June 6, 2019 By Christian Murray
Seven people were indicted yesterday for enterprise corruption for allegedly operating an illegal gambling ring out of an Astoria office on 30th Avenue.
The defendants have been charged with multiple crimes, including money laundering, promoting gambling, enterprise corruption as well as conspiracy.
The seven individuals allegedly conspired to make money by taking sports bets at their 45-15 30th Ave. headquarters as well as through an internet wire room located in Costa Rica, where sports gambling is legal.
Gamblers were able to place bets via the website, a toll-free number, an agent or going to the Astoria location.
The arrests stem from an investigation that started in January 2016 when the NYPD’s Criminal Enterprise Division began looked into sports betting in Queens and beyond.
Investigators, via court-authorized electronic surveillance, intercepted thousands of allegedly incriminating gambling-related conversations, as well as text messages over mobile phones.
Six of the seven defendants were heard participating in numerous phone conversations talking about gamblers’ accounts, cash transfers, interest rates and other details. Several participants were observed exchange white envelopes and bags, according to authorities.
“This office—working collaboratively with our law enforcement colleagues—have taken down a number of illegal gambling operations over the years. Putting these kinds of illegal enterprises out of business, saves untold numbers of people from financial devastation,” said Acting District Attorney John M. Ryan in a statement.
Ryan identified Michael Regan, 61, from Long Island, as the kingpin, who allegedly controlled and oversaw the entire operation. Robert Brieger, 70 of Rego Park, was the alleged master agent, while Luan Bexheti, 47, of Astoria, was deemed the primary agent. Four others were indicted.
The police made the arrests on Tuesday, at which time they seized gambling records, computers and $47,000 in cash.