A longtime mafia associate and four men are accused of running a million-dollar-a-year offshore betting website that shifted to online casino games after COVID canceled events athletes in 2020.
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn are charging Anthony Villani, 57, a Luchese family soldier with a history of gambling-related arrests dating back to 1988, and four others with running “Rhino Sports,” a betting operation used by 400 to 1,300 players per week.
An indictment was released Wednesday in federal court in Brooklyn.
From 2004 to 2020, Villani and his accomplices used the Costa Rica-based website to take bets and employed a network of dozens of mob-affiliated bookmakers across New York to pay and collect money, according to the federal prosecutors.
Villani, from the Westchester County community of Elmsford, moved his operation online to avoid scrutiny after serving a four-month federal sentence for gambling charges in 2004, prosecutors said in court documents.
His alleged accomplices included Louis “Tooch” Tucci, Jr., 59, and Dennis Filizzola, 58, who worked as runners collecting bookies collected from customers, and James “Quick” Coumoutsos and Michael “Platinum” Praino, 44 years, described in court. documents as “significant bookmakers and revenue generators for the business”.
Villani was caught on a wiretap talking about offering ‘casino games’ to make money as sports were canceled at the start of the pandemic in 2020, and demanded no limit on the number of people able to bet, according to prosecutors.
“I said it’s not monopoly money. The casino is supposed to be a score for us,” he told Tucci at a store they owned in Bronxville, NY in April. 2020, according to prosecutors.
He also threatened an accomplice who mishandled the gambling industry and incurred significant debt in 2020, warning the man: “I’m telling you right now, you’re not getting that money — fucking runaway “, prosecutors allege.
When FBI agents raided Villani’s Elmsford home, they found more than $407,000 in cash, a set of brass knuckles and gambling records, some of them shredded, prosecutors said. Officers found more than $55,000 at Tucci’s home in Tuckahoe and more than $20,000 at Filizolla’s home in Cortlandt Manor, prosecutors said.
All suspects expect Praino, who was arrested in West Palm Beach, Fla., to be arraigned in federal court in Brooklyn on Wednesday.