Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Generations of Italian Roulette Pastposting Cheats Florish and Flop
The city of Casale Monferrato in Northern Italy is infamous for housing the largest population of roulette past posters or poussettisti as they are known (taken from the French word) poussette, whose derivative means to push. In a 2006 dragnet sweep codenamed "Rien ne va plus" involving police officers from four different regions Novara, Alessandria, Turin and headed by the flying squad of Venice, seventeen arrests were made mostly from the residents of this small city, whose population is only 36,000. In the region of Piedmont it is found in the middle between the two major cities of Milan and Turin, strategically placed for three of the main Italian Casinos of Northern Italy and less than an hours drive to the relatively new casinos of Switzerland. This followed a two-year investigation; where the local police forces had used micro video cameras,wire-tapping and surveillance at a local bar in the centre of town and in a sports centre in Alessandria, where the group would hold their meetings. Arrests were also made in the cities of Novara, Cremona, Savona, and Campania.
Of the seventeen originally rounded up, nine from Casale Monferrato were taken into custody, two were imprisoned four were placed under house arrest and three were obliged to stay at home, (Italian prisons must be full too) at the time of the swoop 35 of the organization were under investigation and sought. In the nearby city of Alessandria one member of the team was discovered with a small printing works inside his home, where 50 identity documents were seized and stamps of the various Italian communities and German provinces were found. Also discovered were a variety of credit cards, money, cheque books, wigs, false mustaches, gaming chips and Italian ex patriot identity documents, for this reason he was arrested under the anti terrorism laws.
All are members of what is known worldwide as the "Italian team". It is thought that in total the team has between one and two hundred members, who interact with one another and are highly organized. Of these members perhaps 80% are Italian the rest are made up of most other European nationalities ranging from the United Kingdom and spreading as Far East as Russia. Although there are few reports of them operating in the former Soviet Union, since one German member was badly beaten there whilst plying his trade in one of the Moscow casinos. Their activities stretch throughout every casino in Europe and their world tours take them to the U.S., Canada, Australia and South America one French member unfortunately lost his life when he was murdered for his illicit winnings outside of a casino in Buenos Aires. They have connections to the criminal underworld in most of the major European cities and sometimes employ the assistance of a couple of locals when they perform their actions, either to provide muscle or used for blocking purposes at the roulette-tables. Recently two members were also arrested in Italy in connection with drug trafficking and money laundering.
At the head of this particular group is a 45-year-old Moroccan known as Jimmy or the Moroccan, who resides between Italy and Germany and is known in the United States under one of his Italian aliases and who was arrested in a Swiss casino in 2005. I myself apprehended him in Switzerland in 2003 but released him because it was opening day in the casino and we were far too busy to become involved in any police action and since he was only one of a group of ten, which we needed to evict from the house. The Moroccan together with his Italian wife organized the trips and divided the proceeds out between the members. Among the local residents a 52-year-old father and his 27-year old son and a 63-year-old Italian nicknamed "Figaro" said to be the king of the poussettisti, who was once placed in jail in Las Vegas. One Italian who slipped through the net later in the week turned himself in to local police; his 53-year-old German wife was also implicated. Of the two imprisoned members is a 57-year-old Italian who kept a roulette table in his house used in the training and practice of the group. One family who originate from the Southern province of Salerno have moved their residence to Casale Monferrato, the father and the now three middle aged sons are very active members of the organization.
In Italy historically, because jobs were usually very hard to come by, especially among the working classes, fathers have passed their skills on down to their sons and so it is with the poussettisti. One 66-year-old father who in my opinion is without doubt the king of past posters and has more alias than you can shake a stick at; he is well known for pushing onto dozens and columns and specializes in French roulette. I have witnessed his actions on video on several occasions but he is also expert at the escape.On one occasion he turned up at the casino with his nineteen-year-old daughter, although he never used her in the action, it is believed she was brought along to add to his credibility. When the coup went down she was well away from the table but he, sitting down next to the dealer at the bottom of the French roulette table, hit the middle dozen with 600 Swiss Francs. One of his accomplices at the wheel head had signaled the winning point to him, as from his seat he could hardly see the numbers in the wheel. An astute surveillance officer, who was only recently trained and who had a free roll to roam the gaming floor, noticed the play from the camera room and quickly went to apprehend him, together with another security officer, who he had grabbed on the way. As the bet was paid they removed him from the table, they then went to seize his accomplice and in doing so they released him momentarily, he made his escape. At the same time another associate lifted the winnings from the table, cashed out the 1,800 francs and left the house. As for the one accomplice who was taken into house custody, he was photographed and documented and shown the way out through a back door. I was later told by casino management that this was the most experienced table crew that was employed in the establishment, three dealers and a table game inspector had failed to notice anything wrong! As for our dubious hero who is from the city of Voghera, a city not so far from Casale Monferrato, later that same year he appeared at a neighboring casino with his 18-year-old son and two of his classmates, they were obviously ready for some out in the field experience.
Four members of the team two Maltese and two Italians were arrested in Atlantic City in June 2005, mug shot and charged, they were later released on bail but never returned, making their escape from the U.S. no doubt with the use of their real and false passports as some of them had used secondary documents with aliases while in police custody. One of the Italians resides in the Milan area just to the East of Casale Monferrato. To show the connection I apprehended one of these Maltese and one of the Italians in Switzerland at the same time I apprehended the Moroccan.
None of this police activity seems to have deterred the organization, as they are still operating regularly throughout Europe especially but also the rest of the world. In the words of the Italian casino security "They have faces more resistant than bronze"because even though they are barred, they just keep coming back, they are experts at gatecrashing. I remember seeing two Germans from the team, who we had refused to pay their late bet earlier in the same evening, in a late night pizza parlor, when they recognized us one of them who was sitting with his back to us left the restaurant by walking backwards (so we couldn't see his face again).
Just this March alone two of the same residents of Casale Monferrato were arrested in an Italian Casino near to the French border. One was charged with past posting 60 Euros onto the winning number and the other because they were both previously barred, was charged with gaining entry through the use of a false identity document. In their appearance in court the following day, video evidence was shown, however the judge acquitted one of them because of lack of proof since the images did not actually show him presenting the false document at reception. The other member, who actually did the past post, said in his defense that he didn't hear the croupier announce "no more bets", he was ordered to return for another hearing later this year. No doubt the judge in the mean time is studying how to play roulette.