Eight men have been indicted for operating a multi-million dollar illegal sports betting ring, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton announced on Tuesday.
Jay "Ghost" Sharon, a professional poker player, is accused of acting as the bookmaker and overseeing the operation. He profited from the criminal pursuits of the other defendants —Jonathan Cianciotto, Joshua Handler, Emilio Testa, Christopher Hansen, Frank Nista, Vincent Zaccario and Gary Schreiber, according to officials.
According to Brown, the NYPD's Organized Crime Investigation Division started the investigation in December 2014. The defendants allegedly conspired to make money illegally through unlawful gambling, which accepted bets on sporting events through wire rooms where gambling is illegal.
The enterprise, located in Queens County and elsewhere, used gambling websites and toll-free numbers. It is alleged to have booked more than $3.5 million in bets annually and to have operated in both New York and Las Vegas.
Each defendant is charged variously with enterprise corruption in an 85-count indictment. Other charges include promoting gambling, conspiracy and money laundering. They will be arraigned in Queens County Supreme Court and each face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
Brown, in a statement, said that individuals involved in bookmaking and gambling try to hide their illegal activities by using the Internet's anonymity.
"Over the last few years, working with our law enforcement colleagues, we have taken down a number of these 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."