Genovese Crime Family Reputed Associate Vincent Coppola Pleads Guilty to Charge on Illegal Betting

Posted on: May 3, 2019, 09:04h. 

Last updated on: May 3, 2019, 12:24h.

Vincent Coppola — who authorities link to the Genovese crime family — has pleaded guilty for his alleged role in running illegal offshore sports gambling activities out of New Jersey, that were uncovered in a wider investigation.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that five defendants, including Vincent Coppola, linked to the Genovese crime family, pleaded guilty to charges this week. (Image: WABC TV)

Coppola, 42, of Union City, New Jersey, was part of a network of reputed Genovese associates who ran the scheme, authorities said. The operation also used a wire room in Costa Rica where bets were processed, according to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal.

On Wednesday, Coppola pleaded guilty to a single count of third-degree promoting gambling. Prosecutors in Morristown Superior Court want him to be sentenced to 180 days in jail, followed by probation.

Coppola allegedly was an “agent” who managed sub-agents or package holders, each of whom had a “package” of bettors under him.

Agents typically decide which bettors can open accounts and gamble. They are given access to the operation’s website and toll-free phone number.

They also routinely decide how much a bettor can gamble per game and per week. Agents also monitor the action and balances of the packages they oversee.

Coppola allegedly supervised sub-agents John W. Trainor, 44, of Brick, N.J., and Jerry J. Albanese, 48, of Scotch Plains, officials said. Eventually, Coppola gave the subagents more control of the bettors in their packages.

Coppola’s packages allegedly handled more than $1.7 million in bets in 2011 alone. The operation allegedly made more than $400,000 in profits that year.

Coppola is the son of imprisoned Genovese “capo” Michael Coppola, New Jersey officials said. A capo typically has higher rank in an organized crime family.

Coppola’s History of Illness

In 2014, Vincent Coppola sat in a wheelchair as he appeared in Superior Court in Morristown, on earlier charges, via closed-circuit television due to illness, according to Authorities said he spent six weeks at Morristown Medical Center that year for treatment of the undisclosed ailment.

Back then, he also claimed to meet the financial requirements to have a judge appoint a public defender. Defendants in New Jersey are given a public defender based on income and assets as well as their expenses and debts.

Coppola also told court officials he had a son who was diagnosed with autism and needed parental help.

Related Check-Cashing Operation

Four other defendants –- each from New Jersey — also pleaded guilty in Morristown court this week to related criminal schemes that generated millions of dollars through illegal loansharking, unlicensed check cashing and money laundering. Much of the revenue was collected and allegedly laundered through licensed and unlicensed check-cashing businesses in Newark.

The defendants are identified as: Domenick Pucillo, 61, of Florham Park; Robert Spagnola, 71, of Morganville; Vito Alberti, 60, of Morristown; and Manuel Rodriguez, 53, of Chatham.

Each of the five defendants is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 20, 2019.

When those involved in traditional organized crime engage in schemes such as loansharking and illegal gambling, they profit at the expense of victims who are struggling with debt, gambling problems, and other issues,” Attorney General Grewal said in a statement.

“By prosecuting the men who ran these schemes and putting key defendants behind bars, we send a message that we will not tolerate these corrosive criminal activities that harm individuals, families and society as a whole.”

The schemes were scrutinized in an inquiry dubbed “Operation Fistful,” which was investigated by authorities from both New Jersey and New York.

The five defendants were indicted by a grand jury in 2016 after jurors heard evidence connected with racketeering allegations.

In 2016, 13 associates of the Genovese crime family were arrested as part of another inquiry, “Operation Shark Bait,” which involved millions of dollars in bets through a wire room, also in Costa Rica.

The Genovese crime family was led by Vito Genovese between 1957 and 1969. More recently, authorities suspect it is being led by Liborio Bellomo. Authorities trace its roots to a crime family led by Charles “Lucky” Luciano.