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Accused heads of gaming ring reject pleas

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Reputed Gambino crime family captain Ronald Trucchio and his son Alphonse decided not to enter any pleas to charges of running an illegal sports betting gambling scheme out of two Ozone Park houses and rejected offers of reduced jail time from the Queens district attorney.

The father and son will have another chance to enter a guilty or not guilty plea at their upcoming hearings, a spokeswoman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. The elder Trucchio's case was adjourned until April 2, while his son's case will next be heard March 17, she said.

"There is still the possibility that if the defendants decide not to offer a plea, their cases will go to trial," the spokeswoman said.

Ronald Trucchio, 51, of 135-43 120th St. in South Ozone Park, and his son Alphonse, 25, of 156-04 79th St. in Howard Beach, and 15 others were charged in the 36-count indictment with enterprise corruption, conspiracy, promoting gambling and possession of gambling records, Brown said.

State Supreme Court Judge Richard Buchter watched as one by one each defendant approached the bench with his lawyer and decided to reject plea agreements offered to them by the DA's office. Assistant District Attorney Pery Kadanof said during proceedings that the plea offers with reduced jail time would not be offered to the defendants again and that if the cases went to trial, the juries rather than the DA would decide the potential penalties.

The defendants surrounded Ronald Trucchio outside courtroom K-10 at State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens in what resembled a football huddle in deciding whether they were going to accept or reject the plea deals. After numerous "second calls," or conference periods, all the defendants decided to wait on whether to enter guilty or not guilty pleas.

About 14 Queens residents, including Ronald Trucchio and his son, two alleged members of the Gambino crime family, were brought up on charges of operating an illegal sports betting ring.

The district attorney also charged Ronald Trucchio with failing to file New York state tax returns for the past three years beginning in 1999, he said. If convicted, Trucchio could face up to 25 years in prison for tax evasion, the DA said.

Detective Louis Wirth, who is with the Police Department's Asset Forfeiture Unit, said at the time of the indictment in December that the scheme centered around two central offices or wire rooms in Ozone Park in a third-floor apartment at 89-07 North Conduit Ave. and a one-family house at 149-29 122nd St. Phone lines were set up at the locations where outsiders would call up and place their bets, using code names given to them by their bookies, he said.

Wirth, who said the undercover investigation into the gambling ring began in April, said the scheme operated on a weekly basis and included professional and college sports teams. At the end of the betting week, the bookies would go out and collect their monies from those who placed the bets, Wirth said, and then "square up" their ledgers and begin taking bets for the next week.

While announcing the indictment, Brown said the scheme drew the attention of law enforcement officials because of the large bets taking place at the wire rooms, which took bets of up to $15,000 in one case and because of the presence of the Trucchios.

Brown also brought a $6.5 million civil lawsuit against the elder Trucchio, alleging that he falsely claimed to have worked at a restaurant to get approved for a loan at a local bank.

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 156

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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