Deputed Florida underworld boss Santo Trafficante and 11 others have been indicted on conspiracy charges in an alleged plot to set up gambling operations through payoffs, bribery and extortion, federal agents said yesterday.
The charges are the result of an FBI sting operation in which agents worked undercover for three years, operating a plush, lucrative club to draw in the underworld figures, said Robert W. Butler, in charge of the Tampa FBI office.
A sealed indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in Tampa Thursday night and opened yesterday after agents began making arrests.
All 12 defendants were charged with conspiracy and 11 were charged with racketeering.
The 11 included former Pasco County sheriff's Capt. Joseph Donahue. The undercover King's Court Club was set up in Pasco County, north of Tampa.
The FBI said other defendants represented the Bonnano crime family, Gambino crime family, Luchesse family and the Chicago branch.
Trafficante, 69, who also is under indictment on racketeering charges in Miami, was released on $50,000 bond.
The indictment alleged that for a percentage of the profits Trafficante would allow top nationwide crime families to engage in unlawful activities such as bookmaking, gambling and control of sanitation business on the west coast of the state.