19 Individuals Charged in Connection With Illegal Gambling Enterprise that Bribed Undercover NYPD Offficers

Arrests Include Several Members of Luchese Crime Family

NEW YORK, NY (October 1, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, along with Southern District of New York United States Attorney Preet Bharara, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, and Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore, today announced the indictment of 19 individuals on charges relating to an illegal gambling, sports betting and loan sharking enterprise controlled by the Luchese Organized Crime Family.

This morning’s raids capped a two-year investigation dubbed “Operation Crooked House,” which uncovered that members of the Luchese enterprise bribed undercover members of the NYPD for protection of their illegal card clubs. In total, 19 individuals were indicted on federal felony charges filed in the Southern District of New York. Twelve of them were charged in the federal indictment with participating in a Racketeering Conspiracy as members, associates, or co-conspirators of the Luchese Organized Crime Family. This charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Seven other defendants were charged federally with other crimes relating to the illegal gambling, loan sharking and bribery activities.

“These defendants not only allegedly operated a highly organized criminal enterprise, but actually attempted to infiltrate and corrupt the NYPD to protect themselves and their profits,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “This multi-agency investigation revealed a complex web of illegal gambling, sports betting and loan sharking, whose mob-connected principals are charged with bribing and cheating their way into business. My Office will continue to work with our fellow law enforcement officials to uncover this kind of corruption and conspiracy, and hold the alleged perpetrators accountable.”

United States Attorney Preet Bharara said: “The defendants charged today allegedly committed crimes to finance the Luchese Organized Crime Family and attempted to conceal their criminal activity by corrupting officers of the law. Today's arrests mark another important step in our continued efforts to shut down La Cosa Nostra in New York City once and for all."

NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said: “Attempts by members of organized crime to bribe law enforcement into protecting their illegal gaming parlors turned out to be a bad bet made by bad people. Thanks to the coordinated efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement nineteen members of the Luchese organized crime family are now facing serious criminal charges. I want to acknowledge the NYPD's Vice Enforcement Division's Major Case Squad for their work in securing these important indictments.”

Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore said: “This cooperative multi-agency effort involving local, state and federal law enforcement was instrumental in taking down illegal gambling enterprises that featured wide ranging high stakes card games operating with seeming impunity in Westchester County and New York City. This same enterprise engaged in sports betting and loan sharking throughout Westchester County and the Metropolitan Area.”

According to the indictment unsealed today, twelve of the nineteen defendants - Andrew Disimone, Dominick Capelli, John Alevis, Peter Veltri, Tomislav Dobrilovic, Seth Trustman, Steven Mayer, Clemente Castracucco, Edgar Concepcion, Paul Cuzzo, Ernest Cuzzo and Anthony Cuzzo - are charged as members, associates, and co-conspirators of the Luchese Organized Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra. All of these defendants are charged with conspiring to conduct and participate in the racketeering activities of the Luchese Organized Crime Family. Eighteen of the defendants are also charged with operating various illegal gambling and sports bookmaking businesses. Additionally, four of the defendants are charged with conspiring to operate a loansharking business and conspiring to use extortionate means to collect loans from victims.

The indictment also charges that from approximately 2006 through August 2007, Capelli, Mayer, Castracucco, Paul Cuzzo, Anthony Cuzzo, Ernest Cuzzo, Concepcion, Vincent Laface, and Paul Aust, participated in a scheme to bribe a sergeant and a detective with the NYPD to protect various illegal gambling parlors in the New York City metropolitan area. The sergeant and detective who accepted the bribes, however, were actually acting undercover as corrupt police officers.

Income for the Luchese Organized Crime Family was generated, in part, through the operation of illegal gambling parlors, sports bookmaking, and loan sharking. Its members and associates used various techniques to avoid or obstruct law enforcement scrutiny, including the use of coded language to make arrangements for meetings and to refer to other members and associates of the enterprise, meeting in locations with loud background noise, and not specifying the names of those about whom they were speaking.

The following individuals were named in the Federal indictment today:

* Andrew DiSimone, 46, of Tuckahoe, NY
* Dominick “Nicky Pepsi” Capelli, 52, of Bronx, NY
* Tomislav Dobrilovic, 31, of West Nyack, NY
* “Baby" John Alevis, 57, of Rockville Center, NY
* Peter Veltri, 47, of New Rochelle, NY
* Seth Trustman, 28, of New York, NY
* Steven Mayer, 48, of New York, NY
* Clemente Castracucco, 48, of Tuckahoe, NY
* Edgar Concepcion, 31, of Queens, NY
* Paul Cuzzo, 54, of Thornwood, NY
* Anthony Cuzzo, 40, of Yonkers, NY
* Ernest Cuzzo, 68, of Yonkers, NY
* Vincent LaFace, 31, of Pittston, PA
* Thomas Mantey, 61, of City Island, NY
* Paul Aust, 37, of Queens, NY
* Philip Mercurio, 48, of New Rochelle, NY
* Michael Silverman, 31, of New York, NY
* Anthony Garcia, 39, of Queens, NY
* Osama Ghoubrial, 46, of Queens, NY

The charges are the result of a two-year joint undercover investigation by the New York State Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (“OCTF”) and the NYPD’s Vice Enforcement Bureau, with the assistance of the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, and the New York State Insurance Fund. Attorney General Cuomo thanked these agencies and the Southern District of New York United States Attorney’s Office for their outstanding cooperative efforts.

The investigation was conducted by OCTF Senior Investigator Kerry Buttner, under the supervision of OCTF Assistant Chief Dominick Zarrella and OCTF Chief Thomas Mullen, together with NYPD Detective William Perez, under the supervision of Sergeant John Moynahan, Lieutenant Michael Costello and Deputy Chief Brian Conroy. The investigation was aided by Westchester County District Attorney’s Office Investigators Thomas Drake and Ian Hatch, NYS Taxation and Finance Department Supervising Investigator Angelo Polito and Auditor Kim Lee Stewart, as well as NYS Insurance Fund Senior Investigator Joseph Yasinski.

The cases are being prosecuted by OCTF First Assistant Deputy Attorney General Peri Alyse Kadanoff, and Assistant United States Attorney Steve Lee, with the assistance of Westchester Assistant District Attorney Livia Rodriguez.