two men arrested for extortion in local gambling operation
BUFFALO, N.Y.--U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Eric Battistoni, 71, of Cheektowaga, N.Y., and Thi Nguyen, 38, of West Seneca, N.Y., were arrested and charged by criminal complaint with using extortion to collect gambling debts. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael McCabe, who is handling the case, stated that according to complaint, Nguyen and Battistoni were members of a gambling ring involving bets on sporting events. The defendants recently demanded payment of an outstanding gambling debt from a Buffalo man who owed $24,000 stemming from losses on 2012 professional sporting events. On May 15, 2013, Nguyen and Battisoni met with the man at a coffee shop on Bailey Avenue and William Street in Buffalo where they demanded payments of $300 a week until the debt was settled. Battistoni threatened violence if payments were not made.
The complaint is the result of a joint investigation on the part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Resident Agent in Charge Frank Christiano.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.