NEW YORK CITY — The FBI raided an art gallery in The Carlyle hotel on the Upper East Side early Tuesday as part of a far-reaching probe into an alleged illegal gambling ring for the super-wealthy run by a Russian organized crime group, authorities said.
An 84-page grand jury indictment unsealed Tuesday named 34 suspects believed to be involved in two international bookmaking operations. The underworld enterprises involved both high-stakes poker and sports gambling, and they catered to Wall Street bigwigs, professional poker players and celebrities, according to the indictment.
As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, authorities had arrested 20 suspects in New York and nine others in Philadelphia, Detroit and Los Angeles, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Investigators accuse the 34 suspects tied to the gambling ring probe of a litany of crimes dating back to 2006, including money laundering, unlawful internet gambling, extortion and threats of violence to collect unpaid debts, according to the indictment.
But the man authorities have pegged as one of the ringleaders, Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, was known to be in Russia, where he had already been skirting a United States arrest warrant, authorities said. Tokhtakhounov, one of the world's most wanted criminals, has an outstanding indictment for allegedly bribing figure skating judges in the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.
The Taiwanchik-Trincher Organization, led by Tokhtakhounov, allegedly laundered tens of millions of dollars from Russia and the Ukraine through Cyprus and into the U.S., according to the indictment. A second group, the Nahmad-Trincher Organization, allegedly generated tens of millions of dollars in annual bets through an illegal online sports gambling operation.
The Helly Nahmad gallery in the Carlyle was searched Tuesday and allegedly bankrolled the Nahmad-Trincher Organization. The operator of the Madison Avenue gallery, Hillel Nahmad, was named as a defendant in the indictment and expected to surrender in Los Angeles, authorities said.
Agents also raided an apartment in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue and homes and businesses in Brooklyn, FBI spokeswoman Kelly Langmesser confirmed.
Four suspects remained fugitives late Tuesday: Tokhtakhounov, Donald McCalmont, Bryan Zuriff and William Edler, officials said. None of the gambling clients faced charges in the indictment.