What to Know
10 people were arrested for allegedly running loan sharking and gambling operations connected to the Lucchese organized crime family
The loan sharking operation is the largest operation ever investigated by the New York Attorney General
The investigation — known as “Operation The Vig Is Up” — involved the loan sharking, bookmaking of alleged Lucchese family members
Ten people were arrested for allegedly running loan sharking and gambling operations connected to the Lucchese organized crime family.
The loan sharking operation is the largest operation ever investigated by the New York Attorney General, with interest payouts exceeding a million dollars just during the approximately one-year investigation, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
Known as “Operation The Vig Is Up," the long-term investigation involved the alleged loan sharking and bookmaking activities of Lucchese “made member” Dominick Capelli, 61, of New Rochelle, New York, and alleged Lucchese “associates” or “non-made” crew members in Westchester and the Bronx, New York State’s Eric Schneiderman announced in a statement.
“This brazen ring of criminals preyed on New Yorkers – using a gambling operation to funnel victims into their loan sharking operation, and then saddling them with usurious loan payments,” Schneiderman said.
Wire taps, covert surveillance camera, a car bug, undercover officers and hidden cameras were all used to gather evidence during the long-term investigation.
Authorities identified more than 47 different loan sharking victims, many with various loans. The victims were allegedly required to make weekly payments with high interests by directly paying certain individuals or by dropping off the cash at two New Rochelle businesses: McKiernan’s Lawton Street Tavern and The Glass Room, a smoke shop, officials say.
In addition, Capelli, Robert Wagner, 59, and Frank McKiernan, 53, all from New Rochelle, New York, allegedly ran an illegal bookmaking operation, using the gambling website bxbets.com to generate over a half a million dollars in yearly wagers, according to officials.
The 10 people arrested face charges of enterprise corruption, with underlying crimes of usury and promoting gambling. Aside from Capelli, Wagner and McKiernan the other individuals facing charges are: Anthony Martino, 76, of Port Chester, New York; Michael Wagner, 63, of The Bronx; Steve Murray, 49, of Bethel, Connecticut; Seth Trustman, 36, of The Bronx; Richard Caccavale, 59, of Yorktown Heights, New York; Jessica Bismark, 32, and Robert Wagner Jr., 33, both from New Rochelle.
The enterprise corruption charge alone carries a maximum penalty of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison.
Two other individuals also face charges in connection with this investigation. Michael Lepore, 61, and Vincent Tardibuono, 41, both from New Rochelle, were charged with allegedly running an online bookmaking operation, which generated over $1.5 million in annual wagers, via website ezplay2001.com.
In addition, a related narcotics-based indictment filed by the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office charged Lucien Cappello, 38, of New Rochelle, with criminal sale and criminal possession of a controlled substance.