FREEHOLD, N.J. - Authorities smashed an international sports betting ring yesterday that handled a half-billion dollars worth of bets over the last 16 months.
State and local officials from throughout New Jersey arrested 47 people and are seeking 12 others as part of the ring, which used the Internet as well as a network of street-level operatives to take bets on pro and college football and basketball, among other sports.
"We have struck a powerful blow at the organizational level of an illegal gambling organization that has been reaping millions in illegal profits," Monmouth County Prosecutor Luis Valentin said.
He identified three ringleaders of the operation as Joseph Pasquale, 50, of Brick Township; Richard Crossan, 48, of Hillsborough in Somerset County; and Ralph Santoro, 52, of Bridgewater. All three were charged with money laundering, conspiracy, racketeering, and promoting gambling.
They are being held on $1 million bail and are due to make an initial court appearance today. It was not immediately clear if the three had hired lawyers.
Valentin said several thousand bettors could make wagers using Internet sites after being given a user name and password by employees of the ring. Others used a toll-free number to contact the operation's "wire room" in Costa Rica.
None of the bettors was charged, Valentin said.
In carrying out raids at 70 locations, authorities seized more than $2 million in cash, froze numerous bank accounts, and seized 14 vehicles and a 28-foot yacht owned by Pasquale that was named "Risky Business."
Authorities are also seeking to confiscate a bayfront house that Pasquale and his wife, Carol, owned in Mantoloking worth several million dollars.