NY authorities charge 30 with illegal online gambling

Twenty-seven people and three companies face charges related to online gambling in New York indictments.

Twenty-seven people and three corporations face charges related to operating an illegal online gambling operation in indictments announced Wednesday by the Queens District Attorney's Office and the New York City Police Department.

The defendants operated a "highly sophisticated" gambling operation that booked more than US$3.3 billion in wagers over 28 months, the law enforcement authorities said. The operation placed bets on a number of sporting events, including horse racing, football, baseball, hockey and professional tennis, according to a press release from Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

The case is the first time Internet gambling charges have been brought against anyone in the U.S. since President George Bush signed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act into law last month. The new law prohibits financial institutions from approving charges related to Internet gambling.

"Internet gambling is a multibillion dollar worldwide industry that for too long has operated with impunity," Brown said in a statement.

Brown accused the operation of being "proficient in the art of secreting and laundering untold millions of dollars ... through casinos, shell corporations, and bank accounts in a variety of locations around the globe."

A 33-count indictment filed in Queens County Supreme Court charges the defendants ran gambling collection rooms in Miami and St. Maarten. Twenty of the defendants are also being sued in a civil case, Brown's office said in the press release.

Among those facing charges are Primary Development Inc. and its Chief Executive Officer Maurice Freeman, accused of developing a sports betting Web site called Playwithal.com. Also indicted were Prolexic Technologies Inc., accused of providing security for Playwithal's servers, and Digital Solutions SA of Costa Rica and its U.S. counterpart D.S. Networks SA Inc., which allegedly provided the gambling site with servers, data and software.

The indictment accuses James W. Giordano of Pine Crest, Florida, of being the boss of the enterprise. Three of his family members also face charges, as do five men who allegedly worked as money collectors, and other people who performed various duties for the gambling operation.

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