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Wednesday, July 24, 2024 | Back issues
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Feds Raid San Diego County Card Rooms

(CN) - Twenty-five people were indicted on charges of illegal gambling and money laundering, accused of roles in an operation that laundered an estimated $10 million, federal prosecutors said.

Hundreds of agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the Internal Revenue Service executed five search warrants and 22 seizure warrants on Wednesday, according to Southern California U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy.

The operation, which also involved San Diego County and California law enforcement, saw the raids of the Village Club Card Room in Chula Vista, Calif., and the Palomar Card Room in San Diego.

More than $600,000 was seized from player accounts and bank accounts, according to a press release from Duffy.

A number of defendants allegedly ran unlicensed casinos out of Rancho Santa Fe mansions and "in extravagant settings that featured professional card dealers, prostitutes, chefs and waitresses," the press release states.

Lead defendant David Stroj aka "Fat Dave" operated an illegal bookmaking business that extended across the country, according to an affidavit from FBI agent Delicia Speller.

Prosecutors claim that millions of dollars were laundered through the Village Club Card Room and the Palomar Card Room, as well as Las Vegas casinos, shell companies and other entities.

Speller's affidavit says Stroj is or was associated with the Philadelphia, Pa., Italian organized crime family La Cosa Nostra.

Wiretapped calls caught Stroj talking about how best to launder money, according to the affidavit.

"Palomar is the best way I can wash the money. I don't have to report it. I just deposit it at the Palomar and there's no problems for me," Stroj allegedly said.

The investigation began in 2013 and involved hundreds of intercepted calls and text messages, extensive surveillance, and reviews of financial records, according to Duffy.

Charges in the 18-page indictment include conducting an illegal gambling business, conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, failure to maintain anti-money laundering program, and transpiration of prostitution.

The indicted individuals are: David Stroj; Matthew Greenwood; Jeffrey Broadt; Jeffrey Stoff; Arturo Diaz-Ramirez; Jaime Behar; Robert Stroj; Craig Kolk; Jean Paul Rojo; Joshua Jones; Ricardo Castellanos-Velasquez; Alexandra Kane; Bryan Sibbach; Joseph Palermo; Thomas Mallozzi; Stephen Bednar; Christopher Parsons; Jeffrey Mohr; Kyle Allen; Michael Hipple; Duy Trang; Alfredo Barba; Ali Lareybi; Harvey Souza; and Naseem Salem.

Diaz-Ramirez, Kane, Mohr and Allen are still on the run, prosecutors say.

The Village Club Card Room, also known as Seven Mile Casino, and the Palomar Card Room are also charged in the indictment.

"This indictment describes a massive operation that laundered millions of dollars in illicit proceeds," Duffy said in a statement. "We are committed to putting an end to any activity that enables criminals to hide illicit proceeds."

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