A.G. Schneiderman & NYPD Commissioner Kelly Announce 37 Arrests In Massive Organized Crime Takedown
Operation "Flat Rate” Uncovers Sophisticated Multi-Million Dollar Loan Sharking, Gambling & Extortion Rings
Arrests Include Members of Gambino Crime Family
NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly today announced the arrests of 37 individuals on charges stemming from the operation of lucrative loan sharking and gambling activities closely controlled by the Gambino crime family.
A series of early morning raids conducted by Attorney General Schneiderman’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) and the New York City Police Department’s Organized Crime Investigations Division, capped a long-term investigation dubbed “Operation Flat Rate.” Based on the evidence obtained in this investigation, the Attorney General's office secured five separate indictments from a Kings County grand jury, charging a total of 37 individuals on felony and misdemeanor charges. A full list of all charged individuals is included below.
“These arrests cripple a network of criminal enterprises and the organized crime family they supported,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “The partnership between OCTF and the NYPD provided the skills and resources needed to bring the 37 individuals charged here to justice, and our offices will continue our work to dismantle these criminal ventures.”
“Illegal gambling rings not only promote addiction and burden families with debt from usurious loans, but the proceeds from gambling and loan sharking are used to fuel organized crime and support harmful criminal enterprises,” New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said. “I want to commend the New York State Attorney General’s Office and the NYPD’s Organized Crime Investigations Division for today’s arrests.”
The investigation used a number of resources including wiretaps, video and audio surveillance, GPS tracking, and bugs inside key locations to gather evidence. Surveillance was also conducted throughout the streets of Brooklyn, Staten Island, Manhattan, and New Jersey, where different aspects of the criminal activity unfolded. Some defendants would conduct business on street corners in an effort to avoid detection by law enforcement.
“Operation Flat Rate” was a long-term investigation into the alleged loan sharking and bookmaking activities of alleged Gambino ‘soldiers,’ or ‘made’ members, Vincent Romano and James Outerie, and alleged Gambino ‘associates,’ or ‘non-made’ members, Louis Lombardo, Louis Peteroy, Frank Esposito, Christopher Sorrentino and Nicolas Fulciniti, among others.
Throughout the investigation, intercepted conversations revealed the hierarchy and alleged criminal activities of the three related Gambino crime family enterprises. According to the charges, two illegal sports gambling operations were run through offshore wire rooms that handled wagers on college and professional sports, as well as horse races. According to the charges, these gambling operations generated millions of dollars worth of wagers.
The charges also assert that one of these three enterprises was a ‘policy operation,’ or an illegal playing the numbers scheme, in which bets were placed on the New York Lottery’s Numbers and Win 4 games. In some instances, victims of the loan sharking enterprise would be required to place wagers on the numbers – all to finance the policy betting operation.
In three of the five indictments unsealed in Kings County today, 35 defendants are charged with Enterprise Corruption based on a pattern of illegal gambling and loan sharking activities. The Enterprise Corruption charge alone carries a maximum penalty of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison.
Two of the Enterprise Corruption defendants, Mr. Esposito and Mr. Sorrentino, along with two other defendants, were also charged in the fourth indictment, which alleges the extension of a usurious loan and the use of extortion to collect weekly interest payments. The fifth indictment charges Michelle Valente with Conspiracy in the Fourth and Fifth Degree.
“Operation Flat Rate” was conducted by Supervising Investigators Paul Grzegorski and Arthur Schwartz, and Senior Investigator Brian Fleming under the supervision of OCTF’s Eugene Black. The investigation was conducted along with New York City Police Department Detective Biagio Santangelo of the New York City Police Department’s Organized Crime Investigations Division, under the supervision of Sergeant Brian Reicht and Lieutenant Jack Iocouvou, and under the overall supervision of Inspector Brian O’Neill and Organized Crime Control Chief Anthony Izzo.
The cases are being prosecuted by OCTF Assistant Deputy Attorney General Laura Kirschstein under the supervision of OCTF Deputy Attorney General Peri Alyse Kadanoff, under the overall supervision of Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Nancy Hoppock.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in the court of law.
The defendants charged today as a result of five separate indictments from a Kings County grand jury are: