Off-shore Website Was Front for Mafia Bookmaking

Two New Jersey men today admitted to conspiring with the Genovese organized crime family in an illegal sports betting website, said federal prosecutors.

The group was arrested in May 2012.

Joseph “Joe Graz” Graziano , 77, and Dominick "Harpo" Barone, 44, each pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge in U.S. District Court in Newark. Both face sentences of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 when they are sentenced in November.

The scheme involved a website, which they called “the office,” that was based off-shore in Costa Rica, which reportedly plays host to scores of legal gambling sites.

But according to prosecutors, only existed as a tool for old-fashioned bookmaking. Genovese associates based in northern New Jersey gave local customers a user name and a password to access the site and place bets.

The site enabled the operators to track the betting. Collections and payouts were done in a more traditional manner: In person. If a bettor failed to make good on his gambling loses, the Genovese crew used threats of violence to collect.

In pleading to the racketeering charge, Graziano agreed to forfeit $1 million. Barone, also known as "Harpo," will forfeit $100,000.

Four other men previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the racketeering conspiracy: John “Johnny Fugazi” Breheney, 49, and Salvatore Turchio, 48, both of Little Egg Harbor; Jose Gotay, 76, of New Milford, N.J., and Patsy “Uncle Patsy” Pirozzi, 75, of Suffern, N.Y.