Monday, March 31, 2008

Drug and Gambling Ring with Alleged Ties to Organized Crime

A seven-month investigation into a drug and gambling ring with alleged ties to organized crime yielded arrests of 45 people Tuesday, including a high school athletic director and a teacher from another school district.

Among those arrested Tuesday were four reputed associates of the Genovese crime family: James J. Skinner, 40, of Hazlet; his father, James W. Skinner, 69, of Allenwood; Brian DiGuilmi, 48, of Emerson, and 49-year-old Mark Iafelice of Edgewater.

Those four and 63-year-old Bernard Duffy of Hasbrouck Heights were charged with racketeering. Duffy is not believed to be associated with the Genovese family, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said.

A message left at a number listed for the younger Skinner was not returned Tuesday. There was no answer at numbers listed for Iafelice, the elder Skinner and DiGuilmi, and a person answering the phone at Duffy's house did not take a message.

The rest of the suspects were charged with promoting gambling or conspiracy to possess or distribute illegal drugs.

Charged with promoting gambling were Jerry Maietta, 37, the athletic director at North Bergen High School, and Ralph Marino, 52, an aide at the school. Also charged with promoting gambling was John Prato, 36, of Brick, a teacher at Freehold Regional High School.

Molinelli said there was no evidence any teachers or students at the two schools had placed bets with the suspects. A message left at Freehold Regional High School was not returned Tuesday, and the phone was not answered at North Bergen High School.

A phone number listed for Maietta was disconnected, and a number could not be located for Marino. Prato did not return a voice mail message.

The investigation, dubbed "Off The Hook" because both Skinners live in the shore area near Sandy Hook Bay, initially targeted a gambling operation that handled about $1 million per month in transactions, according to Molinelli.

Investigators eventually uncovered the alleged drug ring through a connection between the younger Skinner and Paul Pierantoni, 44, a window washer from Carlstadt, the prosecutor said.

A telephone number for Pierantoni in Carlstadt was disconnected.

Much of the drug activity was centered in the southern Bergen County towns of Carlstadt, Wood-Ridge and East Rutherford, Molinelli said.

"These were not street sales," he said. "Most of the drugs were sold by phone and by deliveries to pickup homes. We were able to find a rather significant network of crack and marijuana dealers in south Bergen."

Many of those charged with promoting gambling accepted bets from gamblers and routed them to an offshore wire room, or phone bank, based in the Dominican Republic, Molinelli said. Those who accepted bets received a commission on winning bets and were responsible for collecting debts when the gamblers lost.

The operation was allowed to operate in exchange for kicking back a percentage of the take to the Genovese family, according to Molinelli.

More than $5 million was seized, including about $2 million from the senior Skinner, who is retired and living on a pension and had the money in an investment account, Molinelli said.

Thanks to David Porter

No comments:

Post a Comment