Four individuals and their Fall River-based gambling machine company have been indicted in connection with a large-scale investigation into a major multi-million-dollar illegal gambling and money laundering scheme, Attorney General Maura Healey announced Thursday.
Thursday’s indictments by a Statewide Grand Jury are the result of an extensive investigation by the AG’s Office and the Massachusetts State Police with assistance from various federal, state and local authorities, including the Massachusetts Lottery, the Massachusetts Treasury, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. The indictments are also the culmination of the largest-ever takedown in the history of the Massachusetts State Police Unit assigned to the Attorney General’s Office. The takedown included the execution of 100 search warrants carried out by more than 300 police officers, and resulted in the seizure of more than $2.1 million, precious metals, and tens of thousands of dollars worth of various types of property.
“(Thursday’s) charges are the result of the largest illegal gambling investigation ever conducted in our state that uncovered a multi-million-dollar illegal money laundering and gambling scheme,” said AG Healey. “We allege these defendants were using illegal gambling machines designed to compete with our State Lottery, and manipulated them to maximize their profits and exploit compulsive gamblers. We thank the Massachusetts State Police, the Massachusetts Lottery and Treasury, and all of the other federal, state and local agencies that assisted us in dismantling this major criminal enterprise.”
“The Massachusetts State Police, through the work of various units, including our unit at the Attorney General’s Office and our statewide Special Services Section, are committed to dismantling organized criminal enterprises and combatting illegal gaming,” said Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin, Superintendent of the State Police. “This has always been, and always will be, an important part of our Department’s mission.”
The leader of the criminal enterprise, Stanley Webb, age 62, was indicted today with his daughter Jaqueline Webb, 35, her husband Brian Pinheiro, age 35, the company they own, Nutel Communications Inc., and their associate Romie Jones, age 47. The defendants all live in Westport and the company was based in Dartmouth.
Authorities allege that the defendants were operating 130 illegal Nutel gambling machines they had placed near Massachusetts State Lottery products in various establishments including social clubs, sports bars, convenience stores and gas stations throughout eastern Massachusetts. The machines, which operated like casino slot machines, were in direct competition with Lottery products and gambling dollars of customers who opted to play the games. The defendants also allegedly programmed the Nutel machines in a way that preyed on consumers by making it nearly impossible for them to win. The illegal machines were allegedly used to launder money, which the defendants would then split with the host establishments on a weekly or monthly basis.
In late June 2017, a coordinated series of raids led by the State Police dismantled the criminal enterprise and removed the machines from the host establishments.
“The Massachusetts State Lottery dedicated a significant amount of time and resources to this investigation and I am proud of the work they did,” said Treasurer Deb Goldberg. “Our collaborative relationship with the Attorney General’s Office and the Massachusetts State Police helped directly address illegal predatory gambling that is happening across the Commonwealth.”
“Full credit goes to the women and men of the Massachusetts State Police and the Attorney General’s Office for their rigorous efforts to stop predatory gambling,” said Michael Sweeney, Executive Director of the Massachusetts State Lottery. “This effort between the Massachusetts State Lottery and law enforcement revealed illegal gambling and we are proud to help protect consumers from predatory gambling activities.”
“The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is proud to have played a role in this significant investigation,” said MGC Commissioner Gayle Cameron. “This historic take down demonstrates the substantial impact that results from highly-coordinated and cooperative multi-agency initiatives.”
The defendants allegedly used at least five different banks and multiple accounts at each bank in order to conceal the profits of their criminal enterprise. The defendants also allegedly used several front companies to mislead the banks and conceal the true source of the laundered money.
Authorities recovered more than $450,000 of the $2.1 million from a hidden compartment in Stanley Webb’s Westport home.
Nutel Communications Inc. (Nutel), the Webbs, Pinheiro, and Jones were all indicted on the charges of:
Keeping a Place for Registering Bets (one count each)
Organizing and Promoting Gambling (one count each)
Unlawful Operation of a Gaming Device (one count each)
Conspiracy to Keep a Place for Registering Bets (one count each)
And Conspiracy to Operate an Illegal Gaming Device (one count each)
The Webbs and Nutel have also been charged with a total of 26 counts of Money Laundering and along with Pinheiro they have been charged with one count each of the charge of Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering.
The Webbs and Pinheiro were also indicted on one count of Failure to File Income Tax Returns in 2016 in connection with the money laundering scheme. Stanley Webb has also been charged with on four counts of improper storage of a firearm.
The defendants will be arraigned on the charges in Suffolk Superior Court at a later date.