By David Payne Purdum / @DavidPurdum
One of the men allegedly in on the Tim Donaghy NBA gambling scandal is headed to trial – if he survives.
Joseph Vito Mastronardo Jr., the accused head of a multimillion-dollar Philadelphia-based sports betting operation, was among 16 indicted Wednesday on gambling and racketeering charges.
A source close to the family said that Joe Vito is battling cancer and isn’t expected to survive the trial.
According to the source who asked to remain anonymous, a lot of Mastronardo’s money was wagered on the games Donaghy, a former NBA ref, provided information on. Sean Patrick Griffin, author of “Gaming the Game,” described Mastronardo as “one of the most influential bookmakers and bettors on the East Coast” in a 2010 blog post.
Griffin told Philly.com’s William Bender that Mastronardo mentored James “Baba” Battista, who is said to have been the primary co-conspirator with Donaghy.
“It’s Joe Vito’s records that led them to Battista,” Griffin told Philly.com. “Battista initially thought Joe was a rat.”
The indictment charges Joe Vito Mastronardo and John Mastronardo as being the leaders of the operation that allegedly had more than 1,000 bettors and generated millions of dollars a year. Multiple offshore websites were used in the operation, according to the indictment.
A gambler who claimed to be one of Mastronardo’s clients pointed to Bellaction.com as one of the sites used in the operation. Limits were reportedly $150,000 at the Costa Rica-based site, which appeared to be up and running as of Wednesday evening.
Prosecutors told The Times Herald that the bookmaking organization was non-violent and debts were sometimes settled by making donations to charitable organizations.
“There are no facts alleged in the indictment or charges of any acts of violence or retaliation against a bettor who could not pay,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Bologna told The Times Herald.
The source close to the Mastronardo family added that Joe Vito paid millions of dollars in taxes on his gambling income for over 25 years.
Last year, police discovered more than $1 million in cash buried in the yard of Joe Mastronardo’s Philadelphia mansion. Some of the stash was found in specially-built compartments and in PVC pipes buried in the yard, according to NBCphiladelphia.com.