A 65-year-old West Palm Beach man at the center of a million-dollar gambling bust last week has a long history of running similar operations with Italian Mafia ties that goes back to when Ronald Reagan ruled the nation.
Pasquale "Patsy" Capolongo was taken into custody along with several other men in Broward and Palm Beach counties on charges of bookmaking, racketeering, and money-laundering. The bust started in December after a 16-month investigation by New York authorities resulted in 14 arrests in three states, including New York, New Jersey, and Florida. BSO cooperated with New York counterparts and arrested eight men in the Palm Beach and Broward areas.
BSO spent six months investigating eight men, including Capolongo, who were allegedly involved in offshore sports betting websites and in-person cash transactions. According to BSO, more than $1 million in cash was seized in the latest bust.
That might be a big deal for Broward's finest, but for Capolongo, it seems this is all just business as usual.
"Patsy" has been getting busted for illegal gambling in the New York-New Jersey areas since 1987 and, according to New York investigators, has had ties to the Gambino and Genovese crime families throughout his career. But despite being on the radar for so long, it appears Capolongo has had some luck -- at least when it comes to job security.
Capolongo's first arrest for gambling and racketeering came in April 1987 in New York for running a gambling ring.
But just a few years later, in 1991, Capolongo was again indicted on gambling charges by Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro, who is now best-known for her vitriolic talking-head gig on Fox News. In that case, Capolongo was accused of running the gambling ring and fixing races. One racer with whom he was accused of conspiring was Hervé Filion, a famed Canadian harness racer who has been described as the Babe Ruth of that sport.
Although Capolongo was convicted on those charges and sent to prison in 1993, his attorneys successfully appealed the case on a technicality, arguing that a wiretapped conversation between Capolongo and a defendant in Canada was obtained with a warrant that hadn't gone through the proper bureaucratic process.
Capolongo won that appeal, and his conviction was overturned in 1995, according to court records. He was released shortly after.
As for Filion, gambling charges were dropped against the racer in 2000 in exchange for pleading to failing to provide a tax return. But for several years, he was legally banished from racing and unable to earn an income from his trade.
Meanwhile, the prolific Capolongo was arrested again in 1997 for heading a gambling ring, this time involving participants in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and, once again, Canada. The New York Times reported back then that the gambling ring even had a strong Chinese-speaking clientele in Brooklyn.
At some point, Capolongo must have tired of the New York heat, so he relocated to South Florida, where things were a little cooler -- and it appears he hasn't been arrested since the '90s. But this latest arrest proves the New York Police haven't forgotten about the illegal-gambling veteran.
Capolongo is now facing two counts of racketeering, five counts of bookmaking, one count of conspiracy to commit bookmaking, and one count of unlawful use of communication via a two-way device, which is a third-degree felony.
Others involved in the Florida sting include Erik Bishop, 35; Devon Shaimi, 30; Allan Klein, 71; Darren Klein, 36; Michael Dangelo, 58; Joseph Petrolino, 47; and Thomas Cuce, 32.