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Borgata Poker Room Employees Busted

More Than $22 Million in Sports Wagers Passed Through Room Since 2006

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Members of a sports gambling ring, including employees of the Borgata poker room, were charged with operating an illegal sports book where most of the bets where made at the Borgata's poker room with help from employees.

It's illegal to take sports bets in New Jersey, and none of the state's casinos have sports books.

The investigation team charged 23 people yesterday, including four poker-room employees of the Borgata, one of which is a supervisor, with various gambling charges. A Tropicana poker room supervisor was also arrested and charged with crimes relating to the gambling operation. They were charged with promoting gambling.

Authorities estimate that the operation collected more than $22 million in wagers since March of 2006.

The Boyd Gaming Group, parent company of the Borgata, cooperated fully with the investigation, called "Operation High Roller." A spokesman for Boyd Gaming described the employees as "rogue."

The investigation was led by the New Jersey State Police and New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, with assistance from 11 other law enforcement agencies in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

"The members of this gambling ring brazenly used the Borgata Casino poker room to conduct business and launder their criminal proceeds," said New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram. "They sought to escape detection by enlisting casino employees in their crimes. I'm pleased to say they greatly underestimated our vigilance and determination to keep organized crime out of Atlantic City's casinos."

The charged casino employee are: Joseph Wishnick (42, of Brigantine, New Jersey) poker-room supervisor; Paul Parks (31, of Egg Harbor, New Jersey) another Borgata poker-room supervisor; Austin Johnson-Brown (35, of Atlantic City) a Borgata poker dealer; Robert McEwen (26, of Edison, New Jersey) a Borgata poker dealer; Matthew Weyler (26, of Turnersville, New Jersey) a Borgata bartender; and Jeffrey Ebert (45, of Ventnor, New Jersey) a Tropicana poker-room supervisor. Ebert was also charged with criminal usury.

The sports book operation has ties with a mafia ring that operates out of Philadelphia.

"This was an organized criminal group, including licensed casino employees, that transformed a high-end poker floor at the Borgata into an underground sports-betting ring that siphoned $22 million out of the legitimate gaming economy," said Colonel Rick Fuentes, superintendent of New Jersey State Police.

The alleged leader of the gambling ring, Andrew Micali (32, of Ventnor, New Jersey) was arrested on charges of promoting gambling, money laundering, and criminal usury. In addition, three associates of Micali were arrested: Vincent Procopio (41, of Brigantine, New Jersey) was charged with promoting gambling, and Anthony Nicodemo, 36, and Michael Lancellotti, both of Philadelphia, were charged with conspiracy to promote gambling.

Authorities say that the employees ignored exchanges of cash and casino chips at the tables and in the room. Law requires that all transactions of $10,000 or more must be accompanied by financial reports that are intended to prevent money laundering at the casinos.

The investigators conducted extensive surveillance at the Borgata and say they observed the defendants conducting business there.

The state obtained a court order freezing a bank account of Micali's containing more than $200,000, and investigators seized more than $40,000 in Borgata chips and cash from his safe deposit box at the Borgata.