The take down of a mafia run gambling ring in New York City threatens to trap a gaggle of high-profile celebrities who a source claims may have been caught on wiretaps making illegal bets, RadarOnline.com has exclusively learned.
Thirteen members and associates of the Genovese Organized Crime Family were nabbed in the Dec. 15 bust, which included Vincent “Vinny” Taliercio, a long-time Brooklyn bookie who collected wagers from a Who’s Who of Hollywood elite, a well-placed source told Radar.
The list of New York City born celebs may include: The Godfather star James Caan; Taxi actor Tony Danza and Paul Sorvino, who played a mafia boss in the wise guy drama Goodfellas, the source told Radar.
“James Caan is a big gambler — he bets on anything. He’ll even bet on which elevator doors open first,” the insider claimed.
Some of the other high profile gamblers may include: Bronx born TV talker Regis Philbin; Two and Half Men star Charlie Sheen; the late Law & Order star Jerry Orbach; Seinfeld co-creator Larry David; the late Wise Guy actor Ray Sharkey and famed producer James L. Brooks, an Oscar winning director, and Ed Weinberger, who both created Taxi and numerous other television classics.
“They probably caught some of these celebrities on the wiretaps,” the source said, adding the gamblers would usually place their bets with Vinny by telephone if they weren’t in New York.
“Vinnie is not just a bookie — everybody who is anybody in the gambling world would call him up because he’s the best handicapper in the world,” the source told Radar. “He has dealt with all the big celebrities.”
“Everybody went to Vinny for advice even the members of all five crime families. Anything you needed to know about sports that guy Vinny knew about it — he was like a walking encyclopedia — an almanac!”
Vinny was arrested during the gambling and loansharking investigation dubbed “Operation Shark Bait” by the New York Attorney General’s Office’s Organized Crime Task Force and the NYPD’s Criminal Enterprise Investigations Section, who used wiretaps to secure the indictments.
The ringleader Salvatore “Sallie” DeMeo, 76, and the others are accused of running the gambling site 4Spades.orgbased in Costa Rica along with a lucrative loansharking and illegal cigarette smuggling business that raked in millions, according to a 56-page indictment obtained by Radar.
Vinny, who operated his family owned grocery store, the Smith Union Market in Brooklyn, “served as the money collector/distributor of illegal gambling proceeds,” according to the indictment.
In one chat tape recorded on Feb. 14, 2015, Vinny is heard giving the spread to college games: “Michigan State’s two-and-a-half, 37-and-a-half, Clemson is nine, no total. Xavier is eight and 48.”
The celebs relied on Vinny for gambling advice and enjoyed betting on college basketball and football games because they “enjoyed the spread,” the inside source told Radar.
According to the source, they also gambled on professional sports, boxing and horse races — a favorite of the Brooklyn born Sorvino, who also starred on the television series Law & Order.
Some sports superstars who placed bets with Vinny include: Yankee great Mickey Mantle, disgraced hitting champ Pete Rose and famed L.A. Dodgers’ manager Tommy Lasorda.
Vinny plead not guilty in Brooklyn Criminal Court and was released on a $20,000. He scheduled back in court on February 15th.
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