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

Thursday, December 14, 2017

More recordings are played during Day 2 of mob trial

The 2013 version of the "Springfield Crew" was not fond of pushback from its extortion targets.
According to testimony in an ongoing trial in U.S. District Court, tow company operator Craig J. Morel wavered between compliance and resistance under the direction of Massachusetts State Police in the autumn of that year, while also squirming under the thumb of a "new crew" of mobsters.
Standing trial for conspiracy and extortion is Richard Valentini, one of four men charged in an alleged shakedown of Morel, owner of CJ's Towing Unlimited. Three co-defendants in the case -- Ralph Santaniello, the onetime leader of the local faction of the New York-based Genovese crime family; Giovanni "Johnny Cal" Calabrese; and Francesco "Frank" Depergola -- have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.
Valentini is featured in one video Morel made for police on Oct. 4, 2014 at his land in Hampden -- a remote plot where he was rebuilding a home that burned down months earlier.
Jurors on Wednesday heard four more in a series of recordings Morel made for state police on Oct. 9, 2013, when Santaniello arrived at Morel's land in a rage.
"I told you I'm not going to be alone up here no more, obviously. Told (Calabrese) I wasn't going to be up here alone," Morell said to a visibly agitated Santaniello, as Calabrese stood by.
"I don't care if you're here with ninety f---ing people, it ain't gonna make a difference for me pal. Come on let's take a walk. You got your phone on ya?" Santaniello responded.
"Yeah. What you want me to leave it here?" Morel asked.
"Yeah. Leave your phone here," Santaniello ordered, before marching Morel toward the woods until Morel balked.
Santaniello and Calabrese were unaware there were undercover troopers perched in a construction camper and shed on the property -- or that they were surrounded by cameras and microphones.
The source of Santaniello's ire was that Morel failed to come through with a promised $5,000 payment, offering $500 instead -- and questioning the crew's true stature.
"I'm asking around and everybody seems to say there's nobody inside, there's nothing going on anymore," Morel said, in an effort to compare the new guard to old mob regimes.
"I'm not even Italian. You know what I mean? I'm going to deal with the Italians on this? I'm not an Italian shop owner you know," Morel added.
Testifying on Tuesday and Wednesday, Massachusetts State Police Sgt. Brendan O'Toole told jurors he orchestrated several meetings among Morel and the defendants, often advising him to bring less money than Morel had promised at the last meeting.
"For investigative reasons I wanted to prolong this interaction," O'Toole testified, later adding that he instructed Morel at times to duck incessant phone calls from members of the Springfield Crew or their proxies.
Valentini and his co-defendants were collectively accused of strong-arming Morel for $20,000 for what the defendants argued were "arrears" of a "street tax."
According to testimony, Morel stopped paying mob tribute after Springfield capo Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno was murdered in 2003.
But, a lawyer for Valentini told jurors during opening arguments his client was not involved in the squeeze and appeared at just one of 16 meetings between Morel and the defendants police recorded on video and audio in the fall of 2013.
Calabrese and Valentini were shown on that recording apparently trying to soothe Morel's frazzled nerves after the $20,000 demand.
"You'll get Cristal," Valentini joked, referring to the pricey champagne.
"You're gonna love us," Calabrese added.
The trial is expected to last about a week. Morel likely will take the witness stand on Friday.



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