16 charged in multi-million dollar gambling ring

August 8, 2012 3:44:05 PM PDT
Federal prosecutors say they've broken up a massive illegal gambling operation worth millions of dollars centered in suburban Philadelphia that had ties to Florida, New Jersey and Costa Rica.

Joe Mastronardo left court this afternoon with his son Joey and wife Joanna, the daughter of late Philadelphia mayor Frank Rizzo.

Joanna, her husband, and son are among 16 defendants named in a 23 count federal indictment accusing them of operating a multi-million dollar sports betting operation. Joey is accused of collecting debts. Joanna is accused of making bank deposits in amounts that would evade the attention of the IRS.

Joe and his brother John are the accused leaders of the bookmaking organization that used websites and telephone numbers to take in millions of dollars in bets from 2005 to 2011.

In 2007, the brothers plead guilty in Montgomery County to similar gambling charges and investigators seized more than $2-million in cash from them.

In 2010, they dug up the yard at Joe and Joanna's palatial Abington home and found more than a million dollars in cash, some of it buried inside plastic pipes.

Joe Mastronardo's attorney called him a gentleman gambler who encouraged his clients to pay their gambling debts to charity.

All 16 defendants were released on bail ranging from $50,000 to $250,000.

The Mastronardos have forfeited millions in the past. This time, the federal government is seeking more than $6-million in alleged proceeds from the gambling enterprise.

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