The following examples of Gaming Investigations are written from public record documents on file in the courts within the judicial district where the cases were prosecuted.
Wife of Bookmaker Sentenced for Conspiracy to Defraud the Government
On Sept. 26, 2016, in Boston, Massachusetts, Rafia Feghi, who was born in Iran and lives in Newton, was sentenced to 12 months and two days in prison. Feghi also signed over all of the funds of a Liechtenstein account (worth more than $1 million) to the United States government. Feghi pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and to obstruct justice. Feghi is the wife of Joseph Yerardi Jr., a previously convicted bookmaker. Over more than 25 years, Feghi hid hundreds of thousands of dollars that her husband earned from illegal bookmaking and loansharking, to evade a $916,000 forfeiture order and a $50,000 fine that were imposed on Yerardi when he was sentenced in 1995 on a federal racketeering conviction. Feghi used multiple accounts under various names, first in Canada, and eventually in Liechtenstein. From 2010 to July 2016, Feghi and co-conspirators repeatedly lied to the courts in Liechtenstein and the United States in attempts to hide the true ownership and source of the funds.
Former Fugitive Sentenced for Failing to Pay Taxes from Illegal Gambling Operation
On Sept. 1, 2016, in Chicago, Illinois, Alber Najjar, aka Alber Yakoub, was sentenced to 57 months in prison, fined $5,000 and ordered to pay back taxes to both the U.S. and the State of Illinois. Najjar failed to pay taxes on income he earned from a gambling operation in Illinois and Indiana from 1997 to 2001. Najjar filed an individual federal tax return for each of those years, but he failed to report the income he earned from the gambling business. Shortly before being indicted in April 2004, Najjar fled to Lebanon and was considered a fugitive for more than 11 years. During that time, Najjar used a Syrian passport – issued in the name of Alber Yakoub – to travel to Europe, Asia and other parts of the Middle East. He was arrested in November 2015 on the island of Cyprus and extradited to the United States shortly thereafter. Najjar pleaded guilty earlier this year to two counts of filing a false tax return. Najjar, who resided in Winnetka prior to fleeing the country, generated large sums from his illegal bookmaking business, and utilized the services of offshore accounts to transact business. He concealed from his accountant both the gambling enterprise and the income he earned from it. Najjar’s illegal conduct resulted in a total state and federal tax loss of more than $1.07 million.
Video Poker Business Owner Sentenced
On Feb. 24, 2016, in Columbia, South Carolina, Larry Flynn, aka L.W., of Richland County, was sentenced to 15 months in prison; three years supervised release and ordered to pay $251,000 in restitution. Flynn ran an illegal video poker business called Magic Minutes from 2011 through 2013. Magic Minutes placed video poker machines throughout the state, generally in gas stations, liquor stores and party shops. For a fee, the machines allowed gamblers to play games of chance – with the ability to cash out their winnings with the owners of the stores where the machines were housed. Magic Minutes was a profitable illegal gambling business, in two years making well over a million dollars. However, during this same time, the defendant paid no taxes and had members of his family on Medicaid.
Pennsylvania Bookmaker Gets Prison Term for Tax Charges
On Oct. 2, 2015, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Jacob Corropolese, Sr., of Norristown, was sentenced to 12 months and a day in prison and one year of supervised release for tax charges in connection with his sports bookmaking operation. Corropolese was also ordered to pay $238,000 in taxes, interest, and penalties to the IRS. On May 6, 2015, Corropolese pleaded guilty to two counts of filing false tax returns. According to court documents, Corropolese received more than $500,000 in proceeds from bettors when he ran a sports bookmaking operation but did not report any of the income on his federal income tax returns for 2010 and 2011. As a result he substantially underreported his income resulting in a total tax loss of $120,002.