Genovese Capo and Associates Among 14 Charged in Racketeering Conspiracy
May 22, 2012
NEWARK, N.J. – Thirteen individuals, including one alleged member of the Genovese organized crime family and 12 members and associates of its LaScala Crew, were charged today in connection with an illegal,
on-line gambling operation, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
The defendants are charged with racketeering conspiracy in a Complaint unsealed this morning in conjunction with arrests in the case.
Two defendants remain at large. A fourteenth defendant is charged with transmission of wagering information. The defendants are scheduled to make their initial appearances later today before U.S. Magistrate
Judge Mark S. Falk in Newark federal court. “The acts alleged in this criminal complaint show that traditional organized crime continues to pursue its bread and butter – illegal gambling, loan-sharking and
cargo theft,” U.S. Attorney Fishman said. “The new wrinkle here is the use of off-shore sites and the Internet for processing bets. Law enforcement will use countermeasures that are just as sophisticated to
bring these criminal enterprises to justice.”.
“Today's arrests serve as a stark reminder that traditional organized crime continues to operate in New Jersey,” FBI Special Agent
in Charge Ward said. “Bookmaking, loan-sharking, cargo thefts, and illegal gambling in social clubs are the staples by which organized crime funds further criminal activity. The use of Internet gambling and
off shore locales demonstrates an evolution and increased sophistication, but the threat of force or violence to serve their purpose remains the same, as does the negative impact of organized crime on the
citizens of this state.”
According to the Complaint unsealed this morning in Newark federal court:
The Genovese Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra operated out of smaller groups, sometimes referred to as “crews,” that operated in northern
New Jersey and elsewhere. Each crew was headed by a “captain,” “capo,” or “skipper.” Each captain’s crew consisted of “soldiers” and “associates.” The captain was responsible for supervising the criminal
activities of his crew and providing the crew with support and protection. In return, the captain often received a share of the crew’s earnings.
Joseph Lascala, 80, of Monroe, N.J., was a “capo” and a made member of the Genovese Crime Family, directing various criminal activities
of a group of associates referred to in the Complaint as the “Lascala Crew.” These activities included the theft of goods and cargo, the receipt of stolen property in interstate commerce, extortion,
illegal gambling, and the collection of unlawful debt.
Members and associates of the Lascala Crew and others, together with individuals that own and operate the website Beteagle.com (“Website”),
used the Website to profit through the operation of an illegal gambling business that operated in northern New Jersey and elsewhere.
High-level associates of the Lascala Crew acted as “agents” of an illegal gambling business that was operated through the Website. Before
the advent of computerized betting, these agents would be referred to as “bookmakers” or “bookies.” Through the use of a username and password, the agents accessed the Website and tracked the bets or wagers
placed by their bettors. This “electronic portfolio” was referred to as the agent’s “package.” The agent also had the ability, through the Website, to create packages for sub-agents. Sub-agents, who also were
members or associates of the Lascala Crew, operated under the agent, maintained their own bettors, had access to the Website related to their package, and were required to share their profits with the agent
and ultimately, Lascala.
Bettors first received a username and password from the agent or sub-agent, which could be used to place bets. The bettor, however, did
not use a credit card to either access the Website or to pay gambling losses or to receive gambling winnings. The bettor usually was assigned or chose a player name, such as “Shark,” “Colt,” or “Ace.” The
agent or sub-agent also established a betting limit for each bettor. The bettor used his or her user name and password to place bets through the Website or over the telephone.
The Website was maintained in Costa Rica and referred to as the “office.” Although the Website was maintained in Costa Rica, the bettors
either paid money for losses or received money for winnings from the agent, his sub-agent, or their co-conspirators in New Jersey. If a bettor was unable or unwilling to repay gambling losses, then the agent
or sub-agent converted these losses in debts that the bettor was required to repay. The agent or sub-agent often tacked exorbitant amounts of interest onto these debts and they used extortionate means to
collect these debts, including the express or veiled threat that the agent, sub-agent, or their co-conspirators had the backing of the Genovese Crime Family.
After the agent obtained money, usually in the form of cash, from his sub-agents or directly from the bettors, the agent kept a portion
of the cash for himself and then distributed the remainder of the money, through intermediaries, to others, including members and associates of the Lascala Crew and the individuals who owned and maintained
The Lascala Crew, in confederation with the Website, directed, coached, assisted, and caused bettors in New Jersey and elsewhere to place
wagers on sporting events and contests, such as football.
The Complaint details a recorded conversation wherein defendant Joseph Graziano describes the operation:
“You’re in the wrong business now, you know? . . . . You should be in the sports business. . . . They’re gonna build it up to, like,
[expletive] no end. . . . I call the kid up. In the office down there, I’m really proud of him. I mean, he has 50 phones in his [expletive] place. . . . And, it’s nice, it’s like an auction. . . .”
The Lascala Crew also profits by operating social clubs in northern New Jersey and elsewhere. At these social clubs, members of the
Lascala Crew profit through card games and other illegal games of chance.
The Complaint also charges that the Lascala Crew engages in cargo theft and the receipt and sale of stolen goods in interstate commerce,
which stolen goods the members of the Lascala Crew refer to as S.W.A.G. (Stolen Without a Gun).
The defendants named in the Complaint are listed in the attached document.
Each of the defendants, with the exception of defendant Kenneth Baran, is charged with Racketeering Conspiracy in violation of Title 18,
United States Code, Section 1962(d). This count carries a maximum term of twenty years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
Defendant Ken Baran is charged with Transmission of Wagering Information, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1084 and
Section 2. This count carries a maximum term of two years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
The charges and allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward in Newark; the Special
Investigations Unit of the Bayonne Police Department, under the direction of Chief Robert Kubert; special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge JoAnn S. Zuniga;
the N.J. State Police, under the direction of Col. Rick Fuentes; and the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Peter E. Warshaw, with the investigation leading to today’s arrests.
He also thanked the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the N.J. State Commission of Investigation, for their significant contributions to the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anthony Moscato and Serina M. Vash of the Organized Crime/Gangs Unit in Newark.
The defendants named in the Complaint are listed here:
A copy of the Complaint is attached.