Professional Poker Player Charged With Illegal Bookmaking

Posted by Kathleen Girvan on Apr 11, 2016 Posted in US Poker News | No Comments »

A professional poker player from New York has been uncovered running an illegal bookmaking operation and faces a lengthy prison sentence as a result. Jay Sharon, who cashed out in 116th place in the WSOP Main Event with a prize of $46,890 last year, was caught allegedly acting as an illegal bookmaker in New York. Prosecutors say that Sharon raked in over $3.5 million in sports bets on events and games.

The 47-year old poker player has fallen foul of strict anti-gambling legislation in the United States, which ban sports betting outside of licensed regulated sportsbooks. Any individuals who take wagers on sports events are deemed to be acting illegally. Sharon and his group were charged with enterprise corruption — a violation of New York’s Organized Crime Control Act — and of promoting gambling, conspiracy and money laundering. They were also accused of money laundering by transporting money in Queens and elsewhere in the state of New York.

The NYPD issued a statement on the arrest, with Commissioner William Bratton commenting that, “across the country, this group operated an illegal sports betting ring with impunity. Today, the house won with the arrest of eight defendants in and around Queens.”

The other defendants include Christopher Hansen, 43, of Glen Oaks; Vincent Zaccario, 29, of Flushing; Gary Schreiber, 56, of Flushing; Emilio Testa, 50, of Las Vegas; Frank Nista, 63, of Bayside; Joshua Handler, 27, of Levittown; and Jonathan Cianciotto, 40 of Garden City.

Sharon and his accomplices are facing over twenty years in prison if they are convicted by the jury. They were arrested after a lengthy and involved investigation by the NYPD’s Organized Crime Investigation Division, who spent almost a year and a half gathering information on Sharon before making their arrests. The District Attorney stated that the defendants conspired to make money illegally through unlawful gambling, which accepted sports wagers on events through wire rooms where gambling is illegal.

The illegal operation was based in the NYC borough of Queens, and they group are claimed to have accepted bets via offshore gambling sites and phone based betting lines. Sharon was in charge of the illegal gambling ring, and the fund gathered by the group were directed to him. The DA has also commented that there have been several other cases of this kind in the city recently.

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