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

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Lucchese family used Staten Island to conduct secret mafia initiation rituals

The Lucchese crime family established a strong presence on Staten Island over the years, with the Mafia clan holding a clandestine initiation ritual here and numerous members of its so-called Brooklyn crew operating on the borough, a mob snitch said last week.
During detailed testimony in Manhattan federal court, John Pennisi, a family member turned FBI informant, explained to prosecutors how many of the family’s members migrated to Staten Island from Brooklyn, establishing a stronghold here.
“We were the Brooklyn faction of the Lucchese family, but we operated out of Staten Island,” said Pennisi, 49, according to a transcript of his testimony obtained by the Advance.
Pennisi testified during the trial of family soldier Eugene "Boobsie" Castelle, 59, of Annadale, who was charged in a massive bust involving several mob families early last year.
During his testimony, Pennisi explained how about seven or eight people were part of each crew.
Crews were spread all over the New York City area, including two in the Bronx, two on Long Island and one in Manhattan.
Each crew was run by a captain, Pennisi explained.
“There was no real Staten Island crew,” said Pennisi. “Although we were in Staten Island, we were the Brooklyn part of that family.”
“If you live on Staten Island why are you considered Brooklyn?” asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Hagan Scotten, of the Southern District of New York.
The answer was simple.
“Because everybody from Staten Island came from Brooklyn,” Pennisi testified.
Pennisi said that, at the time, he was living on Long Island and traveled to Staten Island for family business.
“It’s just wherever they put you," he said. "It doesn’t mean that you have to come from Brooklyn.”
His testimony didn’t specify exactly where the crew was operating, but the New York Post reported it was mostly based in Tottenville.
Pennisi, himself, lived on Staten Island for a short time after getting out of prison in 2007.
He started cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation sometime after October 2018, when he walked into the Bureau’s office to share his “concerns and basically crimes that [he] committed,” he said under oath.
He has been sharing information about the inside operations of the Mafia family since then.
Pennisi said he became a member of the Lucchese family in 2013, during a secret initiation ceremony at a house on Staten Island on his wife’s birthday.
Matty Madonna, the acting boss of the Lucchese family, presided over the ceremony, he said.
In the darkness of a basement, Pennisi sat in front of a table.
“There was a gun, a knife, there was a picture of a saint, an ashtray, a lighter, and like a diabetic pin, needle to check your blood,” said Pennisi.
Madonna, from the Bronx, asked Pennisi what his trigger finger was and shortly after, John "Big John" Castellucci, a Staten Island resident and crew captain, who was sitting next to him, poked his finger with the needle, according to his testimony.
“They took the saint, and they poured blood drops onto the saint, and then he said to me we're going to light the saint on fire, and you're going to put your hands out and you're going to move the paper of the saint back and forth in your hands and repeat after me,” said Pennisi.
“Matty [Madonna] said if I was ever to betray any member of the family, that my soul would burn like the saint is burning,” he said.
He did not specify where on Staten Island the ritual took place.
The feds have struck back hard against the family in recent years.
Both Madonna and Castellucci were among those charged in a massive Lucchese bust in 2017, which included several Staten Islanders. Madonna was 81 at the time and Castellucci 57.
After a two-week trial, Castelle was found guilty on one count of attempted extortion and one count of illegal gambling on Friday.
He remains out on bail after his brother put up his New Brighton home in January of 2018, according to court documents.
Pennisi is currently under FBI protection.
(Both court filings and officials from the U.S. attorney’s office spell the family name as “Luchese.” Many outlets, however, spell the family name as “Lucchese.”)



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