U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced Friday that 71-year-old Eric Battistoni of Cheektowaga, and 38-year-old Thi Nguyen of West Seneca were arrested and charged by criminal complaint with using extortion to collect gambling debts.
According to a news release:
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael McCabe, who is handling the case, stated that according to complaint, Nguyen and Battistoni were allegedly members of a gambling ring involving bets on sporting events.
The defendants allegedly recently demanded payment of an outstanding gambling debt from a Buffalo man who owed $24,000 stemming from losses on 2012 professional sporting events. On May 15, 2013, Nguyen and Battisoni allegedly met with the man at a coffee shop on Bailey Avenue and William Street in Buffalo where they demanded payments of $300 a week until the debt was settled. Battistoni allegedly threatened violence if payments were not made.
The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both.