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The New York Police Department (NYPD) arrested 17 individuals for their roles in a mob-run $23m illegal gambling ring on Wednesday (7 June).

According to the 84-count indictment, the individuals are accused of running a number of Staten Island loan sharking and illegal gambling operations.

Prosecutors allege the ring was controlled by members of the Gambino crime family, one of New York’s so-called “Five Families”.

The ring handled more than $22.7m in illegal bets, the prosecutors said, involving an offshore unlicensed gaming site called Ubet1288.com.

Among those arrested were alleged Gambino foot soldiers John J. LaForte, Anthony J. Cinque, Jr., and John Matera, as well as several alleged associates.

New York attorney general Letitia James (pictured) said: “Illegal gambling and loan sharking schemes are some of the oldest rackets in the mob’s playbook.

“While organised 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.”

Alleged mobsters handle $22.7m online

One alleged Gambino associate, Edward LaForte, is accused of having a managerial role within the enterprise.

From September 2022 to March 2023, over 70 bettors wagered approximately $22,753,964 through the ring’s offshore gambling site.

Amy McLaughlin was accused of assisting in maintaining and organising the gambling ring, which involved record keeping, as well as collecting and distributing proceeds.

John LaForte, meanwhile, acted in a supervisory role over the operation, prosecutors said.

The indictment alleges that gamblers betting illegally through the operation would often go into debt.

Members of the operation are said to have responded by offering usurious loans to the gamblers, collecting illegally high interest on the debts.

New York State Gaming Commission chairman Brian O’Dwyer said: “As we have seen for over a century and once again here, illegal bookmaking is often intertwined with organised crime.

“This is why we have regulated gaming with strong safeguards, player protections, and revenue to make our communities better.

“With the numerous legal gambling opportunities available in our state, there is no legitimate reason to wager with offshore operations and blindly line the pockets of alleged gangsters.”

The defendants are charged with multiple crimes including Enterprise Corruption, Criminal Usury in the First Degree and Second Degree and Promoting Gambling in the First Degree.

If they are convicted of Enterprise Corruption, they may face a maximum of 25 years in prison.

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