Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Former Underboss Of NJ Lucchese Faction Faces Trial

Two years after 23 reputed members and associates of the Gambino and Lucchese mob families were indicted for what the FBI called a "veritable smorgasbord" of crime, only one defendant has refused to accept a plea deal.
The last man standing is Martin Taccetta, a reputed former underboss of the Lucchese crime family's New Jersey faction, who is already serving a state prison sentence of life plus 10 years.
Taccetta, 59, of East Hanover, broke off plea negotiations in December and is scheduled to stand trial July 6 in federal court in Newark.
"I expect it to go to trial and we expect him to be vindicated," Taccetta's lawyer, Maria Noto, said Monday. "He's not guilty of the charges and we look forward to an acquittal by the jury."
If the trial on extortion and labor racketeering charges goes forward this summer, it will be a reunion of sorts for Taccetta and V. Grady O'Malley, the career federal prosecutor who will try the case.
As younger men, they squared off in a notorious 1988 Mafia case that became one of the longest criminal trials in the nation's history. After 21 months, the trial ended in acquittal for all 20 defendants, but in 1993 two of the defendants — Taccetta's brother, Michael, then the acting head of the Lucchese Jersey faction, and Michael Perna, a top lieutenant – confessed to tampering with the jury as part of a guilty plea that included more than a dozen murder conspiracies, extortion and other charges.
"I've lost three cases in 31 years," said O'Malley, former chief of the organized crime and labor racketeering unit in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark. "I go into every case expecting to win."
Referring to the fix in the 1988 case, O'Malley said, "They acknowledged that they conspired to bribe somebody but our evidence was that they had paid one of the jurors $175,000 to make sure that no verdict came in."
Last week, U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler rejected Taccetta's requests for a preview of the government's witness list and details of its evidence against him. Prosecutors have identified one confidential informant they intend to call, a reputed enforcer who is currently in a witness protection program, according to court filings.
The May 2008 federal indictment targeted a Gambino crew led by Andrew Merola and outlined schemes to shake down a lunch truck vendor, put mobsters in no-show jobs, use union muscle to collect payoffs from contractors allowed to ignore union rules, and rake in millions of dollars in bets on sporting events and casino-style games over a website based overseas.
The mob's victims included retailers like Best Buy, Home Depot and a Lowe's Home Improvement store in Paterson, where they swapped bar codes to buy power tools and televisions at cheaper prices and then returned them for full credit. The ring also stole personal information from customers who applied for Lowe's credit cards and obtained temporary credit cards in their names.
Taccetta was charged in only three of the 30 counts in the indictment. He is accused of conspiring to use extortion to collect a loan from an unidentified debtor. He also is charged with conspiring with Merola and others to demand and receive about $20,000 in unlawful payments to allow non-union labor on a construction project at a Morristown BMW dealership in 2007.
Merola, 42, of East Hanover, pleaded guilty in January to racketeering conspiracy charges and will be sentenced with the other defendants on Oct. 21.
Taccetta was convicted in 1993 on state racketeering and extortion charges, but acquitted of murder for the 1984 golf-club beating death of an Ocean County businessman. He served 12 years before a judge released him and ordered a new trial on grounds he been misinformed by his lawyer on the impact of his plea agreement. Last July, the New Jersey Supreme Court overruled the lower court and reinstated his life sentence.


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