Alleged Gambino Crime Boss Mobster Gets 9 Years in Porn Scam

Alleged Gambino Crime Boss Mobster Gets 9 Years in Porn Scam
Matt O'Conner
NEW YORK — Richard Martino, one time protégé of John Gotti and a reputed boss in the Gambino crime family, was sentenced Monday to nine years in prison for his role in a two-pronged scheme to defraud users using both 800 phone numbers and “free” tours of adult websites.

Referred to by one government informant as “a monster earner,” he was convicted of being the mastermind behind a scam in which web surfers were induced to provide credit card information to adult websites for the purpose of age verification with the promise that their credit cards would not be billed.

According to the government, however, unwitting victims were charged recurring fees of up to $90 a month.

The sites in question used content from magazines owned by Crescent Publishing Group, including High Society and Playgirl. Crescent was not charged and, according to the indictment against Martino, was said to be returning one out of every three dollars the sites generated in 1999.

Martino pleaded guilty in 2005 along with five associates after the government agreed to drop organized-crime and racketeering charges.

“The defendants bilked thousands of unwitting consumers in the United States, Europe and Asia of more than $200 million through bogus free tours of adult entertainment websites, which resulted in fraudulent charges on the credit cards of more than a million consumers,” U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf said.

The scheme was so profitable, according to the Justice Department, that it allowed those involved to purchase the Cass County Telephone Co. in Peculiar, Mo., and the Garden City Bank in Garden City, Mo.