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Eight indicted, including pro poker player, for illegal sports betting ring: NYC officials

Professional poker player Jay "Ghost" Sharon is accused of being the boss of the operation.
Pictures of Money/ Flickr Creative Commons

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 andGary Schreiber, according to officials.

According to Brown, the NYPD's Organized Crime Investigation Divisionstarted the investigation in December 2014. The defendants allegedlyconspired to make money illegally through unlawful gambling, which accepted bets on sporting events through wire rooms where gambling is illegal.

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The enterprise, located in Queens County and elsewhere,usedgambling websites and toll-free numbers. It isalleged to have booked more than $3.5 million in bets annually and to haveoperated in both New York and Las Vegas.

Eachdefendant ischarged variously with enterprise corruptionin an 85-count indictment. Other charges include promoting gambling,conspiracy andmoney 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 byusing the Internet'sanonymity.

"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 nationwideand have saved individuals across the country millions of dollars in gambling losses."

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