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

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Genovese gangster seeks early prison release due to coronavirus

Longmeadow gangster Ralph Santaniello has joined the ranks of scores of other inmates across the country vying to cut their prison terms short over coronavirus concerns.
Santaniello, 52, is nearing the end of a five-year prison term for extorting a tow company operator and a gambling debtor in 2013 as he portrayed himself as the new face of the New York-based Genovese crime family in Western Massachusetts.
Santaniello was already just weeks away from leaving the Loretto Federal Correctional Institute in western Pennsylvania, according to court records.
He has been jailed at the facility along with high-profile inmates including Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign advisor. Manafort is serving a 7-year sentence for convictions on a series of charges including tax evasion, failing to report foreign bank accounts, witness tampering and unregistered lobbying for foreign interests. The 71-year-old disgraced lobbyist filed his own appeal to shorten his sentence over COVID-19 fears last week.
During a telephonic hearing before Worcester U.S. District Judge Timothy Hillman Tuesday, an attorney for Santaniello focused his argument on the fragility of Santaniello’s daughter, who has suffered from a rare disease since birth.
“Massachusetts itself along with Chicago is the coronavirus hotspot of the country right now,” argued his defense attorney, Daniel D. Kelly. “He could lose his daughter.”
Kelly told the judge Santaniello is set to be released to a pre-release center in Ludlow on May 12, at any rate.
“He will be released to a halfway house 21 days from today,” Kelly said, appealing to Hillman to instead release his client early to his parents’ house in Longmeadow right away.
U.S. Department of Justice Trial Attorney Marianne Shelvey opposed Santaniello’s motion for early release, and was quick to point out that Santaniello may be barred from living with his parents because his father, 81, also is a convicted felon.
“Talk to me about that, what’s going on there?” Hillman interjected.
“Amedeo Santaniello is an associate of the Genovese crime family. He’s been convicted in both federal and state court for gambling and similar crimes to this defendant,” Shelvey responded.
The elder Santaniello’s last prison sentence came after illegal gambling convictions in 1989.
Ralph Santaniello pleaded guilty to shaking down Springfield towing czar Craig “CJ” Morel for $20,000 after discovering Morel previously paid slain mob boss Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno tribute payments for city contracts until Bruno’s murder in 2003. Santaniello and co-defendant Giovanni “Johnny Cal” Calabrese approached Morel at his property in Hampden a decade later, and demanded the money.
Santaniello cuffed Morel hard on the side of his face to make his point, Morel told police. Santaniello and his cohorts continued to cajole and terrorize Morel for payments over several weeks; Morel agreed to wear a wire at the behest of the state police and FBI during meetings with the men.
Morel also filed a statement opposing Santaniello’s early release, according to Shelvey.
Santaniello, Calabrese and three others were arrested and charged in extortion conspiracies in 2016. Santaniello received the lengthiest sentence, and was described by Shelvey as the “enforcer, the fear and the violence” within the slapdash Springfield crew.
Calabrese has filed his own petition for early early release, also based on COVID-19 anxieties within the prison system, court records show. He is scheduled for release in late November and is serving out his sentence in Kentucky.
In addition to making the “compassionate release" argument, as it is called within the federal sentencing system, Kelly said sending Santaniello to a so-called step-down program doesn’t make practical sense in the coronavirus era.
“Most if not all the jobs he would be eligible for — in the restaurant industry, et cetera — are going to be shut down for the foreseeable future in this pandemic,” Kelly said.
Hillman took the matter under advisement, telling attorneys he will issue a ruling in short order.



Post a Comment