March 28, 2006


Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes (above) announced yesterday the arrests of 10 suspects in a gambling ring that allegedly netted million a year in illegal bets. BUSTED: Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes (above) announced yesterday the arrests of 10 suspects in a gambling ring that allegedly netted million a year in illegal bets.

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Investigators pulled a little March Madness on a gang of mob-linked bookies, seizing $300,000 in cash wagered on the NCAA tourney – and receipts showing an estimated $45 million annual take in illegal sports bets, the Brooklyn DA said yesterday.Ten suspects were busted: Three with ties to the Gambino crime family, and seven linked to the infamous Fukanese gang, which had a "franchise" with the Mafiosi to run their wire rooms, officials said.

Raids on Saturday hit five underground betting parlors – including one in a Chinatown funeral home – in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. The investigation is continuing, and more arrests are expected, District Attorney Charles Hynes said.

It's not the first time Hynes' investigators have targeted illegal sports betting, but this year's bust sidestepped the traditional raids conducted around football's Super Bowl, and waited until now to move in to catch the crooks more off guard, he said.

"They got used to our [Super Bowl] crackdown," Hynes said. "We were hoping to fake our friends out [by waiting until March]. Looks like we picked the right time to hit."

Hynes said investigators seized receipts at the illegal betting parlors – called wire rooms, and stripped down to a bank of phones, computers and notebooks – showing an actual annual take of $34.6 million.

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With more arrests expected, Hynes put the total annual take of the illegal betting operation closer to $45 million.

Authorities also seized the $300,000 in cash laid down on March Madness bets – money tracked down to a number of bank safe deposit boxes linked to the operation.

The 10 suspects were charged with felony promotion of gambling, and face up to three years if convicted.

Hynes noted that it appeared the mob was finally outsourcing its bookie operations.

"They are franchises – they give back a portion," he said of the Asian suspects scooped up in the raids. "They are allowed to do this" by the Gambino crime family.

But suspect Robert Lee, 24, claimed that he had no idea what was going on in his apartment at 874 57th St., Brooklyn, where investigators allege a $5 million-a-year betting operation was under way.

Also arrested there were Stephen Lunge and Wong Fat Sun.

"I didn't know what they were doing," Lee told The Post, saying he was friends with Lunge, but didn't know the other suspect.

"He told me it was work," Lee said of his friend. "Now I know." "It's the wrong place, wrong time," he said of his circumstances. "All I saw was a screen of numbers. I thought it was [Lunge's] work."

Lee also disputed authorities' claim of his roots, insisting he's not Fukanese.

"We're Cantonese," he sniffed.

Hynes, meanwhile, railed at illegal sports-betting operations as a detriment to the community, and called for their legalization, as he has in the past.

"Every time you give 100 bucks to a bookie, you run the risk of having that money come back into your neighborhood in the form of drugs, in the form of guns that kill kids, that kill cops," he said.

"There's no alternative but to have legalized sports betting."

He acknowledged that the future of wire rooms themselves seem bleak, since most sports betting is now taking place on the Internet, where it is legal.

With so few wire rooms and Gambino mobsters left, Hynes said the Mafia may have been looking to bring in the Asian gang element to help out.

All but one of the 10 arrested were released on bail.

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