17 arrests made in Philly-area mob-related bust

July 22, 2008 4:09:31 PM PDT
A total of 17 people are in custody in the wake of what police are calling a wide-ranging gambling ring with ties to organized crime in Philadelphia and Delaware County. "I woke up, it's a good day," said suspect Lou Monacello as police led him from his home Tuesday morning.

Monacello, a reputed mafia enforcer and loan shark bill collector being hauled into court today.

Known as "Bent Finger Louie," he was pinched in two cases in Delaware County for allegedly providing muscle for a multi-million dollar gambling and loan shark ring, and in Philadelphia for allegedly planning to maim a mob underboss.

State Police say Monacello charged 30% interest per week on personal loans. Officials say the Delaware County gambling empire was run by Nicholas Cimino, late of Wallingford, but with deep South Philly roots.

Also busted was Cimino's girlfriend Gale Hudson.

State police say they used wiretaps, informants and undercover agents to determine that "Nicky the Hat" is Mr. Big in a multi-million dollar operation that specialized in the old bread and butter: loan sharking, drugs, fencing stolen property, bookmaking and gambling, including sports betting.

"From December 23 through December 29, 2004, a total of $221,360 worth of bets were placed via telephone by bettors with the Cimino organization," said Pa. State Police Major George Bivens.

A building at the corner of McDade and Willowbrook in Folsom houses legitimate business on the upper floors.

But according to state police it was whole different world around back where you entered through a basement door. Downstairs police say it was known as the McDade casino. For years they say, a haven for the Cimino family's illegal gambling activities.

The indictment also singles out a building on West Passyunk in South Philadelphia as a headquarters used by Cimino for the betting operation.

All 17 suspects are being released on unsecured bail, but they all face felony charges that could land them long prison terms.

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