New York Mafia Hit by FBI in Illegal Online Sportsbook Crackdown

21 Sep

Six New York mobsters are facing the full force of the law after the FBI busted a large-scale illegal online gambling business that had run for at least 15 years under the protection of the Lucchese crime family.

An indictment in Brooklyn federal court revealed that Anthony Villani, an alleged Luchese family soldier, “oversaw a large-scale illegal gambling business called Rhino Sports”.

Rhino Sports was an offshore operation using servers in Costa Rica, but employed local bookmakers in and around New York to pay out winnings and collect losses.

Villani is reputed to have earned $1million annually for running the illegal sportsbook, which saw between 400 and 1300 customers place bets on a weekly basis.

According to court records, “Villani’s bookmakers regularly included members and associates of the Luchese crime family and other La Cosa Nostra families.”

Fifty-seven year-old Villani was arrested in New York along with associates Louis “Tooch” Tucci, Jr. (59) Dennis Filizzola (58) and James “Quick” Coumoutsos (59), while 44-year-old Michael “Platinum” Praino, was arrested in Florida.

A December 2020 law enforcement search of a Villani residence discovered $407,000 in cash, as well as “brass knuckles and gambling ledgers.”

This week’s unsealed indictment charges Villani with “racketeering in connection with participation in various criminal schemes, including illegal gambling, money laundering and attempted extortion.”

The extortion charge relates to an incident in 2020 in which Villani is alleged to have threatened an individual, identified only as John Doe, by stating:

“I’m telling you right now, you don’t get this money – [expletive] run away.”

United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Breon Peace, stated of the indictment:

“As alleged, this conduct demonstrates how members of La Cosa Nostra continue to engage in illegal gambling operations and money laundering money-marking schemes that lead to threats of violence against anyone who stands in their way and has resulted in millions of dollars in profits to the Lucchese crime family. These charges illustrate this Office’s continued commitment to rooting La Cosa Nostra out of New York.”

Assistant Director-in-Charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office stated:

“Members of the mafia are not giving up the tried-and-true methods of criminal behavior… do what they say or face terrifying consequences. One thing these criminals can bet on – the FBI will continue our pursuit.”

The indictment comes just a month after we revealed that the FBI had bust open another Mafia betting syndicate operating in New York. That story involved members and associates of the Genovese and Bonanno crime families, and a crooked cop who took bribes to look the other way.

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