BROOKLYN SUPREME COURT — Four men, including one from the Upper West Side, were indicted and charged with running an internet-based sports gambling ring worth more than a billion dollars, the Brooklyn District Attorney's office announced Thursday.
The operation involved thousands of bettors placing bets on professional and collegiate sporting events, including football, basketball, baseball, hockey and soccer, according to the DA's office. During the 2015 football season, the enterprise took in $927 million in wagers on NFL games alone, and paid up to $200,000 per month to operate its main office in San Jose, Costa Rica.
“The principals of this huge gambling operation — possibly the biggest one ever to be dismantled by a local prosecutor’s office — allegedly moved millions of dollars around the United States and the world and used various tactics to launder these proceeds," Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said.
Arthur Rossi, 66, who lives on West 74th Street, was indicted as a “Master Agent” under the owner and boss of the operation, Gordon Mitchnick, 58, of Crestline, California, prosecutors said. He is accused of managing and controlling a number of agents under him who each had customers who used websites including Wager ABC, The Wager Spot and Hustler 24/7 to make bets on sports games.
Rossi also helped launder money for the gambling operation, according to the indictment.
While bets were made online, the money exchange took place between the clients and the agents, the DA's office said. The defendants laundered money from the enterprise through a number of methods including transporting, transmitting and transferring cash, electronic wire transfers and other financial transactions.
Mitchnick also purchased over 20 houses as a means to launder gambling proceeds, the indictment says.
The case originated from a law enforcement investigation of a local bookie, which led to investigations of the larger players listed in the indictment, according to a law enforcement source.
In January, DNAinfo reported on the apparent suicide of Holmdel, New Jersey, bookie Patrick Deliuse who used Wagerspot.com, one of the websites listed in today’s indictment, to run a $10 million gambling ring. Deluise's death came just days after the Brooklyn DA had executed a search warrant of his home.
In addition to Mitchnick and Rossi, the indictment announced Thursday also listed Joseph Schneider, 39, of La Verne, California, and Claude Ferguson, 43, of Crestline, California.
The Brooklyn DA indicted the four men on 57 counts, including enterprise corruption, first-degree promoting gambling, second-degree possession of gambling records and fifth-degree conspiracy.
They face up to 25 years in prison if convicted, according to prosecutors.
Some of the illegal activities connected with the gambling ring took place in Brooklyn, which gave the Brooklyn DA jurisdiction to prosecute the case.
Additional arrests are expected as part of the investigation, the Brooklyn DA said, but there was no indication of when those people would be taken into custody.