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14 Charged in Massive Mafia-Connected New Jersey Sports Betting Ring

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
May/02/2016

A major mob drug and gambling bust involving 14 people and 15 New Jersey towns was revealed this week. 

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Ten members and associates of the Genovese organized crime family have been indicted and charged with money laundering, check cashing, gambling and drug deals.

The charges stem from “Operation Fistful,” a joint investigation by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, conducted with assistance from the New York and Queens County District Attorneys’ Offices and other law enforcement agencies.

Ten of the defendants face sentences of 10 to 20 years in prison for each of the charges.

The defendants are charged in varying degrees with running the following criminal schemes in association with the Genovese chain of command:

    A massive loansharking operation that yielded about $4.7 million in illegal interest;

    An illicit multi-million dollar offshore sports gambling enterprise;

    An unlicensed check-cashing business that made $9 million in fees in four years, while enabling customers to launder funds and evade taxes by skirting federal reporting requirements;

    Laundering of $666,000 in drug money via check-cashing businesses owned by Pucillo in Newark and Florida;

    Illegal control and use of a trucking firm with a contract to transport cars from Port Newark;

    Tax fraud and evasion.

“The more the Mafia changes, the more it stays the same,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “While these defendants allegedly adopted sophisticated financial systems to hide their profits, those profits came from traditional street crimes such as loansharking and illegal gambling, over which the old threats of violence and extortion loomed.

"These mobsters may be changing their methods, but we also are evolving in our investigative techniques and will continue to put them in prison,” Honig continued.

These 14 defendants were indicted Wednesday. The first eight defendants were arrested in October 2014 and initially held on $400,000 bail each. Albanese and Miranda were charged by summons at that time.

    Vito Alberti, 57, of Morristown: racketeering, money laundering, promoting gambling and other charges.(

    Domenick Pucillo, 58, of Florham Park: racketeering, money laundering and other charges.

    Robert “Bobby Spags” Spagnola, 68, of Marlboro: racketeering, money laundering and other charges.

    Manuel Rodriguez, 50, of Chatham: racketeering, money laundering and other charges.

    Vincent P. Coppola, 38, of Union: racketeering, money laundering and other charges.

    John W. Trainor, 44, of Brick: racketeering, money laundering, promoting gambling and other charges.

    Abel J. Rodrigues, 54, of Bridgewater: racketeering, money laundering and other charges.

    Jerry J. Albanese, 48, of Scotch Plains: racketeering, money laundering, promoting gambling and other charges.

    Flor Miranda, 41, of Newark: racketeering, money laundering and other charges.

    Miguel Jose Varela Lopez, 39, of Miami, Fla.: money laundering and conspiricy.

    Suzanne Scatturo, 57, of Morristown: filing a fraudulent tax return and failure to pay gross income tax.

    Debra Spagnola, 60, of Marlboro: filing a fraudulent tax return and failure to pay gross income tax.

    Lisa Trainor, 44, of Brick: filing a fraudulent tax return and failure to pay gross income tax (3rd degree)..

    Charles “Chuckie” Tuzzo, 82, of Bayside, N.Y.: racketeering, money laundering and other charges.

The operation also took place in these towns, according to the indictment: Hoboken, Morris Township, Elizabeth, Millburn, Union Township and New Providence.

- Jagajeet Chiba, Gambling911.com Reporting

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