Rizzo Jr. ‘saddened’ by charges against sister

Sixteen people, including the daughter of the late mayor Frank Rizzo, have been charged as part of a multimillion dollar sports betting ring based in Montgomery County.

Federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment yesterday alleging that brothers Joseph Vito Mastronardo and John Mastronardo led an organization that, in its height, had 1,000 bettors throughout the country and generated millions of dollars a year.

Montgomery County authorities investigated the operation two years ago, but turned it over to federal investigators who expanded the probe.

According to the indictment, between January 2005 and January 2011, the organization used Internet websites and telephone numbers that allowed bettors to place bets on football, baseball, basketball, golf, horse racing and other sporting events. The websites and phone numbers were staffed by employees in Costa Rica.

The indictment alleges that Joanna Mastronardo, the wife of Joseph Vito Mastronardo and daughter of former mayor Frank Rizzo, made roughly 72 deposits in amounts less than $10,000, totaling more than $500,000 in a year. She is charged with structuring. Also charged in the conspiracy is her son, Joseph F. Mastronardo.

Former City Councilman Frank Rizzo Jr. declined to comment on his sister’s arrest because he was unfamiliar with the charges, but said he was saddened by the news.

“It’s obviously a family issue and at this point it’s just better that I don’t comment on it,” he said when reached by phone.

Members of the organization allegedly communicated by telephone, e-mail, text message, Skype and in person to maintain the operation, the indictment alleges.

Other defendants facing charges are Eric Woehlcke, Harry Murray, Joseph Vitelli, Anna Rose Vitelli, Patrick Tronoski, Edward Feighan, Kenneth Cohen, Schuyler Twaddle, Michael Loftus, Michael Squillante, David Rounick, Ronald Gendrachi. Each was released on bail and awaits a preliminary hearing.

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