Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

September 5, 2013

16 charged in alleged illegal gambling operation

 Ronald Melocchi Sr.

 Robert Bogesdorfer

 Kirk A. Mollica

 Timothy Minkus

 Ronald D. Prest

 Frank Reese

 Daniel K. Carr

James A. Cerqua
 

 Terence P. McNelis

 Eugene Kowalski

Catherine Gouker
 

Mark P. Holtzman
 

Rodney Iannelli
 

 Jeffrey Risha

 Arthur D. Pero

 Mark Novakovich

HARRISBURG - Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane today announced charges against 16 people in connection with an alleged illegal gambling operation in and around McKeesport, Pa. 

Evidence was presented to a statewide investigating grand jury, which recommended the charges being filed today.

In October 2012, the Organized Crime Section of the Office of the Attorney General - in cooperation with the Pennsylvania State Police - initiated a wiretap on the cell phone being used by Ronald Melocchi. Through his company, Black Alley Vending, Melocchi was installing, servicing and maintaining video gambling devices in bars, restaurants and other businesses in the McKeesport area. Back Alley Vending was based in Glassport, Pa.

The investigation eventually grew to include alleged illegal lotteries and sports betting.

On December 10, 2012, approximately 70 sealed state search warrants were executed at homes, businesses and banks associated with the alleged criminal operation. Approximately 354 video machines were seized. Investigators say
most of them were equipped with "knock-off switches" and internal meters, which made them illegal gambling devices. A large amount of cash - more than a million dollars - was also seized, according to investigators. 

Below is a complete list of the defendants and the charges against them.

Ronald Melocchi Sr
., 54, 324 Vernon Drive, West Newton, is charged with two counts of corrupt organization, one count of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, one count in criminal use of a communication facility, one count of lotteries, one count of pool selling and bookmaking and two counts of conspiracy.

Kirk A. Mollica, 46, 506 Princess Drive, Elizabeth, is charged with two counts of corrupt organization, one count of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, one count of lotteries, one count of gambling devices and two counts of conspiracy.

Ronald D. Prest, 65, 109 Midway Drive, White Oak, is charged with two counts of corrupt organization, one count of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, one count of criminal use of a communication facility, one count of gambling devices and one count of conspiracy.

Terence P. McNelis, 52, 4812 McAnaulty Drive, Pittsburgh, is charged with one count of corrupt organization, one count of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, one count of lotteries, one count of pool selling and bookmaking and one count of conspiracy.

Daniel K. Carr, 55, 3411 Versailles Ave., McKeesport, is charged with two counts of corrupt organization and two counts of gambling devices.

Eugene Thomas Kowalski, 65, 1401 Willow Heights Drive, North Huntingdon, is charged with two counts of corrupt organization, one count of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, one count of gambling devices and one count of conspiracy.

Robert H. Bogesdorfer, 67, 938 10th St., Irwin, is charged with two counts of corrupt organization, one count of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, one count of gambling devices and one count of conspiracy.

Timothy John Minkus, 31, 211 Mellon St., West Mifflin, is charged with two counts of corrupt organization, one count of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, one count of gambling devices, one count of lotteries and one count of conspiracy.

Frank C. Reese, 61, 401 Euclid St., McKeesport, is charged with two counts of corrupt organization, one count of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, one count of gambling devices and one count of conspiracy. 

James A. Cerqua, 57, 302 N. 4th St., Clairton, is charged with two counts of corrupt organization, one count of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, one count of gambling devices and one count of pool selling and bookmaking.

Rodney Elia Iannelli, 53, 903 Crawford Road, Pittsburgh, is charged with two counts of corrupt organization, one count of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, one count of lotteries and one count of conspiracy.

Mark P. Holtzman*, 57, 2104 Cleveland St., McKeesport, is charged with two counts of corrupt organization, one count of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, one count of gambling devices and one count of conspiracy.

Catherine Gouker, 55, 143 McKenery Drive, Belle Vernon, is charged with one count of gambling devices and one count of pool selling and bookmaking.

Arthur D. Pero, 56, 2309 James St., McKeesport, is charged with two counts of lotteries.

Jeffrey F. Risha, 59, 2055 Lake View Drive, Belle Vernon, is charged with one count of pool selling and bookmaking.

Mark Novakovich, 55, 1605 Kansas Ave., White Oak, is charged with one count of gambling devices.

*Mark Holtzman currently is the Chief of Police in Forward Township, Allegheny County. He did not hold that position at the time of the events described in this press release.

The case is being handled by Senior Deputy Attorney General Michael Ahwesh.  Kane thanked the Pennsylvania State Police for initiating the investigation, and for their ongoing assistance with it. 


(A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.)

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