Sheriff's deputies raided the office of a nationwide bookmaking ring in Torrance on Saturday, arresting five people and shattering an operation believed to be taking up to $100 million in illegal bets annually, authorities said.
Vice investigators had been keeping a close watch on the operation for three months, during which time it moved from Manhattan Beach to its current address on Crenshaw Boulevard in Torrance, Sheriff's Sgt. Ernie Roop said.
When deputies raided the office at 9:45 a.m., they said they found a paper shredder that the suspects apparently used to destroy many of the betting records. They also discovered two toll-free 800 numbers to place horse racing and sports wagers, one from within the state and the other from other parts of the nation.
"This is a large-scale bookmaking operation that was conducted on a national scale with a lot of bettors," Roop said.
The five arrested on suspicion of bookmaking were: Roger Allec Sr., 41, of Placentia; his son, Roger Allec Jr., 22, of Walnut; John F. Cowan, 54, of Manhattan Beach; Felix Crisafulli, 44, of Placentia, and Chris Totten, 27, of Corona.
All five have been released on $500 bail each and will be arraigned June 6 in Torrance Municipal Court on bookmaking charges.
"This time of the year is pretty active for bookmakers. The sports book is pretty active," Roop said. "I'm sure there was a lot on the Kentucky Derby."