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BATAVIA, N.Y. (WIVB) - Police believe two firefighters in Batavia were running a gambling ring while on duty. They have been suspended from the fire department, but are still collecting their pay.
The City of Batavia first became aware of the alleged gambling related activity, prompting an investigation that resulted in searches and arrests. Two Batavia city firefighters and a veteran's home chef are accused of operating an illegal gambling operation.
Genesee County Sheriff Gary Maha said, "We have volumes of gambling records to look through. Some of them are in electronic format. Some of them are handwritten."
Authorities say all three have been under investigation for six months. Detectives say the suspected betting involved professional football and basketball and college football and basketball games.
Det. Sgt. Steven Mullen said, "At this point, we know that it was phone and text messaging [to place bets]."
39-year-old Gregory Phillips and 43-year-old Brian Bordinaro are Batavia city firefighters. Both make an annual base salary of $54,628. They'll continue to collect that paycheck because they're suspended with pay while the investigation continues. Authorities say they don't know yet the scope of the suspected gambling operation. They're waiting for a forensic analysis of records seized.
"It appears as though there were some bets as low as $25 and bets up to $2,500," Det. Sgt. Mullen said.
Attorney Larry Andolina, who's representing Gregory Phillips, addressed the gambling charge, saying, "I think prosecuting people for gambling in New York State is, at best, dumb."
Sheriff Maha countered, "It's illegal to run a gambling enterprise and profit from it. And when it's brought to our attention, we take appropriate action."
Andolina, saying he doesn't understand the gambling charges, pointed out that there are lottery tickets sold on every corner. Meanwhile, all three men, who have strong ties to the community, are being released from jail. They're due back in court next month.
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