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US reveals inquiry into tip-off by DA

3 plead guilty to betting ring

By Shelley Murphy
Globe Staff / June 2, 2011

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A federal prosecutor revealed in court yesterday that investigators are looking into allegations that Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe told a close friend to warn an elderly Cape Cod bookmaker that State Police were targeting his sports betting operation.

The alleged tip-off in December 2006 prompted the bookmaker to shut down the illegal gambling ring until the following fall, when football season began, according to Assistant US Attorney Fred Wyshak.

The prosecutor did not mention O’Keefe’s name in court, but identified him as an elected law enforcement official who worked in the district attorney’s office on Cape Cod. O’Keefe is the only elected official in that office.

O’Keefe vehemently denied the allegations during a telephone interview yesterday.

“Neither I nor my office has ever had any association with a sports betting operation, and any allegation to the contrary is untrue,’’ said O’Keefe, a three-term Republican whose career in law enforcement spans 30 years. “I did not cause any warning to be given to any sports betting operation.’’

O’Keefe called the allegations a rehash of what was reported a year ago. The Globe reported in April 2010 that a federal grand jury was investigating allegations that O’Keefe protected alleged bookmakers operating on the Cape.

“It’s unpleasant, but it’s not going to disrupt my office,’’ said O’Keefe, declining to comment further.

Details of the ongoing investigation emerged yesterday as Adam Hart, William Neofotistos, and Timothy Reardon pleaded guilty in US District Court in Boston to operating an illegal sports betting business for a decade. Hart and Neofotistos also pleaded guilty to obstruction of law enforcement, stemming from the tip-off allegation.

Hart, the 85-year-old longtime owner of the Ocean House Restaurant in Dennisport, and 60-year-old Neofotistos, both of Dennisport, complained of trouble hearing during the proceedings. US District Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf ordered the pair moved to a table closer to him and provided them with headphones that would amplify his remarks. Reardon, 33, of Barnstable, who is married to Hart’s granddaughter, sat beside them, along with their lawyers.

The three signed plea agreements last summer, agreeing to cooperate in the investigation. Prosecutors may seek lighter sentences than those recommended under federal guidelines.

Describing the evidence in the case, Wyshak said an unidentified person who placed bets with the illegal gambling ring was close friends with the elected official in the Cape Cod district attorney’s office. That official learned that State Police were interested in getting a wiretap aimed at the gambling ring, Wyshak said.

“The elected law enforcement official tipped off his friend that Hart’s gambling business was going to be targeted by State Police and instructed him to tell Hart, which he did,’’ Wyshak said.

As a result of the alleged tip-off in December 2006, Hart and Neofotistos shut down the gambling business until the following fall, according to Wyshak.

The judge asked if Wyshak’s account of what happened was true. Both Hart and Neofotistos said, “Yes, your honor.’’

Federal sentencing guidelines recommend a 24-month to 30-month prison term for Hart and a 12-month to 18-month term for Reardon. The guideline range for Neofotistos is unclear, according to his lawyer.

Wolf set a Sept. 22 sentencing date.

Hart has agreed to forfeit $750,000 in cash, Reardon $1,580, and Neofotistos $17,000.

During questioning by the judge, Hart described himself as a 1951 graduate of Boston University.

Reardon said he held an associate’s degree in criminal justice, while Neofotistos said he graduated from a junior college.

The government urged the judge to delay sentencing for at least six months because of the ongoing investigation, but Wolf voiced concern about Hart’s advanced age and the length of the investigation.

Shelley Murphy can be reached at shmurphy@globe.com.