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

Monday, September 19, 2011

Stamford Gambino associate reaches plea deal before trial starts

As a jury waited in a side room for a scheduled trial, convicted Stamford loan-shark and reputed Gambino family associate Nicola "Nick" Melia reached a last-minute deal with federal prosecutors and pleaded guilty to extortion Monday morning.
Melia, 79, now faces at least several years in prison. His prison term will be determined by Judge Janet Bond Arterton during his Dec. 9 sentencing. Wearing a beige prison-issue jumpsuit, Melia pleaded guilty to single counts of using violent threats to collect high-interest loans and possession of firearm ammunition as a convicted felon.
Federal prosecutors and Melia reached the plea deal minutes before a trial was to begin at U.S. District Court in New Haven, agreeing on a recommended prison sentence of five years. Defense attorney Victor Sherman said Melia opted to plead guilty to avoid wringing his family through a trial.
"He was concerned that his son and girlfriend would somehow be involved," Sherman said. "He didn't want to put them through the pain of a trial."
Sherman requested that Melia serve his prison time at the federal prison in Otisville, a medium security facility in southeastern New York with a satellite prison camp that houses minimum security inmates, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Melia was arrested in March and a federal grand jury indicted him two weeks later on several counts of extortion and illegal possession of a firearm. A cooperating witness recorded several conversations with Melia the past year during which the North Stamford resident allegedly made violent threats about Bonanno crime family associates hurting the witness if he did not pay back about $145,000 owned to Melia.
At one point Melia told the witness the Bonanno family associates "go into the house and kill people," prosecutors said.
During the plea proceedings Melia said the cooperating witness was almost like family to him. Melia said he took the witness and his brothers into his home after their family became sick several years ago. Melia loaned the witness several thousand dollars for his construction business, but found out it was used on gambling and drugs.
"I never tried to hurt the guy," Melia said in a thick Italian accent. "Like a young man, I gave him some advice."
With some prodding by Arterton, Melia admitted he used the Bonanno crime family threat to scare him.
"So he knew if those people came around he had reason to be scared?" Arterton asked.
"Yes,' Melia replied.
Melia told the court the 40 hallow-point bullets found in his house had been there for close to 30 years. He had forgotten they were there. A federal law enforcement agent told Melia after an arrest in the 1970s that he would return and collect them, but he never did, Melia said.
"If I knew the bullets was there I would have thrown them away," he said. "The bullets are 30 years old."
The witness began cooperating with federal authorities shortly after he was the victim of a brutal assault.
Melia's son, Philip, is accused of viciously beating the witness in April 2010 with a metal wrench. The witness had admitted to helping plan a home invasion robbery the month before, when two men posed as delivery drivers and broke into Melia's house. They tied him up and stole cash and jewelry.
In 2009, the witness received several large cash loans from Melia to pay for business costs, trips to casinos and his illegal drug habit, prosecutors said in court filings. In spring 2009 the witness received nearly $144,000 in loans. Because of business problems, gambling and drug use, the witness began missing his interest payments. Years before that the witness inherited someone else's debt and paid Melia close to $300,000 in interest since 2001, prosecutors said.
The guilty plea marked one of several convictions on Melia's record, which also includes convictions for tax evasion and racketeering. As part of his most recent conviction, Melia is ordered to forfeit up to $253,000 in personal assets.



Post a Comment