District and Fairfax County police, in coordinated raids, arrested two men at their homes Sunday and seized $46,000 in cash yesterday from what authorities described as one of numerous blue-chip sports betting operations here that together gross up to $200 million a year.
The seizure yesterday of the cash from a suburban Virginia bank deposit box, police said, was just the tip of a high-stakes iceberg of gambling on a wide range of professional sports, involving several independent betting operators.
In their new crackdown, D.C. police have also raided two other private homes and two downtown businesses in recent weeks, arresting 16 persons and seizing cash and what police said were elaborate gambling records.
The crackdown marks an expansion of traditional police antigambling activity from predominantly black, inner-city numbers betting to more affluent, predominantly white sports gambling.
Several of the suspects arrested by police in the recent raids are longtime Washington area residents who live in upper-income neighborhoods of the city and the suburbs.
On Sunday, D.C. police arrested Abraham Morris Mason, 58, at his home at 5711 Utah Ave. NW, at about the same time Fairfax police arrested James (Sunny) Norfolk, 36, at his home at 7855 Godolphin Dr., in Springfield.
Mason was charged with setting up a gaming table and Norfolk with running an illegal sports betting operation.
Police, who maintained a "pen register" on Norfolk's telephone to record the numbers of all incoming and outgoing calls, said Norfolk apparently worked for Mason and helped coordinate a network of 30 bookies in the area.
Norfolk "is well financed and has connections to other known and unknown person involved in the illegal gambling community," according to an affidavit filed by Fairfax County police investigator Thomas J. Fitzpatrick.
D.C. police also said Mason "is a suspected major violator in gambling and is associated with" other local gambling figures, including Joe Nesline, a fixture of the District gambling scene for many years.
Following their raid on Norfolk's home Sunday, Fairfax police yesterday seized $46,000, mostly in $100 bills, from a safe deposit box belonging to Norfolk at the First Virginia Bank branch in Springfield.
Police said the pen register on Norfolk's phone noted numerous calls between his home and Mason's in Washington, including 20 between Christmas Day and Jan. 2.
Norfolk is an account executive for the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Mason is understood to be the owner of two area auto dealerships.
D.C. police gambling detectives said Mason conducted his business almost entirely by telephone from his home, avoiding the creation of traffic on the quiet residential street where he lives in upper Northwest Washington.
Well-heeled bettors would call in bets of up to $300 on various weekend professional sporting events and collect their winnings or pay their losses on a monthly basis, police said.
In earlier raids in November and December, D.C. police arrested two other men at their upper Northwest homes, charging them with similar gambling violations. Police stressed yesterday, however, that the operations they are charged with running were separate from each other and from Mason's.
Arrested on Nov. 4 was Louis W. Dove, 71, of 3900 Alton Pl. NW, charged with setting up a gaming table. On Dec. 16, Alfred C. Calvagna, 72, of 6345 31st Pl. NW, was arrested and also charged with setting up a gaming table.
Police said they seized $25,000 in cash and various gambling records at Calvagna's home. At Dove's home, police said they monitored 500 phone calls in a 14-day period, many of them to las Vegas and cities in Florida and California. Police records show Dove was first convicted of gambling charges in 1934.
In addition to the raids at the homes, police recently raided a downtown bar and restaurant, arresting six persons on various gambling charges and seizing what they said were gambling records.
Six persons were arrested at the Post Pub, 1424 L St. NW, on Dec. 15 after an undercover police officer posed as a bettor and placed more than $2,000 in bets on various football, basketball, baseball and hockey games there during an eight-month patrol.
Two days later police arrested a bartender at the Exchange Restaurant, 1831 M St. NW, charging him with operating a lottery, and arrested six additional persons at other places in the city in connection with the same operation. A seventh suspect turned himself in to police three days later. Police said there was no connection between the gambling operations and the management at either the Post Pub or the Exchange Restaurant.