All bets are off for five men indicted for allegedly operating an illegal sports wagering ring out of a rundown home in Bayside, prosecutors announced on Tuesday.
The alleged ringleader, Flushing‘s Theodore Simon, 77, was named along with three Bayside men — Frank Nista, 64; James Greene, 70; and Russell Bellaterra, 69 — and Rockville Centre resident Jason Levine, 45, in the 14-count indictment charging them with operating the racket that took in an estimated $750,000 in illegal bets annually.
According to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, the case was cracked through a 2 1/2 year investigation by the NYPD Organized Crime Investigation Division and others in the law enforcement community. The probe included physical surveillance, intelligence gathering and court-authorized eavesdropping in which hundreds of hours of incriminating conversations among the suspects were recorded.
Prosecutors said the Bayside betting ring operated out of a home located at 211-11 45th Rd. owned by Greene, who was paid monthly rent and owned two landlines that were used in the bookmaking operation. The gray-shingled structure is largely hidden behind a tall weathered wooden fence up to eight feet tall, with “posted” signs warning trespassers to keep out. Large piles of papers are visible from the first-floor windows.
Simon acted as the head bookmaker, while Nista — who was previously indicted in April for his alleged role in another illegal sports booking operation — was on site at the 45th Road wire room managing operations, according to the indictment. Bellatera and Levine allegedly manned the phone lines, processed all bets, collected debts and shipped money to the co-conspirators.
The investigation resulted in court-authorized raids at the 45th Road home and other locations connected to the ring, in which cash, gambling records and items used in the illegal operation were recovered.
“As alleged, these individuals were running an illegal sports gambling wire room out of a location in Queens and hedged their bets thinking that their illegal activity would remain hidden from the eyes of the law,” Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said in a statement Tuesday.
Brown added that the Bayside bust was the latest hit in his office’s ongoing war on illegal gambling in Queens, adding his belief that the cases “put a significant dent in illegal gambling nationwide and have saved individuals across the country millions of dollars in gambling losses.”
All five indicted suspects were charged with enterprise corruption, first-degree promoting gambling and fifth-degree conspiracy. If convicted, they each face up to 25 years behind bars.