7 Charged With Illegal Gambling After Belle Probe

CLEVELAND (AP) - An investigation of former Indians slugger Albert Belle led federal prosecutors to charge seven men with running illegal sports gambling businesses.

Internal Revenue Service agent Mark Harris said in documents that the investigation into the men stemmed from a 1996 probe of Belle, who bet on college and professional football and basketball.

Belle admitted to losing as much as $5,000 on a game and turned over the names of his bookmakers, authorities said. He was never charged.

Among those charged Tuesday was Richard C. Agresta, 63, of Middleburg Heights.

Harris said in an affidavit that Agresta earned as much as $80,000 in wagers in one weekend in 1998, and he received nearly 500 calls from bettors on New Year's Day 1999, when college football hosts its biggest bowl games.

Agresta's attorney, Daniel Wightman, could not be reached.

Others charged with gambling are Patrick Piscura, 29, of Stow; Jack Haas, 65, and his son, Mark Haas, 44, both of Richmond Heights; Norman Woldman, 44, of Richmond Heights; John Zito, 50, of Stow, and Arnold Imes, 30, of Cleveland.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Moroney also charged Zito, Agresta, Woldman and the Haases with filing false tax returns.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)