An illegal gambling ring involving a New York crime family has been busted by a sting operation, resulting in the arrests of five people. They have been charged for allegedly operating an illegal gambling business that have had suspected ties to the Lucchese crime family for at least 15 years.
A federal court in Brooklyn unsealed a document that stated four of the defendants were arrested at their residences in the New York area. A fifth was arrested in Florida.
The Department of Justice has alleged that one person arrested in this operation was a Lucchese crime family ‘soldier,’ the 51-year-old Anthony Villani. The Lucchese is part of the La Cosa Nostra, which is composed of several syndicates, further subdivided into ‘families.’ It is known for its connections with the Sicilian mafia.
US Attorney Breon Peace commented: “As alleged, this conduct demonstrates how members of La Cosa Nostra engaged in illegal gambling operations and money laundering money-marking schemes that led to threats of violence against anyone who stands in their way and has resulted in millions of dollars in profits to the Lucchese crime family. These charges illustrate this office’s continued commitment to rooting La Cosa Nostra out of New York."
Villani is facing charges centered around money laundering and, specifically, illegal gambling. As well as money laundering and attempted extortion charges for his alleged affiliation to a fraudulent online gambling enterprise called Rhino Sports.
Records obtained from the Rhino Sports website indicate that Villani’s illegal gambling operation regularly took bets from 400-1,300 bettors each week, a majority of whom were based in New York City. It was hosted online using offshore servers in Costa Rica and employed local bookmakers to deal with cash winnings, according to the DOJ.
Villani was personally believed to receive over $1m annually from the illicit business. James Coumoutsos, 59; Dennis Filizzola, 58; Michael Praino, 44; and Louis Tucci, Jr., 59, are the other four defendants.