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12 indicted in gambling, racketeering

A sweeping federal racketeering indictment unsealed yesterday charges Arthur Gianelli, brother-in-law of convicted former FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr., with running a lucrative gambling ring and trying to bully the owners of three area bars into selling the bars to him and his partners.

The indictment, the latest chapter in an effort by state and federal authorities to further weaken the Mafia's loosening grip in Greater Boston, alleges that Gianelli's gambling ring thrived because he paid the New England mob for protection.

Yesterday's indictment, unsealed in US District Court in Boston, added hundreds of new charges and nine additional defendants to an indictment of Gianelli, 47, and three other men by a federal grand jury in January. That earlier indictment charges the four men with plotting to burn down the Big Dog Sports Grille, a North Reading bar, in 2003 to intimidate the owners into selling them another bar in Lynnfield.

The new charges -- which include racketeering, extortion, and money laundering -- stem from various criminal enterprises that Gianelli and his associates allegedly ran from 1999 to the present, including an illegal Internet gambling operation aided by an offshore company.

The so-called superseding indictment yesterday brings together old and new charges in one case.

Gianelli, of Lynnfield, is also accused of using threats and intimidation in an unsuccessful bid to force the owners of Clarke's Turn of the Century Saloon in Faneuil Hall and McCarthy's Bar and Grille on Boylston Street in Boston to sell the bars to him between 1998 and 2002.

After Gianelli's initial arrest in January, State Trooper Pasquale Russolillo testified during a bail hearing that Gianelli and associates paid $2,000 a month to reputed New England Mafia underboss Camen DiNunzio and mobster Richard Floramo, in order to operate.

As the alleged underboss, DiNunzio runs mob activities in Boston, according to law enforcement officials. Floramo was one of four new Mafia soldiers captured on tape, pledging his soul to the mob, during an FBI-bugged induction ceremony in Medford in October 1989.

Neither DiNunzio nor Floramo is named in the indictment.

US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan said yesterday that federal and state agencies, which he said have successfully broken up the local Mafia with a wave of prosecutions since the 1980s, have done a ''phenomenal job."

But he added that the investigation leading to yesterday's indictment -- by State Police, the Internal Revenue Service, the FBI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives -- ''has shown that organized crime is not completely out of business."

''It's important for us to remain vigilant," he said.

Reached at her home last night, Gianelli's wife, Mary Ann Gianelli, said that neither she nor her husband wanted to comment at this time. Gianelli's lawyer, Richard Egbert, also declined to comment.

The indictment alleges that Gianelli's group was making money illegally from football betting cards, video poker machines, and Internet gambling. The ring allegedly paid an offshore gambling company -- Weshtod Consultants, with offices in San Jose, Costa Rica -- to take bets from Massachusetts customers, both on the Internet, at, and over the telephone.

Todd Westerman, 41, of San Jose, owner of Weshtod Consultants, is charged in the indictment, along with his company, with running the offshore gambling office and taking bets from Gianelli's customers in Massachusetts.

He was arrested Sunday by customs agents at the airport in Miami.

Assistant US Attorney Fred Wyshak, who is prosecuting the case, said the use of an offshore office makes it more difficult for law enforcement agencies to detect and prosecute the activities of illegal gambling organizations.

''The use of offshore gambling offices is a new trend and one that needs to be addressed in the criminal courts of this country," he said.

Also charged in the indictment with racketeering are: Joseph Yerardi Jr., 51, of West Newton; his wife, Rafia Feghi, 55; Dennis Albertelli, 52, of Stow; his wife, Gisele Albertelli, 57; and his son, Randy Albertelli, 26, of Stow; Tony ''Sonny" Daniels, 53, of Saugus; Salvatore ''Lefty" Ramasci, 48, of Stoneham; Frank Iacaboni, 60, of Leominster; Deeb Homsi, 44, of Arlington; and Eneyda Gonzalez Rodriguez, a Venezuelan national who lives in Costa Rica.

Gianelli, Iacaboni, Homsi, and Dennis Albertelli were charged in the January indictment. All are out on bail.

Boston lawyer Thomas Butters, who represents Iacaboni, said that even with the addition of new counts yesterday, ''the case they have against my client is very weak."

All of the new defendants in the case were arrested yesterday or Sunday, except for Rodriguez. During a hearing at the US District Court in Worcester yesterday, US District Magistrate Judge Charles B. Swartwood ordered Yerardi, who was released from prison in February, to be jailed pending a hearing Thursday. He set bail for Randy and Gisele Albertelli, Ramasci, Feghi, and Daniels.

According to the indictment, when Yerardi, a convicted loanshark and bookie with ties to James ''Whitey" Bulger and Stephen Flemmi, went to prison a decade ago, he left Gianelli to run his business.

But Yerardi allegedly kept getting a piece of the profits while in jail. Prosecutors say Gianelli routinely funneled some of the gambling profits to Yerardi by mailing postal money orders for him and other inmates to their canteen accounts in federal prison.

Mary Ann Gianelli is the sister of Elizabeth Connolly, who is married to Connolly, a retired FBI agent who was convicted in May 2002 of racketeering of warning his longtime informants, Bulger and Flemmi, in advance of their 1995 indictment.

Bulger remains a fugitive; Flemmi is serving a life prison term; and Connolly is serving a 10-year sentence.

Yesterday's indictment alleges that as part of the money-laundering scheme, Gianelli and his friends, Dennis and Gisele Albertelli, arranged for Mary Ann Gianelli to receive regular checks from two transportation companies, to make it appear as if she had legitimate income totaling $238,385.

But, according to the indictment, Mary Ann Gianelli hadn't done any work for the two companies, Forge Village Transportation and Dennele Transportation, and her husband secretly reimbursed the companies with money from his illegal gambling business. She is not facing any charges.

As part of the case, prosecutors are seeking the forfeiture of Gianelli's house, located on the same cul-de-sac as Connolly's house; Dennis Albertelli's house and a two-carat diamond ring seized during a raid of his property; Yerardi's condominium; and a substantial amount of money from various members of the group.

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