New York Mobster ‘Sal the Shoemaker’ Ran Gambling Ring from Shoe Repair Shop

A mobbed-up New York cobbler has admitted that the shoe repair shop he ran in Long Island was a front for an illegal gambling ring that kicked profits to the Genovese crime family.

Sal the Shoemaker helped run a Mafia gambling ring with the help of former Genovese capo Carmine Polito, top right, and alleged associate Mark Feuer, bottom right. (Image: New York Post)

Salvatore Rubino, 61, aka “Sal the Shoemaker,” pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges of operating an illegal gambling business. He admitted running card games and gambling machines inside Sal’s Shoe Repair in Merrick, NY.

Racketeering, Extortion Charges  

Rubino’s is the last guilty plea of five defendants linked to the ring that prosecutors claim was a joint operation between the Genovese and Bonanno families. The others are former Genovese capo Carmelo “Carmine” Polito, 64, Joseph Macario, 69, aka “Joe Fish,” Joseph Rutigliano, 65, aka “Joe Box,” and Mark Feuer, 61.

The four pleaded guilty April 5 to charges that included racketeering, attempted extortion, and illegal gambling.

In 2022, federal prosecutors indicted Nassau County Police Detective Hector Rosario. He is accused of arranging police raids at competing gambling dens for kickbacks from the group. He denies the charges.

Sal’s, which closed in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, was one of several fronts used by the gambling ring. Others included a gelateria and coffee bar in Lynbrook, Long Island named Grann Café, as well as a soccer club and an Italian social club.

Each business operated “illegal joker poker-type gambling machines,” as well as poker games, and generated more than $2,000 for the Mob each day, according to prosecutors. Rubino and Rutigliano would collect the proceeds and distribute them to higher-ranking gangsters.

Under the Bridge

Additionally, Polito operated a pay-per-head sportsbook called PGWLines and would extort debtors who failed to pay their debts on time. In one October 2019 incident, he called a customer and threatened to “break his face.”

On another occasion, he instructed one of his agents to tell a debtor he would “put him under the f***ing bridge” if he did not pay up.

With their guilty pleas, these five members and associates of the Genovese crime family have admitted they committed crimes to benefit a criminal enterprise notorious for inflicting harm on our communities for generations,” said United States Attorney Breon Peace in a statement.

“As long as the Mafia doesn’t get it that illegal gambling is a losing proposition, they can bet on this Office and our partners vigorously enforcing the law and flushing them out of the shadows,” Peace added.

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