New York Mobster Organized Genovese Gambling Ring From Cobbler Shop

All in the name

When a man linked to the mob goes by the nickname Sal the Shoemaker, you might expect he’s expert at footwear of the concrete boot variety.

used his shoe repair shop as a front for an illegal gambling operation.

Salvatore Rubino, 61, is actually a cobbler by trade but, as he pleaded guilty to on Tuesday, also a New York mobster who used his shoe repair shop as a front for an illegal gambling operation.

The US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York (USAO-EDNY) took to X to share Rubino’s plea made in a Brooklyn federal court:

Five Members and Associates of the Genovese Crime Family Plead Guilty to Various Felony Charges, Including Illegal Gambling https://t.co/cyjZi32FJW (Announced with @NewYorkFBI and @NassauDA)

— US Attorney EDNY (@EDNYnews) April 16, 2024

In admitting to operating an illegal gambling business associated with one of New York’s five crime families, Rubino’s plea makes it five members from the Genovese clan to plead guilty to charges linked to long-established illegal gambling businesses in the EDNY area.

The other four guilty pleas came on April 5 from Joseph ‘Joe Fish’ Macario, 69; Carmelo ‘Carmine’ Polito, 64; Joseph ‘Joe Box’ Rutigliano, 65; and Mark Feuer, 61.

In a flashback to another crime era, Vicario’s Sal’s Shoe Repair in Merrick was one of the seemingly culturally wholesome and legitimate businesses behind which the five men ran Long Island gambling dens feeding the Genovese organized crime network.

Ice creams and social hubs

There was more to Sal’s Shoe Repair than met the eye, and the same applied to the Gran Caffe Gelateria in Lynbrook, and the Centro Calcio Italiano Club in West Babylon.

Along with serving Italian gelato, Gran Caffe was established in 2012 as a partnership between the Genovese and Bonnano clans. The profits Gran Caffe, Sal’s Shoe Repair, and the social club generated through illegal gambling were “substantial” according to an USAO-EDNY news release.

Behind the seemingly innocuous facades, the three businesses ran “illegal joker poker-type gambling machines” and poker games, with each venue raking in more than $2,000 daily.  

The DOJ also revealed Polito ran an illegal sports betting scheme via a website listed as PGWLines and used it to extort money from people who kissed “several thousand dollars” goodbye in online bets.

I’m going to put him under the f*cking bridge.”

The indictment includes Polito’s pressure on a debtor in 2019. The ex-captain of the Genovese directly threatened to ‘break’ his ‘face’ before sending a messenger to tell the defauter “I’m going to put him under the f*cking bridge.”

Pleas and parting shots

Along with Vicario’s admission of illegal gambling operations, Polito and Macario pleaded guilty to racketeering, while Rutigliano and Feuer admitted to felony charges.

US Attorney for EDNY Breon Peace said Tuesday that, with the guilty pleas, Vicario et al admitted committing crimes under the Genovese family empire “notorious for inflicting harm on our communities for generations.”

Peace ended his statement with what sounds like a death knell for old-school Cosa Nostra gambling dens.

flushing them out of the shadows.”

“You can bet on this office,” Peace stated, to enforce the law with vigor by exposing figures behind secret Mafia gambling fronts like Sal’s Shoe Repair and the ice cream shop, and “flushing them out of the shadows.”

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