It was announced yesterday by federal authorities that a total of 25 individuals were indicted for their role in a large gambling ring spanning across the US and internationally. The scheme was able to net profits of $10 million via sports betting as well as high stakes card games, all taking place at mansions in Rancho Santa Fe.
The investigation into the gambling ring took two years and also involved the Chula Vista Seven Mile Casino as well as the Palomar Card Club of San Diego. Both venues were used to launder the illegal gambling money, according to allegations by the United States Attorney’s Office of San Diego.
David ‘Fat Dave’ Stroj is said to be at the middle of the operation, a gambler and bookmaker the FBI says is associated with the mafia in Philadelphia. A search warrant was obtained to search Stroj’s condominium, which was located in the downtown area of San Diego.
By using wiretaps, the FBI was able to determine that the gambling business and bookmaking was far more than agents imagined, with over 360 clients and betting operations based in several cities across the United States. The wiretaps helped to connect Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, Florida and South Carolina to the operation. Areas outside the US included Tijuana, Canada and Toronto.
According to information provided by Joshua Mellor, the Assistant United States Attorney, Stroj took in bets of around $2 million every month, with one month earning Stroj $500,000.
State gambling regulators of California had already been looking at the Seven Mile Casino and the Palomar Card Club based on allegations involving administrative licensing and they have now been ordered to shut down. Wayne Quint Jr., the California Bureau of Gambling Control Chief, shut down the venues on Wednesday.
The gambling facilities were only two of the ways the operation was able to launder funds. The ring had a bail bond business based in Las Vegas as well as bank accounts and shell corporations to move money around. The gamblers paid their debt with a check written to Stroj, which was made payable to a card room. The check was deposited in one of the ‘marker’ accounts and then held for the player at the card room. The money could then be taken from that account in cash or chips.
The FBI recorded Stroj on the wiretap, stating the card rooms are the preferred method to launder money for the gambling scheme. Even going so far as stating that Palomar is the best way that he can ‘wash the money’. It is believed that the Wynn and Bellagio casinos of Las Vegas are also involved in the money laundering process but their names were not included in the indictment.