By Stephen Stirling
(Clarification: Donald Abo, whose Whitestone residence was shown in a photo in TimesLedger Newspapers’ March 26 editions, was a tenant in this building. The owner of the home had no involvement in any illegal activity alleged by the district attorney’s office in last week’s indictment of 11 men on sports betting charges.)
Five Queens men were among 11 indicted in Queens Supreme Court last week for allegedly running a multimillionâˆ’dollar sports betting ring that took wagers on everything from hockey to horse racing, the Queens district attorney announced last Thursday.
DA Richard Brown said two Whitestone men and a Rego Park man were the ring leaders of the operation, which took in more than $6 million during a 10âˆ’month period between January and November 2008.
“Illegal sports betting reaps millions of dollars in cash profits that are easily diverted to more insidious criminal enterprises,” Brown said. “Oftentimes, these operations are run by individuals who have no qualms about using threats, intimidation and physical force to collect on debts owed to them. Today’s indictments will send a clear signal that when it comes to illegal gambling in Queens County, all bets are off.”
Brown said Dennis Cermak, 54, and Donald Abo, 50, allegedly ran most of the operation — which took bets on horse racing and professional and college football, basketball, hockey and baseball — out of their Whitestone home.
Brown said Rego Park resident Robert Corby, 58, allegedly acted as the money collector for the operation, which accepted bets for as little as $30 and as much as $1,000.
In total, 11 people were indicted on charges of enterprise corruption, firstâˆ’degree promoting gambling and fifthâˆ’degree conspiracy, including Flushing residents James Farnochi, 61, and Michael Lauria, 65, who were listed as agents in the reputed betting business.
Brown said each could receive up to 25 years in prison, if convicted.
According to the DA, authorities received information on the alleged operation in September 2007, and subsequently began an investigation which used wiretaps and warrantâˆ’executed searches to gather evidence.
No return court date had been set for any of the Queens defendants by press time.
Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by eâˆ’mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718âˆ’229âˆ’0300, Ext. 138.