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N.Y. / Region

Authorities Break Up Illegal Sports Gambling Operations in New York and New Jersey

Published: March 29, 2007

NEWARK, March 28 — The authorities in New York and New Jersey said on Wednesday that they had broken up two separate illegal Internet gambling operations, arresting more than 60 people, including two former New York City police officers.

The New Jersey operation brought in revenues of more than $500 million over the last 18 months, officials said, and the New York outfit generated more than $30 million in the last 10 months

In separate announcements just days before the Final Four of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s men’s basketball tournament, annually one of the nation’s hottest betting events, the police in both states said they had dealt a considerable blow to local sports gambling operations.

In each case, the authorities said, the operations included wagers on football, basketball, baseball, hockey, horse racing, golf and tennis. Both relied on separate Web sites based in Costa Rica. Both operations mixed state-of-the-art technology with traditional, street-level bookmaking techniques, like using “runners” to bring bets to the boss.

“This is not a storefront operation, this is not a mom-and-pop operation,” said Luis A. Valentin, the Monmouth County prosecutor, who, in conjunction with the New Jersey State Police, announced the arrests of 47 people and warrants for a dozen others. “You’re talking about an operation that is sophisticated, that is competitive and that is dealing in considerable amounts of money.”

In Queens, the district attorney, Richard A. Brown, said his investigators and the New York State Police had made 17 arrests — including the two former police officers, a postal worker and a stockbroker.

Since they began monitoring the Queens operation in January 2006, investigators tapped a half-dozen telephones, intercepting roughly 50,000 conversations and tracking the activity in a computer.

The authorities said bets were placed through a so-called wire room in Costa Rica, which runners reached either by calling a toll-free telephone number or logging onto a Web site, 50ksports.com.

Mr. Brown said visitors to the site created individual accounts where their wagers, wins and losses were compiled.

A former New York City police officer, John Kinahan, 56, of Dix Hills, Long Island, was arrested and charged with leading the Queens operation. Investigators said that Mr. Kinahan, the manager of a nightclub in Long Island City, oversaw the operation while his wife, Virginia, managed its day-to-day operations.

The authorities said that Mrs. Kinahan kept track of information about wagers and runners and that she would even mediate disputes involving bettors. A second former city police officer, John Morrissey, 43, of Commack, Long Island, was a so-called distributor in the operation, supervising a group of runners, the authorities said.

Runners, the authorities said, would act as the go-betweens for bettors and distributors — ferrying money to winning bettors or collecting debts for distributors.

Also arrested in the Queens operation were Timothy O’Connell, a stockbroker at Merrill Lynch, and Glenn Mulhern, a postal worker, who, officials said, would place bets at a Long Island post office.

The structure of the New Jersey operation was similar, the authorities said, but with larger sums of money.

From August 2005 to last month, Mr. Valentin said, more than $500 million in wagers were made, and the organizers of the scheme netted about $35 million in profit. The police seized more than $2 million in cash while making arrests in the case on Wednesday, and $300,000 more was taken by freezing the bank accounts of those involved.

“In any gambling operation they say, ‘The house never loses,’ ” Mr. Valentin said. “These are large amounts of money.”

The authorities also seized 15 vehicles, including a 28-foot Thunderbird yacht worth an estimated $130,000.

Joseph Pasquale, 51, of Mantoloking, Richard Crossan, 48, of Hillsborough, and Ralph Santoro, 52, of Bridgewater, were arrested and charged with leading the operation.

“We believe that we have dealt a forceful blow to the heart of this operation,” Mr. Valentin said. “This is just the beginning of our prosecution of this case.”

Thomas J. Lueck contributed reporting from New York.

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