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andrew micali sports betting
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п»ї23 Are Charged With Illegal Sports Betting at Borgata Casino in Atlantic City.
ATLANTIC CITY, Nov. 14 — It was just another Wednesday at the cavernous Poker Room in Atlantic City’s poshest casino, the Borgata. The cocktail waitresses were gliding around in economical black dresses and the dealers were holding court at packed tables. No one was paying any attention to the television monitors tuned to CNN.
Had they sneaked a peek, they would have seen a familiar image: the Poker Room.
For the better part of the last two years, law-enforcement officials say, the Poker Room has been home to an illegal betting ring on college and professional football and basketball that raked in $22 million, right under the noses of myriad cameras and agents from the Casino Control Commission and the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.
And on Wednesday, State Attorney General Anne Milgram announced that 23 people В— including 4 men with alleged ties to organized crime in Philadelphia and 2 floor supervisors at the Borgata В— had been charged with a variety of offenses.
In an indication of how complex the operation was, law enforcement officials said that the ring relied on two wire rooms in Philadelphia and involved perhaps hundreds of bettors. They said the ringleader, Andrew Micali, an unemployed 32-year-old from Ventnor with ties to the Merlino crime family, was a regular at the Poker Room.
The investigation marks the third time in the last year that state or federal authorities in New Jersey have cracked an illegal sports betting ring. One involved a former National Hockey League coach and player, Rick Tocchet, who later pleaded guilty.
Another centered on an Internet gambling ring and ensnared Rudy Garcia, a former assemblyman from Hudson County, who has pleaded not guilty.
But law enforcement officials said the announcement was noteworthy because it was the first time they could recall anyone with alleged organized crime ties being charged with illegal gambling in Atlantic City.
“They greatly underestimated our vigilance and determination to keep organized crime out of Atlantic City’s casinos,” Ms. Milgram said.
Ms. Milgram emphasized that the Borgata’s management had cooperated in the investigation from the outset, and that the betting ring had not compromised any of the legal poker games.
“The responsibility lies with those folks who allowed themselves to be corrupted,” said Capt. Al Della Fave, a spokesman for the State Police. “It all comes down to greed.”
Law enforcement officials said they began their investigation, called “Operation High Roller,” based on a tip received in March 2006. Relying on video surveillance and other techniques, they determined that illegal gamblers were told whom to place bets with in the Poker Room. The two wire rooms in Philadelphia then handled the bets.
The casino employees who participated in the ring ignored exchanges of cash and casino chips to skirt financial reporting requirements, they said.
“There were transactions by the defendants using casino chips, in a way that would allow them to hide the proceeds of their criminal activity,” Ms. Milgram said. “Or, to say it more bluntly, taking cash, turning it into chips, washing the chips through some of the process by either betting or being involved with other bettors, and then taking the money, getting it out.”
Those who lost, she added, were forced to take out loans at interest rates exceeding 50 percent, violating state law.
In all, 5 people were arrested on Wednesday and 18 were issued summonses, on charges of promoting gambling, money laundering and criminal usury. Investigators said they found more than $40,000 in Borgata chips and cash in Mr. Micali’s safe deposit box at the casino, and that they seized gambling records, a laptop computer and a loaded .357-caliber semiautomatic handgun at his home.
The state Casino Control Commission is expected to discipline the six casino employees who were charged, and it is likely that their licenses will be revoked, said Daniel Heneghan, a spokesman for the commission.
Rob Stillwell, a spokesman for the Borgata, said that the casino had done everything it could to ensure that its gambling operations were not tainted.
But Wednesday’s announcement was likely to be a reminder of just how skittish New Jersey has always been about the specter of organized crime in the casinos.
When the state authorized legalized casino gambling in Atlantic City in 1977, Gov. Brendan T. Byrne said: “I’ve said it before and I will repeat it again to organized crime: Keep your filthy hands off Atlantic City. Keep the hell out of our state!”


Two men get prison in A.C. gambling ring.
MAYS LANDING, N.J. - It was one of the longest winning streaks in Atlantic City casino history.
For nearly 20 months, investigators say, Jack Buscemi Jr., 51, and Andrew Micali, 33, turned the high-stakes poker lounge of the Borgata Casino Hotel & Spa into their cash cow, walking away with an estimated $2 million in winnings.
Problem was, their game wasn't poker. It was bookmaking. Illegal sports betting.
Yesterday, the two cashed out.
Buscemi and Micali each were sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison by Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Michael Donio, who called their operation "highly organized" and extremely profitable.
Authorities say the bookmaking ring, which included wire rooms in Philadelphia and ties to computerized offshore betting establishments, generated about $60 million in wagers during a 20-month period that began in 2006.
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Investigators with the New Jersey State Police also allege that Buscemi, Micali, and several of their associates engaged in loan-sharking and money-laundering. The operation produced about $2 million in profits for the two lead defendants, officials said.
Buscemi, Micali, and about 20 others were arrested in November 2007 after a two-year investigation by the state police, dubbed Operation High Roller.
Authorities say the ring had ties to organized crime, but Donio said yesterday that he did not find that in the evidence provided by the Attorney General's Office.
