The RCMP has laid charges to the operators of an illegal gambling website based out of Ottawa. Three men were arrested at the end of last week in what the RCMP called Project Amethyst, the code name used for the investigation, with eighteen other people also listed amongst the accused. Project Amethyst originally began in September 2010 with assistance from the OPP and local Ottawa police. In total, there have been 54 charges laid in the investigation.
Benedetto Manasseri, Stephen Parrish, and Gary Saikaley were arrested at the end of last week, but have been released on bail after a weekend behind bars. The RCMP has said that two of these men were also arrested in 2001 in a similar illegal online gaming investigation, which uncovered links between illegal online gambling and the Rizzuto Crime Family. Manasseri and Saikaley have both previously been convicted for connections to organized crime, and police suspect they are leaders in the illegal online gaming operation. The RCMP has not confirmed if the Rizzutos are connected to this investigation.
Police managed to acquire search warrants for 10 properties in the Ottawa and Gatineau regions between July and September using wire taps and video surveillance. RCMP Superintendent Sylvain Berthiaume says the accused face charges of gaming, bookmaking, and extortion, along with charges of producing and distributing large amounts of marijuana.
The RCMP says that the website was used to process the illegal wager of millions of dollars. These bets were reportedly placed on the London Olympics, along with both NHL and NFL games over the past six months.
In total, the three men were required to post a collective $60,000 bail. Police are still searching for other accused listed in the charges.