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Youngwood bar owner pleads guilty in million-dollar bookmaking operation

| Thursday, July 25, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A Youngwood bar owner pleaded guilty on Wednesday to running a bookmaking operation that netted nearly $1.7 million in cash since 2005.

John Caccamese, 63, was sentenced to serve a year on probation and six months of house arrest as part of a plea bargain deal approved by Westmoreland County Judge Debra Pezze.

Police contend Caccamese, owner of Delaney's Pub, ran a private lottery and took bets on sporting events over a seven-year period.

“Clearly, his conduct was illegal,” said Assistant District Attorney Jackie Knupp. “The financial punishment is probably more of a deterrent than the criminal punishment.”

The sentence requires Caccamese to pay $20,000 in fines within the next 30 days.

Knupp said Caccamese agreed to forfeit $975,000 and a BMW that police confiscated during a 2011 raid on his home.

Caccamese will get to keep the balance of the money seized, more than $600,000, Knupp said.

Pezze allowed Caccamese to begin serving the house arrest portion of the sentence in October. He will be permitted to work at the bar during his sentence.

“I think it was an appropriate plea bargain and sentence,” said defense attorney Ken Burkley.

The plea bargain called for prosecutors to drop a felony gambling-related offense, the most serious charge Caccamese faced.

Knupp said the plea bargain was finalized out of concern that a jury might not find Caccamese's gambling operation objectionable.

“We had concerns as to how a jury would view his conduct,” Knupp said.

Caccamese's bookmaking operation was uncovered four days after the February 2011 Super Bowl between the Steelers and the Green Bay Packers when state and federal agents raided his Hempfield home and the Youngwood bar.

According to court records, police found more than $586,000 in a safe in the basement of the bar and $781,000 in the Caccamese home. Illegal video poker machines contained another $813, police said.

Agents located $117,000 at First National Bank in Greensburg and another $196,575 in two safe deposit boxes that Caccamese and his wife maintained at First Commonwealth Bank in Hempfield, according to court records.

Court records show Caccamese told state police that his gambling operation took in about $30,000 a week on numbers betting and about $10,000 a week in sports betting.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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