Former New York State Trooper Thomas J. Loewke was recently charged in federal court for making the targets of an illegal sports betting probe aware of the investigation.
If found guilty of obstructing the investigation, he could face up to 20 years in prison.
Loewke held a sergeant’s rank with state police in Rochester when the illegal NY sports betting activity took place, but the 51-year-old retired in Oct. 2021.
Over $10 million in profits from illegal gambling
The initial investigation was into the illegal betting site sport700. Prosecutors said the investigation was on the local, state and federal levels.
The probe had its sights set on multiple individuals, but two in particular managed 2,010 accounts on the site. Over $10 million in profits were generated from those accounts alone, according to prosecutors.
Investigators were initially tipped off to Loewke’s involvement in the gambling ring when they heard a phone call between a pair of suspects. During the conversation, one target said a trooper named “TJ” made him aware of a probe into sport700. The two then discussed erasing the site’s betting history to avoid detection.
Another red flag for prosecutors happened in Dec. 2020 when a trooper performed computer maintenance for a senior investigator involved in the probe. Prosecutors learned the trooper read a draft affidavit that included the name of a target in the illegal betting operation.
Investigators pulled the trooper’s phone records and learned they’d sent texts and called a phone number associated with Loewke. One text read, “Call me ASAP.” Prosecutors said the trooper later admitted to tipping off Loewke about the investigation.
It remains unclear what role Loewke played with sport700 and how he made the targets aware of the probe. Loewke made his first court appearance on Jan. 10.
Illegal NY gambling continues to plague Empire State
This is hardly the first instance of an illegal gambling ring operated in New York.
In NYC’s Chinatown neighborhood, Columbus Park is a hotspot for in-person illegal betting. Tents pop up along popular areas of the park to shield dealers and bettors from the elements while they partake in table games.
Last fall, news broke of a Mafia-run offshore betting site named Rhino Sports. Leading the operation was Lucchese crime family soldier Anthony Villani, who allegedly served between 400 and 1,300 bettors weekly and raked in over $1 million annually.
In the summertime, another story broke about a gambling den run by the Genovese and Bonanno families, who are infamous for Mafia activity. The betting shop was located in Sal’s Shoe Repair in Merrick, and the operation earned “substantial revenue”.
Despite the legalization of sports betting and the abundance of licensed casinos throughout the state, New York still has plenty of illicit gambling activity.