Numerous celebrities have allegedly been caught up in the Genovese crime family chronicles, according to Radar Online, an entertainment gossip website. Big Hollywood stars, including Regis Philbin, James Caan, Tony Danza, Charlie Sheen, and Seinfeld co-creator, Larry David, are alleged to have placed illegal bets via wiretap with the notorious New York Mob familia.
None of the celebrities listed have been charged with any crime. Radar Online claims to have an anonymous source with inside information, but no further proof has been offered up on the allegations.
The scandal began when 13 members of the Genovese organized crime family were busted in December in a law enforcement crackdown on mob gambling, loan-sharking, and bootlegging. “Operation Shark Bait” included the arrest of career criminals, such as Salvatore “Sallie” DeMeo, a 76-year-old former bank robber.
Vincent “Vinny” Taliercio, a Brooklyn bookie, was also part of the raid and was reported to have taken many sports betting wagers from Hollywood’s elite. According to Radar’s unnamed source, Taliercio took wagers from the aforementioned celebrities. The source said investigators “probably caught some of these celebrities on the wiretaps.”
“Vinny is not just a bookie,” the source told Radar. “Everybody who is anybody in the gambling world would call him up because he’s the best handicapper in the world. He has dealt with all the big celebrities.”
Taliercio is a “walking (sports) encyclopedia,” the source added. “He was the guy crime families went to for advice.”
Operation Shark Bait
This past December, members of the Genovese family were arrested on suspicion of organized crime. Beyond illegal gambling, the suspects are accused of handing out loans with interest rates so high the victims often couldn’t afford to pay the loans back.
“These defendants allegedly went to great lengths to trap their victims with exorbitant rates, all while evading our gambling laws and taking offshore bets,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.
Investigators have had their eyes on the Genovese family for many years and used wiretaps to intercept conversations involving family members.
Hollywood’s Love Affair with Big Bets
This isn’t the first time celebrities have been involved with someone charged with illegal betting. Molly Bloom was billed as a Hollywood princess who operated illegal high stakes poker games with A-listers.
Bloom was an ordinary Midwestern girl who moved to Los Angeles in hopes of doing big things. She became the host of underground high stakes cash games with high-profile movie stars such as Tobey Maguire and was living a luxurious lifestyle. Her game was eventually busted and she was arrested and sent to jail.
A book, Molly’s Game, was based on her story. Writer and producer Aaron Sorkin’s movie of the same name is in “post production,” according to IMDb, as of this writing.