Professional poker player Jay Sharon and two Long Islanders were among eight men indicted in a “highly sophisticated” sports gambling racket that brought in an estimated $3.5 million a year, prosecutors said Tuesday.
The defendants, including Jonathan Cianciotto, 40, of Garden City, and Joshua Handler, 27, of Levittown, will face up to 25 years in prison if convicted, according to a news release from Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown’s office.
“Across the country, this group operated an illegal sports betting ring with impunity,” NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said in the release. “Today, the house won with the arrest of eight defendants in and around Queens.”
According to Brown’s office, the defendants accepted bets on sporting events through “wire rooms” based either offshore or in places where sports gambling is legal. Bettors would place wagers either online or by calling a toll-free number, using “prearranged codes and passwords,” prosecutors said.
Brown’s office said the enterprise was led by Sharon, a professional poker player who won close to $47,000 in last year’s World Series of Poker tournament. He decided all wager limits and all the money eventually “funneled up to him,” authorities said.
Cianciotto and Handler met with Sharon regularly to collect or settle up with bettors, according to Brown’s office.
The NYPD seized gambling records and more than $93,000 in cash from 10 locations in Queens and Nassau.
“Over the last few years — working with our law enforcement colleagues — we have taken down a number of these operations and put them out of business,” Brown said in the news release. “These cases, I believe, have put a significant dent in illegal gambling nationwide — and have saved individuals across the country millions of dollars in gambling losses.”
The defendants were scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon in Queens County Supreme Court, Brown’s office said.