Former NYPD Cop Among 17 Indicted in New York Mafia Gambling, Extortion Racket

Posted on: June 6, 2024, 06:20h. 

Last updated on: June 7, 2024, 09:09h.

Seventeen people have been charged for their alleged involvement in a Mafia-linked gambling and loansharking operation on Staten Island, New York, according to an indictment unsealed Wednesday.

Fred Falcone Sr, John LaForte, Anthony Cinque, and John Matera, Gambino, Mafia, New York, Letitia James, Staten Island
Fresh from prosecuting the Trump Organization, Letitia James, above, sets her sights on an alleged Gambino syndicate, which has been up to traditional New York Mafia stuff — illegal gambling and extortionate loansharking. (Image: CNBC)

Among the defendants are a former NYPD officer, a mobbed-up pizza restaurateur, and numerous reputed members and associates of the Gambino crime family.

Heading the operation were alleged Gambino soldiers John LaForte, Anthony Cinque, and John Matera, prosecutors claim. Also named in the indictment are alleged Gambino associates Edward LaForte, Frederick Falcone, Sr., Giulio Pomponio, Daniel Bogan, and alleged Colombo associate Charles Fusco.

Gambino Cop?

An ex-cop, Falcone’s role was to manage the books, meticulously keeping track of who owed which exorbitant debt.

Falcone retired from the police force in 1992. In 1980, his patrol partner was Joseph Esposito who later became Chief of the New York City Police Department. Esposito died in January 2024.

Edward Laforte, brother to John Laforte, managed the sports betting enterprise, using an offshore price-per-head website, according to prosecutors.

Several of those charged were “sheetholders,” whose role was to collect gambler’s bets and debts.

Often, the gamblers who were wagering illegally through these sheetholders would fall into debt and the members of this criminal enterprise would exploit this opportunity by providing a usurious loan and charging and collecting illegally high interest on these loans, making a profit off of a gambler who had fallen into debt,” prosecutors said.

The operation handled more than $22.7 million in bets and generated weekly interest of around $500K worth of usurious loans. Investigators used wiretaps, covert surveillance, and offshore gambling site warrants to collect evidence against the group.

‘Slice of Pizza’

Members would meet to discuss business at the Eltingville Shopping Center and the Greenridge Shopping Center on Staten Island, according to prosecutors. Edward LaForte would often leave proceeds from the operation at Frank and Danny’s Pizzeria in the Eltingville Shopping Center, which was owned by Bogan.

“Stopping over for a slice of pizza” was a euphemism used by the group for distributing the spoils, according to wiretaps.

Illegal gambling and loan sharking schemes are some of the oldest rackets in the mob’s playbook,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James, who recently successfully prosecuted the Trump Organization for fraud, said in a statement Wednesday.

“While organized crime may still be active in New York, today we are putting several Gambino family members out of business. These criminal enterprises took tens of millions of dollars from New Yorkers and trapped many in dangerous amounts of debt,” James added.

The charges, detailed in an 84-count indictment, include enterprise corruption, promoting gambling, criminal usury, and conspiracy.