NY Cobbler Unveils Facade of Shoe Shop as Mob-Linked Betting Den

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A secretive cobbler based in New York, Salvatore Rubino, popularly known as “Sal the Shoemaker,” surprisingly conceded that his seemingly ordinary shoe-repair shop on Long Island was far from what it appeared. The innocuous storefront elegantly hid an illegal gambling racket, feeding profits to the notorious Genovese crime family.

Sixty-one-year-old Rubino, found himself pleading guilty on Tuesday to federal charges of running an under-the-table gambling business. He confessed to have housed card games and an array of gambling machines in an establishment otherwise known for mending worn-out shoes – Sal’s Shoe Repair in Merrick, NY.

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The admission from Rubino is the latest of five guilty pleas from those embroiled in this power web, allegedly part of a clandestine pact between the major crime factions – the Genovese and Bonanno families. The others caught up in this illicit operation encompassed personalities as diverse as the 64-year-old former Genovese capo Carmelo “Carmine” Polito, Joseph Macario, christened “Joe Fish” at 69 years, 65-year-old Joseph Rutigliano, aka “Joe Box,” and 61-year-old Mark Feuer.

The band of felons confronted guilty to a host of charges including racketeering, attempted extortion, and running illegal gambling outfits, a case presented to court on April 5th.

In a storied twist that emerged in 2022, federal prosecutors indicted Nassau County Police Detective Hector Rosario. The crime-buster stands accused of orchestrating police raids on rival gambling emporiums in return for kickbacks. Rosario fervently rebuffs the accusations leveled against him.

Much interesting is the variety of fronts the gambling gang used, inclusive of Sal’s, which had to shutter its services in 2021 due to the sweeping wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their other conduits included a gelateria cum café in Lynbrook, Long Island called Grann Café, and even a soccer club and Italian social club.

Prosecutors delved into the specifics of the gambling operations, pointing out how each business churned out “illegal joker poker-type gambling machines” and poker games, raking in more than $2,000 daily for the Mob. As part of the underworld pecking order Rubino and Rutigliano assiduously collected the proceeds, passing them on to high-ranking gangsters.

Notably, Polito also secretly ran a pay-per-head sportsbook called PGWLines, where he would strong-arm any debtors who defaulted on payment. In one audacious incident dating back to October 2019, he menacingly phoned one of his customers, threatening to “break his face.”

Threading his violent language further, he ordered one of his agents to caution a laggard debtor that he would “find his way under the f***ing bridge” if he failed to pay.

“By admitting their guilt, these five members and associates of the Genovese crime family have openly confessed to committing crimes that have perpetuated harm on our communities from generation to generation,” opined United States Attorney Breon Peace in an official statement.

Pointedly Peace continued, “Unless the Mafia comprehends that their foray into illegal gambling runs a losing race, they can count on our relentlessness in enforcing the law and pushing them out of their clandestine corners,” Peace concluded.