In what U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder hailed as the FBI's "largest single day operation" against organized crime, more than 800 state, local and federal authorities charged 127 individuals with mob-related crimes in four districts in New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
More than 110 of the 127 charged defendants have been arrested, and will appear in federal court in the districts in which they are charged. The charges relate to a wide range of alleged illegal activity, including murder, murder conspiracy, loansharking, arson, narcotics trafficking, extortion, robbery, illegal gambling and labor racketeering, in some cases occurring over decades.
The indictments charge leaders of these criminal enterprises, as well as mid-level managers, numerous soldiers and associates, and others alleged to be corrupt union officials.
Copies of the indictments can be found on the Justice Department's website, but descriptions of each of them are provided below, according to DoJ.
According to the indictments, the mafia group La Costra Nostra operates in numerous cities around the United States and routinely engages in violence and threatens violence to extort money from victims, eliminate rivals, settle vendettas and obstruct justice. In the New York City-area, five LCN families principally operate: the Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Luchese families.
The Decavalcante family operates principally in New Jersey, while the New England LCN family operates in areas including Providence and Boston. Each LCN family has a hierarchical structure, with an administration comprised of a boss, underboss and consigliere at the top overseeing crews of criminals led by captains, who in turn supervise organized crime soldiers and associates.
In Brooklyn, 12 indictments were unsealed today charging 85 defendants from all five New York-based families as well as defendants from the Decavalcante family. One indictment (United States v. Russo) charges 39 defendants, including the entire leadership of the Colombo family not currently in prison – street boss Andrew Russo, acting underboss Benjamin Castellazzo and consigliere Richard Fusco – as well as four of the crime family’s official captains and eight of its soldiers, with crimes including racketeering and racketeering conspiracy committed during an approximately 20-year period.
Among other acts of violence, Colombo family acting captain Anthony Russo is charged with the 1993 murder of Colombo family underboss Joseph Scopo during an internecine war among family members. According to court documents, Scopo was shot in the passenger seat of a car outside of his residence in Ozone Park, Queens.
The Russo indictment also charges numerous crimes of extortion and fraud, including charges related to the Colombo crime family’s alleged long-standing control of Cement and Concrete Workers Union Local 6A, and its alleged defrauding of the City of New York in regard to an annually held feast, the Figli di Santa Rosalia. The indictment is based in part on hundreds of hours of recorded conversations of members and associates of the Colombo family, including meetings of the Colombo family administration.
Two of the indictments returned in Brooklyn (United States v. Vernace and United States v. Dragonetti) charge 13 members and associates of the Gambino family, including Bartolomeo Vernace, a member of the current Gambino family administration. The Vernace indictment includes, among others, charges against Vernace in regard to the 1981 double murder of Richard Godkin and John D’Agnese inside the Shamrock Bar in the Woodhaven neighborhood of Queens.
D’Agnese died from a single gunshot to the face and Godkin died from a point-blank gunshot to his chest. The Dragonetti indictment charges numerous acts of extortion, including a conspiracy by the Gambino family to extort a New York City cement manufacturer, as well as various construction companies and sites outlined on the crime family’s so-called “Construction List."
In nine of the indictments charged in Brooklyn (United States v. Alesi, United States v. Balzano, United States v. Caramanica, United States v. Cicalese, United States v. Colandra, United States v. Gallo, United States v. Gioia, United States v. Messina and United States v. Samperi), members and associates of the Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Decavalcante families are charged variously with racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, extortion, perjury, obstruction of justice, illegal gambling, receipt of stolen property and possession of contraband cigarettes. For example, in United States v. Messina, Bonanno family associate Neil Messina is charged with the murder of Joseph Pistone during a home invasion robbery in 1992.
The Alesi indictment charges, among other things, a former member of the Suffolk County, N.Y., Police Department’s Emergency Services Unit with obstructing a state investigation of illegal gambling businesses by tipping off the business to upcoming law enforcement raids. The Cicalese indictment charges three members of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) with committing perjury during testimony before a federal grand jury investigating organized crime’s infiltration of the waterfront and the ILA.
Another indictment (United States v. Depiro), being prosecuted jointly by the District of New Jersey and the Eastern District of New York, charges 15 defendants with various racketeering related crimes, including extortion of members of ILA Local Union 1235 and other New Jersey ILA locals, as well as for acts of illegal gambling through the management of a sports betting operation and a poker club, and extortionate collection of credit related to gambling debts. Certain defendants, who include numerous current and former officials in local ILA unions based in New Jersey, are alleged to be affiliated with the Genovese family.
According to court documents, the Gambino and Genovese families have engaged in a multidecade conspiracy to influence and control the unions and businesses that work on the New York-area piers. According to court documents, Stephen Depiro managed the Genovese family’s illegal activities on the New Jersey piers, including the Genovese family’s long-standing conspiracy to extort ILA members each year during the Christmas period, when the longshoremen annually receive a portion of royalty payments paid by shipping companies using the ports of New York and New Jersey. Depiro and others allegedly conspired with his cousin, Nunzio LaGrasso, an associate of the Genovese family and the vice-president of ILA Local 1478 in Newark, to extort ILA members each year.
In Manhattan, 26 defendants, primarily from the Gambino family, have been charged in two indictments that include charges related to racketeering conspiracy, murder, narcotics trafficking, extortion, assault, arson, loansharking, illegal gambling, mail and wire fraud, and stolen property crimes.
Among the defendants charged are Joseph Corrozo, 69, who has served at times as the Gambino family consigliere; Bartolomeo Vernace, 61, a member of the Gambino family administration, who is also charged in Brooklyn; Gambino family captains Alphonse Trucchio, 34, and Louis Mastrangelo, 66; and Gambino soldiers Michael Roccaforte, 34,Anthony Moscatiello, 40, and Vincenzo Frogiero, 43.
According to court documents filed in the Manhattan cases, the criminal conductallegedly occurred for more than two decades, from the late 1980s to about 2010. Gambino associate Todd LaBarca, 39, is charged with the 2001 conspiracy to murder and murder of Gambino family associate Marty Bosshart. According to the indictment, Bosshart was murdered on Jan. 2, 2002, with a single gunshot to the back of his head, and his body was left on the side of the road in Queens. According to court documents, a cooperating witness consensually recorded more than 100 conversations with other members and associates of the Gambino family, including conversations with LaBarca about the murder. In addition, according to court documents, the cocaine and marijuana trafficking involved multiple thousands of kilograms of the illegal drugs.
Finally, an indictment unsealed in Providence charges two defendants - longtime boss of the New England LCN Luigi Manocchio, 83, and LCN associate Thomas Iafrate, 61, - with extortion and extortion conspiracy. The extortion conspiracy allegedly spans almost two decades of illegal activity and involves the extortion of local pornographic bookstores and nightclubs, including the Satin Doll and the Cadillac Lounge, both in Providence.