Updated on 09/15/2011 12:38PM

Four N.Y. clerks indicted in a laundering scheme

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Four mutuel clerks who work for the New York Racing Association were indicted on Thursday as part of an ongoing investigation into money laundering at New York's Thoroughbred tracks.

The alleges that the four clerks laundered cash - $300,000 over a six-month period - offered by undercover state police agents posing as drug dealers. Three of the four clerks - Robert Lodati, 59, of Bayside; Robert Marshall, 60, of Malverne; and Joseph Rabito, 59, of West Hempstead - were arrested on Wednesday and appeared in Saratoga County Court. A fourth, Peter Oster, had not been arrested as of Thursday afternoon.

The indictment charges the four men with multiple counts of attempted money laundering in the first degree, falsifying business records in the first degree, and conspiracy in the fifth degree.

The three arrested clerks were released on bail Thursday afternoon. Saratoga County Court Judge Jerry J. Scarano had set bail for Lodati, who serves as the chairman of the tellers' union, at $35,000, Marshall at $25,000, and Rabito at $20,000. Marshall and Lodati were due to appear with legal representation before Judge Scarano again on Wednesday at 10 a.m. while Rabito - who has already retained legal representation - is not due to appear before the judge again for 45 days.

According to a statement by state attorney general Eliot Spitzer, the indictment alleges the four tellers took a cut of 5 to 10 percent of the money provided them by undercover agents, who identified themselves as cocaine dealers. The tellers converted the small bills into large bills - a typical form of money laundering designed to facilitate the smuggling of cash out of the country by reducing its bulk.

Spitzer, reached by phone on Thursday, emphasized that the indictments had no bearing on the integrity of the races run at the three NYRA tracks - Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga. However, Spitzer expressed dismay with a NYRA management team that he said displayed "a willingness to tolerate money laundering at the tracks that causes great discomfort from those of us that expect more from management."

Inspector general Roslynn Mauskopf said "rigorous oversight" is needed to prevent criminal activity from occurring at the track. He said his office will be making recommendations "to ensure that adequate oversight and audit systems are in place and working properly."

Spitzer said that the investigation was ongoing and that he was not sure if more tellers or anyone in management would be indicted.

"We don't know yet where the inquiry takes us," Spitzer said. "I don't say that to raise the specter of massive indictments in the very near term that reach to the top of NYRA. On the other hand, the evidence that we have doesn't portray a pretty picture."

NYRA counsel John Russo said the charges, if true, have "no effect on the integrity of our races or the conducting of our parimutuel pools. I'm compelled to say for 46 years the NYRA Inc. has taken whatever steps to protect the integrity of our races and the conducting of our mutuel pools, and we intend to do that here."

Russo said the NYRA has not yet decided whether to terminate the four tellers who have been charged.

"We do believe in a due process and the concept of innocent until proven guilty," Russo said.

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