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Butcher long accused of illegal gambling pleads guilty to federal charges

Dominic Poeta was once described in a book as “a star high school athlete in his mid-forties” who “owned a local deli and took bets while he worked.”

Dirksen Federal Courthouse
Sun-Times File

A North Shore butcher who made millions running an illegal betting operation pleaded guilty to gambling and tax charges Monday.

Dominic Poeta, 63, of Highland Park found himself tangled up more than a decade ago over accusations of illegal sports gambling. The feds accused him 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.

However, it wasn’t until last month that Poeta finally faced federal criminal charges, records show.

Poeta pleaded guilty Monday to a gambling charge and filing a false tax return for the year 2016. He entered his plea during a hearing held by telephone. Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick King said Poeta provided people with access to gambling websites based in the Caribbean, pocketing $3.7 million between 2012 and 2017 that he failed to report to the government.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly set Poeta’s sentencing hearing for Nov. 4.

In the earlier Resnick case, a judge said Poeta took hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal wagers from Resnick in 2001 and 2002. 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.”