North Shore butcher long accused of illegal gambling now facing federal charges

Prosecutors have said Dominic Poeta was given the moniker “Luciano ‘Lucky’ Petrelli” in a book that describes him as “a star high school athlete in his mid-forties” who “owned a local deli and took bets while he worked.”

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Dirksen Federal Courthouse

Sun-Times file photo

A North Shore butcher tangled up more than a decade ago over accusations of illegal sports gambling now faces criminal charges in federal court, prosecutors announced Thursday. 

Dominic Poeta, 63, of Highland Park, has been charged with running an illegal gambling business between 2014 and 2018 and falsely claiming in his 2016 tax return that his income that year amounted to just $81,609. 

Prosecutors charged Poeta in a two-page document known as an information, which typically signals a defendant is planning to plead guilty. Poeta’s arraignment has not been set, and his attorney could not immediately be reached for comment. He faces up to five years in prison.

The feds accused Poeta of working as a bookie back in 2007 as they tried to collect on a judgment against Adam Resnick, a gambling addict who went to prison for a $10 million check-kiting scheme that brought down Universal Federal Savings Bank in 2002. 

A judge later said Poeta took hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal wagers from Resnick in 2001 and 2002. Specifically, prosecutors said Resnick paid Poeta $891,211 that was “entirely the result of illegal gambling and in payment of lost wagers and juice,” and directly traceable to Resnick’s check-kiting scheme.

They also said Resnick wrote about Poeta in his 2007 book “Bust: How I Gambled and Lost a Fortune, Brought Down a Bank — and Lived to Pay For It.” In the book, Resnick gave Poeta the moniker “Luciano ‘Lucky’ Petrelli,” court records allege. In the book, Petrelli is described as “a star high school athlete in his mid-forties” who “owned a local deli and took bets while he worked,” records show.

Resnick testified in 2008 that he would go to Poeta’s meat market to place, collect or pay bets, though he said, “mostly the placing was done on the phone.” He said he bet on baseball, football, basketball, horse racing and boxing, and he said, “I would gamble every day he was open, I was allowed to gamble, or I had access to money.”

He also testified that, though his gambling was initially capped at $2,000 a game, he eventually moved up to $1.5 million a game as he gambled on the 2002 NBA Finals. 

Meanwhile, records show Poeta largely invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination as he was asked about his role as Resnick’s bookie, his appearance in Resnick’s book as “Luciano Petrelli” or the nearly $900,000 he’d allegedly collected in illegal gambling debts. 

Though Poeta did not face criminal charges at the time, U.S. District Judge Wayne Andersen did eventually order him to pay $848,197. The judgment was satisfied in April 2011, court records show. 

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