Police in Astoria Bust Sports Betting Biz Using Wire Room Out of Costa Rica

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:

  • Probe started in January 2016

  • Defendants charged with multiple crimes, including money laundering, promoting gambling, enterprise corruption as well as conspiracy

  • Standup comic among those charged

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A bookmaking business in Astoria, Queens has been shut down following an extensive investigation by the NYPD’s Criminal Enterprise Division.  The investigation began in January 0f 2016.

Seven people were indicted for enterprise corruption.  They are accused of operating an illegal gambling ring out of an Astoria office on 30th Avenue.

The defendants have been charged with multiple crimes, including money laundering, promoting gambling, enterprise corruption as well as conspiracy.

Authorities claim that bets were taken both in the Astoria office and in Costa Rica, where such activity is legal.  Thousands of phone calls and text messages were intercepted during the investigation.

Gamblers were able to place bets via the website, a toll-free number, an agent or going to the Astoria location.  They could also visit the actual wire room to place their wagers in person.

Investigators, via court-authorized electronic surveillance, intercepted thousands of allegedly incriminating gambling-related conversations, as well as text messages over mobile phones.

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Six of the seven defendants were heard participating in numerous phone conversations talking about the illegal gambling operation and loan sharking. The defendants discussed gamblers’ accounts, cash transfers, interest rates and other details. Detectives allegedly observed various members of the crime organization meetingi n both Queens and Nassau counties where money was exchanged in white envelopes or bags.

Michael Regan, 61, from Long Island, was identified as the kingpin, who allegedly controlled and oversaw the entire operation. Robert Brieger, 70 of Rego Park, was the alleged master agent, while Luan Bexheti, 47, of Astoria, was deemed the primary agent. Four others were indicted.

Bexheti is an actor and standup comic.  He was identified as being a close associate of the boss, and was allegedly a runner/agent for the illegal enterprise.

The defendants were arraigned before Queens Supreme Court Justice Leslie Leach on Wednesday June 5, 2019.

$47,000 in cash and computers were seized as part of the investigation.

- Jagajeet Chiba, Gambling911.com


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