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State v. Benevento

Decided: December 8, 1975.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
JOHN BENEVENTO, JOHN CERBO AND MICHAEL CENTRONE, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



Lynch, Larner and Fulop.

Per Curiam

Defendants were convicted of a conspiracy to violate the gambling laws and of several counts of bookmaking (N.J.S.A. 2A:112-3). Defendant Centrone was sentenced to the Bergen County Jail for a custodial term of 60 days on the conspiracy charge, plus probation and a fine, and a suspended sentence to State Prison on the bookmaking charges. Defendants Benevento and Cerbo were each sentenced to a total custodial term of two to four years in State Prison, plus appropriate fines.

I

Defendants assert as a common appellate argument that the trial judge committed error in denying the motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of a court-ordered wiretap. They contend that the affidavits submitted in support of the order were legally insufficient to warrant the telephonic interception.

We have reviewed the affidavits and find that they adequately spell out the basic requirements of probable cause and special need under N.J.S.A. 2A:156A-10 and 11 and applicable judicial precedents. See Aguilar v. Texas , 378 U.S. 108, 84 S. Ct. 1509, 12 L. Ed. 2d 723 (1964); Spinelli v. United States , 393 U.S. 410, 89 S. Ct. 584, 21 L. Ed. 2d 637 (1969); State v. Dye , 60 N.J. 518, 525 (1972); State v. Sidoti , 120 N.J. Super. 208 (App. Div. 1972); State v. Christy , 112 N.J. Super. 48, 68-74 (Cty. Ct. 1970). The court acted with propriety in denying the motions to suppress.

II

Defendant Centrone urges as error the refusal of the judge to charge the jury in accord with the following request: "That one who acts fully as an intermediary for another bettor with any other pool or individual and gains no benefit thereby has not committed a violation of any of these criminal statutes." This request was submitted below on the basis of Centrone's testimony that his activities were not motivated by profit and the contention that the charge was warranted in light of the holding in State v. Andreano , 117 N.J. Super. 498 (App. Div. 1971).

In Andreano this court held that when a bet is taken by a disinterested person for placement at a lawful race meeting, such activity does not constitute bookmaking within the statutory prohibition, in view of the explicit exception in N.J.S.A. 2A:112-3 for parimutuel betting. 117 N.J. Super. at 501. It did not decide whether one who places bets as an intermediary for the bettor in an illegal pool is guilty of the offense of bookmaking.

The thrust of defendant Centrone's position is that the absence of compensation for the act of taking the bet and in turn placing it with an ultimate book erases the criminality involved in defendant's activity. We disagree.

The presence or absence of compensation in whatever form is of no significance in proof of the crime of bookmaking. The act of taking the bet from the bettor and the act of making the bet for him with the ultimate bookmaker is manifestly encompassed within the offense of aiding and abetting bookmaking. See State v. Morano , 134 N.J.L. 295, 299 (E. & A. 1946).

The intermediary under such circumstances is part and parcel of the bookmaking operation, and one who is embraced within the interdiction of the statute (N.J.S.A. 2A:112-3) and the State policy against all forms of gambling. State v. ...


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