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West Seneca businessman gets prison term for gambling operation

Thi C. Nguyen, 40, a West Seneca nail salon owner, was ordered Thursday by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara to serve a 12-month federal prison term for pleading guilty to conspiracy to collect a gambling debt through extortion.

U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. said Eric Barttistoni, 72, a Cheektowaga bookie who admitted acting as Nguyen’s “enforcer” in a gambling ring, faces a May 11 sentencing on his guilty plea to the same charge.

Nguyen ran an operation taking bets on National Football League games in the 2012 season, the prosecutor said. In May he and Battistoni threatened a Vietnamese-born Buffalo man who has lost $24,000 on his football bets that season with violence if that man did not pay them at least $300 a week until his debt was cleared, Hochul said. That man contacted the FBI which arrested both suspects on May 31, 2013, Hochul said.