Examples of Gaming Investigations - Fiscal Year 2013
The following examples of gaming investigations are written from public record documents on file in the court records in the judicial district in which the cases were prosecuted.
Connecticut Couple Sentenced on Illegal Gambling and Tax Convictions
On December 17, 2012, in New Haven, Conn., Dominic J. Acquarulo, Jr., of Guilford, Conn., was sentenced to 22 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $4,000 fine. Acquarulo’s wife, Annunziata Germana, was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay a $2,000 fine. In addition, Acquarulo and Germana were ordered to pay back taxes and interest of $29,659 and $13,397, respectively. On March 13, 2012, Acquarulo pleaded guilty to one count of operating an illegal gambling business, one count of filing a false tax return, and one count of willfully failing to timely file a tax return. On June 12, 2012, Germana pleaded guilty to two counts of willfully failing to file a tax return. According to court documents, between 2006 and 2008, Acquarulo operated an illegal sports bookmaking business that involved a number of sub-bookmakers, each of whom had a network of bettors. Also between 2006 and 2008, Acquarulo operated Shoreline Finance and Marketing Corporation, a mortgage brokerage company. During this time, Acquarulo employed Germana as a mortgage loan officer at the business. With Acquarulo’s knowledge, Germana used corporate credit cards and corporate checks to pay for numerous personal expenses, including rent for her apartment, car lease payments, jewelry and clothing.
Connecticut Man Sentenced for Operating an Illegal Gambling Business
On November 16, 2012, in Hartford, Conn., Michael Pepe, of North Haven, Conn., was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison, two years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $100,000. On August 6, 2012, Pepe pleaded guilty to two counts of operating an illegal gambling business. According to court documents, in May 2012, Pepe served as the master agent for his Stamford-based co-defendants’ gambling operations. Pepe oversaw bookmaking activities, coordinated the collection of monetary losses from various agents (“bookies”), and provided a portion of those illegal proceeds to a co-defendant. The total gross revenues of the Stamford-based gambling operation were nearly $1.7 million from October 2010 to June 2011.
Missouri Men Sentenced for Running Illegal Gambling Operation
On October 31, 2012, in Springfield, Mo. William Lisle, of Joplin, was to two years of probation, including six months of home detention, and ordered to pay a $2,000 fine and forfeit $98,263. On October 18, 2012, Kenneth B. Lovett, of Joplin, was sentenced to two years of probation, including six months of home detention. Lisle and Lovett each pleaded guilty to operating an illegal gambling operation over the Internet. Lisle also pleaded guilty to money laundering. According to court documents, from January 1, 2003 to February 8, 2011, Lisle and Lovett used the Internet to transmit wagering information, including placing bets on sporting events, as part of their gambling business. Lisle sent cashier’s checks, payable to a false name in an effort to conceal the transfer, to the Costa Rican company that operated the Web sites. Lisle’s plea agreement cites 15 instances in which he sent cashier’s checks totaling $72,000 to Costa Rica as part of his scheme to launder money obtained from the gambling enterprise.
Operator of Illegal Gambling Business Sentenced
On October 10, 2012, in Urbana, Ill., Jimmy A. LaCost, of Kankakee, Ill., was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison. LaCost was convicted in April 2012 for structuring financial transactions and laundering the proceeds of his illegal gambling business. LaCost’s son, Michael, was sentenced to 12 months of home confinement with electronic monitoring. LaCost Amusements, Inc., was sentenced to three years of probation. The court also ordered Jimmy LaCost, Michael LaCost and LaCost Amusements, Inc., to jointly forfeit $4,285,829 in illegal gambling proceeds, 300 illegal video gambling machines, and nine separate properties. In April 2012, a jury found Jimmy LaCost guilty of 54 counts of structuring financial transactions and one count of money laundering. The jury found that Jimmy LaCost structured approximately $6.4 million in cash deposits over four years, from January 2005 to July 2009, to evade Currency Transaction Reporting requirements. In addition, the jury found Jimmy LaCost guilty of money laundering related to the bank deposits of proceeds from the operation of the illegal gambling business.