Five men, including the son of one of Washington's legendary gambling figures, have been arrested in a D.C. police investigation of illegal sports bookmaking operations that allegedly used two Washington restaurants.
Roger W. (Roddy) Simkins Jr., the son of the late Roger W. (Whitetop) Simkins, one of Washington's infamous illegal numbers operators, was arrested late Wednesday on misdemeanor charges of bookmaking and maintaining an illegal gambling premises.
Simkins, 38, and two other alleged gamblers met on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at Peppino's of Georgetown restaurant, 1075 Thomas Jefferson St. NW, to discuss betting information and settle accounts, according to a police search warrant affidavit filed in D.C. Superior Court.
An attorney for Peppino's said yesterday that the restaurant's management was unaware of any illegal activity taking place there and "would throw anybody out" who was found to be involved in any criminal behavior.
Police said they observed Simkins and other gamblers frequenting Peppino's and quoted confidential sources as saying the meetings were held to discuss bets on professional football games.
In 1980, Simkins was acquitted in federal court of charges that he ran an illegal sports bookmaking operation. His attorney at the trial argued that Simkins, a graduate of the prestigious Wharton School of Finance and Commerce, liked to gamble as a bettor, but was not involved in illegal bookmaking.
Also arrested on a bookmaking charge with Simkins Wednesday was Eugene J. Corsi, 63, of Washington, who has previous gambling arrests. Police said they confiscated $3,164 in cash and alleged bookmaking sheets while searching Simkins.
Earlier Wednesday, three men were arrested at the Prime Rib restaurant, 2020 K St. NW, in connection with a sports bookmaking operation that police said used the establishment.
Charged with bookmaking, a misdemeanor, were Richard A. MaCaleb, 46, of Chevy Chase, and James Corbitt Ballard, 39, of Hyattsville. In addition, MaCaleb, Ballard and a third person arrested with them, Michael A. Larusso, also known as Mario A. Scarfone, 53, of Alexandria, were charged with misdemeanor possession of cocaine.
An official at the Prime Rib said the restaurant was unaware of any illegal activity taking place there. "We're not really accustomed to anything like this," said the official, who declined to give his full name.
Law enforcement sources said that the arrests grew out of two distinct investigations, but the five men all knew each other.
For example, one source said, Larusso was identified in the search warrant affidavit for Simkins as one of the alleged gamblers who met with him at Peppino's. When he was arrested, Larusso was with MaCaleb and Ballard at the Prime Rib.
MaCaleb was sentenced to prison in 1977 after he was convicted of conspiring to distribute cocaine, a charge that grew out of a police and federal investigation into cocaine trafficking in the downtown Washington bar scene.
In an affidavit filed in Superior Court for Wednesday's arrest, police said that MaCaleb, who has two previous gambling arrests, and Ballard, who also has previous gambling arrests, were partners in a sports bookmaking operation and the two met with bettors at the Prime Rib about noon on either Tuesdays or Wednesdays to settle accounts.
Police said they seized nearly $12,000 in cash from MaCaleb and Ballard, along with records itemizing bets on professional football games.