Albany County jail guards among nine accused in online gambling ring
Updated 8:21 a.m.
ALBANY Criminal complaints were filed against two Albany County correction officers and three other local men Wednesday in connection with an Internet gambling operation that spanned three years and raked in millions of dollars for its ringleaders, authorities said.
Authorities said the gambling ring was run by Philip Gurian, a Florida man who allegedly has connections to organized crime groups. He is accused of using multiple websites and computer software that places 40 to 50 bets on one team at the same time, according to a criminal complaint filed last week. He allegedly had more than five people working for the enterprise, which spanned cities in California and New York to Russia and Panama, among others.
It also reached Albany and Saratoga counties.
Timothy Robillard and James Cerniglia, Clifton Park residents who serve as correction officers at the Albany County Jail, were charged with felony enterprise corruption in the case. Other local men charged include Craig Hayner and Christopher Socola, of Clifton Park, and Joseph Carucci, of Latham. All five men pleaded not guilty Wednesday evening in Colonie Town Court.
“Today’s arrests end one phase of a multi-year investigation,” said Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple in a news release issued Wednesday. “We will continue to work with the district attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI to combat illegal gambling and seek out other officers that may have been involved in this bookmaking ring.”
Apple did not return calls for further comment Wednesday.
The complaints against the Capital Region men were filed in the Northern District of New York in Albany, and included charges against four Florida individuals accused of federal money laundering and gambling felonies.
Philip Gurian, of Boca Raton, was arrested at his Florida home Wednesday, along with alleged leading co-conspirator Michele Lasso of Delray Beach. The pair were charged with conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, which could carry a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Gurian and Lasso implicated themselves in a series of recorded conversations obtained via wiretap from October to December 2012, police say. Gurian said he had amassed about $150,000 a day through his gambling operation. He allegedly used foreign corporations and offshore accounts to launder the proceeds. Lasso worked for him, frequently traveling between Florida and her home country of Panama to deposit and transfer money for him, authorities say.
The criminal complaint filed April 3 makes no reference to the five local men arrested Wednesday. It does, however, mention that Lasso wired $75,000 in July 2012 to a bookmaker with the initials M.S., who then deposited the money into his bank account at RBS Citizens in Albany. The April 3 complaint was sealed per court order until the arrests were made Wednesday.
Jay Goldman, of Lake Worth, and Alan Gould, of Plantation were also arrested at their Florida homes Wednesday and charged with transmission of wagering information, which could carry a maximum two years in prison.
The investigation involved a handful of agencies over the years, including the Albany County Sheriff’s Department, the Albany County District Attorney’s Office, the Saratoga County District Attorney’s Office, the FBI, Internal Revenue Service, the Broward County Money Laundering Task Force in Florida, and the Office of the United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York.
As part of the ongoing investigation, the FBI and IRS obtained a total of 15 search warrants in Florida, New Hampshire and California, as well as a seizure warrant for numerous bank accounts in the Northern District of New York. The Albany County Sheriff’s Department executed search warrants at two Albany County locations. Overall, the warrants allowed seizure of more than $1 million in U.S. currency.
“Gambling on sporting events is strictly regulated and, in most cases, prohibited outright under federal and state law,” said U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian in the news release. “Internet gambling operations may be perceived as offering privacy and anonymity to bookmakers and bettors, but the outstanding cooperative efforts of the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies who participated in this investigation are shining a spotlight through the electronic mist onto the alleged conduct of these defendants.”
The cooperation among law enforcement agencies was crucial to the investigation’s success, said Albany County District Attorney P. David Soares in the release.
“While interstate investigations can be very lengthy and resource intensive, when partnerships between local, state and federal authorities are leveraged we are all able to hold individuals accountable to the fullest extent of the laws available to each agency,” he said.
Saratoga County DA James Murphy, III, agreed.
“We are very fortunate to have so many law enforcement agencies and prosecutorial offices in the area that work so well together,” he said. “This investigation exemplifies such a collaborative effort because this particular criminal enterprise extended well beyond one jurisdiction and required the endeavors of many law enforcement agencies to bring about the common goal of holding these individuals responsible for their actions.”
The federal case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert L. Sharpe and Jeffrey Coffman.