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Ex-Philly mayor's daughter indicted

Aug. 8, 2012 at 6:32 PM   |   Comments

NORRISTOWN, Pa., Aug. 8 (UPI) -- The daughter of the late Frank Rizzo, who served as Philadelphia police commissioner and mayor, was charged Wednesday with participating in a bookmaking gang.

Joanna Mastronardo's husband, brother-in-law and son were also named in a federal indictment charging them with running an illegal gambling operation, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The indictment, unsealed in Philadelphia, accuses 16 members of the Mastronardo bookmaking organization with running a sports betting syndicate, hiding more than $1 million in cash in their homes, laundering the gambling proceeds through check cashing agencies and bank accounts, and offering instructions to losing bettors to pay debts through charitable donations, a Department of Justice news release said.

Joseph "Joe Vito" Mastronardo, Mastronardo's husband, and his brother, John, allegedly ran the operation, taking in millions of dollars in action on sporting events between 2005 and 2011, officials said.

Risa Ferman, district attorney in suburban Montgomery County, said her office launched an investigation two years ago but then turned it over to the FBI.

"This alleged racketeering operation was anchored in Montgomery County, but had tentacles spreading across the U.S. and beyond," she said.

In 2010, Montgomery County investigators found several hundred thousand dollars in cash buried in the yard of Joseph and Joanna Mastronardo's home in Abington, Ferman said. The money was hidden in lengths of plastic pipe.

Joanna Mastronardo is charged with "structuring," a federal crime that involves making deposits of less than $10,000, the amount that triggers a federal report to the Internal Revenue Service.

Rizzo served as police commissioner between 1967 and 1971. He served two terms as mayor from 1972 to 1980 and died in 1991.

While Rizzo was known for cracking down on black militants as both commissioner and mayor, he also promoted black officers and defended a black family who moved to a previously all-white neighborhood. Critics said his concern for security and fear of terrorist attacks and disruption during the 1976 Bicentennial turned what could have been a showcase for Philadelphia sour.

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