U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District Breon Peace. His office...

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District Breon Peace. His office announced the guilty plea of Salvatore Rubino for running an illegal gambling operation out of Rubino's shoe repair store in Merrick. Credit: Craig Ruttle

A Bethpage man known as “Sal the Shoemaker” in the Genovese crime family pleaded guilty Tuesday to running an illegal gambling operation in his shuttered Merrick shoe repair business, prosecutors said.

Salvatore Rubino, 60, pleaded guilty to one count of operating an illegal gambling business associated with the crime family. The plea followed the guilty plea of four others following a 2022 indictment that charged nine members of the Genovese and Bonanno crime families with illegal gambling operations, prosecutors said.

During his hearing in Brooklyn federal court Tuesday, Rubino told the judge there were gambling machines installed in his shoe repair shop and card games three nights per week, according to a release from the office of the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District. The operation was run under the now-closed Sal's Shoe Repair, an alleged Genovese-controlled gambling parlor on Merrick Avenue, which closed in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Four other associates of the Genovese crime family of La Cosa Nostra pleaded guilty earlier this month to illegal gambling charges. Joseph Macario, also known as “Joe Fish,” 69, of West Islip, a Genovese soldier, and Carmelo Polito, also known as "Carmine Polito," 64, of Whitestone, a former acting captain and a soldier within the Genovese crime family, pleaded guilty to racketeering involving the operation of an illegal gambling business and attempted extortion. Joseph Rutigliano, also known as "Joe Box," 65, of Commack, and Mark Feuer, 61, of Oceanside, pleaded guilty to operating various illegal operations for the Genovese family.

Rubino is expected to be sentenced to between 4 and 10 months in prison as part of the plea deal, although he could face up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, prosecutors said.

“These Mafia figures operated surreptitiously in backrooms of restaurants and retail locations in suburban Long Island, running underground gambling parlors and kicking up the profits to the Genovese crime family,” Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly said in a statement. “For decades, organized crime families have steered violence and other illicit activities in our communities.”

Prosecutors said the Genovese and Bonanno crime families, both of La Cosa Nostra, operated illegal gambling operations in Lynbrook called the Gran Caffe from May 2012 to January 2022, bringing in $10,000 in weekly proceeds. Their profits in Lynbrook and other operations were then “kicked up” to the crime families’ leaders.

Rutigliano and Rubino admitted collecting the proceeds for the Genovese crime family and distributing them up the chain to other members including Polito and Macario. The family also ran illegal gambling parlors at the shoe shop and the Centro Calcio Italiano Club in West Babylon from May 2012 to March 2019, prosecutors said.

Also in August 2022, a former Nassau detective, Hector Rosario, 50, of Mineola, was indicted with obstructing the grand jury investigation into the alleged mafia crimes and lying to the FBI. Rosario was charged with taking bribes from the Bonanno crime family in exchange for offering to arrange police raids of gambling outfits they were in competition with, including a competitor of Rubino’s now-closed shoe shop. Rosario was fired from the department shortly afterward.

Also indicted at that time were: Anthony Pipitone, 49, of Deer Park, who prosecutors said was a captain and soldier in the Bonanno organized crime family; his brother Vito Pipitone, 40, of Wellington, Florida, who prosecutors said was a Bonanno soldier; and Agostino Gabriele, 35, of Glendale, Queens, who prosecutors said was a Bonanno associate. They each pleaded not guilty and their cases are pending.

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