ring.
What makes Pepe’s involvement in the Gambino crime family all the more perplexing is the fact that this man, at least in the eyes of those in his community, carries a glowing reputation as a man with an active community service record, including over 10,000 hours spent over the past 15vyears working with a number of youth sports leagues and even serving on the North Haven Republican Town Committee and on the town’s Community Service Commission.
Despite the outpouring of support and all the vouches for his character, Pepe’s involvement as a supervisor to these bookmaking services linked to the New York-based crime family was something that was just too hard to ignore, especially when you take into account his specific role in the operation as someone who was in charge of coordinating the collecting of debts from bookies and passing all the profits up to the people in charge of the entire operation.
Do we just chalk this up to an outstanding citizen who made a life-altering mistake? Or is this somebody who’s real character is hidden behind a facade of selfless good will?
We’d like to think its the former and for his benefit, we hope that Michael Pepe spends the next 12 months returning to the man who possessed a high standing in the North Haven community and leave behind the man who got involved with the wrong people.