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West Seneca nail salon owner admits extortion to settle bookmaking debt

A West Seneca nail salon owner admitted Wednesday to using extortion to settle a bookmaking debt.

As part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors, Thi Nguyen, 40, a native of Vietnam, said the conspiracy to extort money was directed at a gambler who owed $24,000 in bookmaking debts and involved threats from his co-defendant Eric Battistoni, 71, of Cheektowaga. Battistoni still faces charges.

A search of Nguyen’s home in West Seneca revealed ledgers detailing a “very extensive” gambling operation, Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony M. Bruce said.

His guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara is the result of an investigation by the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force.