Secaucus facilities director among 46 charged in massive gambling ring


The Secaucus facilities director is among 46 (five from Hudson County) that have been charged in a massive gambling ring where authorities seized $2 million in cash. The scheme spanned between New Jersey, New York and Florida, Acting Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal announced.

John Schwartz. Photo courtesy of the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office.
John Schwartz. Photo courtesy of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

The arrests, search warrants, and seizures are the result of an investigation into a large-scale, multi-state criminal enterprise that was engaged in illegal money laundering, gambling and racketeering. The investigation has been deemed as “Operation Return to Sender.”

The investigation was conducted by members of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office – Special Investigations Squad, under the direction of Chief Carmen Martino.

The investigation revealed that Robert “Elvis” D’Alessio, 62, of Little Falls, was operating an illegal money laundering, gambling, and racketeering enterprise in and around Bergen County, officials said.

The investigation further revealed that the enterprise employed a hierarchical structure that included over 50 gambling“package holders” or “agents” that oversaw a total of approximately 320 bettors, authorities said.

A “package holder” is defined by the prosecutor’s office simply as an individual who oversees individual bettors and collects money from gambling losses and pays out winnings, depending on the outcome of the bettor’s gambling activities.

These “package holders” allegedly managed 22 different gambling accounts.

Additionally, D’Alessio is accused of running the operation with the help of an off-shore “wire room” located in Costa Rica, which utilized various “1- 800” numbers and a website that “package holders” or “agents,” as well as individual bettors, could call to either check on their “packages” or to place bets.

The entire gambling operation is estimated to have processed tens of millions of dollars in wagers per year, the prosecutor’s office said.

In addition to managing several “packages” relating to the bookmaking operation in and around the South Florida region, Esteban “Steve” Cueli – D’Alessio’s former brother-in-law – is charged with conspiring with him to launder the proceeds of the illegal gambling operation, officials said.

Authorities further stated that the investigation revealed that D’Alessio and Cueli also conspired with Enrique Larach, a businessman in Miami, Florida, to launder proceeds from D’Alessio’s illegal gambling operation.

Grewel also gave thanks for the “substantial assistance” given by the New Jersey State Police, Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, Broward County (Florida) Sheriff’s Department, Miami-Dade (Florida) County Police Department, and the New York City Police Department. Furthermore, the investigation is ongoing.

John Schwartz, 52, of Secaucus, the town’s facilities director, was charged with promoting gambling and conspiracy to commit gambling, the prosecutor’s office said earlier today.

According to public records, Schwartz began working for the town of Secaucus on October 1st, 2003 and earned a salary of $72,992 last year.

“Upon notification of this situation, he has been suspended without pay,” Mayor Michael Gonnelli said over the phone, adding that Schwartz has been asked to stay away from town facilities while his case plays out.

The other four Hudson County residents also charged with promoting gambling and conspiracy to commit gambling in the alleged large-scale ring are as follows:

Ron Kocerha, 47, of Secaucus


Kevin O’Leary, 24, of Secaucus


Palms Pakulniewicz, 70, of Secaucus


Anthony Magnani, 43, of Harrison

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