Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Guilty Pleas in Organized Crime Gambling Ring

Two men with reputed ties to organized crime pleaded guilty on Tuesday to participating in an illegal gambling ring run out of a wholesale produce market at Hunts Point in the Bronx.

John Caggiano, who the authorities say is an associate in the Genovese crime family, admitted in State Supreme Court in Manhattan that he “knowingly advanced and profited from unlawful gambling.” In exchange for his plea to enterprise corruption, a felony, Mr. Caggiano, 59, will receive a sentence of one and a half to four and a half years in prison. He must also forfeit $176,000.

His co-defendant, Douglas Maleton, 60, admitted that he had been a runner for the numbers and sports-betting operation and pleaded guilty to attempted enterprise corruption, for which he will receive a one-year sentence. He must forfeit $591.

“Today’s pleas go a long way to ridding our public wholesale markets of organized crime,” said Michael J. Mansfield, the chairman of the city’s Business Integrity Commission, which was created in 2001 to help end mob influence in the trash-hauling companies and wholesale markets.

Mr. Mansfield also said Tuesday’s pleas were only part of the battle. “There are always going to be influences of organized crime in an organization that has the ability to generate $1.2 billion in sales,” he said.

Mr. Caggiano and Mr. Maleton were 2 of 11 men who were arrested in November 2006 as part of a gambling ring that the authorities said generated $200,000 a year in profits. All but one of the 11 men have pleaded guilty. Robert Russo, who the authorities contend is the head of the operation, is scheduled to go on trial next month.

Mr. Caggiano, the son-in-law of Dominick Cirillo, the former acting boss of the Genovese family, owned and operated C&S Wholesale Produce Inc., one of the terminal market’s biggest produce wholesalers. The authorities said that he ran the day-to-day operations of the ring, often conducting business from his headquarters at C&S.

The commission began investigating the company in 2004, Mr. Mansfield said. By 2006, after the Manhattan district attorney’s office brought charges against the 11 men, the commission began its own proceedings against C&S, Mr. Mansfield said. In May 2007, the commission expelled C&S from the market, finding that the company “lacked good character, honesty and integrity,” Mr. Mansfield said.

Robert M. Morgenthau, the Manhattan district attorney, said the investigation relied on “quite extensive electronic surveillance over a long period of time.”

The case was under Mr. Morgenthau’s jurisdiction because some of the operations were run out of an apartment in Lower Manhattan, the authorities said.

Justice Bruce Allen is scheduled to formally sentence Mr. Maleton on Oct. 10 and Mr. Caggiano on Nov. 3. Both men declined to comment.

Thanks to John Eligon

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