U.S. targets another betting operation here with indictments

Another betting organization with strong links to Costa Rica has been targeted by U.S. federal agents. A 23-count indictment was unsealed last week charging 16 defendants in a conspiracy case involving the Mastronardo bookmaking organization, a multi-million dollar sports betting operation with bettors throughout the United States, said the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

At its peak, the alleged organization had more than 1,000 bettors and was generating millions of dollars a year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a release, adding that residents of Costa Rica staffed the Internet and telephone sites.

Defendant Joseph Vito Mastronardo was one of the leaders of the organization, the federal government said. He was a frequent visitor to Costa Rica and told an undercover agent that he had loaned $2 million to another sports better organization here, Costa Rica International Sports, known as BetCRIS Sportsbook.

In addition to Joseph Mastronardo, Jr., charged are John Mastronardo, the other alleged leader; Joseph F. Mastronardo, Eric Woehlcke, Harry Murray, Joseph Vitelli, Anna Rose Vitelli, Patrick Tronoski, Edward Feighan, Kenneth Cohen, Schuyler Twaddle, Michael Loftus, Michael Squillante, David Rounick, Ronald Gendrachi, and Joanna Mastronardo, the wife of Joseph Mastronardo, Jr. She is the daughter of former Philadelphia mayor Frank Rizzo.

According to the press release, Mastronardo has been coming to San José since at least 2007 so he could bet legally. He also told the informant that he worked in the building occupied by BetCris, said the press release and indictment. The informant reported that Mastronardo also said he had millions invested in Costa Rica.
The indictment alleges that the defendants ran the organization using telephone, Skype, email, text messaging, and in-person communication, said the federal government.

The government said that according to the indictment, members of the Mastronardo Bookmaking Organization laundered the gambling proceeds using check cashing agencies, private bank accounts, and international bank accounts and provided instructions so that a losing bettor could pay a gambling debt through a charitable donation.

Mastronardo was in trouble with the federal government before, in 2006 and 2007. Part of the time he was in Costa Rica, he was on probation. He liked it here. The indictment reported him as saying in a letter to his probation officer:

“With regard to my travel to San José, Costa Rica, the weather there is perfect for my health, 82 degrees and humid every day. I traveled at least fourteen times to San Jose last year, 2006, from August to January, leaving on Friday and returning on Monday . . . Betting is an integral part of my income, and in order to maintain that, San José is a legal venue for all types of gambling . . . by restricting my betting to Costa Rica and other offshore betting venues where betting is 100 percent legal, I will be allowed to make a living doing what I do best and love without being in violation of my probation.”

The organization used the Web sites www.betroma.com and www.betrose.com, said the federal government.

Joseph Mastronardo is charged in all 23 counts of the indictment, said the federal government. The remaining 14 defendants are each charged with racketeering and with illegal gambling. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of more than $6.3 million as alleged proceeds of the illegal enterprise, said the government.

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