Feds Crack Sinister “Big Sister” Gaming Ring

big sister

MINEOLA, New York.  The stories were so sad, so harrowing, says Sergeant William “Bill” Bendix of the Nassau County Police Department, they often brought case-hardened career cops to tears.  “Believe me, in thirty-seven years on the bunco squad, I’ve seen a lot of nasty stuff,” he says over an audible lump in his throat.  “You’d have young boys come stumbling in the station, we’d sit them down, give ’em a Yoo-Hoo Chocolate Soda, then they’d burst into tears like somebody broke a dam or somethin’.”

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Gina “Big Sister” Santosuosso:  “The little doggie piece is lucky!”


Bendix has been working for the past two years to break an interstate conspiracy that preyed on gullible younger brothers of older sisters, “some of our most vulnerable citizens,” he says.  “They think they’re the center of the universe cause even though they weren’t the first born, they’re the first-born son.  They get pampered and coddled and stuff, which leaves them easy prey for worldly older sisters seeking to supplement their allowance with ruses that assault the integrity of America’s most popular board games.”

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“You rolled a five, which means all of us win and you lose and now you have to play Ken and Barbie with us.”


One of the oldest of such games, Monopoly, is particularly susceptible to chicanery because of the complexity of its rules, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which coordinated “sting” games in numerous states in order bring down what agent Ferd Hillenberg calls the “Big Sister Crime Family.”  “It starts when one sister announces that she’s the ‘banker’ while another one says she’s the ‘lawyer’ who gets to interpret the rules on the inside of the box lid,” Hillenberg says.  “The ‘lawyer’ tells the little brother the point of the game is to spend all your money and the ‘banker’ talks him into only taking one bill of each denomination so he can win faster.  The poor kid hasn’t got a chance.”

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“Sorry, your currency was devalued!”


The sophistication of such organized crime techniques leaves little brothers defenseless, causing them to lose their life savings over and over again, often inflicting permanent damages on their personalities.  “You lose your ability to trust people,” says Ron Putnam, the younger brother of two sisters who beat him repeatedly at “Candyland” and “Chutes and Ladders” when he was a boy.  “The only work you’re suited for is prison guard, the IRS and sales help in ladies ready-to-wear.”

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