CHARLESTON — A New Jersey bookie who suffered "panic attacks" over a loan he took from a Gambino crime family associate to help pay for his wife’s cancer treatment was found dead days after the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office searched his home, law enforcement sources said.
The body of bookie Patrick Deluise was found with a gunshot wound in a car in Holmdel, N.J., at 2 a.m. Friday, according to sources.
The Holmdel Township Police Department declined to comment on Deluise’s death, stating that it was an open investigation. However, sources said his death appears to be a suicide that occurred sometime between Thursday night and Friday morning.
Two days before Deluise's body was found, Brooklyn DA investigators had executed a search warrant on his property — the culmination of a 17-month probe of interstate gambling operations that also involved the Gambino associate, Anthony Vallario, according to court documents obtained by DNAinfo.
Deluise was expected to be indicted on felony charges for running a $10 million gambling ring, according to the court documents, which are connected to a civil forfeiture proceeding.
Brooklyn prosecutors said in the documents filed Monday that within the next 120 days, they plan on arresting Deluise’s two sons and three of his associates for their involvement in the ring.
Vallario and an associate, Joseph Mancuso, will also face charges within the next 120 days for running two illegal betting rings that took in nearly $5 million in proceeds, the court documents say.
Brooklyn prosecutors said in the court documents that Vallario, his wife, his daughter and his son-in-law face felony loan-sharking charges for forcing Deluise to pay $2,400 a month in interest on a $50,000 loan.
Vallario, 76, of Staten Island, is the brother of Louis Vallario, a reputed Gambino captain and a onetime aide to the family's former boss, John Gotti.
Vallario's loan to Deluise funded experimental cancer treatment for Deluise’s terminally ill wife in Germany.
Deluise is believed to have paid $129,600 in interest on the loan to Vallario in the past four-and-a-half years, prosecutors said in the court documents.
The bookie was so distraught after years of paying the interest without making a dent in the principal that he desperately asked friends to float him money and sought advice on securing a legitimate second mortgage to cover the debt, the court documents say.
The documents include transcripts of wiretaps in which Brooklyn DA investigators caught Deluise complaining to a friend about Vallario.
“I just can’t pay it anymore. I can’t. The f------ guy. He don’t want to give me a break and I can’t catch up,” Deluise told the friend in a Jan. 25, 2015, phone conversation.
During the conversation, the friend asked Deluise if Vallario was a buddy he could reason with about the excessive payments.
“I don’t know. I thought he was, I, but, you know, he’s, he’s a f------ wiseguy,” Deluise responded.
Vallario’s lawyer, James J. DiPietro, declined to comment on the Brooklyn DA’s allegations because he had not yet received the civil forfeiture court documents.
But DiPietro said Vallario gave money to Deluise when he was desperately trying to save his wife.
“My client, being the good soul that he is, tried to accommodate that man,” the lawyer said. “No good deed goes unpunished.”
A spokesman for the Brooklyn DA's office declined to comment on the gambling probe, but acknowledged the death of Deluise.
"We are aware of the death Mr. Deluise in New Jersey and that incident is being investigated by the local police," the spokesman said.
Deluise's sons did not respond to requests for comment.
Prosecutors filed the civil forfeiture documents on Monday in Brooklyn Supreme Court in order to freeze property and financial assets connected to Deluise, Vallario and the nine other suspects.
Deluise’s ring took in $10 million in proceeds and involved using online gambling sites set up offshore, including one called Wagerspot.com, the court documents say. But Deluise, who lives in Hazlet, N.J., and his associates are accused of taking wagers from local bettors over the phone and via text.
Deluise and his associates would collect payments and drop off winnings at Bay Ridge bars and in the parking lot of a Nathan’s restaurant in Dyker Heights, the court documents say.
One of Deluise’s associates, Pasquale Marrone of Bay Ridge, is accused of running a similar illegal-gambling ring connected to Deluise that took in more than $2 million in proceeds.
Vallario, who drives a Cadillac and lives in the Charleston neighborhood of Staten Island, has a history of loan-sharking and mob ties, according to prosecutors.
The Brooklyn DA’s court documents describe Vallario as an associate of the Gambino family.
DA investigators said in the documents that, to avoid detection from law enforcement, Vallario had his son-in-law Stephen Cucich collect payments on the loan from Deluise.
Vallario’s wife, Rosanne, and daughter, Joan Cucich, are accused of facilitating the administrative side of the loan-shark scheme.
Aside from shaking down Deluise, Vallario is believed to have lent money at exorbitant sums to other unnamed victims, according to the court documents.
In 2005, Anthony pleaded guilty to one count of making extortionate extensions of credit in Brooklyn Federal Court. He received two years of probation, court records show.
Before his sentencing in 2005, Anthony asked a judge for leniency, claiming he had a heart condition. At the time, Stephen Cucich wrote a letter to the judge also asking for leniency for his father-in-law.
“In a time where family values seem to be a lost part of society, he has made it a priority that his family will always be together,” Cucich wrote.
Deluise isn't the first person to end up dead after the Brooklyn DA's Office executed a search warrant.