- Celebs the likes of James Caan, Tony Danza, Regis Philbin and more fear they were on wiretaps placing illegal bets
- ”Bookie to the Stars” Vincent “Vinny” Taliercio nabbed this past December along with 12 other Genovese Crime Family associates
- James Caan a big time gambler who would even bet on which elevator door opened first
- “Everybody went to Vinny for advice even the members of all five crime families,” insider tells Radar Online
Radar Online had an exclusive report Tuesday that several big name celebrities – including Tony Danza, Regis Philbin and Charlie Sheen – may have gotten themselves caught up in an NYPD investigation into a locally run illegal gambling operation with mob affiliations dubbed “Operation Shark Bait”.
Thirteen members and associates of the Genovese Organized Crime Family were arrested on the Dec. 15 with one of those charged dubbed the “Bookie to the Stars”. Vincent “Vinny” Taliercio had Hollywood clients that included the likes of “Godfather” star James Caan, “Who’s The Boss” and “Taxi” star Tony Danza and Charlie Sheen.
Other Hollywood actors believed to have been clients of the Brooklyn bookie included Regis Philbin, Paul Sorvino and and James L. Brooks. Former Major League Baseball player Pete Rose had also reportedly placed bets with Taliercio.
The actors fear they are mentioned as part of the 56-page indictment had they been caught up in the wiretaps.
“James Caan is a big gambler — he bets on anything. He’ll even bet on which elevator doors open first,” an insider told Radar Online.
The Radar Online source further revealed:
“They probably caught some of these celebrities on the wiretaps,” the source said, adding the gamblers would usually place their bets with Vinny by telephone if they weren’t in New York.
“Vinnie is not just a bookie — everybody who is anybody in the gambling world would call him up because he’s the best handicapper in the world,” the source told Radar. “He has dealt with all the big celebrities.”
“Everybody went to Vinny for advice even the members of all five crime families. Anything you needed to know about sports that guy Vinny knew about it — he was like a walking encyclopedia — an almanac!”
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Operation Shark Bait defendants apprehended back in December
The ringleader Salvatore “Sallie” DeMeo, 76, is accused of running the online gambling site 4Spades.org based out of Costa Rica, which remains online to this day. The site, along with a lucrative loansharking and illegal cigarette smuggling business, is believed to have raked in millions of dollars, according to the indictment. DeMeo's criminal history is said to date all the way back to 1984. Other members of the organization charged included Gennaro Geritano, Eugene Orefice and Anthony “Buckwheat” Giammarino. One of the charged individuals, Windsor Lewis, 66, is a former corrections officer whose son is a member of the New York Police Department.
“Loan sharks shamelessly saddle their victims with outrageous loan rates that are impossible to repay. These defendants allegedly went to great lengths to trap their victims with exorbitant rates, all while evading our gambling laws and taking offshore bets,” said New York Attorney General Schneiderman at the time of their arrests. “No matter how complex or clever the scheme, we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to take down traditional organized crime.”
“Despite these Genovese members continued attempts to evade detection, our investigation revealed millions in offshore sports betting, lucrative loan sharking, and tax evasion,” said Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill. “My thanks to our detectives and the State Attorney General for their work on this case.”
Defendants in the case:
Salvatore DeMeo (76), Brooklyn, NY
Eugene Orefice (48), Monroe Township, NJ
Gennaro Geritano (62), Brooklyn, NY
Anthony Giammarino (65), Brooklyn, NY
Joseph Tommasino (52), Staten Island, NY
Thomas Alexiou (55), Brooklyn, NY
Rocco Maglione (46), Brooklyn, NY
Windsor Lewis (66), Brooklyn, NY
Mario Leonardi (76), Odenville, AL
Vincent Taliercio (65), Brooklyn, NY
Jackie Charlton (53), Brooklyn, NY
Michael Epstein (48), Brooklyn, NY
John Giglio (55), Staten Island, NY
- Jagajeet Chiba, Gambling911.com