Legal Gambling Linked to Possible Crime Rise

Times Staff Writer

Crime may rise because of the spiraling popularity of legal gambling like lotteries, card parlors and bingo on Indian reservations, Atty. Gen. John Van de Kamp warned in his annual report on organized crime.

As past examples of the crime associated with legalized gaming, the report issued Thursday cited corruption, loansharking, bookmaking, drug abuse, prostitution and the infiltration of organized crime in labor unions.

“California law enforcement agencies are becoming more concerned about illicit activities associated with some forms of legalized gambling,” the report by the Bureau of Organized Crime said.

Moriarty Case

The report pointed to the public corruption indictment of fireworks magnate W. Patrick Moriarty and three former City of Commerce officials in connection with the opening and operation of the Commerce Club card parlor.

The federal indictment charged that Moriarty gave hidden interests to officials in exchange for promises that he would get the license to run the profitable card club.


The report also cited a recent federal indictment charging several organized crime figures with loansharking and bookmaking at the California Bell Club, a poker parlor in Bell.

It pointed out that crime increased 170% in Atlantic City once casino gambling became legal, and said law enforcement officials fear casinos will become legal in California.

No Mention of Lottery

The report did not specifically mention the state lottery due to start on Oct. 3 as contributing to the atmosphere that will encourage organized crime to fester.

But the report did say “public acceptance of charitable bingo, high-stakes bingo on Indian reservations, lottery, horse racing, cardrooms and casino gambling aboard a cruise ship is creating an atmosphere conducive to the proliferation of gambling in California.”

Among its other findings, the report said:

- Bingo games on Indian reservations pose particular problems because there is “enormous potential for skimming or laundering funds through high-stakes bingo games . . .” and the operations “are tempting targets for organized crime.”

- The New Jersey-based Accetturo-Taccetta crime group, affiliated with the Luchese Mafia Family of New York, is increasingly active in Southern California, investing in legitimate businesses and dealing in drugs. The report noted that an associate of the group is a listed director of Nite-Flite Video Productions, which reproduces video tapes in Los Angeles.

- Peter Milano of Westlake Village is the boss of the Los Angeles Mafia family. Milano has tried to enlist new members in the family and exert control over bookmakers to expand what has long been viewed as a foundering crime group.

- There is “little evidence” that Asian gangs “present a threat of significant proportion to the people of the state.”