United States

Cocaine Sold From NYC Gelato Shop in Mafia Scheme: Federal Authorities

An investigator went undercover and became a full-fledged member of a mafia family as part of a coordinated takedown of alleged mobsters accused of selling cocaine out of a gelato shop and other crimes, according to a federal indictment unsealed in Brooklyn on Thursday.

Four alleged members and associates of the Gambino and Bonanno organized crime families were arrested Wednesday, authorities said. Nine others were nabbed in Canada.

Damiano Zummo, 44, Salvatore Russo, 45, Paul Semplice, 54, and Paul Ragusa, 46, were to be arraigned Thursday at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn. It wasn’t immediately known if they had attorneys who could comment on the case.

At one point in the two-year investigation, an undercover investigator underwent a mafia induction ceremony that was recorded by law enforcement, the indictment says.

The indictment also alleges Zummo and Russo conspired to sell a kilogram of cocaine from a Manhattan gelato shop and that Zummo laundered more than $250,000 in cash.

Semplice is accused of conducting a loansharking scheme in which he and others issued loans with interest rates as high as 54 percent a year, a conspiracy prosecutors say generated thousands of dollars each week for the Gambino crime family.

Ragusa, who authorities say is a longstanding associate of both crime families, is charged with being a felon in possession of nine firearms, including three automatic assault rifles and one silencer.

If convicted of the varying charges, the men face anywhere from 10 years to life in prison.

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