Hatchet-Wielding Bookies busted in Philadelphia

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Bookies have long held a notorious reputation for getting their clients to pay up on sports bets, no matter what measures need to be taken. And a Northeast Philadelphia bookmaking operation certainly lived up to this reputation since they’re accused of using hatchet to get money from delinquent bettors.

Authorities uncovered this nine-man illegal gambling operation months ago, and recently made arrests after gathering enough evidence. The nine defendants range from 26 to 48 years old, and they all face charges of racketeering, among others.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Salvatore Astolfi discussed the gambling ring with Philadelphia CBS by saying that they offered high-interest sports bets through various bars and restaurants in Philly. And anybody who couldn’t pay up on their debts immediately became a target of harassment and threats.

“Certainly verbal threats. There were some involving weapons that were directed towards certain victims,” said Astolfi. “Again, that’s alleged in the indictment and they were repeated threats over a long period of time.”

One man named Ylli Gjeli took the threats to a whole new level when he pulled out a hatchet and nearly chopped off an indebted gambler’s arm. As if this wasn’t intimidating enough, Gjeli is also said to have put a gun to the bettor’s head while demanding money.

That said, it’s no wonder why Gjeli is one of only two defendants facing a life sentence. The other one is Fatimir Mustafaraj, while the remaining seven men are facing sentences going up to a maximum of 20 years in prison. There’s no definite word on when the men will stand trial for their alleged crimes. However, a court date should be given within the next couple of weeks.

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