NEW YORK (WABC) -- Sal's Shoe Repair in Merrick, New York, was doing more than fixing heels and worn soles.
The Genovese organized crime family operated an illegal gambling operation out of the place, generating "substantial revenue" which was then laundered through cash transfers, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn said.
Nine purported members and associates of the Genovese and Bonanno organized crime families were charged Tuesday with racketeering and illegal gambling offenses for running gambling parlors out of other legitimate-seeming establishments in Queens and on Long Island, including a coffee bar and a soccer club.
A Nassau County police detective, 49-year-old Hector Rosario, is among the defendants. He accepted money from the Bonanno family in exchange for offering to arrange police raids of competing gambling locations, according to the indictment.
Rosario has pleaded not guilty.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Rosario has been a Nassau County officer for 15 years. He was honored in 2016 by the Village of East Hills for capturing robbery suspects.
"Current members of the five families demonstrate every day they are not adverse to working together to further their illicit schemes, using the same tired methods to squeeze money from their victims. Enlisting alleged assistance from a member of law enforcement also proves they are willing to do all they can to hide their illegal behavior," said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael Driscoll.
Beginning in May 2012, the Genovese and Bonanno families jointly operated a lucrative illegal gambling operation in Lynbrook, New York called the Gran Caffe. The profits earned through this and other gambling locations generated substantial revenue, which was then laundered through cash transfers to the defendants and through "kicking up" to the crime families' leaders, the indictment said.
"Today's arrests of members from two La Cosa Nostra crime families demonstrate that the Mafia continues to pollute our communities with illegal gambling, extortion, and violence while using our financial system in service to their criminal schemes," said United States Attorney Breon Peace. "The defendants tried to hide their criminal activity by operating from behind the cover of a coffee bar, a soccer club, and a shoe repair shop, but our Office and our law enforcement partners exposed their illegal operations. Even more disturbing is the shameful conduct of a detective who betrayed his oath of office and the honest men and women of the Nassau County Police Department when he allegedly aligned himself with criminals."
Among those charged are Anthony Pipitone, a captain and soldier in the Bonanno family and Carmelo Polito, acting captain in the Genovese family, prosecutors said.
Eight defendants were arrested Tuesday morning while one suspect has not yet been caught.
Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder released the following statement:
"The Nassau County Police Department has continued to assist the FBI during this ongoing investigation and Detective Hector Rosario has been working on Restricted Assignment with no interaction with the public. Furthermore, he has been suspended without pay pending an administrative hearing. The Nassau County Police Department continues to have a zero tolerance approach toward any member of the department who is involved in criminal activity."
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