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

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Gambino figure accused of extortion

A longtime Gambino crime figure from Stamford, who in 1981 found himself in the middle of an international murder-for-hire plot, is under arrest on a loansharking and extortion charge.
Nicola Melia, 78, of Brushwood Road, was accused by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Chen of attempting to collect an extortionate loan through threats of bodily harm.
Melia, who is still on federal supervision as a result of a 2005 racketeering conviction that also netted the Gambino family's then-underboss, was ordered detained without bond by U.S. Magistrate Judge Holly B. Fitzsimmons pending a further hearing Monday.
Melia, who speaks in a thick Italian accent, appeared in court nattily dressed in a brown sport coat and pants. At one point, he informed the judge he had a hard time hearing because of an accident that occurred while in the federal prison.
When the judge suggested he move closer, Melia appeared unsteady as he approached her and had to be helped to a chair by a marshal.
His lawyer, Assistant U. S. Public Defender Deirdre Murray, advised the judge that Melia has been "in and out" of hospitals since November, suffering from a bleeding ulcer, heart problems and a fainting spell. She also said he has diabetes and blood pressure issues.
Chen told the judge the investigation is ongoing and there are "other victims and other witnesses."
Fitzsimmons instructed Melia that "it'd be a really bad idea" if someone he knows attempted to intimidate a witness.
Stamford police arrested Melia's 39-year-old son, Philip, of Stony Brook Drive, Stamford, on state charges of first-degree assault and third-degree criminal mischief in connection with the beating of a truck driver last April.
A month earlier, two men broke into Melia's home and bound and robbed him at gunpoint.
The elder Melia is no stranger to federal court. In 2004, he was one of 17 members and associates of the Gambino and Patriarca crime families charged in a racketeering enterprise that included loansharking, extortion, gambling and an attempt to collect protection money from a strip bar owner. Also convicted in that case was Anthony "The Genius" Megale, a Stamford man who at the time was the Gambino's underboss.
Melia pleaded guilty and received a 33-month federal prison term that he completed in 2008. He is still on supervision. The current charges could land him back in prison for violating his supervision.
In 2000, Melia did four months in federal prison for under-reporting $150,000 on his 1994 federal income tax return.
But it was the attention he paid to a girlfriend in 1981 and the resulting inattention to his role in the mob that nearly got her killed. FBI and Royal Canadian Mounted Police staged the fake killing, turned the hitman into an informant and exposed the role of Sicilian mobsters moving into Connecticut.
The incident was the focus of "Mafia Enforcer," a book on the life of Cecil Kirby, the hitman-turned-informant.


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