A Jersey Shore bookmaker admitted in federal court on Tuesday that he operated his own lottery game in Hudson County using the numbers from the New Jersey Lottery Pick Six to award winners.
Up to 8,000 participants at a time selected six numbers from 1 to 49 at $20 a pop, Edward O’Neill, 54, told a U.S. District Court judge in Newark.
The sole winner of the illegal lottery was whoever matched all six numbers selected in the official Pick Six drawing.
Prizes often exceeded $100,000, said O’Neill, of Beachwood, who skimmed a 10% vig off the total bets.
Like bookies of days past, O’Neill personally collected the cash and entered the participants’ selected numbers, along with other identifying information into a ledger, Acting U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Rachael A. Honig said.
This went on for nearly five years, she said.
All told, O’Neill pocketed around $250,000 from the black market sweepstakes – and didn’t report it to the IRS. That left the government short-changed by $65,674, Honig said.
Seeking leniency, O’Neill took a deal from the government rather than go to trial, pleading guilty to managing an illegal gambling business and filing a bogus tax return.
O’Neill admitted that he failed to account for approximately $250,000 in cash winnings from the illegal lottery on tax returns he filed with the IRS between 2014 and 2018, causing him to underpay his federal incomes taxes by $65,674.
Honing credited special agents of her office, as well as those of IRS-Criminal Investigation and the FBI in Newark, with the investigation leading to Tuesday’s plea, secured by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Farrell of her Special Prosecutions Division.
U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti scheduled sentencing for Aug. 25.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.