Prosecutors in New York have offered deals to five Santa Clarita Valley men accused of running an illegal $32 million nationwide sports betting ring with a dozen other people, one of the suspects told The Signal Friday.
As well, each of the five accused men who – since their arrest in October 2015 were given the option of having an attorney represent them in court – must now appear in person in New York before Queens County Judge Charles S. Lopresto.
“You walk into court and the judge says ‘Has anyone taken the deal?’ and its over in five minutes,” Cyrus Irani, 38, told The Signal Friday.
Irani and four other men from the Santa Clarita Valley were among 17 suspects across the country indicted Oct. 28, 2015, by a Queens County grand jury on charges of unlawfully operating a highly sophisticated sports gambling enterprise that stretched from New York to California and used offshore-based gambling websites.
In January 2016, the five were formally charged in Queens County, New York, a spokesman for the Queens County District Attorney’s Office.
Since then, they’ve been allowed to return to the Santa Clarita Valley and have a lawyer appear in their place in New York.
That privilege is no longer offered to them, Irani said.
Phone calls and emails placed with the Queens County District Attorney’s Office Thursday and Friday were not returned.
According to Irani, separate deals have been offered to each of the five accused.
“Everyone has been offered a deal,” he said, referring to himself and the other four SCV defendants.
“Some have been offered misdemeanor and they’ve taken the deal,” he said. “Everyone has been offered, but some don’t want it.”
Irani, who was identified by prosecutors as the ringleader in the online gambling operation, said some of the deals have included jail time.
“Going forward, everyone now has to appear in person,” Irani said. “And, all that’s going to happen when you show up, is the judge says ‘Have you taken the deal?’ and that’s been happening since day one.”
Irani and the four other local men were arrested in an early morning raid Oct. 28, 2015, and were among 17 suspects across the country indicted that day by a Queens County grand jury on charges of unlawfully operating a highly sophisticated sports gambling enterprise that stretched from New York to California and used offshore-based gambling websites.
According to the grand jury indictment, the online gambling enterprise, which is alleged to have booked more than $32 million in bets annually, is also accused of laundering its criminal proceeds by depositing and withdrawing large sums of cash from various banks throughout the United States.
Members of a multi-agency police operation led by New York Police Department investigators surrounded a Saugus home Oct. 28 and arrested Irani, law enforcement officials said at the time.
Shortly after his arrest, Irani waived his extradition rights and was taken to New York. He was detained at Rikers Island on Nov. 18 but released a month later after posting bail, according to arrest records maintained by the New York City Department of Corrections.
Andres Arriaga, 41, of Valencia, a fugitive on the run for almost two months, turned himself in before Christmas 2015 to organized crime detectives of the New York Police Department. Arriaga also posted bail and was released from Rikers on Dec. 18, 2015.
Also arraigned on conspiracy charges and scheduled for the same New York court appearance next month are: Julio Alvarenga, 40, of Kingscrest Drive in Saugus; Jeffrey Metelitz, 54, of Cuestport Drive in Valencia; and Saul Salama, 45, of Via Cresta in Tesoro del Valle.
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