Seven people described as having close ties to organized crime were arrested today, while 11 others were summoned to appear later before a federal magistrate to answer charges of conspiracy and operating an illegal gambling business, said James DeSarno, special agent in charge of the FBI in New Orleans.
Authorities would not say how much money passed through the bookmaking operation, but described it as major. A grand jury issued sealed indictments on Tuesday, the FBI said.
DeSarno said the arrests, which followed a joint investigation by the FBI and Louisiana State Police, was "part of the FBI’s effort throughout the nation to break the back of the mob."
The earlier charges revolved around the use of two mob-controlled front companies, Worldwide Gaming of Louisiana and Louisiana Route Operators, to infiltrate the video poker industry. Federal prosecutors said the two companies defrauded Bally Gaming Inc., a major video poker machine company.
Among those convicted was then-state Rep. Buster Guzzardo, who resigned after pleading guilty to aiding an illegal gambling business. Prosecutors said he took a fax machine and other favors from one of Worldwide Gaming’s founders.
The first evidence in that case was garnered through listening devices planted in a New Orleans restaurant to gather information about bookmaking, federal authorities said earlier.
The bookmaking investigation began in 1991, the FBI said.