Eight people were arrested on June 11 on charges of operating a large-scale gambling and loan sharking operation in New York state’s Rockland and Westchester counties, New York City, Long Island, Pennsylvania and Florida.
The arrests concluded a 10-month undercover investigation, labeled ‘Operation Rock Bottom,’ into illegal loan sharking activity, as well as an illegal gambling operation which had associations to organized crime in Rockland County.
“Illegal gambling has always been the fuel that drives organized crime because of the huge profits it generates, which are often used to fund other forms of criminal activity, including drug trafficking and prostitution,” said Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe in a prepared statement. “Illegal gambling is not a victimless crime.”
All eight have been accused of collecting bets, as well as offering loans with 25% interest rates on a weekly or bi-weekly payment basis, pressuring the borrowers.
According to Rockland Prosecutor Dominic Crispino, the illegal gambling operation was conducted through an online password-protected gambling site where the players or betters were assigned a username to place bets on football, basketball and other events. Those who have been charged were responsible for monitoring the website activity and maintaining information on losing bettors and winners.
“Today’s arrests close down a highly lucrative gambling operation that benefitted organized crime, and send a loud and clear message that law enforcement will keep up the pressure,” Zugibe said.
Investigators seized evidence of illegal gambling records, computers and cash totalling over $750,000.
All eight suspects were arraigned by Clarkstown Justice Scott Ugell and released without bail.
Rockland’s crackdown on mob-run gambling and loansharking also involved a dozen search warrants served on April 1st in Rockland County; Bergen County, New Jersey Matamoras, Pennsylvania; Franklin Square, New York; Ft. Lauderdale and Orange County, Florida.
In March, a Rockland investigation led to federal charges against Michael Palazzolo of Suffern and a mob captain Daniel Pagano, the son of late mob kingpin Joseph Pagano.