Rhode Island is the smallest state in the U.S. based on area, but that does not keep it off the radar when it comes to monitoring criminal activity. In fact, you could argue it is even more difficult for criminals to get away with illegal acts because there is nowhere to hide.
There were 17 individuals who recently thought they were above the law but ended up getting arrested in a large sports betting bust on April 12, according to the Rhode Island State Police. They ran an internet-based gambling organization, with ties to the Mafia and including two professional baseball players.
The bust followed an eight-month investigation with the help of state, federal and local law enforcement officials.
The charges revolve around organized criminal gambling and conspiracy, and those suspects targeted were arrested in the towns of Cranston, Warwick, Scituate, North Providence, Narragansett and South Kingstown.
The two baseball players facing charges are a pair of 24-year-olds from Warwick, Chris Costantino and Sean Furney. Costantino was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 2009 while Furney signed as a free agent with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Neither was currently playing in the big leagues.
One of the group’s leaders was identified as 46-year-old Timothy Moretti, a former prison guard who has been involved with the mob in the past. Moretti has been booked previously on drug and illegal gambling charges and was working with 31-year-old James Petrella in one of two separate groups.
They were each charged with bookmaking in addition to organized criminal gambling and conspiracy, and Moretti also violated his probation for prior convictions of possession with intent to deliver cocaine.
The other group was headed by 45-year-old Thomas Pilderian and 39-year-old Mark Battista. Pilderian owns Warwick’s Cozy Grill, which was raided as part of the bust, and his brother Jason was also charged.
Like Moretti and Petrella, Pilderian and Battista face bookmaking charges as well. Moretti is also being charged with three counts of possession of a controlled substance.
Seven more individuals were later arrested in a separate bust and charged with organized criminal gambling, bookmaking and keeping a gambling place. They ranged in age between 20 and 45 years old, and this investigation was not connected to the other one conducted by the Rhode Island state police.
Authorities found that several storefronts and residential properties in the city of Providence, specifically on the South Side and in the West End, were being used to run another gambling organization.
These two busts in Rhode Island prove that no matter how small a state might be, there is no hiding when crimes are being committed. It also stresses the importance of knowing your state’s laws with regards to illegal gambling. Many may not know they are actually performing criminal acts and put themselves at risk.
For example, something as seemingly innocent as Super Bowl squares are deemed illegal in Rhode Island and may be subject to penalties. That is why it is increasingly important to always know your state’s laws and err on the side of caution so you do not get into any trouble.