17 Indicted on Organized Crime Charges Involving Louisiana Video Poker
NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Seventeen people were arrested today in a scheme by three organized crime families to skim profits from video poker gambling machines in Louisiana, authorities said.
The charges allege that the Genovese and Gambino families in New York and the Marcello family in New Orleans infiltrated Worldwide Gaming of Louisiana and its subsidiary, Louisiana Route Operators Inc.
The suspects were arrested at dawn by federal agents and state troopers on indictments returned by a federal grand jury in New Orleans.
″This proves what we’ve said all along,″ said Capt. Ronnie Jones, a state police spokesman. ″Otherwise legitimate forms of gambling are susceptible to organized crime infiltration.″
The indictment did not specify how much money authorities believe was skimmed.
The Legislature approved video poker gambling in 1991. There are now about 12,000 video poker machines operating in Louisiana bars, restaurants, truck stops, race tracks and off-track betting parlors.
Eight of the arrests were made in the New Orleans area. The others were in the New York City area and Florida, authorities said.
Most of the indictment, the product of a 2 1/2 -year investigation by the Louisiana State Police and the FBI, involved federal charges of racketeering, wire fraud and mail fraud.
If convicted of all of the charges, the defendants face anywhere from 20 to 230 years in prison and millions of dollars in fines.
U.S. Attorney Robert Boitmann said Bally Gaming Inc. was the victim of the alleged scheme and cooperated fully with investigators.
According to the indictment, Worldwide Gaming, which authorities described as an organized crime front, secured the sole rights in Louisiana to video poker machines made by Bally, a giant in the industry.
Bally agreed to furnish Worldwide Gaming about $20 million worth of credit, cash and machines, the indictment alleged. Money from the machines was diverted illegally to the three crime families, it said.
Among those arrested were Anthony Carollo, identified by the indictment as the boss of the Marcello family; Joseph Marcello Jr., the brother of the late New Orleans crime lord Carlos Marcello; and alleged members of associates of the Gambino and Genovese families.