06/05/2005 11:00PM

Man charged in gambling case dead

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A man charged by federal authorities as being one of the ringleaders of an illegal horse racing gambling operation died four weeks ago as a result of a fire that started in his apartment.

Marvin Meyerowitz, 63, was found unconscious in his apartment in Hackensack, N.J., after rescue workers responded to the early-morning fire on May 8. Meyerowitz, who used a wheelchair, could not be revived, and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. Investigators said the fire started because of a discarded cigarette in Meyerowitz's apartment.

Meyerowitz was one of 17 people indicted in February by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York on illegal gambling charges. The indictment said the operation, involving the Gambino organized crime family, handled approximately $200 million over five years.

FBI investigators had seized $428,455 in cash and Meyerowitz's computer and telephone records from the New Jersey apartment in January.