A Chicago mobster pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiring to launder nearly $2 million in ill-gotten money from operations in Florida and Illinois through a Brooklyn bingo hall.
Dominic P. "Large" Cortina, 67, admitted in U.S. District Court in Baltimore that he and five others concocted a plan early in 1986 to funnel profits from gambling,loan-sharking, robbery and interstate transportation of stolen property through Bingo World, which Stephen B. Paskind, a Florida bingo operator, was buying at the time.
Prosecutors said in the plea agreement that they would recommend a sentence of 38 months, to run concurrently with a 21-month sentenceCortina is to serve for his conviction on gambling charges in Chicago. He and Donald J. Angelini, a co-defendant in Maryland, admitted inthat case that they ran a $20 million-a-year sports gambling operation on Chicago's West Side.
Angelini has served his time in the Chicago case, but Cortina won't begin serving either sentence until charges against him in Florida are resolved.
In that case, Cortina, Sam "Frank" Urbana and Thomas Patton are charged with loan-sharking, fencing stolen goods and running a "gray" market in illegally imported cars. Urbana also is charged in the Anne Arundel bingo case, in whichPatton is an unindicted co-conspirator.
Kenneth J. Kukec, Cortina's lawyer, said yesterday he expects to "negotiate a settlement" in the Florida case within two weeks.
Cortina, a hefty 6-footer with thick gray hair and glasses, sat impassively through the proceedings, occasionally asking Judge Frederick N. Smalkin to rephrase a questionor checking with Kukec before answering.
In a statement of facts released yesterday, prosecutors said Cortina and Angelini met with Paskind, Izaak "Red" Silber, Urbana and Patton in Florida in February 1986 to arrange for the purchase and renovation of Bingo World.
Under the plan, Cortina, Angelini and Urbana would buy 42 percent of theinterest in the hall on Belle Grove Road while Paskind claimed to own 84 percent. Paskind, an unindicted co-conspirator, actually owned only 42 percent of the business. Smaller investors held the remainder.
Meanwhile, Silber sought permission from Ettore "Eddie" Coco, a semi-retired boss in the Luchese crime family in New York, for Paskindand the others to be involved in the bingo operation.
Angelo "Gus" King, 69, of West Hollywood, Fla., was brought into the scheme later in 1986 as a fourth investor. King, who also was named in the Maryland indictment, is undergoing treatment for bladder cancer, prosecutors said.
From March 1986 through September 1987, the four pumped nearly $2 million into Bingo World, expecting a 16 percent return on their investment. Coco was to receive a share of the profits after theoriginal loans were paid off.
In October 1989, Silber arranged with Coco for an arsonist to torch Bingo Palace, a competing hall in Gambrills. Smoke and water damage delayed the opening of the parlor by about three weeks.
Silber, 71, pleaded guilty to that charge in December 1990 and was sentenced to 27 months in prison.
Coco, 83, was named in the indictment with Cortina and the others, but died last December while awaiting trial.
Angelini, 66, known in Chicago gambling circles as "The Wizard of Odds," was expected to enter his plea yesterday with Cortina, but underwent surgery last week.
AssistantU.S. Attorney Jefferson M. Gray said he expects Angelini to appear within the next two weeks.
Angelini was indicted last January in San Diego on charges of trying to muscle into gambling operations on the Rincon Indian Reservation in northern San Diego County. He is awaiting trial on those charges.
Urbana was a field operations manager for Cortina and Angelini, but moved to Florida in 1965 after two burglary convictions, according to federal authorities.
Urbana, 61, pleaded guilty last month in Miami to charges stemming from the Floridaand Maryland indictments. He was sentenced to eight years in prison.
Paskind continues to operate Bingo World, but he is trying to sell it to a group of local investors who have asked the county's Amusement License Commission to approve transfer of the license to them.
The commission was created this year in the wake of revelations of organized crime connections to Bingo World.