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Flushing man arrested in national gambling ring

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After a 14-month investigation, the authorities Tuesday arrested five people, including a Flushing man, accused of participating in a gambling ring based in Queens that straddled six states and two Central American countries.

A Howard Beach man who was convicted in the 1979 murder of Carmine Galante, mob boss of the Bonanno crime family, was also charged in the case.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown described the operation as an elaborate gambling ring with offices in Queens, Chicago, Connecticut, Florida, California and in Belize and Costa Rica. The defendants who were charged — four men and one woman — are accused of traveling around the country both to collect and to pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars in wins and losses, Brown said.

The district attorney identified the defendant from Queens as Jeffrey Tapoler, 41, of Flushing. The others were Taylor Breton, 49, and Jennifer Ames, 30, both of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Frank Rizzo, 36, of Norwalk, Conn.; and Graziano Rizzo, 62, of the Bronx. Breton is accused of running the operation along with Tapoler, who allegedly took telephone wagers from his Flushing home, the district attorney said.

All were charged with various counts of money laundering and promoting gambling, Brown said. If convicted, they each face up to 15 years in prison.

Anthony Indelicato, the Howard Beach man who was convicted in the 1979 shooting deaths of three organized crime figures including Galante, was charged with violating his parole. He is accused of having dealings with organized crime figures in connection with the betting ring, and faces up to 3 1/2 years in prison if convicted.

The arrests Tuesday were the culmination of a 14-month investigation that began in April 2000, when the authorities searched the Flushing home of Tapoler and said they discovered $20,500 in cash as well as gambling records. Brown said the money had been amassed from five sports bets that had been placed daily from March 31 to April 6, 2000.

Investigators also said that Rizzo had worked as what is known as a “runner” — someone who meets with people to pay and collect gambling losses and winnings. In February, the police arrested Rizzo in the Bronx, charging him with possessing gambling records and heroin, the district attorney said. The police found $89,000 in cash in his car, Brown said.

More than a month later, Ames, one of the defendants from Florida, was detained by agents of the Drug Enforcement Agency who stopped her on board a train in Albuquerque, N.M., Brown said. The agents searched Ames’ duffel bag and found $640,000 in cash, as well as gambling receipts that were made out both in Breton’s name and in an alias he allegedly used — Jean Faugno — the district attorney said. An Amtrak ticket in Jennifer Ames’ name was also found in the bag, Brown said.

“More and more, we are seeing illegal operation such as is alleged to have existed in this case move outside of the country,” Brown said, “making it harder for law enforcement officials to detect and prosecute.”

Reach reporter Chris Fuchs by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 7:15 pm, October 10, 2011
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