Thursday, January 05, 2017

Guilty Pleas in Extortion and Gambling Operation

Three men pleaded guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court in Boston in connection with conducting an illegal gambling business.

Joseph Yerardi, 62, of Newton, Anthony Corso, 51 of Cambridge, and Michael Burke, 45, of Winthrop, pleaded guilty in separate hearings before U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper to conducting an illegal gambling business from March 2015 through April 2016, and conspiring to collect and collecting extensions of credit by extortionate means.  Yerardi and Corso also pleaded guilty to conspiring to make and making extortionate extensions of credit.

The defendants were involved in a large bookmaking business that made hundreds of thousands of dollars and used threats or other extortionate means to collect debts.  Among other things, a debtor reported that Yerardi threatened to stab the debtor “twenty times” for not paying a gambling debt.  Corso threatened another debtor by saying he would “smash your [expletive] head off the car”.

In 2009, Yerardi was convicted of racketeering, conducting an illegal gambling business, money laundering, and collection of credit by extortionate means, and sentenced to 100 months in prison.  In 1995, Yerardi was convicted of racketeering, extortionate extensions of credit, collection of credit by extortionate means, money laundering, conducting an illegal gambling business and witness intimidation, and sentenced to 135 months in prison.

Judge Casper deferred accepting the defendants’ plea agreements until sentencing.  Yerardi is scheduled to be sentenced on March 14, 2017, and Corso and Burke are scheduled to be sentenced on March 21, 2017.  If the court accepts the plea agreements, Yerardi will be sentenced to eight years in prison, Corso to five years in prison, and Burke to 12 to 26 months in prison, each to be followed by three years of supervised release.  In addition, the defendants agreed to forfeit over $70,000 seized in various searches and from bank accounts and to forfeiture money judgments of $300,00 for Yerardi, $60,000 for Corso and $30,000 for Burke.

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