Albany County jail guard among 3 to admit to gambling charges
ALBANY One of two suspended corrections officers accused of participating in a gambling ring pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge Tuesday, agreeing to resign as a condition of the plea, authorities said.
Two others accused in the ring also took plea deals Tuesday, leaving two cases, including one against the other suspended corrections officer, still pending.
Pleading guilty Tuesday was suspended corrections officer James Cerniglia, 47, of Clifton Park. Cerniglia admitted to one count of second-degree promoting gambling, a misdemeanor. He admitted to knowingly advancing or profiting from unlawful gambling activity, including incidents around July 7, 2011, according to the Albany County District Attorney’s Office.
Cerniglia and the second accused guard, Timothy Robillard, also of Clifton Park, were initially charged in April with felony enterprise corruption. Robillard’s case remains pending.
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said Tuesday he was pleased to see Cerniglia’s case come to an end. He also noted that it was his department that caught wind of what was happening, investigated and made the arrests.
“They embarrassed the department and cast a shadow on the department,” Apple said. “I want to let the public know not to lose trust in the department. We investigated them and arrested them.”
As part of his plea, Cerniglia agreed to not work at the jail again. He has been suspended without pay since his arrest. He will be paid for accrued vacation time, about a month and a half, putting him at 25 years of service, Apple said.
Cerniglia is to receive a conditional discharge, meaning no jail time or probation. He will, however, be required to “assist a public integrity investigation,” according to the district attorney’s office. If he doesn’t assist, sentencing would be at the discretion of the court.
Also pleading guilty Tuesday were Christopher Socola, 42, of Clifton Park, and Joseph Carucci, 68, of Albany. Socola pleaded guilty to a felony count of first-degree promoting gambling. Carucci pleaded guilty to misdemeanor second-degree promoting gambling.
Cases against Robillard and another defendant, Craig Hayner, also of Clifton Park, remain pending.
“The plea this morning reflects the strength of the evidence gathered in this international gambling case,” Albany County District Attorney P. David Soares said in a news release. “As part of this resolution, these defendants have agreed to cooperate as we prosecute the remaining local defendants.”
At the time of the arrests, officials identified a larger gambling ring run by a Florida man as being related. The accused leader of that ring was identified as Phillip Gurian, a man with alleged ties to organized crime.
Gurian is accused in federal court of using multiple websites and computer software for gambling. He also allegedly had more than five people working for the enterprise, which spanned cities in California, New York, Russia and Panama, as well as reaching locally, officials said then.
Gurian’s case also remained pending Tuesday.