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1st gambling defendant gets house arrest

The Spring Hill man was charged with running a gambling operation out of his home. His partner will be sentenced on Aug. 12.

By MICHAEL KRUSE
Published June 17, 2005


Gerald Jasper Previti has his punishment.

Toothpick Ray's up next.

Previti, 64, was sentenced to six months' house arrest last week in U.S. District Court in Tampa for his role in a gambling operation based in Spring Hill that was broken up late last year after a federal and state investigation, Operation Stingray.

He had pleaded guilty to transmission of interstate wagering information.

Raymond Krisa, meanwhile, who goes by "Toothpick Ray" and "Garlic Ray," has pleaded guilty to loan sharking and extortion.

He is scheduled to appear Aug. 12 in U.S District Court in Tampa for sentencing. The 71-year-old Krisa could get up to 20 years in prison.

All of this started, investigators said, with a guy who got in over his head.

A Hernando County man reported last June to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that he was trapped in a loan sharking scheme.

Previti and Krisa were arrested six months later.

"People like Previti and Krisa prey on people's addiction to gambling," Hernando County Sheriff Richard Nugent said at the time. "They were out there to bleed them dry, and they did not care what it did to families."

Asked about the length of Previti's sentence, Deputy Donna Black said the Sheriff's Office will reserve comment until after Krisa's sentencing.

Operation Stingray, which included U.S. Customs Service agents and the FBI, found that Krisa was making loans of up to $250,000, demanding weekly interest payments of more than 200 percent and using old-fashioned "wise guy" threats like "letting the dogs loose" when debtors didn't pay up.

At the time, his neighbors on Spring Hill's Spanish Oak Drive thought Krisa was a retired New York transplant living on Social Security checks.

But investigators found that he had been issuing loans since 1988 - a "business," they said, that brought in between $700,000 and $800,000 a year.

Authorities had tapped Krisa's phone conversations. That led them to Previti.

In Spring Hill, from his home on De Carlo Avenue and an apartment he was using as an office on Portillo Road, Previti was taking in-state and out-of-state bets over an 800-number routed through Louisiana.

The bookmaking operation involved more than 100 people placing bets on pro football, pro baseball and college sports. Previti took 10 percent of each bet, which ranged from $50 to $2,500, Black said.

In December, authorities searched Krisa's and Previti's homes and three safe deposit boxes. They seized three vehicles, a boat and more than half a million dollars in cash.

The two men were indicted in federal court in the first week of January.

Previti pleaded guilty in March. As part of his sentencing, in addition to the six months of house arrest, he also was given 24 months supervised probation and was ordered to forfeit $210,000.

Michael Kruse can be reached at mkruse@sptimes.com or 848-1434.

[Last modified June 17, 2005, 00:34:18]


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