Defendants Allegedly Operated Illegal Off-Shore Gambling Ring And Trapped Victims With High Weekly Usurious Loan Payments
Two Defendants Also Allegedly Sold Tens Of Thousands Of Untaxed Cigarettes In New York State
Schneiderman: No Matter How Complex Or Clever The Scheme, We Will Continue To Work With Our Law Enforcement Partners To Take Down Traditional Organized Crime
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill today announced the arrests and indictment of thirteen individuals on charges stemming from the alleged operation of lucrative loan sharking and gambling activities closely controlled by the Genovese Organized Crime Family.
“Operation Shark Bait” was a long-term investigation into the alleged loan sharking and bookmaking activities of alleged Genovese “made member” Salvatore DeMeo and alleged Genovese ‘associates,’ or ‘non-made’ members, Gennaro Geritano, Eugene Orefice and Anthony “Buckwheat” Giammarino, among others. A series of early morning arrests conducted by Attorney General Schneiderman’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) and the New York City Police Department’s Criminal Enterprise Investigations Section (CEIS), capped a long-term investigation dubbed “Operation Shark Bait.” Based on the evidence obtained throughout the course of the investigation, the Attorney General's Office secured two separate indictments from a Kings County grand jury, charging a total of thirteen individuals on felony charges. The investigation also uncovered a multi-state untaxed cigarette operation.
“Loan sharks shamelessly saddle their victims with outrageous loan rates that are impossible to repay. These defendants allegedly went to great lengths to trap their victims with exorbitant rates, all while evading our gambling laws and taking offshore bets,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “No matter how complex or clever the scheme, we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to take down traditional organized crime.”
“Despite these Genovese members continued attempts to evade detection, our investigation revealed millions in offshore sports betting, lucrative loan sharking, and tax evasion,” said Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill. “My thanks to our detectives and the State Attorney General for their work on this case.”
Throughout the investigation, intercepted conversations revealed the hierarchy and alleged criminal activities of the Genovese crime family enterprise. According to the charges, an illegal sports gambling operation was run through an offshore wire room in Costa Rica – 4Spades.org – that handled wagers on various college and professional sports. This gambling operation generated millions of dollars’ worth of wagers.
In addition to bookmaking, the Enterprise Corruption indictment also charges six defendants in a pattern of loansharking activities whereby victims were charged exorbitant weekly loan rates which effectively created a high cost debt trap upon any individual who received such a loan. The Enterprise Corruption charge alone carries a maximum penalty of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison.
Two defendants, Gennaro Geritano and Mario Leonardi, were also charged in a second indictment which alleges the defendants evaded both state and city excise taxes through a combined sale of more than thirty thousand unlawfully stamped cigarettes within New York City in violation of the New York State Tax Law.
Sales of untaxed cigarettes deprive the state of millions of dollars in lost cigarette tax revenues, hurt law-abiding small businesses, and undercut public health measures designed to discourage smoking. Packs of cigarettes sold in New York City must bear a joint New York City/New York State tax stamp and only a licensed stamping agent can possess and affix the tax stamps on the cigarette packs. Neither Gennaro Geritano nor Mario Leonardi were authorized to sell tobacco products in New York City or New York State.
The defendants charged today are:
- Salvatore DeMeo (76), Brooklyn, NY
- Eugene Orefice (48), Monroe Township, NJ
- Gennaro Geritano (62), Brooklyn, NY
- Anthony Giammarino (65), Brooklyn, NY
- Joseph Tommasino (52), Staten Island, NY
- Thomas Alexiou (55), Brooklyn, NY
- Rocco Maglione (46), Brooklyn, NY
- Windsor Lewis (66), Brooklyn, NY
- Mario Leonardi (76), Odenville, AL
- Vincent Taliercio (65), Brooklyn, NY
- Jackie Charlton (53), Brooklyn, NY
- Michael Epstein (48), Brooklyn, NY
- John Giglio (55), Staten Island, NY
The Attorney General would like to thank Acting Kings County District Attorney Eric Gonzalez for his cooperation in this matter and, additionally, Kip Brailey, Tansey Brent, and John Yaros of the Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes and Enforcement Network (FinCEN) for their assistance throughout this investigation.
The charges against the defendants are merely allegations. All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.