A federal judge Wednesday sentenced a St. Tammany Parish bookmaker to eight months in prison for paying a website based in Costa Rica to help him run an illegal sports gambling business.
Frank J. Frabbiele, 79, of Abita Springs, pleaded guilty last year to money laundering and violating the Federal Wire Act, a law forbidding the use of electronic communications for gambling. U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan also ordered him to forfeit more than $200,000, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Frabbiele admitted paying the website to organize bets for clients.
Frabbiele’s defense attorney, Wayne Mancuso, did not immediately return a call Wednesday seeking comment. Previously, Mancuso said “there was never a question” Frabbiele had been a bookmaker.
As early as January 2008, Frabbiele started directing clients to the website in Costa Rica that charged a per-client fee for tracking, recording and registering bets. Frabbiele, dealing mostly in cash, later “settled up” with bettors.
Court documents said Frabbiele “would receive and input current point spreads and track bets made by his clients via his personal computer.”
Prosecutors charged Frabbiele in late July, months after a former family member of his spoke with the FBI about his gambling business, which she described as a poorly kept secret in St. Tammany Parish.
The informant, who has spoken to The New Orleans Advocate on the condition of anonymity, said that Frabbiele stored tens of thousands of dollars in cash in his dresser. “Everybody knew you didn’t go to their house during football season, baseball, basketball — any season,” the source said last year.
The money-laundering charge stemmed from Frabbiele placing $20,000 cash in November 2012 into a safe deposit box. Authorities described the funds as ill-gotten.
Frabbiele had previously been convicted in federal court for a gambling-related offense. Both he and his wife were convicted in 1991 of operating an illegal gambling business in a case that stemmed from a wide-ranging FBI probe into a large sports gambling business run by Walton Aucoin, an operation that once made about $1.7 million in a single four-week period.
Federal prosecutors eventually filed charges against former Orleans Parish District Attorney Harry Connick, who had been accused at the time of returning copies of seized betting records to Aucoin. The former district attorney was found not guilty after a lengthy trial in 1990, while Aucoin and two associates were convicted.
The charges against Frabbiele — who also had been arrested, though not convicted, several times in Jefferson Parish for gambling in the 1980s — came several months after the highly publicized Connick trial.
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