Alleged kingpin in online betting ring to stand trial

Members of a multi-agency police operation led by New York Police Department investigators surrounded Cyrus Irani's Saugus home on Oct. 28, 2015, and arrested him and four other Santa Clarita men for illegal $32 million nationwide sports betting ring. Photo by Austin Dave/The Signal


Only one of the five local men arrested two years ago in a nationwide crackdown of an alleged illegal $32 million sports betting ring has been ordered to stand trial in New York.

Each of the other four Santa Clarita Valley suspects rounded up in raids carried out in October 2015, then extradited to New York, has seen the criminal cases against them reduced to misdemeanors or adjourned.

Only 39-year-old Cyrus Irani, identified by New York prosecutors as the alleged kingpin of the betting ring, has been ordered to stand trial, Ikimulisa Livingston, spokeswoman for the Queens District Attorney’s Office told The Signal Monday.

Saul Salama, who turned 47 this month, is a second SCV suspect arrested in the same roundup that netted Irani in 2015.

Salama was expected to have the case against him adjourned when he appeared in court Tuesday.

“His (Salama’s) case will be adjourned,” Livingston told The Signal Monday.

That left Irani alone to face trial.

In April, a third SCV suspect, Jeffrey Metelitz, 55, was given a conditional discharge after he pleaded guilty to first-degree attempt to promote gambling.

The two other SCV suspects – Julio Alvarenga, 40, and Andres Arriaga, 41 – also received conditional discharges after they too pleaded guilty to first-degree ‘attempted promoting gambling,’ a Class A misdemeanor, Kevin R. Ryan, spokesman for the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, told The Signal in March.

The two Santa Clarita Valley men were given conditional discharges when the court determined that “neither the public interest nor the ends of justice would be served by a sentence of imprisonment and that probation supervision is not appropriate,” according to the New York Penal Code.

The five local men 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.

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, alleged to be the ring’s kingpin, law enforcement officials said.

The suspects were extradited to New York.  Once they were each arraigned, all the defendants were permitted by the court to return to California from New York, represented in court by their respective lawyers.

Only Irani was given conditions upon his release from custody, Ryan said, specifically, to be fitted with an “electronic monitor to verify his location.”

In March 2016, each of the five suspects from Santa Clarita Valley pleaded not guilty in New York to the criminal charges against them, Ryan said.

A year later, three of the five pleaded guilty to first-degree attempt to promote gambling.

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