September 19, 2020 3 min read


Father and Son Plead Guilty in Illegal Gambling Ring in PA

After pleading guilty for running an illegal gambling ring in Pennsylvania, Robert “Bobby I” Iannelli and his son Robert “Rusty” Iannelli entered into a plea agreement. They were sentenced to 10-year probation and a fine of $225,000 each.

Father and Son Plead Guilty

After pleading guilty for running an illegal gambling ring in Western Pennsylvania, the father-son leaders were sentenced earlier this week. On September 16, the 90-year-old Robert “Bobby I” Iannelli and his 60-year-old son Robert “Rusty” Iannelli were both sentenced to 10-year probation after entering guilty pleas.

Sentenced by Judge Meagan Bilik-DeFazio, the two men must also pay $225,000 each as a forfeiture fine from the money which they earned from illegal gambling operations. An additional $75,000 must also be paid for the state investigator’s five wiretaps during the investigation which ended in April 2017. Judge Bilik-DeFazio outlined that once the payments ordered by the court are completed, the probation period will be terminated for both defendants.

The current sentences resolve charges that back in 1994 the Iannelli family was running sports betting business. Both the father and son, involved in the operations pleaded guilty for running illegal lotteries and a corrupt organization in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties.

Iannelli’s Previous Investigations 

According to prosecutors, Robert Iannelli has been arrested due to gambling back in the 1950s as well as the 1970s for being involved in multimillion-dollar illegal sports betting operations. Looking back at 1990, the Pennsylvania Crime Commission report identified Iannelli as an associate of Pittsburgh’s former LaRocca-Genovese organized crime group.

Upon appearing in court on Wednesday this week, Robert Iannelli was in a wheelchair and also used an oxygen tank to help his breathing. Duke George, who is Iannelli’s defending attorney outlined that his client suffers from a heart condition and currently lives in Pittsburgh and Florida.

Sentences for More Members of the Gambling Ring

Deputy Attorney General Mark Serge commented by saying: “They’re in the gambling business. It’s lotteries and bookmaking. It’s a lucrative job.” He also deemed the operation as “substantial”. Looking back at 2015, the State Attorney General’s office launched a grand jury investigation charging the Iannelli family along with 11 other participants in illegal activities.

Besides the Iannelli family, two other men involved in the gambling ring pleaded guilty. The 76-year-old Frank Joseph Pasquino, as well as the 71-year-old Victor Machitello, pleaded guilty for participating in illegal lotteries in the six months before April 2017.

Earlier this week, another member of the gambling ring pleaded guilty. On Wednesday, John Harkins, age 70, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of conspiracy for his role in the illegal gambling activities. The court fined him with $1,000 as well as forfeit of some $5,500 which were seized upon his arrest by the investigators.


Jerome is a welcome new addition to the Gambling News team, bringing years of journalistic experience within the iGaming sector. His interest in the industry begun after he graduated from college where he played in regular local poker tournaments which eventually lead to exposure towards the growing popularity of online poker and casino rooms. Jerome now puts all the knowledge he's accrued to fuel his passion for journalism, providing our team with the latest scoops online.

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