DENVER – Colorado Attorney General John Suthers and Colorado Bureau of Investigation Director Ronald Sloan announce that on Friday, February 13, 2009, the Colorado State Grand Jury returned a thirty-one (31) count indictment naming seven (7) defendants who are alleged to have participated in or who were associated with a criminal enterprise involved in illegal professional gambling and bookmaking, loan-sharking, money laundering, tax evasion, theft, and unlawful debt collection. The indictment is the culmination of a fifteen (15) month criminal investigation which was known as “Operation Aces and Eights” and was jointly spearheaded by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s Gaming Unit, the Denver Police Department, the Colorado Department of Revenue and the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.
According to the indictment, the enterprise’s activities centered around the now defunct Gin Rummy Club (GRC) which was located at 2380 South Broadway in Denver. The indictment alleges that from May 2003 through the late 2008, members of the enterprise illicitly used the GRC to acquire significant sums of money from unregulated poker and sportsbook play. It is further alleged that the money which was owed as a result of individuals accumulating sizeable gambling debts was often collected through a complex, persistent and sometimes intimidating system of individual debt collectors, front businesses, and various bank accounts which were all under the control of the enterprise.
“This investigation is an excellent example of inter-agency cooperation among law enforcement agencies,” said Colorado Attorney General John Suthers. “The criminal enterprise involved undermined the operation of legitimate business and the collection of tax revenues.”
The alleged leader of the of the enterprise, Jeffrey Castardi of Denver, was indicted by the Grand Jury on multiple felony counts, including allegations that he committed two (2) counts of violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act (COCCA), both of which are Class 2 Felony offenses. The possible penalty on each of these counts carries a presumptive prison sentence of up to 24 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections. Castardi’s wife, Dawn Nancy Wolf, is also charged in the indictment on multiple felony counts, including two (2) counts of violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act (COCCA). Other defendants charged with committing at least one (1) count of violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act (COCCA) include James Elterman of Cherry Hills Village and Laura Jean Fouty of Denver. Three other defendants, Daniel Rieke of Lakewood, Todd Casey of Aurora and David Lettin of Englewood were also charged with various felony counts related to this criminal enterprise.
The cases will be prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office for the 1st Judicial District in Jefferson County. Initial appearances on these charges have not yet been scheduled by the Jefferson County District Court.
Due to the pending criminal charges and confidentiality of grand jury proceedings, law enforcement investigators are not at liberty to discuss specifics of the investigation. It should be noted, any indictment is merely an accusation and defendants are presumed innocent until found guilty by a court.