Shoemaker's Shop was Illegal Gambling Biz for Genovese Crime Family

Written by:
Nagesh Rath
Published on:

A former Brooklyn shoemaker pleaded guilty Tuesday to allegations that he ran an illegal gambling operation for the Mafia out of his shop.


Salvatore Rubino, also known as “Sal the Shoemaker,” admitted that he ran card games and operated gambling machines while kicking profits to the Genovese crime family.

Four co-defendants pleaded guilty earlier this month to illegal gambling as well as racketeering and extortion.

“As long as the Mafia doesn’t get it that illegal gambling is a losing proposition, they can bet on this office and our partners vigorously enforcing the law and flushing them out of the shadows, as in this case, where they operated secretly in a coffee bar and a shoe repair shop," U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement.

A total of nine individuals, including Rubino, were charged in August 2022.

Defendants included a detective with the Nassau County Police Department charged with obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI.

“Today’s arrests of members from two La Cosa Nostra crime families demonstrate that the Mafia continues to pollute our communities with illegal gambling, extortion, and violence while using our financial system in service to their criminal schemes,” Peace said at the time of the arrests.   “The defendants tried to hide their criminal activity by operating from behind the cover of a coffee bar, a soccer club, and a shoe repair shop, but our Office and our law enforcement partners exposed their illegal operations.  Even more disturbing is the shameful conduct of a detective who betrayed his oath of office and the honest men and women of the Nassau County Police Department when he allegedly aligned himself with criminals.”

The Bonanno crime family—through other defendants—were alleged to have operated illegal gambling parlors at establishments called the Soccer Club, La Nazionale Soccer Club and Glendale Sports Club.

Another co-defendant, Carmelo Polito, was said to be an acting captain in the Genovese crime family, and was charged with operating an illegal online gambling scheme in which bets were placed on sporting events through a website called “PGWLines.”  In connection with his operation of PGWLines, Polito is charged with attempting to extort an individual who lost several thousand dollars in bets he placed through the website.  For example, in an October 2019 call concerning a delinquent debtor whose “face” Polito had previously threatened to “break,” Polito instructed another individual to relay a new message to the debtor: “Tell him I’m going to put him under the f------g bridge.”

Sal's Shoe Repair closed in 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, prosecutors said.

- Nagesh Rath,

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