Prosecutors filed Wednesday that a Brooklyn-based illegal online gambling company was allegedly protected by the Lucchese Crime Family and offered bettors “twisted services.” Their policy was to “Do what they say or face terrifying consequences.”
James “Quick” Coumoutsos emerges from a Brooklyn courtroom.
According to the US Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District New York, this is the truth. It sealed Wednesday’s indictment against five defendants in connection with “Rhino Sport”.
It was a bookmaking business that charged a price per head. The alleged owner of this “price-perhead” business was Anthony Villani (57).
Villani has been arrested for gambling offenses since 1988. According to the indictment, he switched to digital technology in 2004.
Rhino Sports operated from 1996 to 2020. It was used by approximately 400-1,000 gamblers per week, with most of them based in New York City.
What’s Price-Per-Head Bookmaking?
The New York Mafia’s steady revenue sources are extortion and illegal gambling. In recent years, however, the Mob has moved its street-corner bookmaking operations online.
The “price per head” bookmaking model involves agents-bookmakers who provide passwords and usernames to customers that allow them to access offshore sites where they can place wagers.
Online transactions do not allow for financial transactions. However, the site stores and tracks details about bets. Many offshore sites are located in Costa Rica where they are legal. This was also the case for Rhino Sports.
Agents collect and pay the money. Indebted gamblers often get “persuaded,” by Mafia loan sharks, to borrow money at high rates of interest to continue gambling.
According to prosecutors, Villani’s bookmaker agents included associates and members of the Lucchese crime families and other La Cosa Nostra family families.
The indictment also names Louis “Tooch”, Jr., 59 and Dennis Filizzola (58), who were agents “muscle” collecting money from customers.
James “Quick”, 59, and Michael “Platinum”, 44 are both described in court papers as “significant bookmakers” and “moneymakers for the company.”
The FBI wiretapped Villani in 2020 as the pandemic erupted. The Lucchese made man was heard discussing the idea of diversifying inro gaming instead sports betting, at a time when most sports had been canceled.
Villani and his co-defendants were charged with racketeering for their involvement in criminal schemes. These include illegal gambling, money laundering and attempted extortion.
“As alleged,” stated US Attorney Breon peace.
He said, “These charges demonstrate this Office’s ongoing commitment to rooting out La Cosa Nostra from New York.”
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