By Gina Martinez
An illegal sports gambling operation based out of a rundown Bayside home has been shut down and five men have been charged with their alleged roles in a wire room that booked more than $750,000 a year in bets, the Queens district attorney said.
The defendants include the alleged ringleader of the operation, Theodore Simon, 77, of Flushing; Jason Levine, 45, of Rockville Centre, L.I.; and Bayside residents Frank Nista, 64; James Greene, 70; and Russell Bellaterra, 69. Each of the five was was charged with one count of enterprise corruption, 12 counts of promoting of gambling and one count of conspiracy, the DA said. If convicted, they all face up to 25 years in prison.
Investigations leading to Tuesday’s arrests started back in January 2014 when the NYPD’s Organized Crime Investigation Division, the Queens DA’s Organized Crime Investigation Division and the Waterfront Commission gathered evidence from physical surveillance and court-authorized electronic recordings of thousands of hours of incriminating gambling-related conversations, Brown said.
According to the DA’s office, the boss of the wire room was Simon, who is accused of bookmaking and overseeing the entire operation. Nista was allegedly Simon’s primary agent and manager of the wire room located at 211-11 45th Road in Bayside, Brown said. Greene was the owner of the home and the listed subscriber for two landline phones installed there. He was allegedly paid a monthly income for the rental of the home, according to the DA’s office. Bellaterra and Levin allegedly manned the two phones and handled betting action for Nista at the Bayside location, prosecutors said, while also working as money collectors for the operation.
Court-authorized warrants were used at the defendants’ homes resulting in the seizure of cash, gambling paraphernalia and gambling records, Brown said.
The defendants allegedly conspired to make money illegally through the operation of unlawful gambling that accepted bets on sporting events through a wire room located in the house on 45th Road. Bettors would place wagers calling one of two phones set up at the location, the DA said.
Nista is no stranger to illegal betting. He was indicted in April for his alleged participation in an illegal sports gambling enterprise that operated in New York and Las Vegas.
According to Brown, the latest bust represented a nationwide victory.
“Over the last few years we have taken down a number of these gambling operations and put them out of business.” he said “These cases, I believe, have put a significant dent in illegal gambling nationwide and have saved individuals across the country millions of dollars in gambling losses.”