KEW GARDENS, N.Y., April 8 (UPI) -- A New York City firefighter using a marked FDNY vehicle is among three city workers charged in a sports-betting ring that made $178 million, a prosecutor said.
Matthew Fopeano, who works in the fire department's medical division, and highway-repair worker Michael Labetti allegedly collected gambling losses, paid out winnings and helped expand the business by soliciting new customers, Queens County District Attorney Richard Brown said.
Sanitation worker Robert Ackrish and his father ran a separate book that handled $24 million in betting, Brown alleged.
The men are among 38 people indicted on charges of operating two "highly sophisticated illegal sports gambling enterprises" in the New York City borough of Queens and as far afield as Nevada and Costa Rica, Brown said.
The alleged gambling rings, headed by reputed Gambino crime-family associate Robert "Rusty" Baselice and Charles "Charlie Tuna" Cicalo, booked nearly $178 million in wagers over 32 months on professional and college basketball and football, professional baseball and hockey and other sporting events, the district attorney said.
The defendants allegedly used sports-betting Web sites such as 5dimes and Big on Sports -- "which are literally computerized betting sheets accessible both online and via an '800' toll-free telephone number" -- to manage numerous gambling accounts "out of which criminal proceeds were collected and distributed throughout the United States," Brown said.
A Fire Department of New York spokesman told the New York Post Fopeano, an 8-year veteran who allegedly made collections using a marked fire department vehicle, was suspended without pay and faced termination.