The New York Police Department recently learned that customers of Sal’s Shoe Repair in Merrick were being offered more than just restorations on their worn out kicks.
The NYPD revealed that Sal’s had been acting as a Mafia-owned betting shop, earning “substantial revenue” in the process. Allegedly, Sal’s would then launder the money through cash transfers.
Breon Peace, US attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said this shows how prevalent the Mafia still is in the Empire State. Peace said:
“Today’s arrests of members from two La Cosa Nostra crime families demonstrate that the mafia continues to pollute our communities with illegal gambling, extortion, and violence while using our financial system in service to their criminal schemes.”
Illegal NY sports betting ring based out of Sal’s
Starting in May 2012, the Genovese and Bonanno families partnered to operate the illegal NY sports betting operation out of Sal’s.
But Sal’s wasn’t the only business the Mafia families were using as a front for illegal activities. They also had gambling dens in Gran Caffe in Queens and through a soccer club called La Nazionale Soccer Club on Long Island.
The nine people arrested for running the parlor at Sal’s were members and associates of the Genovese and Bonanno families. They were dealt racketeering and illegal gambling charges.
According to prosecutors, among the nine arrested included Salvatore “Sal the Shoemaker” Rubino, the namesake for Sal’s Shoe Repair; Anthony “Little Anthony” Pipitone, a Bonanno family captain and soldier; and Carmelo “Carmine” Polito, a Genovese family acting captain.
Prosecutors gave a look into a call Polito made in 2019. He asked a partner in crime to pass this message along to someone in gambling debt:
“Tell him I’m going to put him under the f****** bridge.”
Local detective incriminated in Mafia activity
The most notable arrest was Hector Rosario, a local police detective. Rosario went above and beyond to protect the crime families involved in the illegal New York sports betting activity. He would regularly head up police raids on competing gambling dens to help eliminate competition in the area.
Rosario’s efforts earned him charges for lying to the federal police and obstructing a grand jury investigation.
Here’s what FBI assistant director-in-charge Michael Driscoll said about the recent arrests:
“Current members of the five families demonstrate every day they are not adverse to working together to further their illicit schemes, using the same tired methods to squeeze money from their victims. Enlisting alleged assistance from a member of law enforcement also proves they are willing to do all they can to hide their illegal behavior.”