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

Thursday, January 20, 2011

FBI and Police Arrest More Than 100 in Mob Sweep

In a blanket assault against seven mob families in New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and local authorities began arresting close to 130 people on Thursday on charges including murder, racketeering and extortion, federal law enforcement officials said.

The sweep began before dawn, and the targets ranged from reputed small-time book makers and crime-family functionaries to six reputed senior mob figures from three crime families, including the entire current leadership of the Colombo crime family, officials said. Among those charged, according to court papers, were roughly 30 made members of New York’s five crime families and the families in New Jersey and New England, along with scores of mob associates and several union officials.
The arrests were based on 16 unrelated indictments handed up in federal courts in four jurisdictions. Taken together, they amounted to the largest such sweep of organized crime figures conducted in recent history by federal authorities.
The indictments were announced by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. at a news conference on Thursday morning in Brooklyn, where the charges against roughly two-thirds of the defendants were lodged.
By taking out the leadership of the Colombos and charging large numbers of reputed crime figures from the other families, the F.B.I. and federal prosecutors hoped the case would have a significant impact. But at the same time, officials acknowledged that the mob had shown itself to be remarkably resilient.
“Arresting and convicting the hierarchies of the five families several times over has not eradicated the problem,” said Janice K. Fedarcyk, the head of the New York F.B.I. office, saying it is “a myth” that the mob is a thing of the past. “Just as the retirement or resignation of a corporate C.E.O. does not spell the end of the company, neither does the incarceration of a mob boss or other key ‘executive’ mean the dissolution of the family.”
Mr. Holder said organized crime remained one of the Justice Department’s top priorities because mob members and associates were “among the most dangerous criminals in our country.”
Several men — all described as made crime family members — were charged in five murders, including a 1981 double homicide over a spilled drink in the Shamrock Bar in Queens, and the killing of a man and his dog during a home invasion robbery, according to court papers. Others were charged with selections from a full menu of mob crimes: racketeering, extortion, loan-sharking, arson, drug trafficking, money laundering and gambling, as well as labor-racketeering crimes in two sectors that officials say remain under the mob’s sway: the construction industry and the waterfront. Some of the crimes were alleged to occur over decades.
Most of the arrests were completed by 8 a.m. — a mammoth undertaking involving some 700 investigators from the F.B.I., the Drug Enforcement Administration, the New York Police Department, the New York and New Jersey State Police and several other agencies.
Mr. Holder said his decision to come to Brooklyn to announce the arrests was meant to underscore the importance of the case to the Justice Department.
A dozen of the indictments naming more than 80 defendants were handed up in Brooklyn. They charged members of all five of New York’s crime families — Genovese, Gambino, Colombo, Luchese and Bonanno — along with members of the DeCavalcante family, based in New Jersey.
Among those charged on Thursday are the leadership of the Colombo family: the street boss Andrew Russo, the acting underboss Benjamin Castellazzo and the consigliere Richard Fusco; two high-ranking members of the Gambino family hierarchy, the consigliere Joseph Corozzo and the ruling panel member Bartolomeo Vernace; and the boss of the New England crime family, Luigi Manocchio.
One racketeering indictment focused on the Colombos, charging the family’s street boss, acting underboss and consigliere, along with four captains and eight soldiers, with crimes spanning two decades. The accusations cover all the members of the family’s leadership who are not currently incarcerated, the person said, and include the 1993 murder of underboss Joseph Scopo; the family’s control of Local 6A of the Cement and Concrete Workers Union; and defrauding the city in connection with an annual feast, La Festa di Santa Rosalia, along 18th Avenue in Bensonhurst.
Two other racketeering indictments in Brooklyn name 13 members and associates of the Gambino family, including a member of the ruling panel, Bartolomeo Vernace, who is charged in a 1981 double murder in a Queens bar, and the family’s consigliere, Joseph Corozzo. One of the indictments charges a conspiracy to extort a number of construction companies.
An indictment handed up in Newark charges 14 people with racketeering and extortion of Local 1235 of the International Longshoremen’s Association and other dockworkers locals, including several current and former union officials who are said to be affiliated with the Genovese family. The indictment alleges a conspiracy over the course of many years to extort union members around Christmas, when they receive an annual bonus based on the number of cargo containers that move through the port.
The one indictment in Rhode Island charges two people, one of them an 83-year-old man who has been an enduring figure in the New England mob that was named for its former leader, Raymond L. S. Patriarca Sr., several people said. That case centered on a mob staple: the extortion of strip clubs.
Mr. Manocchio, 83, has long been seen as the quiet, disciplined power behind the Patriarca family — an unassuming man, law-enforcement authorities say, whose low-key, old-school management style has, over the years, reined in a dysfunctional crime operation.
With a criminal record dating back 60 years, Mr. Manocchio looms large in Rhode Island mob lore. In the late 1960s, for example, he was indicted in the shotgun murders of two bookmakers and then disappeared, eluding the authorities for more than a decade — in part, some law enforcement officials say, by dressing as a woman.
Ms. Fedarcyk, along with the United States attorneys from Brooklyn, Manhattan, Newark and Rhode Island — Loretta E. Lynch, Preet Bharara, Paul J. Fishman and Peter F. Neronha, respectively — also attended the news conference, along with officials from other agencies, including Raymond W. Kelly, the police commissioner of New York, and Daniel R. Petrole, the acting inspector general of the federal Labor Department.
The arrests came at a time when several federal, state and local law enforcement officials have expressed some concern about a possible resurgence of the influence of organized crime in some quarters after two decades of decline.
An impressive string of victories over the mob began in 1991 with the defection of the Luchese family’s acting boss, Alphonse D’Arco, who proved to be a devastating witness. Later that year, Salvatore Gravano, the Gambino family underboss, defected, and his testimony secured the conviction of John J. Gotti.
With the cooperation of those two men, a trickle of significant defections grew into a torrent, weakening the culture of omertà, the Mafia’s code of silence, and to some degree, the foundation of organized crime itself.
The subsequent loosening of the mob’s grip on several industries and unions led to regular proclamations about the mob’s deterioration and some refocusing of law enforcement resources. Those resources directed at organized crime were further reduced after the 9/11 attacks.
But Mr. Holder played down the notion of a resurgent mob, saying that while it has been weakened, and “is probably not nationwide in its scope, in its impact as it once was,” it remains a continuing major threat “to the economic well-being of this country.”



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