Malliotakis staffer busted in mob-linked scheme to bribe college athletes

A Staten Island man who was busted Thursday in a mob-linked scheme to rig a college basketball game was recently hired as an aide to state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, The Post has learned.

Benjamin Bifalco, 25, is among 20 defendants — including reputed Colombo family capo Joseph Amato — named in three indictments that allege a wide range of criminal activity dating to January 2014.

FBI wiretaps caught Bifalco telling Amato’s son and co-defendant, Joseph Amato Jr., 26, about a plan to “pay thousands of dollars to multiple members” of an unidentified team to lose an NCCA Division 1 basketball game by more than the point spread, according to federal prosecutors.

Bifalco allegedly encouraged Amato Jr. to bet big but apparently couldn’t pull off the December 2018 scam, with court papers saying that Amato Jr. sent two text messages warning a reputed Colombo soldier not to place any wagers.

“Ok I wouldn’t trust the game I was telling u about” and “I’m not touching it personally,” Amato Jr. allegedly wrote.

In a prepared statement, Malliotakis (R-Staten Island, Brooklyn) said she hired Bifalco as her director of community affairs on Sept. 16, and fired him immediately upon learning about his indictment.

“He was active in local politics, planning to apply to law school and was recommended to me by a number of people,” Malliotakis said.

“I am shocked and saddened by this news. I have zero tolerance for criminal activity.”

Bifalco is a nephew of former US Rep. Vito Fosella, a Staten Island Republican who served more than a decade in Congress, sources said.

Fosella, who opted not to seek re-election following a 2008 scandal over an extramarital affair and a secret second family, didn’t return requests for comment.

Bifalco, who’s charged with one count of attempted sports bribery, was awaiting arraignment in Brooklyn federal court.

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