A union leader from Bayside was one of four men arrested and indicted last week on charges of laundering more than $300,000 in drug money over a six-month period while working as a teller at Belmont Racetrack, state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said Friday.
Robert Lodati, 59, was named in a 46-count indictment unsealed by Spitzers office Friday after a six-month investigation into the alleged scheme at Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga racetracks.
The joint investigation, begun in March 2000, was conducted by the Attorney Generals Organized Crime Task Force and the state police Special Investigations Unit.
The indictment charges that Lodati and Long Islanders Robert Marshall, 60, Joseph Rabito, 59, and Pete Oster, whose age was not released, used their teller windows at the racetracks to launder money for cocaine dealers by exchanging the smaller bills brought to them for larger ones. Spitzer said Friday the technique makes it easier to transport the money out of the country by reducing its bulk.
For a cut of the action, these defendants were willing to transform their $2 betting windows at Saratoga, Aqueduct and Belmont Park into a money-laundering shop, Spitzer said.
Lodati, head of the mutuel tellers union, a division of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and the others allegedly took a 5 percent to 10 percent cut out of each illegal exchange, the attorney general said.
Undercover police officers had contact with Lodati and Marshall about the laundering of supposed drug money several times in August and September 2000, the indictment charged.
In one deal on Sept. 15, 2000, an undercover officer posing as a drug dealer gave Marshall $100,000 which the officer said was from selling cocaine, according to the indictment. Marshall allegedly told the officer to visit Lodatis teller window at Belmont the next day, where the officer got back $95,000 of the laundered money after Lodati took a 5 percent profit, the indictment charged.
The 33-page indictment charges Lodati, Marshall, Rabito and Oster with multiple counts of conspiracy, attempted money-laundering and falsifying business records.
This was an elaborate scam in which the crowd, commotion and cash flow of the race track were used to conceal criminal activity, Spitzer said. The tracks must be purged of criminal activity and this case should help begin that process.
Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2001 Community News Group
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