Five people have been charged after authorities uncovered a $100,000 a week sports betting operation run out of the basement of a Wharton couple’s home, Morris County Prosecutor Michael Rubbinaccio said yesterday.
Alan Bone Sr., 56, head of the American Legion post in Wharton, his girlfriend, Carol Howard, 48, and two others were charged in early-morning raids of their homes Monday, Rubbinaccio said.
Bone’s son, Alan Jr., 27, of Jefferson, was arrested while on vacation in Orlando, Fla., taken into custody at a resort a few minutes’ drive from Walt Disney World, the prosecutor said. The union plumber waived extradition and was expected to be in the Morris County Jail by this morning, authorities said.
“This was one of the largest gambling operations we’ve been able to uncover in the past several years,” Rubbinaccio said.
Though the arrests were made Monday, authorities did not announce them until yesterday.
The prosecutor’s office tapped Bone Sr.’s house phone and his son’s cell phone between Jan. 6 and Feb. 13, intercepting 770 gambling-related calls, Rubbinaccio said.
Over those five weeks, 1,179 bets were
John Peragallo, 63, a Morris County employee who operates the Zamboni machine at the Mennen Sports Arena, allegedly placed bets on behalf of somebody else for a fee, according to the arrest affidavit. Peragallo, a Randolph resident, was issued a summons.
All five were charged with promoting gambling and conspiracy.
Both Bone Sr. and Howard, who works at a contracting company, were released on $50,000 bail each yesterday, a jail official said.
A person who answered the phone at Bone’s home said nobody there would comment.
Many in Wharton were surprised to learn of Bone Sr.’s arrest, including Mayor William Chegwidden.
“He’s always been a good citizen,” Chegwidden said. Bone was active in local affairs, helping to choose the town’s Civil War memorial and organize parades, Chegwidden said.
“I hate to see it happen to a guy like that,” the mayor said. Several people said Bone Sr. was a Vietnam veteran.
Told of the allegations against Bone Sr., Bill Thompson, past commander of the 500-member William J. Hocking American Legion Post 91, said, “Oh dear God. I had no idea this was going on.”
Bone has been a member of the Legion for more than 25 years and is serving his second term as commander, Thompson said.
Department of Defense records showed Bone Sr. served in the Air Force.
Bone Sr. is unemployed, according to the prosecutor’s office. He previously owned a vending machine company, records showed.
Peragallo, an operating engineer at the Mennen arena, remained at his $40,000-a-year county job yesterday, said David Helmer, director of the Morris County Park Commission.
“We have just been apprised of the charges and our bandarqq attorneys are reviewing the issue,” Helmer said.
Joseph Devine, the prosecutor’s chief of investigations, said there are indications the gambling operation is linked to organized crime and could extend into other countries.
About 40 officers from numerous Morris County law enforcement agencies raided the suspects’ homes in Wharton, Jefferson, Roxbury and Randolph. They seized $70,000 and four vehicles police say were used in the gambling venture. Rubbinaccio said his office also froze bank accounts.
“This is not the end of the investigation,” the prosecutor said.
Staff writers Maura McDermott and Lawrence Ragonese contributed to this report.