Illegal Gambling Site Ubet1288 Tied to Gambino Crime Family in New York Indictment

New York State authorities have issued an indictment linking 17 alleged ‘soldiers’ and associates of the Gambino crime family to a loansharking operation and an illegal offshore gambling site known as ubet1288. The 84-count indictment details activities that investigators say occurred across Staten Island and New Jersey between July 2021 and June 2023.

The complaint, filed in the New York Supreme Court, alleges Gambino crime family soldiers John LaForte, Anthony Cinque, and John Matera oversaw the “criminal enterprise.”

However, daily operations allegedly fell mainly to suspected Gambino associate Edward LaForte, according to the filing. Further, the indictment also named former New York police officer Frederick P. Falcone Sr. and alleged Colombo crime family associate Charles Fusco among those involved.

The filing states, among other things, that between September 2022 and March 2023, the operation earned nearly $23 million in illegal bets from 70 bettors. Notably, authorities say the gambling ring placed bets using Edward LaForte’s master agent account with ubet1288.com, the illicit offshore gambling site.

Offshore Operators Often Court Criminal Activity

Ubet1288 is registered in Costa Rica, which has a reputation as a “rubber stamp jurisdiction” for online gambling. It provides no oversight of the operations it licenses, meaning many of the worst actors in offshore gambling operate under its flag.

The indictment shines a light on the typically unsavory behavior of many offshore gambling sites.

New York legalized sports betting in 2013 and introduced its online counterpart in January 2022. However, the regulated market has failed to end all illegal competition.

For those who continue to choose illegal operators, it’s often because those sites allow options that regulated books cannot, like betting on credit.

It’s also worth noting that ubet1288 offers sports betting and online casino games. Despite multiple attempts by lawmakers, online casino gambling remains illegal in New York. So, unable to provide a full-service experience, New York’s legal online sportsbooks operate at a disadvantage.

AG: Loan Sharking, Illegal Gambling Long Tied to Mob

New York Attorney General Letitia James detailed the case against the defendants in a lengthy media release issued on June 5. In addition to the bookmaking accusations, James accused Frederick Falcone Sr. and Edward LaForte of operating a parallel illegal loansharking operation. According to investigators, that operation collected weekly loan payments on approximately $500,000 in usurious loans.

Further, authorities charged four individuals in a separate indictment for an illegal mortgage fraud scheme involving a $600,000 home in New Jersey.

Illegal gambling and loan sharking schemes are some of the oldest rackets in the mob’s playbook, Attorney General James said.

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. I thank all of our partners in law enforcement for their collaboration in this investigation to bring these individuals to justice and keep New Yorkers safe.

Arrests Result of Multi-Agency Investigation

Notably, the charges resulted from a joint operation between the Attorney General’s office, the New York City Police Department (NYPD), the New York Waterfront Commission, and the United States Department of Labor Office of Inspector General.

Authorities used court-authorized bugs, wiretaps, and covert video surveillance to make their case. Investigators also collected evidence thanks to search warrants targeting the illegal offshore gambling site and the residences of multiple defendants.

Targeted individuals face various charges, including:

  • Enterprise corruption
  • Criminal usury in the first and second degree, and
  • Promoting gambling in the first degree.

If convicted of enterprise corruption, considered a Class B felony, the defendants face a maximum 25-year sentence.

Separately, those targeted in the mortgage-related indictment are charged with residential mortgage fraud in the second and third degree and falsifying a business record in the first degree. If convicted of residential mortgage fraud in the second degree, the defendants could serve up to 15 years for the C-Class Felony.

Twenty Charged in Two Indictments

Defendants named in the 84-count indictment:

  1. John J. LaForte, 56, of Monmouth County, New Jersey
  2. Anthony J. Cinque, Jr., 39, Richmond County, New York
  3. John Matera, 53, Monmouth County, New Jersey
  4. Edward A. LaForte, 58, Richmond County, New York
  5. Frederick Falcone, Sr., 66, Richmond County, New York
  6. Giulio Pomponio, 61, Richmond County, New York
  7. Charles Fusco, 49, Richmond County, New York
  8. Daniel F. Bogan, 41, Richmond County, New York
  9. Robert W. Carter, 56, Richmond County, New York
  10. Louis A. Palombo, 61, Richmond County, New York
  11. Arthur Geller, 62, Ocean County, New Jersey
  12. Daniel M. Scarabaggio, 62, Ocean County, New Jersey
  13. Daniel H. Shah, 38, Hudson County, New Jersey
  14. Vincent J. Ricciardi, 59, Ocean County, New Jersey
  15. Amy L. McLaughlin, 44, Richmond County, New York
  16. James Miranda, 23, Richmond County, New York
  17. Frederick Falcone, Jr., 41, Richmond County, New York

Authorities also charged John J. LaForte in the mortgage scam alongside a trio of alleged coconspirators:

  1. Tracy Alfano, 38, Monmouth County, New Jersey
  2. Joseph W. LaForte, Jr., 34, Richmond County, New York
  3. John Palladino, 54, Monmouth County, New Jersey

Importantly, the Attorney General also noted:

The charges against the defendants are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

According to Bonus’s sister site, Legal Sports Report, the defendants will next appear in court on August 13.

About the Author

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil (she/they) is a Nova Scotia-based writer and editor, and a lead writer at Bonus. Here she focuses on news relevant to online casinos, while specializing in responsible gambling coverage, legislative developments, gambling regulations, and industry-related legal fights.
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