By Charles Friedman
Hundreds of bettors will be looking for a new bookie this weekend after Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice and Nassau County Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey announced the bust-up of a multi-million dollar betting ring that reached from Queens and across Nassau and Suffolk counties.
On Nov. 12, Rice and Mulvey announced the arrests of 12 men in connection with a Queens-based gambling ring that did a brisk business across the Island. On Nov. 10, Nassau detectives raided the betting ring’s College Point wire room—the location where all bets are tracked—and confiscated a safety deposit box at a Whitestone, Queens Chase Bank with $50,000, and several of the suspect’s homes and automobiles as a result of the eight-month investigation. On Nov. 12, the DA’s office also seized a safe deposit box in another Queens bank with $60,000 in cash.
“The multi-million dollar profits taken in are not generally spent on tuition bills or charitable giving,” says Rice. “These profits are often the lifeblood of something more sinister. We will continue to follow the money.”
The investigation has showed as much as $30 million in wagers have been placed on college and professional football alone in the past five years. Stephen Rozich, 55, of Douglaston, and Daniel Rozich, 57, of Little Neck, are the alleged ringleaders, says Rice. According to Rick Whelan, chief of the Nassau DA’s Rackets Bureau, the operation has been around for about 25 years.
Also arrested and were Michael Donaghy, 27, of Glen Cove; Gerald Bernot, 62, of Farmingdale; Douglas Leung, 33, of Bethpage; Jeffery Dunn, 40, of Little Neck; Fred Levine, 59, of Flushing; Antonio Ambroselli, 46, of Whitestone; George Rudzinski, 66, of Beechhurst; and Frank McDonnell, 41, of Williston Park. Two more participants in the ring, Luis Castro, 29, of Westbury, and James McDonnell, 70, of Bayside, have yet to be apprehended, according to Rice’s office. Donaghy, as the group’s main sheet writer—the person who keeps track of all bets—and Leung, Dunne, Frank McDonnell, James McDonnell, Levine, Rudzinski, Bernot, Castro and Ambroselli were runners. All the suspects were also charged with promoting gambling in the first degree and conspiracy in the fifth degree.
“I have not seen a classic wire room [operation] like this in about 10-15 years,” says Whelan. In an age where most betting operations use offshore connections, this ring was very old-fashioned. Bettors would either place a bet through a runner, who would give the information to the wire room, or would call directly and reference the runner’s name for recordkeeping purposes. Whelan says the operation kept “meticulous” records, too, which will assist in the investigations.
From March 2008 through early this month, undercover detectives from the Nassau County Police Department’s District Attorney’s office posed as bettors and made wagers with the group, which was located in Flushing, Queens when the investigation began and was in College Point, Queens when the cops raided the offices this week.
Bettors are not subject to prosecution, says Whelan. It is not illegal to place a bet in NY, but it is illegal to take one. While the bust will not kill all the gambling action in the county, it is seen as a “significant hit” to the local illegal gambling industry, says Whelan.
All of the defendants face up four years in prison if convicted.