A prominent former New York State Police Sergeant was sentenced this week for his involvement in an illegal gambling ring investigation.
A federal judge sentenced Thomas Loewke to two years probation, a $4,000 fine and 100 hours of community service after Loewke pleaded guilty for obstructing the investigation. The former sergeant faced a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The ruling occurred in a case that involved Louis P. Ferrari II and six others whom a grand jury indicted for their involvement in an illegal gambling ring based out of Rochester.
How NY police officer was involved in illegal gambling ring
In January, police arrested the 51-year-old Loewke and charged him with obstruction of a state or local law enforcement investigation and obstruction of an official proceeding.
According to Assistant US Attorney Meghan K. McGuire, in October 2020, Homeland Security Investigations joined federal, state and local law enforcement that was investigating illegal gambling businesses. One of them included an illegal bookmaking operation: sport700.com.
Officials discovered a series of calls and text messages between targets of the investigation and bettors discussing the placement of bets, collection of winnings and payment of losses.
One of those phone calls involved two individuals mentioning that a member of the New York State Troopers, named “TJ,” had tipped off one of the targets regarding the investigation. As a result, the targets discussed changing passwords and the website’s domain name while also erasing their betting history in order to avoid detection.
Why judge issued lesser sentence to Loewke
Indeed, as officials later discovered, a uniformed New York State Trooper performed maintenance on a computer of a state police senior investigator tied to the case in December 2020. The trooper, who accessed the office three times that morning by way of a swipe card, sent three text messages and two phone calls to a phone registered to Loewke.
The trooper confirmed later on that he had told Loewke about the investigation. A subsequent search of Loewke’s phone also revealed evidence that he engaged in illegal sports betting.
Investigators said that Loewke shared the info with Ferrari, which led to the aforementioned phone call. Loewke pleaded guilty in May.
While Loewke initially faced up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, a change to sentencing guidelines in November changed his status to a “Zone B” offender. As a result, he could have faced up to 14 months in prison.
When sentencing Loewke, the judge took into account the officer’s service record and character references, among other factors, which led to no jail time for Loewke.
“The judge pointed out that this a crime involved the alleged tipping off of the gambling ring, they have already made and arrest in this case,” Michael Schiano, a defense attorney, said after the ruling.
“So in terms of whether or not his activities or actions stopped this, they didn’t, they got indicted, they’re all still charged, they’re facing federal gambling charges.”
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Details of illegal NY sports betting business
According to officials, the investigation into Ferrari’s business revealed that – from April 25, 2019, through Jan. 3, 2021 – Ferrari oversaw 221 betting accounts and collected over $1.2 million in profits.
In addition, a second target, Anthony Amato, had 128 “sub-agent accounts” that managed 1,789 bettors and totaled nearly $9 million in profits.
A federal grand jury indicted Ferrari and six others in July, all seven of whom await sentencing.
Ferrari, Dominic Sprague and Tomasso Sessa each face two counts of conspiracy, one count of transmission of wagering information and two counts of operating an illegal gambling business.
The other four – Amato, Joseph Lombardo, Jeffrey Boscarino and James Civiletti – each face one count of conspiracy, one count of transmission of wagering information and one count of operating an illegal gambling business.
McGuire said that Ferrari and Sprague owned and operated illegal poker games at 565 Blossom Road, and Ferrari operated the illegal sportsbook.