Man in Costa Rica named in big Mafia bust

A man reported to live in Costa Rica, Laurence Keith Allen, 46, has been indicted in New York on a charge of illegal gambling. Others in the indictment are accused of extortion, arson, racketeers and other crimes.

Most of those indicted are members or associates of four of the five New York crime families and one from Philadelphia, said federal officials.

As far as gambling, a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York said that members of the enterprise, playing different roles in the sports gambling operations, utilized gambling Web sites based in the United States and abroad to keep track of wagers and proceeds.

In all 46 men have been charged, and three, including Allen, had not been arrested yet. The case reinforced the belief that at last some of Costa Rica’s gambling operations are connected directly to the La Cosa Nostra or Italian Mafia.

Allen’s role was not specified except that he also was included in a list of men who face having property forfeited.

The indictment reads like something out of a Damon Runyon or Mario Puzo novel. In addition to legal names, the federal indictment listed nicknames. There is Tugboat,  Mustache Pat,  Harpo, Fish,  Tony the Cripple, Anthony the Kid, and, of course, Vinny.

The crimes alleged are anything but humorous. The gangsters worked together to engage in a multitude of criminal activities throughout the East Coast of the United States between Springfield, Massachusetts, and Southern Florida, said the federal government.

“The indictment reads like an old school Mafia novel, where extortion, illegal gambling, arson and threats to whack someone are carried out along with some modern-day crimes of credit card skimming,” said Diego Rodriguez, FBI assistant director-in-charge.

“These mobsters seemed to use every scheme known to us, from arson, to shake-downs, violence, health care fraud, and even untaxed cigarettes to keep the racket going,”  said William J. Bratton, New York City police commissioner.

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