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Retired Hempfield teacher denies bookmaking allegations

About Paul Peirce
Picture Paul Peirce 724-850-2860
Staff Reporter
Tribune-Review


By Paul Peirce

Published: Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

A 78-year-old alleged bookmaker from Hempfield said he will fight charges that he ran an operation that resulted in the seizure of more than $101,280 from two safe deposit boxes.

“Yes, I intend to fight it. The charges stink ... what they allege I did is absolutely not true,” said Leveo Sperotto, a retired teacher with the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit.

Troopers used a confidential informant who used marked currency to place numerous weekly numbers bets with Sperotto from May 2011 through March 2013, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed by the state police organized crime task force.

Undercover troopers listened in on some conversations between the unnamed informant and Sperotto and observed the financial transactions that took place at various locations in the Greensburg area, including a weekly “illegal poker game” in Hempfield that Sperotto allegedly participated in, police said.

Police also used the informant to make bets with Sperotto on baseball playoff games in 2011, according to the affidavit filed with Hempfield District Judge James Falcon.

Police executed a search warrant at Sperotto's home in March 2013, the affidavit states.

“The search of the residence yielded older historical bookmaking evidence; owe/bet sheets located within the living room TV stand. Located in the kitchen were current owe/bet sheets and on the stairs to the (kitchen) from the living room were numerous strip/raffle/lottery tickets among other bookmaking items,” Trooper David Calabro wrote in the affidavit.

Police also seized $20,200 in currency from a safe that contained “a large amount of precious metals, jewelry and coins,” according to the affidavit.

Police said they found two handguns, a Glock 9 mm and a .44 caliber Magnum that Sperotto told officers he did not own.

“During the subsequent interview, Sperotto volunteered that two guns in the safe are not his or his son Mark's. Sperotto provided that the guns belonged to a Joe Moffa and that he was holding them as collateral for a loan,” the affidavit said.

“Sperotto was asked whether Moffa had placed bets with him ... (Sperotta) provided, ‘Oh, at one point.'” Calabro wrote.

Police also confiscated about $81,080 from Sperotto's safe deposit box at S & T Bank.

“Sperotto provided that the currency had been in there for four or five years and he believed he received a portion of it playing cards. Sperotto was asked if he paid taxes on the currency and he provided he did not know,” Calabro wrote.

Calabro said Sperotto claimed he was “small, barely taking any action.” However, Sperotto told Calabro that said 20 years ago was a “different story,” according to the affidavit.

Sperotto said Thursday that state police have returned “some of the money they seized,” and he aims to get the rest back, too.

“I definitely plan to fight it,” he said.

Sperotto has a preliminary hearing scheduled March 25 before Falcon on 10 misdemeanor counts of illegal pool-selling and bookmaking and one count of illegally making a lone secured by a pledge of a firearm, also a misdemeanor.

Sperotto did not have an attorney listed in court documents.

Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or ppeirce@tribweb.com.

 

 
 


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