TRENTON - Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced that the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice has taken custody of a fugitive who allegedly ran a Costa Rican “wire room” where the Lucchese crime family processed billions of dollars in illegal wagers on sporting events. The U.S. Marshals Service returned Frank Cetta to New Jersey from Costa Rica late last week, and he had a first appearance in court this morning.
According to Director Taylor, Cetta, 73, of Las Vegas, Nevada, was flown from Costa Rica to New Jersey, where U.S. Marshals turned him over to detectives of the Division of Criminal Justice on Friday, Dec. 23. The New Jersey State Police Fugitive Unit initially developed information about Cetta’s location, which the Division of Criminal Justice referred to the U.S. Marshals Service for the District of New Jersey. Cetta was arrested by authorities in Costa Rica on Dec. 5. He was transferred to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.
Cetta was in court this morning for a first appearance before Superior Court Judge Philip J. Maenza in Morris County. Supervising Deputy Attorney General Mark Eliades, Chief of the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, is prosecuting the case and represented the state at the first appearance. Judge Maenza set bail for Cetta at $350,000, full bail required, and Cetta was lodged in the Morris County Jail. The judge ordered that if Cetta posts bail, he must surrender his U.S. passport, submit to a bail source hearing, and execute a waiver of extradition. Cetta is scheduled to be arraigned on Jan. 3 at 9 a.m. before Superior Court Judge Thomas V. Manahan in Morris County.
Cetta was named in a May 14, 2010 state grand jury indictment obtained by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice that charged two ruling members of the Lucchese crime family in New York, Joseph DiNapoli and Matthew Madonna, as well as 32 other alleged members and associates of the crime family. All of the defendants were indicted on first-degree charges of racketeering, conspiracy and money laundering. The indictment stemmed from Operation Heat, an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau.
“Organized crime cannot evade our determined efforts, not even by hiding in Central America,” said Attorney General Dow. “Frank Cetta is charged with crimes that reached from Costa Rica to New Jersey. We’ve demonstrated that the reach of justice is equally long. We are grateful to the U.S. Marshals Service for their efforts in apprehending this fugitive.”
“Frank Cetta allegedly was responsible for minding the store in Costa Rica for the Lucchese crime family, making sure things ran smoothly at the offshore hub of their multi-billion dollar gambling operation,” said Director Taylor. “With the aid of the U.S. Marshals Service and Costa Rican authorities, we have brought him to New Jersey to face prosecution.”
Cetta allegedly supervised a wire room in San Jose, Costa Rica, where up to 20 people worked at a time, taking bets by phone and processing online wagers for the Luchese crime family’s gambling operation. In May 2010, the Division of Criminal Justice arrested and charged another fugitive in the case, Brian Ronald Cohen, 63, of Buffalo, N.Y., who allegedly ran the gambling operation’s Web site and the technical aspects of the Costa Rican wire room.
Attorney General Dow and Director Taylor thanked the U.S. Marshals Service and Costa Rican authorities for their assistance.
The indictment in Operation Heat also charged alleged top New Jersey capos Ralph V. Perna and Nicodemo Scarfo Jr. Details of the indictment are provided in the May 14, 2010 press release at www.njpublicsafety.com.