Three sentenced in Pa. bookmaking operation with ties to Costa Rica

Joseph and Anna Rose Vitelli of Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, have been sentenced for their roles in a racketeering conspiracy involving the Mastronardo bookmaking organization that had links to Costa Rica.

Joseph Vitelli, 71, was sentenced to five months in prison and three years of supervised release, with the first five months served on house arrest.  His wife, Anna Rose, 67, was sentenced to five months in prison and three years of supervised release, with the first five months served on house arrest.

Harry Murray, 62, of Boca Raton, Florida, was also sentenced today for his role in the racketeering conspiracy.  Murray was sentenced to eight months in prison and two years of supervised release, with the first eight months served on house arrest.  U.S. District Court Judge Jan E. DuBois handed down the sentences.

The Mastronardo Bookmaking Organization was a multi-million dollar sports betting operation with bettors throughout the U.S.  At its peak, the organization had more than 1,000 bettors and was generating millions of dollars a year.  The Vitellis and Murray were among 15 defendants charged by indictment with racketeering conspiracy in the case.  All 15 of those defendants pleaded guilty prior to trial.  The defendants will forfeit approximately $3.7 million as a result of the guilty pleas in this case.

The Vitellis owned J & A Check Cashing in Philadelphia.  From 2005 to 2010, J & A Check Cashing laundered over $500,000 of checks to assist the Mastronardo bookmaking organization, prosecutors said.  And, in 2005 and 2006, the couple allowed the Mastronardo bookmaking organization to use a second floor office to run the illegal gambling business, they added.

Murray was a bookmaker in Florida.  He pleaded guilty to his role in three separate money laundering conspiracies, including the use of J & A Check Cashing to launder gambling proceeds.

Between Jan. 1, 2005, and Jan. 1, 2011, the organization utilized internet Web sites and telephone numbers that allowed bettors to place sports bets on football, baseball, basketball, golf, horse racing, and other sporting events.  Residents of Costa Rica staffed the internet and telephone sites.

Members of the organization used telephone, Skype, email, text messaging, and in-person communication to take bets and collect or deliver payments that ranged from $1,000 to more than $100,000.

Joseph Vito Mastronardo, Jr., was sentenced to 20 months in prison and a $100,000 fine.  His son, Joseph F. Mastronardo, was sentenced to five months in prison, three years of supervised release, with the first five months served on house arrest, and a $5,000 fine. His brother, John Vito Mastronardo, was sentenced to nine months in prison, three years of supervised release, with the first five months served on house arrest, and a $5,000 fine.

An associate, Eric Woehlcke, was sentenced to eight months in prison, three years of supervised release, with the first eight months served on house arrest, and a $3,000 fine.

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

Joseph Vito Mastronardo, one of the leaders of the organization, was a frequent visitor to Costa Rica and told an undercover agent that he had loaned $2 million to another sports better organization here, said prosecutors. In a letter that surfaced in the investigation, he praised the Costa Rican weather.

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