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17 alleged Gambino mobsters charged in $22M illegal gambling, loansharking rings




The New York State Attorney General’s Office unsealed an indictment Wednesday charging 17 individuals in connection with “lucrative” illegal gambling and loansharking operations controlled by alleged members of the infamous Gambino crime family.

Prosecutors accused the individuals of participating in a sports gambling operation that received more than $22.7 million in illicit bets and a loansharking operation that brought in about $500,000 in usurious loans. The 17 individuals were charged with multiple crimes, including enterprise corruption, first and second-degree criminal usury, and first-degree promoting gambling, according to the 84-count indictment.

Among those arrested and charged Wednesday are alleged Gambino soldiers John Laforte, 56; Anthony Cinque, Jr., 39; John Matera, 53; and alleged Gambino associates Edward LaForte, 58; Frederick Falcone, Sr., 66; Giulio Pomponio, 61; and Daniel Bogan, 41. Prosecutors said John LaForte and three others were also charged in a separate indictment Wednesday for a mortgage fraud scheme to purchase a $600,000 home in New Jersey.

“Illegal gambling and loan sharking schemes are some of the oldest rackets in the mob’s playbook,” Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement Wednesday. “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.”

Wednesday’s indictment is the latest operation bust involving alleged members and associates of the Gambino crime family, which is one of the most notorious criminal organizations in America, according to the Crime Museum. Last November, prosecutors said 10 members and associates were charged for several offenses tied to the organization’s attempt to dominate carting and demolition industries in New York City.

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‘Stopped over for a slice (of) pizza’

The investigation involved court-authorized wiretaps and bugs, covert video surveillance cameras, search warrants on an offshore illegal gambling website, and search warrants of some residences, prosecutors said. Most loansharking and bookmaking activities were conducted during meetings at the Eltingville Shopping Center and the Greenridge Shopping Center on Staten Island.

Investigators uncovered that Edward LaForte managed the gambling website, in which over 70 bettors placed more than $22.7 million in wagers between September 2022 and March 2023, according to the indictment. Prosecutors said Edward LaForte supervised several of his co-defendants, who were “sheetholders” or individuals who managed the bets and collections.

“Often, the gamblers who were wagering illegally through these sheetholders would fall into debt and the members of this criminal enterprise would exploit this opportunity by providing a usurious loan and charging and collecting illegally high interest on these loans, making a profit off of a gambler who had fallen into debt,” the New York State Attorney General’s Office said in a news release.

Prosecutors also alleged that the gambling operation was conducted with 44-year-old Amy McLaughlin, who helped organize the gambling ring, kept records of weekly gambling figures, and collected and distributed proceeds.

Other individuals involved in the operation were John LaForte, who received proceeds and held a supervisory role, the indictment alleged. John LaForte and Anthony Cinque, Jr., also funded a part of the operation for payments of winning bettors.

Edward LaForte would sometimes leave proceeds from the loansharking and gambling operations at Frank and Danny’s Pizzeria in the Eltingville Shopping Center, which was owned by Bogan, according to the indictment. A telephone conversation in November 2022 showed that Edward LaForte had “stopped over for a slice (of) pizza,” in which Bogan had replied, “All right, okay, yeah, yeah, I got you here.”

Edward LaForte, along with former NYPD member Falcone, also acted as loan sharks who maintained detailed ledgers that included victims’ names and their usurious loan amounts, the indictment alleged. The two would meet their victims at the shopping centers, another Staten Island restaurant, their residences, or the victims’ residences.

The indictment added that in some instances, Falcone and Edward LaForte required authorization and funding from John LaForte and Cinque to disperse the loans. The operation “brought in weekly loan payments on approximately $500,000 in usurious loans,” prosecutors said.

Official: Mob-run operation bust weakens Gambino family’s ‘grip’

The Gambino crime family is one of five traditional organized crime families, also known as the “Five Families,” that operate in the New York area and at times abroad, according to the indictment.

The other four families are the Bonanno crime family, the Colombo crime family, the Genovese crime family, and the Lucchese crime family, the indictment adds. They are part of a criminal network that has been referred to as “the Mafia,” “the Mob,” and “La Cosa Nostra.”

The Gambino family originated in the early 1900s and is named after Carlo Gambino, who was “the American Mafia’s most powerful and respected don from the late 1950s until he died peacefully of natural causes in 1976 as the face of organized crime in New York City,” according to the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement. Although federal prosecutions over the past few decades have taken down Gambino members and associates, the family still runs criminal operations in Brooklyn and Staten Island.

“This case is a stark reminder that organized crime continues to thrive in the New York metropolitan area,” Paul Weinstein, New York Waterfront commissioner, said in a statement Wednesday. “The Gambino Crime Family has historically exerted its influence on the Port of New York. Disruption of its profits from gambling and loansharking weaken that family’s grip.”

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