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Man Connected To Colombo Crime Family Tried To Fix NCAA Game Last Season

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October 7, 2019

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NCAA logo (Photo: Matt Slocum, AP)

An investigation into one of America’s most notorious crime families affected the college basketball world last week. The U.S. Department of Justice unsealed an indictment last week alleging a New York man attempted to fix an NCAA Division I college basketball game in December 2018.

Benjamin Bifalco, 25, of Staten Island, New York, is accused of offering members of a college basketball team “thousands of dollars to intentionally lose the game,” according to a news release from the Eastern District of New York U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The school and players were not identified in the indictment.

Bifalco was caught on a wiretap discussing the scheme with Joseph Amato Jr., one of 20 defendants who were arrested Thursday and charged with crimes in a wide-ranging investigation targeting the Colombo crime family.

The indictment notes that the “favored team did not cover the spread and the bets would not have been winning ones.”

College basketball has been targeted in multiple point-shaving and game-fixing scandals for decades. Most recently, former Auburn point guard Varez Ward was arrested in June 2013 on allegations that he attempted to fix a game between the Tigers and Arkansas.

With sports gambling legal in 11 states and a growing enterprise, the vigilance against bad actors remains a sticking point for detractors of the movement.

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