16 New York Racetrack Tellers Plead Guilty to Tax Fraud

Sixteen N.Y. racetrack tellers pled guilty to stealing bettors’ money for their personal use, then laundering that money through false tax returns, US Dist. Attny Alan Vinegrad announced on June 25.  Three of the pleas were new, while 13 defendants pled guilty last year, but were unsealed along with the three new confessions.  One of those who pled earlier is Robert E. Lodati, president of the the betting clerks’ union, Div. of Mutual Employees, which is a unit of the Int’l Bhd. of Elec. Workers Local 3 in Queens.

In the scheme, the tellers pocketed bettors’ wagers, compensated the racing assn when their cash drawers came up “short,” then claimed those payments as “unreimbursed employee expenses,” on their federal tax returns.  By laundering the bettors’ case this way, the tellers lowered their taxable income without lowering their actual income.  They face a maximum sentence of three years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and payment of back taxes, interest and penalties.  Donald Patterson is scheduled to be sentenced by US Dist Judge Arthur  D. Spatt (E.D.N.Y., Bush #1) on October 4, Gary Klis and Charles Bonanno a week later.

Union president Lodati has not yet received a sentencing date for the tax exasion.  But he and three others are due to be sentenced in mid-August for seperate NY charges of laundering $300,000, by exchanging small bills for large ones, over six months for state police investigators posing as drug dealers, in transactions that were recorded on videotape and audiotape. The clerks allegedly pocketed a cut of 5% to 10% every time they made the swaps. Law enforcement said the sting operation began after they learned that tellers were laundering money for a gang acting as a front for the Gambino crime family. [U.S.A.O., E.D.N.Y., Times Union (Albany, NY) 7/2/02]