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CRIME Bookie wants reduced sentence



Published: Mon, June 20, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The judge denied fireworks business travel plans for the Fourth of July holiday.

By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Admitted sports bookmaker Kevin Almasy wants a federal judge to reconsider his 15-month prison sentence, saying he was not the boss of other bookies.

The request by Almasy, 37, of Midwood Circle, Boardman, goes against terms of his plea agreement, Matthew B. Kall, an assistant U.S. attorney, said in court papers. Kall pointed out that Almasy agreed to leave determination of a leadership role -- which meant more prison time -- up to U.S. District Judge Paul R. Matia in Cleveland.

Also, Kall said a federal court judge has no jurisdiction to reconsider a sentence unless an error occurred. The case is now assigned to U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Gaughan, who has not ruled on the reconsideration motion. She took over when Judge Matia retired.

Almasy is expected to report to a federal prison no later than July 15. He remains free on $10,000 unsecured bond.

The FBI, using wiretaps and surveillance, tied a group of bookmakers to LaVilla Sports Bar and Grille in Struthers operated by Almasy's father. The father received two years' probation at sentencing with the first six months confined at home.

At Almasy's sentencing last month, Judge Matia reviewed wiretap transcripts and concluded that Almasy did direct others, including his wife, who hid betting slips and cash at their home. The charge against her was dismissed in lieu of her taking part in a diversion program.

'Division of labor'

Almasy's Mayfield Village attorney, George Argie III, had argued in court that there was a "division of labor" and his client was not a leader. The lawyer filed an appeal with the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals over the sentence, then withdrew it after concluding language in the plea agreement precluded an appeal.

To support a reconsideration of the sentence in U.S. District Court, Argie submitted nearly identical affidavits from two co-defendants who said Almasy had no leadership role in their bookmaking operation.

Kall, in response, said Almasy has shown an unwillingness to accept his sentence and has "engaged in frivolous litigation tactics" to avoid going to prison. The federal prosecutor said Almasy contacted co-conspirators and pressured them to sign affidavits that make assertions without evidence to back them up.

Argie said the government had no facts to support its "reckless allegation" that the co-conspirators were pressured to sign affidavits. The defense lawyer said if his client received additional prison time based on erroneous information and arguments made to the judge "then a travesty of justice has occurred."

Argie noted that all defendants, except his client, received sentences of six months' home confinement followed by probation. He said the government, using wiretap transcripts, tried to prove that Almasy's father had a leadership role in the bookmaking operation, but the judge rejected the argument.

Unable to go to Indiana

Almasy's challenge to his 15-month sentence caused the government to oppose his motion to travel this month and over the July Fourth holiday to South Bend, Ind. for his fireworks business. He is described as a principal in Sky King Fireworks, which has locations in Florida, Pennsylvania, Indiana and New York. Another principal is Ronald A. Carabbia.

LaVilla is owned by Carabbia's mother, Josephine Carabbia, according to Mahoning County records. She is the wife of former organized crime figure Ronald D. Carabbia and a sister of Sally Ann Almasy, Kevin Almasy's mother.

Judge Gaughan sided with the government and denied Kevin Almasy's travel motions.

Kall, in his opposition to the travel, said Almasy's protesting his sentence shows that he is unwilling to abide by court orders.

"The government is concerned that he therefore may pose a risk of flight if permitted to travel," Kall said.

After 15 months in prison, Almasy has two years' supervised release, during which he must participate in drug and alcohol outpatient programs.

He was also fined $2,310, the amount of cash seized during a raid.

Almasy's plea agreement had called for him to forfeit $25,000 to the government in lieu of his house. He didn't pay before being sentenced so Judge Matia ordered that the house be forfeited.

The house on Midwood Circle has a market value of $107,700, county records show.

meade@vindy.com




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