In reading recently that admitted sports bookmaker Kevin Almasy was attempting to renege on his plea agreement that resulted in his receiving a 15-month prison sentence, we were reminded of the words of federal Judge Paul R. Matia when he sentenced Almasy's father, Steve, for sports bookmaking:
"I don't know what it is about Youngstown -- the water? It seems the only way to make money is fireworks or gambling. It seems like the whole community approves of gambling. The court wouldn't have much to do if it weren't for Youngstown."
Matia's comments offended some Mahoning Valley residents, but not us. We have long bemoaned the fact that this region has not been able to shed its illegal gambling culture. Indeed, organized crime in the Valley existed for so long because of the willingness of a large number of residents to place bets on everything from sports to the daily number.
Thus, we not only agree with the U.S. District Court judge's observation, but we think that the courts can play an important role in changing the attitude of this region. How? By showing no mercy to individuals convicted of bookmaking.
Kevin Almasy, 37, of Midwood Circle, Boardman, has asked the federal court to reconsider his 15-month prison sentence, contending that he was not the boss of other bookies. The reconsideration motion is being reviewed by Judge Patricia A. Gaughan, who took over the case when Judge Matia retired. We have no doubt that Gaughan shares her colleague's opinion of the deleterious effect white collar crime has on society and trust she will view Almasy's motion for what it is.
Indeed, Gaughan may want to read the transcript of Steve Almasy's sentencing in May to understand the extent of the bookmaking operation out of the LaVilla Sports Bar and Grille in Struthers. Steve Almasy, who was given probation and fined $10,000, was the operator of the LaVilla. He is spending the first six months of the sentence on electronically monitored home confinement. He can leave home for work and medical needs and religious services.
Assisting his son
During the sentencing, Judge Matia noted that while Almasy, who goes by the nickname "Moose," pleaded guilty to sports bookmaking, he actually assisted his son in the criminal enterprise, sharing in the profits and, at times, collecting or making payments to bettors.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew B. Kall had wanted him to be considered a leader of the operation, but the judge concluded that he played a supportive role.
On the other hand, Judge Matia pointed out that FBI transcripts of phone conversations led him to the conclusion that Kevin Almasy directed others, including his wife, who hid betting slips and cash at their home. The charge against the wife was dismissed in lieu of a diversion program.
Matia agreed with federal prosecutors that Kevin Almasy was a leader in the operation. And the plea agreement reflected that fact.
Now, however, Kevin Almasy not only wants a reconsideration of his sentence, but he wants 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, along with Ronald A. Carabbia. Carabbia's mother, Josephine, owns LaVilla. She is the wife of former Mafia figure Ronald D. Carabbia. Mrs. Carabbia's sister, Sally Ann Almasy, is Kevin Almasy's mother.
Kevin Almasy is supposed to report to a federal prison no later than July 15. He should go to jail, directly to jail. He does not need to pass go to travel to South Bend. Judge Gaughan should quickly dismiss his motion for reconsideration and tell him he'll be spending the next 15 months in prison. The Mahoning Valley needs to be rid of such parasites.