Seventeen face charges in Internet gambling sweep
Rhode Island State Police said Tuesday that they arrested 17 men connected to the operation of two separate criminal Internet-based gambling organizations.
State police said the arrests cap an eight-month joint investigation, which was led by the state police and the state attorney general.
The men were arraigned Tuesday afternoon in Kent County District Court on charges such as bookmaking, organized criminal gambling, and conspiracy. One of the men faces drug counts.
After court, many of the suspects and their lawyers declined to speak with NBC 10 about the charges.
It was the same story later in the night when a reporter visited three of the men's homes in Cranston and Warwick.
Out of the 17, detectives zeroed in on four men who have been accused, including 46-year-old Timothy Moretti, of Cranston, 31-year-old James Petrella, of Narragansett, 39-year-old Mark Batista, of Warwick, and 45-year-old Thomas Pilderian II, of Cranston.
NBC 10 News archives show Moretti, who is a former ACI guard, has been in and out of prison during the last two decades for drug and gambling charges. In 2000, he was tied to an illegal gaming operation being run by mob associate, Anthony "The Saint" St. Laurent.
State police executed search warrants Tuesday morning.
One of the search warrants was executed at The Cozy Grill, a restaurant at 440 Warwick Ave. in Warwick. Pilderian co-owns the restaurant.
Another search warrant was executed at a $1 million beach house at 26 Beach Row in Narragansett. Records reveal that Petrella lives at the oceanfront home, which is owned by Richard and Marie Holahan, from New Canaan, Connecticut.
Other names are familiar to local fans that follow little league and high school baseball.
Warwick's Chris Constantino was a pitcher who led Lincoln to the Little League World Series in 2004. He was drafted by the Red Sox as a senior at Bishop Hendricken in 2009.
Constantino later signed with the Cardinals after junior college and last played in the Braves system on their 2014 rookie league team.
Another local baseball star includes Warwick's Sean Furney, who played for the University of Rhode Island before signing as a free agent in 2013 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was in spring training as a minor leaguer with the Atlanta Braves until two weeks ago when he was cut.
The Providence Journal reported that two of the other men arrested were also high school sports stars, as Pilderian was an all-state running back for Cranston East in 1987, while his brother, 39-year-old Jason Pilderian, of Scituate, was an all-state quarterback for Hendricken in 1994.
State police listed the following arrests and charges:
- Thomas J. Pilderian II, 45, Cranston: bookmaking, organized criminal gambling, conspiracy
- Mark B. Battista, 39, Warwick: bookmaking, organized criminal gambling, conspiracy, possession of controlled substance (3 counts)
- Mark V. Marinaro, 43, Warwick: organized criminal gambling, conspiracy
- Jason M. Pilderian, 39, Scituate: organized criminal gambling, conspiracy
- Joseph R. Brunelle, 38, North Providence: organized criminal gambling, conspiracy
- Eric D. Glaude, 40, North Providence: organized criminal gambling, conspiracy
- Dustin R. Sears, 40, Cranston: organized criminal gambling, conspiracy
- David J. Disano, 42, Cranston: organized criminal gambling, conspiracy
- Jonny E. Lubo, 44, Warwick: organized criminal gambling, conspiracy
- James J. Petrella, 31, Narragansett: bookmaking, organized criminal gambling, conspiracy
- Timothy J. Moretti, 46, Cranston: bookmaking, organized criminal gambling conspiracy, violation of probation
- Sean W. Furney, 24, Warwick: organized criminal gambling, conspiracy
- Brian K. Cipolla, 48, Cranston: organized criminal gambling, conspiracy
- Lewis Silveira, 50, Warwick: organized criminal gambling, conspiracy
- John Depietro, 41, South Kingstown: possession with intent to deliver 1 to 5 kilos of marijuana, possession of 1 to 5 kilos of marijuana, possession of Adderall with intent to deliver
- Christopher R. Costantino, 24, Warwick: organized criminal gambling, conspiracy
- Joseph A. Capelli, 38, Cranston: organized criminal gambling, conspiracy
The men will be able to enter a plea to the felony charges in June. That's when they're due to appear in Superior Court.
While 17 were arraigned Tuesday, the number of arrests in the case is growing, a police source with direct knowledge of the investigation told the NBC 10 I-Team.
A spokesperson for the attorney general said via email that more information will be released on Wednesday.
(This article includes reports from Parker Gavigan, Cierra Putman, Matt Reed, and Frank Carpano.)