BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — A six month undercover investigation netted three men from Boca Raton, one from Parkland and one from Coral Springs — all now accused of money laundering and racketeering.
Devon Shalmi, 30, Joseph Petrolino, 47, and Thomas Cuce, 32, all of Boca were charged, as well as Erik Bishop, 35, of Parkland and Darren Kelin, 36, of Coral Springs.
Broward Sheriff’s Office Organized Crime Unit (OCU), in conjunction with the Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution, conducted a six month undercover investigation into a racketeering and money laundering operation. They identified and arrested the network’s key players and recovered more than $1,000,000 in cash.
The illegal gambling and bookmaking business was busted on February 5 when eight members of the illicit ring were taken into custody. The group used off-shore sports betting web sites and did hand-to-hand cash transactions in Broward and Palm Beach counties. The network has a connection to organized crime families in New York and Boston.
“Criminal networks like these may not seem dangerous to the public, but it is activity such as this that leads to violence and fuels organized crime throughout the country,” Sheriff Scott Israel said.
Through wire taps and surveillance work, OCU investigators intercepted communications between the members as they conspired to commit a host of illegal activity. Undercover officers were able to penetrate the organization and performed illegal cash transactions directly with the “agents” themselves.
The investigation is ongoing with several more arrests anticipated in the coming weeks. BSO investigators have so far recovered $1.2 million in illegal funds. The suspects are facing charges of racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, money laundering, conspiracy to commit money laundering, bookmaking, conspiracy to commit bookmaking and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.
“I applaud my Office of Statewide Prosecution and the Broward Sheriff’s Office for their hard work in shutting down this illegal gambling scheme,” Attorney General Pam Bondi said.