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Officials Charged As Part Of Video Gambling Ring

(Photo Credit: Attorney General's Office)

(Photo Credit: Attorney General’s Office)

Kym Gable
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – A city councilman, a police chief, a local Frank Sinatra impersonator and 13 other people have been charged in connection with an alleged video gambling ring operating near Pittsburgh.

According to a presentment from the Attorney General’s Office, 335 video gambling machines were seized from 70 locations, which were primarily in the Mon Valley. Authorities also seized more than $1 million.

Machines were seized in Allegheny, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland Counties.

The grand jury investigation lasted several months.

KDKA’s Kym Gable Reports:

Police conducted a wiretap on a phone primarily used by Ronald “Porky” Melocchi, of West Newton. The wiretap started in October and ran into December of 2012.

Melocchi is accused of running the operation out of a garage in McKeesport.

Among those charged were Forward Township Police Chief Mark Holtzman, McKeesport Councilman Daniel K. Carr, two former McKeesport Police officers.

Melocchi is the suspected ringleader of the alleged gambling ring.

Holtzman did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment, and Carr and Melocchi couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Just hours after news of the bust broke, many McKeesport residents were talking about it.

“We knew about this a long, long time ago when it first happened and nothing was done, but that’s what happens in McKeesport,” said Kathy Odenthal, of McKeesport.

“It’s the community that’s going to suffer,” added Dana Odenthal, also of McKeesport. “It’s the people in the community; you know, the police it seems like they can get away and the city people can get away with anything.”

KDKA’s Paul Martino Reports:

The full list of defendants and charges includes:

Ronald Melocchi Sr., 54, 324 Vernon Drive, West Newton, is charged with two counts of corrupt organization, one count of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, one count in criminal use of a communication facility, one count of lotteries, one count of pool selling and bookmaking and two counts of conspiracy.

Kirk A. Mollica, 46, 506 Princess Drive, Elizabeth, is charged with two counts of corrupt organization, one count of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, one count of lotteries, one count of gambling devices and two counts of conspiracy.

Ronald D. Prest, 65, of, White Oak, is charged with two counts of corrupt organization, one count of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, one count of criminal use of a communication facility, one count of gambling devices and one count of conspiracy.

Terence P. McNelis, 52, of, Pittsburgh, is charged with one count of corrupt organization, one count of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, one count of lotteries, one count of pool selling and bookmaking and one count of conspiracy.

Daniel K. Carr, 55, 3411 of, McKeesport, is charged with two counts of corrupt organization and two counts of gambling devices.

Eugene Thomas Kowalski, 65, 1401 of, North Huntingdon, is charged with two counts of corrupt organization, one count of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, one count of gambling devices and one count of conspiracy.

Robert H. Bogesdorfer, 67, of, Irwin, is charged with two counts of corrupt organization, one count of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, one count of gambling devices and one count of conspiracy.

Timothy John Minkus, 31, of, West Mifflin, is charged with two counts of corrupt organization, one count of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, one count of gambling devices, one count of lotteries and one count of conspiracy.

Frank C. Reese, 61, 401 of, McKeesport, is charged with two counts of corrupt organization, one count of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, one count of gambling devices and one count of conspiracy.

James A. Cerqua, 57, of, Clairton, is charged with two counts of corrupt organization, one count of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, one count of gambling devices and one count of pool selling and bookmaking.

Rodney Elia Iannelli, 53, of, Pittsburgh, is charged with two counts of corrupt organization, one count of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, one count of lotteries and one count of conspiracy.

Mark P. Holtzman, 57, of, McKeesport, is charged with two counts of corrupt organization, one count of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, one count of gambling devices and one count of conspiracy.

Catherine Gouker, 55, of Belle Vernon, is charged with one count of gambling devices and one count of pool selling and bookmaking.

Arthur D. Pero, 56, of, McKeesport, is charged with two counts of lotteries.

Jeffrey F. Risha, 59, of, Belle Vernon, is charged with one count of pool selling and bookmaking.

Mark Novakovich, 55, of, White Oak, is charged with one count of gambling devices.

KDKA’s Paul Martino Reports:

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(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)