Race Track Tellers Named In Money Laundering Indictment
Attorney General Spitzer, State Police Superintendent James McMahon and State Inspector General Roslyn Mauskopf today announced the indictment of four employees of the New York Racing Association (NYRA) as part of an ongoing investigation of money laundering at New York's thoroughbred racing tracks.
The 46-count indictment alleges that the four defendants - who worked as tellers at NYRA tracks - laundered huge sums of cash offered by undercover State Police agents posing as drug dealers.
Three defendants were arrested by the State Police on Wednesday, July 18 and arraigned before Saratoga County Court Judge Jerry J. Scarano.
"For a cut of the action, these defendants were willing to transform their $2 betting windows at Saratoga, Aqueduct and Belmont Park into a money laundering shop," Spitzer said. "But thanks to a cooperative effort by my office, the State Police and the Inspector General, we are putting a stop to this outrageous and illegal conduct."
The investigation was initiated in March 2000 at the request of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board. Shortly thereafter, State Police surveillance observed tellers receiving cash payments without immediately providing betting slips in return. Authorities then began a careful investigation using undercover officers. The investigation was led by the Attorney General's Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF)and the New York State Police Special Investigations Unit. The indictment alleges that the tellers took a cut of five to ten percent of the money provided to them by undercover agents who identified themselves as cocaine dealers. The tellers converted the small bills into large bills - a typical form of money laundering designed to facilitate the smuggling of cash out of the country by reducing its bulk.
These transactions were conducted at the defendants' betting windows during racing meets at the three tracks. The tellers, including one individual who currently serves as chairman of the tellers' union and another individual who serves as union vice-chairman, are alleged to have laundered more than $300,000 during a six-month period.
Based on recorded undercover conversations, authorities believe that significant laundering of real drug money may have been going on for several years.
"This was an elaborate scam in which the crowd, commotion and cash flow of the race track was used to conceal criminal activity," Spitzer said. "The tracks must be purged of criminal activity and this case should help begin that process."
The possible involvement of drug cartels and other organized crime figures is the subject of a continuing OCTF investigation. Federal and state authorities are also involved in a probe of related criminal activity at the tracks.
New York State Police Superintendent James W. McMahon said: "By targeting yet another money laundering scheme, the New York State law enforcement community is making it more difficult for drug dealers to convert their ill-gotten profits. State law enforcement is sending a strong message to both drug dealers and those who would aid and profit from washing these illicit monies, that we are watching and pursuing every possible avenue where money laundering activities may proliferate."
Inspector General Roslynn R. Mauskopf said: "In addition to prosecutions announced today, rigorous oversight is essential to prevent criminal activity at New York's thoroughbred racing tracks. The IG's Office is continuing its investigation of thee matters and will be making recommendations to ensure that adequate oversight and audit systems are in place and working properly.
The three indicted defendants who were arrested yesterday are: Robert E. Lodati, 59, of Bayside; Robert J. Marshall, 60, of Malverne; and Joseph Rabito, 59, of West Hempstead. A fourth defendant has yet to be arrested.
The indictment charges four men with multiple counts of: Attempted Money Laundering in the First Degree; Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree; and Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree.
Judge Scarano set bail for Lodati at $35,000; Marshall at $25,000; and Rabito at $20,000. All three are currently in Saratoga County Jail.
These charges are accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty.
The prosecution was coordinated by Assistant Deputy Attorney General Meryl Lutsky, under the immediate supervision of Deputy Attorney General in Charge of OCTF, George Quinlan, and Deputy Criminal Division Chief J. Christopher Prather. The Criminal Division is headed by Deputy Attorney General Peter Pope.
The Attorney General also acknowledged the assistance and cooperation of State Racing and Wagering Board and Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy.
- Indictment (PDF) - Printable Version
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