Dozens Arrested in Sweep of Alleged $178M Online Gambling Ring

NEW YORK -- Bookies operating two online sports gambling rings took in nearly $178 million in bets around the country in less than three years, prosecutors charged Wednesday after arresting 38 on enterprise corruption charges.

Suspected money collectors, agents and bookies were arrested in Nevada, Louisiana, Florida, New York and Arizona after a three-year investigation led by the New York Police Department's organized crime division.

Three New York City employees, a firefighter, sanitation worker and a highway repairman, were arrested in the sweep. Six people from Louisiana, including William Bryant III, the premium sales manager for the NBA's New Orleans Hornets, were also arrested.

A team spokesman said that Bryant was allegedly acting on his own outside of any team functions. "We were advised by federal authorities that the alleged activities do not involve the Hornets," he said.

Charges also included money laundering, promoting gambling and conspiracy.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said the suspects operated two nationwide rings using sports betting Web sites filtered through Costa Rica. They took bets on professional and college football and basketball, as well as professional baseball and hockey games.

New York officials held a news conference with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers and the Broward County Sheriff's Office in Florida to announce the arrests.

Prosecutors said Robert Baselice and Charles Cicalo, both from Staten Island, worked as bookmakers on and, employing agents and other people to collect and disburse money.

The second indictment charges Robert Ackrish, a sanitation worker, and his father, Lewis, both from New York, with running a second ring that also used some of the same Web sites.

They were all awaiting arraignment, and no lawyer information was available.

More cash and millions of dollars in property were seized after more than a dozen search warrants were executed in New York, Florida, Michigan, Nevada and Louisiana.

"Such computerized wire rooms operate around the clock and can handle a large volume of bettors at any one time, thus allowing the organizers to increase their illicit profits without having to bother with the time-consuming, record-keeping aspects of a more traditional, paper-based bookmaking operation," Brown said. "Unfortunately for the defendants, the law enforcement community is just as adept in using new technology to stop those involved in such criminal pursuits."

In addition to Bryant, 39, of Kenner, the other Louisiana suspects are: Ashley Perry, 33, of Metairie; Shane Muscarello, 37, of Metairie; Craig Goodwin, 49, of Kenner; David Theriot, 45, of Covington; and David Carazo, 40, of Mandeville. The government charged all six with operation of an illegal gambling business, which employed the use of an offshore betting service based in Costa Rica.