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Friday, June 3, 2011

Cop Among Those Busted in Gambling Ring

NYPD cop, 2 FDNY firefighters busted in illegal gambling ring on Staten Island
The New York Daily News by John Marzulli - June 2, 2011

A veteran NYPD detective, two city firefighters and a mortician were charged Thursday with being members of an illegal gambling ring on Staten Island. Detective Richard Palase supervised illegal card games being run at a gym on Arthur Kill Road, according to an indictment unsealed in Brooklyn Federal Court. Palase, a 15-year-veteran of the force, was assisted at the gambling spot by firefighter Michael Bergen, his father James Bergen, who is a retired firefighter, and retired NYPD sergeant Ralph Mastrantonio who were also charged. After Palase was released on $75,000 bail, he was sneaked out through the court basement by the same IAB detectives who had arrested him hours earlier to avoid reporters waiting out front. NYPD spokesman Paul Browne denied that Palase was afforded a special courtesy. "He may have tried to go out the back door, but he was told he could not," Browne said. Also charged were mortician Joseph Fumando, whose nickname on the street is "The Undertaker," and firefighter Gerald Parsons, who served as a card dealer at a Victory Blvd. spot. Authorities said there was no evidence of ties to organized crime. "However, it would be highly unlikely that [an] illegal gambling location would not be paying tribute to organized crime so they could keep on operating," said a source familiar with the probe. Customers received text messages inviting them to gamble at the spots.

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