Ex-track official pleads guilty in gambling case
While Lakes Region Greyhound Park in Belmont has been shut down and sold, the criminal prosecution of two former track officials for their alleged roles in a massive gambling conspiracy involving tax fraud, horse doping and organized crime grinds on, with a trial date scheduled for November. On Sept. 8, the same day the park was sold to a Mississippi-based casino operator, a former Lakes Region official pleaded guilty to one count of illegal gambling. That official, Jonathan Broome, assistant to track general manager Richard Hart, allegedly played a small part in a massive illegal gambling conspiracy involving tax fraud and organized crime. Richard Hart is still contesting the charges against him. Specifically, Hart and Broome were charged — through their involvement with Concord-based International Players Association - with acting as a conduit between a New York organization called the Uvari Group and Euro Off-Track, an offshore betting operation in the Isle of Man in the British Isles. Broome contends that he didn’t know that his actions were illegal at the time, and he was relying on the advice of others, said his New York attorney, Richard E. Signorelli. But don’t expect Broome to start naming names. “My client is not - I repeat, is not - cooperating with the government with investigation of others,” Signorelli told New Hampshire Business Review. As first reported by New Hampshire Business Review earlier this year, court filings in a family dispute over IPA ownership seem to indicate that the track was more deeply involved in IPA than publicly admitted. After those revelations, the attorney general released a report alleging that at least some IPA operations were actually being run out of the track. NHBR also first reported earlier this year, and the attorney general report later confirmed, that all three of former track managing partner Al Hart’s nephews - Richard, Kenneth and Robert Hart — were previously convicted of gambling-related activities and yet worked at the track. Under New Hampshire law, it is illegal for a race track to knowingly hire anyone with a gambling record. Al Hart said he didn’t know about his nephews gambling convictions. Al Hart has not been charged with any crime. He admits to helping setting up IPA to handle offshore gambling operations, and has always maintained that neither he nor the track was involved in IPA’s day-to-day operations - operations that he says involved no illegalities to begin with. The resulting negative publicity led many tracks around the country to stop sending their simulcast signals to Lakes Region. The track eventually closed it doors in April and surrendered its license in May after the Attorney General Kelly Ayotte called for the state Pari-Mutuel Commission to revoke its license. The track has since been sold for $4.1 million to the Torguson Gaming Group of Biloxi, Miss. Before Hurricane Katrina devastated the Biloxi area, Torguson had announced plans to reopen the track this year. Death of a defendant Whatever the fate of the Belmont track, the fate of the two former track officials is wound up in criminal conspiracy charges involving 18 defendants in five states, primarily centered on the Uvari group, allegedly part of the Gambino organized crime family. Part of the evidence includes hundreds of intercepted recordings of wiretapped phone calls. In transcripts of phone calls presented as part of a motion to dismiss charges by an attorney for Anthony Uvari, Lakes Region Greyhound Park isn’t even mentioned, except a possibly oblique reference in one wired tape transcript: “I’ve got New Hampshire now,” said Anthony Uvari to Marvin Meyerowitz — Uvari member known as “Cookie” — in a conversation recorded on Feb. 16, 2004. Meyerowitz, according to the original indictment, was the main person dealing with Hart and Broome in the alleged money laundering scheme. The FBI recorded Anthony Uvari’s call to Meyerowitz on May 17, 2004, shortly after the FBI raided Meyerowitz’s home and seized $400,000 in cash, as well as numerous records. “Twelve FBI agents came to my house this morning,” Meyerowitz said. “Go ahead,” Uvari replied. “They took every record from the business…” “Go ahead.” “And they think we’re involved with some big huge money-laundering thing.” “What did they say to you? They didn’t charge you with anything, did they?” “They didn’t charge - they just came with a search warrant and said I have big problems.” “Yeah, they always say that.” Meyerowitz died last May in a fire at his Hackensack, N.J., apartment, which fire investigators said was caused by a discarded cigarette. Anthony Uvari, the lead defendant, is the son of Gerald Uvari, allegedly the boss of the operation. The other main defendants in the gambling operation are Ceasare Uvari (Anthony’s uncle) and David Applebaum, according to government filings. The Uvari group allegedly allowed their customers to wager anonymously by providing various customers with numerical codes and PIN numbers, rather than their own personal identifying information. The group also allegedly used their own Social Security numbers to report customers’ losses, receiving a tax windfall from the IRS.