84-count indictment

Gambino-linked sports gambling and loansharking operation busted in Staten Island

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New York State investigators busted a mob-backed sports gambling and loansharking operation in Staten Island, officials announced on Wednesday. The bust resulted in the arrest of 17 individuals with alleged ties to the Gambino crime family, following an 84-count indictment.

The indictment revealed an illegal gambling enterprise that managed over $22.7 million in sports bets and a loansharking scheme generating weekly payments on about $500,000 in high-interest loans.

In a separate case, four suspects face charges over an illegal mortgage fraud scheme involving a $600,000 home in New Jersey.

"Illegal gambling and loan sharking schemes are some of the oldest rackets in the mob’s playbook," stated New York State Attorney General Letitia James. "While organized crime may still be active in New York, today we are putting several Gambino family members out of business. These criminal enterprises took tens of millions of dollars from New Yorkers and trapped many in dangerous amounts of debt."

Frederick Falcone, Sr., a former NYPD officer, was among those apprehended. The indictment alleges that Falcone, along with Edward LaForte, operated as loan sharks, meticulously recording the names of their victims and the usurious loan amounts.

LaForte also played a key role in the sports gambling ring, utilizing an offshore website not sanctioned in New York. From September 2022 to March 2023, the operation engaged more than 70 bettors who placed nearly $23 million in wagers.

LaForte reportedly supervised several sheet-holders – who manage the bets and collections for individual bettors – as well as other operatives within the gambling operation. The operation often preyed on indebted gamblers, offering financial bailouts through loans with excessive interest rates.

"This case is a stark reminder that organized crime continues to thrive in the New York metropolitan area," said Paul Weinstein, Commissioner of the New York Waterfront Commission. "The Gambino crime family has historically exerted its influence on the Port of New York. Disruption of its profits from gambling and loansharking weakens that family’s grip."

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