"This type of gambling activity is, in my view, simply a crime of greed," Donio said.
The judge said that leadership roles played by Buscemi and Micali warranted the maximum prison sentences he imposed.
One reputed mob figure, suspected hitman Anthony Nicodemo, 37, of South Philadelphia, was charged in the investigation. He is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to conspiracy.
While the judge may not have adopted the view of state investigators who said the operation was mob-linked, he did endorse their description of the gambling ring as highly organized, extremely lucrative, and audacious.
The case was built around wiretaps, video surveillance, and informant testimony.
Much of it focused on Micali, who allegedly ran the day-to-day operations in the poker lounge.
A former South Philadelphia resident who now lives in Ventnor, Micali literally set up shop there, authorities said.
He would sit at a poker table with stacks of money - chips and cash - in front of him and use a laptop to track games and betting lines.
Video-surveillance cameras, they said, followed him as he settled up with gamblers who had won or lost. Micali also maintained a safety deposit box in the casino where he kept cash, they said.
Neither Buscemi, of Mullica Hill, nor Micali was questioned about the operation yesterday. Both entered guilty pleas several months ago.
Buscemi, described by authorities as one of the biggest bookmakers in the Philadelphia area, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money-laundering. He was charged with being the leader of the gambling operation.
Micali, who pleaded guilty to loan-sharking, was accused of managing the enterprise.
Buscemi also was ordered to pay slightly more than $50,000 in fines and forfeitures. The forfeitures included a 2002 Chrysler automobile seized during the investigation.
Micali was assessed $125,000 in fines and forfeitures.
Each was led away in handcuffs to begin serving his sentence in state prison.
Officials with the Borgata cooperated in the investigation, in which two former casino workers were also charged.
In comments before he was sentenced, Micali asked the judge for leniency for his codefendants, who he said were friends and, in some cases, like family to him.
He did not plead for leniency in his own case.
"My mom always said that if you do something wrong, you have to deal with the consequences," he said, his voice cracking. "Today I'm here to deal with the consequences."
Micali's mother and girlfriend were among those arrested when the case broke. Charges against them have been substantially downgraded.
Six minor defendants were sentenced to probation by Donio during a series of related hearings in his third-floor courtroom. All pleaded guilty to promoting gambling and were placed on three years' probation.
Those sentenced were Matthew Zambanini, 29, of Hockessin, Del., and William DePena, 40, John Findlay, 32, Dominic Grande, 29, and brothers Joseph Baldino Jr., 25, and Frank Baldino, 22, all of Philadelphia.
Frank Baldino was also sentenced to 150 hours of community service.
The others were sentenced to from 90 to 270 days in the Atlantic County Jail, but can work off the time by periodically reporting for a jail-run community work program as long as they maintain permanent employment.
The judge also imposed fines ranging from $3,000 to $6,000 on those defendants.
To date, 13 defendants in the case have been sentenced. Five others are awaiting sentencing.


Mob tape may play role at sentencing.
It was a wiseguy lesson in street-corner economics, a how-to-succeed-in-business speech that you won't hear at the Wharton School.
Reputed mob soldier Anthony Nicodemo was explaining about the "sharks" and the "lions" and the "lambs" to bookmaker Andrew Micali, who was running an illegal multimillion-dollar sports-betting operation out of the poker room of the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City.
Nicodemo, 36, "exercised leadership authority" over the $60 million betting enterprise, according to New Jersey authorities who used the secretly recorded 13-minute conversation to support that allegation in a gambling indictment. He faces sentencing this week for his role in the operation.
"I'm always in your corner, so you don't have to worry about no sharks at all," said Nicodemo, apparently referring to unnamed individuals who were trying to get a piece of Micali's action.
"You don't have to worry about no one. Anyone comes up, it could be . . . John Gotti's son could come up to ya, anybody. I don't give a -."
His voice rising, Nicodemo then told Micali to contact him at his real estate office on Federal Street in South Philadelphia if anyone caused a problem.
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"Anyone in . . . the world's atmosphere comes up to you, come to 1246 Federal St."
The conversation was recorded March 5, 2007, as part of a New Jersey State Police investigation dubbed Operation High Roller. Investigators used court-authorized wiretaps to record hundreds of conversations during the 20-month probe.
Last April, 24 defendants, including Nicodemo and Micali, were indicted on gambling, money-laundering, and loan-sharking charges. Most have pleaded guilty.
In February, Micali, 33, and Jack Buscemi Jr., 51, the leaders of the operation, were sentenced to five years in prison.
Nicodemo, who has pleaded guilty to a gambling conspiracy charge, is to appear Thursday before Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Michael Donio. He could get up to three years in prison.
Authorities are expected to point to the conversation with Micali to argue that the bookmaking ring was tied to the mob and that Nicodemo was the organization's point man.
The investigation also has shed light on an ongoing FBI investigation that is believed to target Nicodemo and reputed South Philadelphia mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi.
A State Police affidavit in the Borgata case states that the FBI considers Nicodemo a "prime suspect" in the gangland murder of John "Johnny Gongs" Casasanto in 2003.
