Bookies Behaving Badly Part 12: How a Blackjack Pro Took Down a Drug, Gambling Empire

Written by:
Guest
Published on:
Nov/29/2016

Gambling911.com has some excerpts from this week’s Rolling Stone magazine’s powerful piece on a gambler, Robert J. Cipriani, who helped take down an alleged crime boss.

That gambler, known affectionately as “Robin Hood” reportedly once offered a $50,000 bounty on a bank robber, helped families in need with his gambling proceeds, rescued a California man from a fire and even prevented a dine and dash situation. 

From Rolling Stone

Though Cipriani kept his identity secret, shielding his face in a baseball cap, aviator sunglasses and the occasional fake beard, he was not exactly inconspicuous in his guise as a workingman's hero. Those seeking his help submitted stories of financial woe to his website, and Cipriani would select a "winner" before hitting the tables, ideally with a camera crew in tow. Fox News had once christened him the "Sin City Savior," and he envisioned himself the subject of similar publicity during his stay in Sydney, where as "Robin Hood" he planned to spend the next few days gambling on behalf of downtrodden locals at the Star Casino. 

He is reported having met with one Junior DeLuca, described by Rolling Stone as one who was less conspicuous about his criminal persona.

The story flashes forward four years to September 9th, 2015 where former USC player Owen Hanson gets apprehended by the Feds.

As Hanson prepared for his 18 holes that September afternoon, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Organized Crime Squad arrested him for arranging the sale of five kilograms of cocaine and another five of methamphetamine –charges that turned out to be only a preview of the extraordinary case authorities had built against him. In January, Hanson was named in a federal indictment as the unlikely leader of a drug trafficking, sports betting and money-laundering ring called O-Dog Enterprises that stretched from Southern California to Australia

Hanson was also charged with coordinating the sale of five grams of cocaine and 15 capsules of ecstasy to "a professional football player" in 2014.

A winner of three Super Bowls, former NFL player Derek Loville also stood accused of selling cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and ecstasy as part of Hanson’s ring.

It turns out that Hanson had among his contact list big name star NFL players Reggie Bush and Jeremy Shockey, the later of whom was subpoenaed by federal authorities.

As it turns out Hanson was none other than Junior DeLuca.

The story of how Robert Cipriani became entangled with Owen Hanson – the story, that is, of how a vigilante gambler unwittingly helped bring down a USC athlete turned accused crime boss – can be appreciated from any number of angles: as a clash of misguided egos, a glimpse into the turbulent psyches of former athletes or as a cautionary tale, quintessentially American, about what can happen to a certain breed of individual bent on chasing the sort of dreams that burn especially bright in places like Las Vegas and Los Angeles. It begins, however, in Sydney, where back in 2011 Hanson, inhabiting his alter ego as DeLuca, showed up at Cipriani's room at the Four Seasons with $2.5 million in Australian dollars (worth $2.7 million in U.S. dollars at the time) stuffed into suitcases.

Ultimately, 13 bookies ended being taken down with Hanson. Each awaits trial.

Those associates of Hanson’s charged in the gambling scheme were:

MONEY LAUNDERING: Luke Fairfield, 39, was charged with racketeering conspiracy related to illegal gambling and narcotics trafficking. He was also charged with laundering the proceeds of the organizations drug and gambling businesses.

TELEPHONE/INTERNET OPERATIONS: Kenny Hilinski, 38, was charged with racketeering conspiracy related to illegal gambling and narcotics trafficking. He was also charged with laundering the proceeds of the organizations drug and gambling businesses.

13 BOOKIES CHARGED

Chalie D’Agostino , 51,  was accused of working for Hanson as a bookie. He was also charged with laundering the proceeds of the organizations drug and gambling businesses.

Marlyn Villareal, 31,  was accused of working for Hanson as a bookie and as a runner.  She was also charged with laundering the proceeds of the organizations drug and gambling businesses. Investigators said Villareal alone was responsible for the laundering of hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug and gambling proceeds.

Dylan Anderson, 33, was accused of working for Hanson as a bookie. He was also charged with laundering the proceeds of the organizations drug and gambling businesses.

Jim Muse,  52, was accused of working for Hanson as a bookie.

Jeff Bellandi, 49, also known as "Jazzy,"  was accused of working for Hanson as a bookie. He was also charged with laundering the proceeds of the organizations drug and gambling businesses.

Curtis Chen, 32, was accused of working for Hanson as a bookie.

James Duley, 40, was accused of working for Hanson as a bookie.

Dee Foxx, 34, was accused of working for Hanson as a bookie.

Khalid Petras, 54, was accused of working for Hanson as a bookie.

Rahul Bhagat, 30, was accused of working for Hanson as a bookie.

David Kipper, 34, was accused of working for Hanson as a bookie.

Todd Oldham, 31, was accused of working for Hanson as a bookie.

Daniel Ortega, 41, was accused of working for Hanson as a bookie.

READ MORE HERE

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