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United States v. Scafidi

decided: October 13, 1977.


Appeal from judgments entered in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York before Honorable Jacob Mishler, Chief Judge, convicting appellants of conducting illegal gambling businesses in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1955. All convictions affirmed.

Moore, Smith and Gurfein, Circuit Judges. Gurfein, Circuit Judge, concurring. Smith, Circuit Judge, dissenting.

Author: Moore

MOORE, Circuit Judge:

Nine defendants, Eugene Scafidi, Robert Voulo, James Napoli, Sr., James Napoli, Jr., Michael DeLuca, Sabato Vigorito, Saverio Carrara, Bario Mascitti, and Anthony DiMatteo appeal their convictions, after a jury trial before Chief Judge Mishler in the Eastern District of New York, for operating illegal gambling businesses in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1955.

The counts upon which the various defendants were convicted related to operations at different times and places. More specifically, twenty defendants were tried together on four counts of a seven-count indictment. Scafidi and Voulo were convicted on Count Two (the "967 East Second Street Count") of conducting an illegal gambling business from March, 1972 to July 1972. Appellants Napoli, Sr., Napoli, Jr., DeLuca, Vigorito, Carrara, Mascitti, and DiMatteo were convicted on Count Four (the "Hiway Lounge Count") of conducting an illegal gambling business from April, 1973 to June, 1973. Count Three (the "Apartment 309 Count") was dismissed after trial because the jury did not find five people involved in that gambling business, as required by § 1955. Count Seven, the conspiracy count, was dismissed at the close of the Government's case because the indictment alleged a single conspiracy but the evidence showed at least two. Sentences for the defendants ranged from five years in prison and a $20,000 fine (Napoli, Sr.) to two months in prison and 34 months probation (Scafidi).


The evidence at trial showed a large-scale numbers lottery operating in Brooklyn during three discrete time periods: Spring, 1972 (the 967 East Second Street Count); Winter, 1972-73 (the Apartment 309 Count); and Spring, 1973 (the Hiway Lounge Count).

The 967 East Second Street Count: Scafidi and Voulo.

On May 1, 1972, FBI agents conducted a warrant-authorized search of a residence at the above address. They discovered Voulo and two others in the basement operating a policy "bank". They seized a great deal of betting paraphernalia, some of which contained Voulo's fingerprints.

Visual surveillance prior to the search had established that Voulo, Scafidi and others had been using the residence for more than one month. Apparently, Scafidi regularly picked up daily policy "ribbons" for delivery to the ring's "controllers" around the city.

Also, a warrant-authorized search of 405 Elder Lane in Brooklyn in June, 1971, had found Scafidi and Voulo standing at a table piled high with betting slips, adding machines and cash.

The Apartment 309 Count: DiMatteo, Mascitti, Scafidi, Voulo, and Rocco Riccardi (all charged, but count dismissed after guilty verdicts were rendered only against the first four).

The evidence on this count consisted primarily of tape recordings made pursuant to court-ordered electronic equipment (referred to herein as "bugs") placed at the apartment of a friend of Mascitti. The friend allowed Mascitti to use the apartment for a few hours each afternoon while she was absent. DiMatteo and Mascitti were shown to be "bank" workers who called Scafidi about gambling at least once each day. A court-ordered wiretap of Scafidi's home phone showed that he operated a lottery "accounting office". Because one defendant, Riccardi, was acquitted on this count, the Government failed to show the involvement of five people in the operation, as necessary under § 1955. The count was thus dismissed.

Three court orders had authorized the bugs at Apartment 309: Orders 309-I, 309-II, and 309-III. 309-I was issued by Judge Orrin G. Judd on December 8, 1972, and authorized interceptions for 15 days. 309-II was issued by Judge Jack B. Weinstein on January 15, 1973, permitting interceptions for 15 days. 309-III was issued by Judge George Rosling on February 20, 1973, approving interceptions for 15 days at Apartment 309 and at Scafidi's residence in Queens. All the orders listed some of the defendants by name and included "others as yet unknown" as targets. The bugs at Apartment 309 were installed on the night of December 8, 1972, after the building superintendent gave the agents a key to gain entry. The agents re-entered the apartment once more during the surveillance to reposition one bug.

Because the Apartment 309 Count was ultimately dismissed, any investigatory errors of the police are relevant on appeal only to the extent that the evidence presented for this Count might have "spilled over" to affect other counts.

The Hiway Lounge Count: The Napolis, DeLuca, Vigorito, Carrara, Mascitti, and DiMatteo.

This was the principal count. Court-ordered bugs revealed that the Lounge was the headquarters for a massive numbers game. James Napoli, Sr. was the leader, with Napoli, Jr., Carrara, and Vigorito working as "controllers". DeLuca worked as an "accountant", and Mascitti and DiMatteo were "bankers".

The bugs at the Lounge had been installed pursuant to three court orders: Orders Hiway-I, Hiway-II and Hiway-III. Hiway-I was issued by Judge John R. Bartels on April 12, 1973, authorizing interceptions for 15 days excluding Sundays. The named targets were the Napolis, DiMatteo, DeLuca, Martin Cassella and Richard Bascetta. Hiway-II was issued by Judge Bartels on May 3, 1973, i.e., three days after the end of Hiway-I, authorizing the bugs for 15 more days, excluding Sundays. The targets named were the Napolis, DeLuca, Voulo, several non-appellants, and "others as yet unknown". Hiway-III was issued on May 24, 1973, i.e., three days after the end of Hiway-II. The tapes obtained by Hiway-III were not sealed until more than three months later. No evidence from Hiway-III was introduced at trial.

The listening devices used in the Lounge were placed by FBI agents on the night of April 12-13, 1973. They were originally placed with one at the bar and one in a back room. During the pendency of Hiway-I the agents reentered the Lounge to move the bar bug into the back room. During the three-day "pause" between Hiway-I and Hiway-II, Judge Judd issued an order authorizing the agents to enter the Lounge on the night of May 2-3 to restore the batteries in the bugs. At some point during Hiway-II and Hiway-III the agents re-entered to restore the batteries once again.


The appellants raise many points of alleged error and each adopts the points argued by the others.

Besides the question of standing, namely, the right to question the legality of the surreptitious entries by agents to place the electronic devices which recorded the appellants' conversations, appellants' arguments focus primarily on various claims that the warrants pursuant to which the agents acted were for numerous reasons illegal and violative of ...

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