The FBI busted up a lucrative illegal gambling ring on Wednesday in San Diego, California. The Feds believe that the lead defendant in the case and established bookie from San Diego, David “Fat Dave” Stroj, has links to the Philadelphia mafia.
After gathering evidence for two years, the FBI arrested 25 people in six different states in conjunction with Fat Dave's illegal gambling operation that hosted high-stakes poker games and backroom casino host in various mansions in some of San Diego's wealthiest neighborhoods.
In addition to running a high-end prostitution ring and general bookmaking (utilizing an online sportsbook hosted offshore), proceeds in excess of $10 million were laundered through various shell companies and two popular San Diego-based card rooms – The Seven Mile Casino and the Palomar Card Club. During a pre-dawn raid, the FBI shut down Palomar and Seven Mile.
Fat Dave's offshore sportsbook handled approximately $2 million per month in wagers. His customer base included over 360 accounts and serviced clients in Canada, Mexico, the U.S., and the Caribbean. Local winners were often paid out with poker chips from either card room. Losing sportsbettors often wrote checks directly to the casinos.
Fat Dave and associates got careless discussing the details of their operation in the wide open because the FBI has damaging evidence via two years of wire taps.
The FBI raided both card rooms and seized over a half of million in cash in player's sport book accounts. Simultaneous arrests were also made around the country in Arizona, Iowa, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania.
Jeremy Warren, Defense Attorney
The FBI should be protecting us from terrorists, not from someone hoping to make an inside straight!
Harvey Souza, owner of Seven Mile casino, was among those indicted, along with the Palomar Club's owner Naseem 'Nick' Salem. Also listed among the defendants was attorney Ricardo Velasquez, who once worked in the front office for the Xolos pro soccer team in Tijuana, Mexico.
"The FBI should be protecting us from terrorists, not from someone hoping to make an inside straight," explained Jeremy Warren, attorney for one of the defendants.
Both the Seven Mile Casino and the Palomar Card Club were shut down indefinitely by California's Gambling Control Commission and the Bureau of Gambling Control.