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

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

New Jersey Attorney General may investigate lawyer payments by reputed mob figures

The state may pursue an investigation of possible money laundering by more than 20 defendants to pay for legal services after they were indicted in 2010 for allegedly participating in a $2.2 billion international gambling ring operated by the Lucchese crime family, a Superior Court judge has ruled.
Judge Pedro Jimenez, sitting in Trenton, ruled last Friday that the state Attorney General’s office may issue subpoenas to obtain the information because it may provide evidence “relevant” to additional offenses such as money laundering, conspiracy and “other potential crimes.”
The evidence could be presented to a state grand jury, sitting in Trenton, for a new round of indictments.
Although 34 defendants were indicted in the case, about 10 who are represented by public defenders are not affected by the ruling, along with two who pleaded guilty before the subpoenas were requested, according to Peter Aseltine, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s office.
Attorneys for two of the leading reputed mob figures in the case, who had sought to block the subpoenas, said the decision unleashes a set of “issues” that will likely set a precedent for other cases.
“A decision on obtaining fee records of private attorneys would not just affect this case, but it would affect most criminal cases,” said Thomas Cataldo, attorney for Ralph Perna, 65, of East Hanover.
Cataldo and John Weichsel, attorney for Matthew Madonna, 75, of Selden, N.Y., both said the defense attorneys are carefully studying the decision and are strongly considering filing an appeal.
“The decision is a little disheartening,” Cataldo added. “We’re looking at all the ramifications, and then we’ll decide what to do.”
The group of 34 defendants were indicted in 2010 for alleged gambling, money laundering and drug activities committed in cooperation with the Nine-Trey Gangster set of the Bloods that occurred during a 15-month period ending in December 2007. The cases are being prosecuted in Morris County because some of the defendants live in Morris and some of the alleged activity took place there.
Judge Jimenez denied the defendants’ motions to “quash” the attorney general’s subpoenas.
The judge ruled that the information sought by the state would not violate attorney-client privilege, as the defendants claimed. The privilege “does not extend to the payment of attorney fees and expenses,” Jimenez ruled.
The judge also rejected the defendants’ arguments that the state was seeking evidence in connection with charges for which they had already been indicted.
Defense attorneys pointed out that in a recorded conversation on Jan. 18, 2010, defendant John Perna, 33, of West Caldwell, told defendant/cooperating witness Gianni Iaocovo, 35, of Elmwood Park, who has pleaded guilty, that he was “tight for money” because his gambling operation had lost money and because his lawyers were asking for more money, Jimenez said.
However, the state argued that its investigation into money laundering by the defendants as its relates to attorneys’ fees did not begin until May 24, 2010, 10 days after the indictment was handed up, the judge pointed out.
Besides Ralph Perna and Madonna, leaders of the alleged ring also include Joseph DiNapoli, 75, of Scarsdale, N.Y, Nicodemo Scarfo, 45, of Egg Harbor and Martin Taccetta, 60, of East Hanover.



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