Chicago Sweepstakes Operator Sees Extortion Charges Dropped After Mistrial

Posted on: March 25, 2024, 08:22h. 

Last updated on: March 26, 2024, 09:08h.

Federal Prosecutors in Chicago dropped extortion charges against two reputedly mobbed-up figures on Monday following a tumultuous mistrial earlier this month, as first reported by The Chicago Tribune.

Gene Cassano, Gino Cassano, Chicago Outfit, Elmwood Park Crew
Gene Cassano arriving in court for an extortion trial that was ultimately abandoned when someone mentioned “organized crime.” Federal prosecutors dropped charges against Cassaino and associate Gioacchino Galione on Monday. (Image: Chicago Tribune)

Sweepstakes operator Gene “Gino” Cassano, 55, and his associate Gioacchino “Jack” Galione, 47, were on trial accused of conspiring to collect a debt by extortionate means. Additionally, Galione was charged with using violence to collect a debt.

This was in connection to the alleged shaking down and beating up of drug trafficker Luigi Mucerino, who was assaulted in Galione’s garage on Aug. 1, 2016. Prosecutors claimed Mucerino had borrowed $10K from Cassano, which he failed to pay back in a timely fashion, leading to his roughing up.

Defense lawyers didn’t deny that Galione broke Mucerino’s nose and shattered more than a dozen bones in his face. But they did deny that he did this under Cassano’s orders for the purpose of extortion.

Don’t Mention the Mafia

The trial collapsed spectacularly last month after FBI Special Agent David Patch inadvertently testified that his job involved investigating “organized crime matters.”

This caused US District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman to halt proceedings and declare a mistrial. That was because the phrase could prejudice the jury against the two defendants.

Lawyers for Cassano and Galione accused prosecutors of “attempting to find ways to inject organized crime gloss to this case from the jump.”

The charges against the pair were part of a wider federal investigation into the Chicago Outfit’s Elmwood Park and Grand Avenue street crews, according to court documents. It was focused particularly on two of the Outfit’s main revenue streams; gambling and prostitution.

As part of the investigation, the FBI had been wiretapping organized crime figures within the Outfit since 2016. Targets included a relative of reputed Elmwood Park capo and Mob bookmaker Joseph “Joe Gags” Gagliano, according to the Tribune.

The late Marco “The Mover” D’Amico was also a focus of the investigation. D’Amico died in 2020 at age 84. It’s believed he headed up the Outfit’s illegal sports betting operations for decades.

Offshore Sports Betting Ops

Cassano had at one time been a bookie, according to the testimonies of several somewhat reluctant witnesses at the trial, but he also operated legitimate businesses.

Federal wiretaps recorded Cassano in conversation with other members of an alleged offshore online sports betting operation, according to court documents.

Federal prosecutors didn’t give a specific reason for dropping the charges Friday, although defense lawyers indicated they would file a motion to dismiss the case on double jeopardy grounds had it proceeded.