Five East Coast mob families working together? Fugheddabout it!
The crime families recently implicated in a massive racketeering bust don't cooperate enough to run a criminal conspiracy, one of the alleged wiseguy's lawyers argued in new court papers.
John "The Tugboat" Tognino's lawyer said federal prosecutors' indictments against 46 accused gangsters earlier this month shows a complete failure to understand how mob politics work.
Prosecutors charged members of the Genovese, Gambino, Lucchese, Bonanno crime families and a Philadelphia offshoot formed the East Coast La Cosa Nostra (Enterprise), an alleged criminal scheme spanning from South Florida to Springfield, Mass.
They worked together on "a multitude of criminal activities" — such as racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to commit assault in aid of racketeering, as well as arson and gunrunning, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's office said.
Some are also accused of gambling and dealing untaxed cigarettes, in addition to healthcare fraud involving unnecessary prescriptions for expensive compound creams.
The idea behind an overarching "La Cosa Nostra" is at odds with mafia history, Tognino lawyer John Meringolo said in the filing.
"They manufactured this enterprise," Meringolo told the Daily News.
"While there is certainly evidence that different organized crime families work together, the families are still considered separate and distinct enterprises," wrote Meringolo, who also teaches at PACE law school.
"Despite the various dealings between families, it has been well established that each is its own distinct entity."
When Colombo family member Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico went on trial, testimony showed "Crime family protocols were stringent — and how they kept their distance from one another."
"Members and associates of a family were not allowed to speak to members of other crime families or to higher-ranking members of their own family without a formal introduction," he said in a new filing.
The Genovese, Gambino, Lucchese and Bonanno families have historically been treated as their own enterprises for racketeering conspiracy indictments in Manhattan and Brooklyn federal court cases, Meringolo said.
Those facing racketeering charges were alleged to have had a specific role within one of these families. But these new charges don't "definitively state the existence of an enterprise...or allege an enterprise in terms of a specific organized crime family."
"Rather, the Indictment melds various organized crime groups — with their own sets of distinct rules and hierarchies — into one overly broad entity, concocted for the sole purpose of connecting these otherwise separate and independent units together."
The so-called East Coast La Cosa Nostra Enterprise "is an over-encompassing term that generally refers to Italian Organized Crime in its entirety, is not distinct at all, and cannot by itself constitute a [RACKETEERING] enterprise," the papers, filed Thursday night, stated.
So 74-year-old Tognino, who faces one count of racketeering conspiracy in relation to his alleged work as a bookie, isn't accused in relation to any one family — meaning he's being hit with overly general charges that should be dismissed, Meringolo’s filing contends.