It is one of three unsolved mob hits included in an ongoing FBI racketeering probe.
The phone call also provided an underworld perspective on the never-ending game of cat-and-mouse that pits law enforcement against wiseguys and their associates.
At one point, Nicodemo referred to an investigation in Delaware County that had targeted bookmaker Nicholas "Nicky the Hat" Cimino.
Law enforcement, Nicodemo told Micali, was building cases around the fringes of the organization because it was unable to get at "the whales," an apparent reference to Ligambi and the other reputed leaders of the crime family.
"Everything's been so quiet, that . . . the real whales that they want, they can't get," he said. "If you notice, they're bothering a lot of fringe people. Nicky from Delaware County's in trouble."
Last summer, Cimino and a dozen others were arrested in Operation Delco Nostra, a Pennsylvania State Police investigation into a mob-linked gambling ring in Delaware County. Another prime target of that probe was Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello.
Monacello is a close associate of jailed mobster George Borgesi, Ligambi's nephew.
"They're bothering the fringe people," Nicodemo said in the conversation that took place more than a year before those arrests. "That's who they're starting to torture."
Because of technical problems, the taped phone call only captured Nicodemo. Micali's voice was not picked up.
Investigators, however, had little trouble reading between the lines as Nicodemo counseled Micali to "tone down" his flashy appearance and free-wheeling style because it might attract law enforcement's attention and it sparked jealousy among other mobsters who wanted to get their hooks into his business.
"Tone it down a little bit," Nicodemo told Micali. "The people that we always talk about, they're going back and they're throwing bait into the ocean and telling the sharks things like, 'Ooooh, this guy did this.' . . . They're throwing jealousy and innuendo. . . . 'Oooh, you should see the piles of money they got in front of them when they play cards.' . . . So, you go play with lesser chips."
Then Nicodemo offered a lesson about the underworld's haves and have-nots.
"Like I always say, the lions are on top of the hill and the lambs are down in the valley," he said. "When the lions got meat and the lambs got meat, everything's fine and dandy. When the lambs got meat and the lion's up there on the hill and he don't have nothin', what's gonna happen?"
Things had changed in the underworld, Nicodemo told Micali.
"Back 30 years ago, all the lions were fully fed," he said. "They didn't care about the lambs, you know what I mean? Today, the lions are starving."
Micali should stop wearing "diamonds on your neck" in the poker room, Nicodemo counseled. And it would be smarter if he drove his Honda to the casino, he said.
Authorities said Micali spent several hours each day in the poker lounge taking bets and collecting from or paying off customers. He usually drove from his condo in Ventnor to the Borgata in his $130,000 Mercedes.
Nicodemo again emphasized that he would back up Micali in any dispute.
"Ya ever have a problem . . . come and see me. . . . I don't care if it's . . . Carlo Gambino's son. . . . Don't worry about none of that stuff."
He told Micali that everyone knew he was "doing the right thing." That was a reference, law enforcement believed, to the fact that Micali was working with organized-crime figures in his business.
Then, in what investigators interpreted as an offer to expand that relationship, Nicodemo told Micali that if he would "tone it down . . . they're going to want you to do more of the right thing. You understand what I mean?"


3 reputed mobsters among 23 charged in A.C. gambling ring.
Twenty-three people, including three reputed Philadelphia mobsters, were charged today with running an illegal sports betting ring inside the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City.
The ring took in more than $22 million in wagers during the 22 months it was under surveillance, authorities said.
Attorney General Anne Milgram said the leaders of the ring were Andrew Micali, 32, of Ventnor and Jack M. Buscemi Jr., 50, of Mullica Hill. Both are accused of taking a percentage of the gambling proceeds collected by bookies taking bets from the Borgata's poker room floor. Micali has been identified by law enforcement officials and news accounts as an associate of the Bruno crime family, a Philadelphia-based mob organization that has seen its hold over Atlantic City crime wither in the last few decades with increased enforcement. He is charged with promoting gambling, money laundering and criminal usury.
Authorities said Micali involved at least two reputed soldiers of the Bruno family in the ring: Anthony Nicodemo and Michael Lancellotti, both charged with conspiracy to promote gambling.
Milgram declined to comment on whether the investigation indicated the Mafia had infiltrated the state's casino industry. She said "any allegation or potential that the mob would be involved in Atlantic City, I can tell you, we take extremely seriously."
State casino regulators have worked to prevent organized crime from penetrating the casinos ever since gambling was legalized in 1977 with then-Gov. Brendan Byrne warning the mob to "keep your filthy hands off Atlantic City."
Milgram said investigators found no problems with "integrity of the gaming operations in the poker room" at the Borgata, whose management cooperated with the investigation.
If convicted, the 23 suspects charged face up to 5 years in state prison and $35,000 in fines on each count.
This is the second time this year that state authorities have busted an illegal gambling ring at the Borgata.
In June, the State Police charged a group of men -- including renowned Las Vegas gaming expert Steve Forte, who authored two books on how to avoid gaming scams -- for rigging a high-stakes card game using hidden video cameras, marked cards, laptop computers and microscopic ear pieces.
Read the full story in Thursday's Star-Ledger.
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