WASHINGTON — Here's a cautionary note to all of you NFL fans looking for a slick way to lay down a big bet on the Broncos or the Seahawks for Sunday's Super Bowl.
Joseph Vito Mastronardo Jr. pleaded guilty on Friday, Jan. 31st to charges that he ran a multimillion-dollar sports betting ring from 2005 to 2011. He copped to conspiring to participate in a racketeering enterprise, conducting an illegal gambling business, four counts of conspiring to launder money and eight counts of interstate travel in aid of racketeering.
Not to mention transmitting wagering information and aggravated structuring of cash deposits.
One place that Mastronardo made cash deposits was in his back yard, where he stuffed wads of money in buried PVC pipes. In raids on his home in 2006 and 2010, federal agents seized over $2 million hidden in and around his home, the rest of it in specially built secret compartments.
At its peak, the Mastronardo Bookmaking Organization had more than 1,000 bettors and was generating millions of dollars per year, the Justice Department said in announcing Mastronardo's plea in federal court in Philadelphia.
Residents of Costa Rica staffed two websites, www.ebroma.com and www.betrose.com that took bets on football, baseball, basketball, golf, horse racing and other sporting events.
The money was laundered by using a check cashing agency, two private bank accounts and numerous international banking accounts.
Mastronardo is one of 19 defendants charged in the case, a number of them with Mafia-sounding names. He's 11th to plead guilty, preceded by, among others, his son Joseph F. Mastronardo, who worked as an office employee and collected debts, hopefully not the old fashioned way.
By the way, sports betting is still illegal, except in Vegas.