Rockville Centre man indicted for part in Queens gambling ring

Allegedly booked over $750,000 annually


Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, joined by New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton and Waterfront Commissioner Ronald Goldstock, announced that a Queens County grand jury has indicted five individuals — including one Rockville Centre man — on charges of operating an illegal sports gambling wire room in Bayside, Queens that is alleged to have annually booked more than $750,000 in bets.

The defendants are variously charged in a 14-count indictment with enterprise corruption — a violation of New York State’s Organized Crime Control Act — as well as first-degree promoting gambling and fifth-degree conspiracy. The defendants each face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

Jason Levine, 45, of Rockville Centre, was charged with one count of enterprise corruption, 12 counts of first-degree promoting gambling and one count of fifth-degree conspiracy. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.

“Over the last few years — working with our law enforcement colleagues — we have taken down a number of these gambling operations and put them out of business,” Brown said. “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.”

Brown said that the investigation leading to the arrests began in January 2014 when the NYPD’s Organized Crime Investigation Division, in conjunction with the Queens County District Attorney’s Office’s Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau and the Waterfront Commission, developed information about an internet and traditional illegal sports betting ring operating in Queens County and elsewhere. The investigation included physical surveillance, intelligence information and court-authorized electronic eavesdropping that intercepted thousands of hours of allegedly incriminating gambling-related conversations.

According to the indictment, the defendants conspired to make money illegally through the operation of unlawful gambling that accepted bets on sporting events through a wire room located in Bayside, Queens. Bettors would place wagers by calling one of two phones set up at the location.

“As alleged, these individuals were running an illegal sports gambling wire room out of a location in Queens and hedged their bets thinking that their illegal activity would remain hidden from the eyes of the law,” said Bratton. “But thanks to the hard work of NYPD detectives, Waterfront Commission investigators and the Queens District Attorney’s Office, this criminal enterprise was uncovered and its organizers found they were holding a losing hand.”

The district attorney identified the alleged boss of the wire room as Theodore Simon, 77, of Flushing, who is accused of acting as the bookmaker who controlled and oversaw the entire operation and profited from each criminal pursuit by the other defendants. Frank Nista, 64, of Bayside, is alleged to have been Simon’s primary agent and manager of the wire room located at 211-11 45 Road in Bayside, Queens, which is owned by James Greene, 70, of Bayside, who was allegedly paid a monthly income for its rental and is the listed subscriber of the two landline phones installed at the location. Russell Bellatera, 69, of Bayside, and Levin are alleged to have manned the two phones and handled the betting action for Nista at the location. Levin and Bellatera also allegedly doubled as money collectors/runners for the gambling operation.

In addition to the arrests, court-authorized search warrants were executed at locations allegedly owned or used by the defendants, resulting in the seizure by the New York City Police Department of cash, gambling records and gambling paraphernalia.