Qns men ran betting ring in Ridgewood apt.: DA

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A group of western Queens men were charged with running an illegal sports betting operation out of a Ridgewood apartment, the Queens DA said.

Seven men, including one from Brooklyn, were charged with numerous gambling offenses after police arrested them Feb. 8 for the $1 million per-year operation.

“The defendants are accused of not only running a traditional wire room in Queens — where bettors called in wagers over the telephone — but they are also alleged to have availed themselves of modern technology — using a gambling website where action was available around the clock,” District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement.

The men were arraigned Feb. 8 and bail ranged from $5,000 to $25,000 for five of the individuals, said the DA.

According to the DA, Russell Colombo, 64, of 66-54 73rd Place, allegedly was the ringleader who oversaw the ring’s operations.

The other men charged in the sting operation are from several neighborhoods in western Queens. Salvatore Croce, 53, of 60-47 59th Ave.; Vincent Bracco, 49, of 60-65 60th Road; and Armando Rao, 68, of 16-43 Putnam Ave., are from Ridgewood. Rocco Riccardi, 81, of 78-18 79th St., and Ralph Esposito, 59, of 78-19 68th Road, are from Glendale. Thomas Sabatino, 62, is from Brooklyn.

The gambling ring, headquartered at 818 Woodward Ave. in Ridgewood, was divided into a hierarchy of responsibility.

Colombo was allegedly at the top where he ran the books for the operation and profited from each illicit transaction, according to the DA’s office.

But he allegedly had help through three partners — Croce, Sabatino and Bracco — who, the DA said, keep the books and manage offshore accounts through the gambling website

The bottom rung consisted of the clerks — allegedly Rao, Riccardi and Esposito — who accepted the bets and updated the bookmakers of wins and losses on a weekly basis, the DA said.

The indictments were handed up more than two years after the DA’s Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau unearthed evidence of a Queens betting ring. The bureau incriminated the men through intercepted conversations and other surveillance, Brown said.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 11:02 am, October 12, 2011
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