A high-ranking officer of a California stock brokerage has been arrested in connection with a bookmaking operation that allegedly handled hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bets on horse racing and sporting events from brokers and others nationwide.
Tom Juda, 42, executive vice president and head of institutional trading in Los Angeles for Sutro & Co., a regional firm based in San Francisco, was arrested Wednesday on felony charges following a three-month investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department, Detective Michael Wixted said Thursday.
Also arrested and charged was Vince Carsillo, 51, of Los Angeles, who allegedly ran the bookmaking operation out of a duplex in Hawthorne, Wixted said. Carsillo is not believed to be connected to Sutro.
Juda--a Hancock Park resident who also serves as a Sutro director and is said to earn as much as $1 million a year--denied the allegations through his Century City attorney, Arthur Barens.
"We categorically deny any wrongdoing on Mr. Juda's part, and we, like the police, are investigating the matter," Barens said. "Mr. Juda is a person of substance and is very significant in the brokerage community and hardly needs to be engaged in bookmaking."
Barens, who called the case "bizarre," said Juda may be a victim of a "mistake in fact." He refused to elaborate.
According to Wixted, Juda is alleged to have handled individual bets at his office of as much as $400 on horses and thousands of dollars on sporting events. Juda then allegedly fed the wagers to Carsillo. The bets came from brokerage employees from as far away as Chicago, Wixted said.
The bookmaking ring, all told, may have handled as much as $150,000 a week in bets, taking a cut of as much as 10%, Wixted said.
"It was of the magnitude to warrant felony prosecution," Wixted said, noting that prosecutors usually don't seek felony charges against bookmakers unless their weekly volume totals more than $15,000 in horse wagering and more than $100,000 in sporting events. Police are still investigating to determine if others were involved, he said.
Officials at Sutro said Juda still remains employed at the firm. They said they were cooperating with authorities and were conducting their own investigation.
"The activities that are in question are unrelated to Sutro's business," said Susan Freund, a Sutro senior vice president and general counsel. "Sutro itself is not implicated in any wrongdoing, which isn't related to securities trading or any other brokerage activities of Sutro."
Carsillo, who authorities said was under investigation previously for bookmaking but was never charged, could not be reached for comment. Both Juda and Carsillo were arrested and released on $500 bail, Wixted said. They will be arraigned on March 24, he said.