Posted on: January 26, 2021, 12:51h.
Last updated on: January 26, 2021, 12:51h.
Three Connecticut men are the latest suspects charged in the state’s ongoing inquiry into illegal gambling at local stores.
The trio were arrested earlier this month in connection with the Connecticut state police investigation of illegal gaming at several bodegas, according to Monday’s report from the News-Times, a Danbury-based newspaper.
Sterling David Peralta Taveras, age 33, Segundo Fabian, age 62, and Guillermo Betances, age 59, were each charged with illegal professional gambling, illegal possession of gambling devices, and illegally maintaining gambling premises. The men reside in Waterbury and turned themselves into police on Jan. 13.
Taveras, Fabian, and Betances were being held on $100,000 bail, state police said. Taveras and Fabian are scheduled to appear in Waterbury Superior Court on Feb. 17. Betances is scheduled to appear in the same courthouse on Feb. 25.
Details on the illegal gaming operation were not immediately available from police.
Multiple Bodegas Investigated by State Police
Each of the arrests followed long-term investigations by the state police’s Organized Crime Task Force, which “encompassed multiple bodegas throughout Connecticut operating under the organized direction of several individuals … whose primary goal was to make illegal profits from wagers/bets,” authorities told the News-Times.
Also, three other bodega owners in Danbury and one other one in Waterbury were arrested on similar charges during the last several weeks.
Vicente S. Encarnacion, age 56, of Danbury, was arrested on Dec. 31. He was charged with illegal gambling, illegal possession of gambling records, and illegally maintaining gambling premises.
Encarnacion was identified as the owner of Danbury’s Deli and Market. The business was searched by police last February.
State police said “a number of items … related to the illegal gambling operation” were in the store, such as a laptop and printer. So too were “numerous gambling receipts” and about $8,501 in currency.
Encarnacion was charged with illegal professional gambling, illegal possession of gambling devices, and illegally maintaining gambling premises.
An ex-employee, who formerly was a co-owner, was said to have sold Dominican Lottery wagers from the store, the news report added. He was not named.
In addition, Tomas R. Garcia-Castillo, age 37, of Waterbury, was arrested on Jan. 6. Details on his arrest were not immediately available. He was charged with illegal professional gambling, illegal possession of gambling devices, and illegally maintaining gambling premises.
More Than $260K Found in Connecticut Businesses
Two other Danbury bodega owners, Nilo Antonio Espinal, age 41, and Cesar Jose Vasquez, age 43, were arrested on similar charges in November. The arrests followed police searches of local food stores which turned up over $260,000, police said.
When police searched Espinal’s Torres Grocery, they allegedly found “a number of items of evidence related to (an) illegal gambling operation,” including betting receipts, gambling notes and a safe containing more than $74,000 in cash,” the newspaper reported. Also found were names and amounts written on paper.
Police claim these were “pay-outs” from winnings, the News-Times said. But Espinal said the money was tied to a “program he initiated with residents who frequent his store,” the newspaper report quoted from his arrest warrant.
Police countered he “had little to no explanation for the significant amount of US currency seized,” the report added.
In addition, at Vasquez’s Pollas Supermarket on Feb. 3, Vasquez allegedly gave a woman an illegal Dominican Lottery wager. Another woman in the store also had a Dominican Lottery receipt.
He later told police he “did not know anything about illegal gambling, sports betting nor the Dominican Lottery,” according to an arrest warrant quoted by the newspaper.
Police allege Espinal and Vasquez were co-conspirators in “a large scale, illegal gambling organization,” the News-Times said.
Authorities said they found $2,491 in Vasquez’s pocket during a search that day. Police also found “numerous gambling receipts, computers utilized for gambling activities, printing equipment used to document gambling activities,… a shotgun, multiple passports and ledgers documenting what is believed to be evidence of loan sharking and approximately $192,476.65 in US currency,” the newspaper said.