NEW YORK -- A professional poker player accused of running a
$3.3 billion illegal sports gambling operation was ordered held
without bail Wednesday.
The balding and bearded James Giordano stood silently with hands
cuffed behind his back at his arraignment in Queens Criminal Court
as his lawyer entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.
Giordano, 52, was arrested Nov. 15 by FBI agents who scaled the
walls of his fortess-like Florida compound.
Authorities broke the case wide open last year when NYPD
investigators secretly hacked into a laptop computer that Giordano
allegedly had left in a Long Island hotel while attending a
Giordano was indicted along with 26 others, including three
family members, on charges of running the online gambling scheme
that rivaled casino sports betting.
Among them was Frank Falzarano, a former scout for the
Washington Nationals and the San Francisco Giants, who was arrested
at his Seaford, Long Island, home. Falzarano allegedly was a top
earner in a network of 2,000 bookies who took cash wagers from tens
of thousands of customers nationwide. He was arraigned earlier this
month. He was released on $500,000 bail, and told to return to
court on Jan. 3.
The billion-dollar-a-year scheme, hatched in 2004, involved
placing sports bets through bookies, who would assign bettors a
secret code to track their wagers and monitor point spreads and
results through a restricted Web site.
The bets were taken on all kinds of sports, including football,
baseball, basketball, hockey, car racing and golf.
Authorities said defendants laundered and stashed away "untold
millions of dollars" using shell corporations and bank accounts in
Central America, the Caribbean, Switzerland, Hong Kong and
Giordano's daughter and son-in-law also were arraigned
Wednesday. Both pleaded not guilty.
His wife, Priscilla Giordano, was released on $1 million bail
Wednesday. Daniel Clarin, the son-in-law, was held without bail.
The daughter, Melissa Clarin, a mother of two young children, was
freed on $500,000 bail.
Roger Adler, the Clarins' lawyer, said outside the courtroom:
"This is obviously a significant case. We are trying to get our
hands around it."
Attorneys for the other defendants declined comment Wednesday.
Giordano and Clarin were scheduled to return to court Dec. 7 for
another bail hearing.
All four were extradited from Florida, where they live, to New
York on Tuesday.
The 27 people, from New York, New Jersey, Florida and Nevada,
were charged with enterprise corruption, money laundering,
promoting gambling and other counts following a 28-month probe led
by Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.