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

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

New charges unveiled against the Bonanno crime family

A state racketeering indictment unsealed late Monday that charges eight men as members and associates of the Bonanno crime family suggests that the mob, despite its waning power and the government’s considerable efforts to dismantle it, can still penetrate and control unions.

The six-count indictment, which charges mob staples like the crimes of extortion, gambling and loan-sharking, accuses a Bonanno soldier and an associate of assisting in the 2010 election of another crime family associate as the president of a 1,900-member Teamsters union local on Long Island.

Among those charged was Nicholas Santora, 71, an enduring Bonanno crime family figure known as Nicky Mouth.

Mr. Santora was a central figure in the 1982 federal trial that grew out of an F.B.I. operation in which an undercover agent named Joseph Pistone penetrated the crime family by posing as a thief named Donnie Brasco, whose work was the subject of the movie of the same name.

Mr. Santora was identified in the indictment as the head of the Bonanno crime family crew whose activities are at the center of the charges. He pleaded guilty to a federal extortion charge in Brooklyn last year and was sentenced to 20 months in prison. He is serving his sentence in the Federal Correctional Institution in Loretto, Pa.

Like all of the defendants in the case, Mr. Santora was charged with enterprise corruption, the state version of the federal crime of racketeering. If convicted of enterprise corruption, each defendant faces a maximum penalty of 8⅓ to 25 years in state prison. Mr. Santora and several other defendants were also charged with second-degree grand larceny and usury. Other accusations in the 158-page indictment include the sale of drugs and weapons.

The indictment says that the associate who was elected to the union post, Nicholas Bernhard, a defendant in the case, ran the union, Local 917 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, for his own benefit and the benefit of the Bonanno family crew.

Mr. Bernhard, 51, resigned from his position with the union, which represents truck drivers and parking lot and gas station workers, in the summer of 2012 after the investigation exposed his alleged involvement with the crime family and he was questioned under oath by a court-appointed monitor that oversees the Teamsters union.

The charges in the case come just two weeks after the New York F.B.I. office reduced the number of its agents working mob cases. That reduction, combined with two previous cutbacks over the last five years, left the bureau with roughly three dozen investigators working mob cases in the city, 60 percent fewer than in 2008.

The indictment charges a total of nine men — the eight accused members and associates, as well as a man who prosecutors allege worked with them — and all but one were arrested early Tuesday morning, officials said. The ninth man was being sought.

The case was brought by the rackets division in the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., who announced the indictment at a news conference at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The names of the lawyers for the defendants, most of whom were expected to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon, could not be immediately determined.

Officials at Local 917 could not be reached for comment Tuesday morning.

The indictment charges that two defendants, Vito Badamo, 50, and Anthony Santoro, 49, identified, respectively, as an acting captain and soldier, “explicitly promoted” Mr. Bernhard’s election, and that Mr. Bernhard then “deployed” another defendant, Scott O’Neill, the union’s assistant shop steward, in the crew’s loan-sharking and gambling activities.

“Members of Local 917 borrowed money and placed bets in a crew of the Bonanno Organized Crime Family’s loan-sharking and gambling operations,” the indictment said.

The indictment did not detail how Mr. Badamo and Mr. Santoro promoted Mr. Bernhard’s election, but an official briefed on the case said they made telephone calls “to each other and others about getting people they know in the union to vote for Bernhard.”



Post a Comment