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

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Son of deceased Colombo captain should stay in jail despite COVID-19 surge according to the feds

A respiratory illness didn’t stop a mob scion from regularly smoking weed — so it can’t be so serious that he needs to get out of Brooklyn’s federal jail because of an outbreak of coronavirus, federal prosecutors said.

Frangesco “Frankie” Russo — son of former Colombo captain Joseph “JoJo” Russo and grandson of Andrew Russo, the reputed acting boss of the crime family — is locked up on fraud charges at the Metropolitan Detention Center, where COVID-19 cases have been surging.

Russo, 39, argued in a bail application last week that he should be released due to a rare respiratory illness, Reactive Airways Disease, that could put him at high risk if he were to catch the virus.

The feds however, saw Russo’s application as an opportunistic ploy to get out of jail — and noted that even if he did have the disease, it never stopped him from getting high in the past.

“If Russo has a respiratory condition, it appears not to have affected his smoking habits,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrey Spektor in court papers Friday.

Spektor added that “intercepted communications” revealed Russo was a weed smoker and that during an FBI raid on Russo’s home, they discovered his medical marijuana card.

Russo’s lawyer responded that prosecutors aren’t qualified to make medical assertions on the seriousness or veracity of his client’s condition.

“[The government] points to evidence of prior marijuana use by Mr. Russo, opining that his marijuana use somehow casts doubt upon the high-risk nature of his respiratory disease during the pandemic,” wrote attorney James Frocarro. “The government’s response consists solely of the unsubstantiated assertions of an individual who holds a doctorate in jurisprudence, not medicine, and has no experience in treating COVID-19 patients.”

But the feds argued that even if Russo has a respiratory disease, he is still too dangerous to be let out of the lockup, where more than 90 inmates have COVID-19.

Russo, a Roslyn, L.I., resident, is accused of taking part in a $107 million fraud scheme that targeted lottery winners. He allegedly had a falling-out with one of the co-conspirators, Gregory Altieri, a jewelry merchant accused of running a $200 million Ponzi scheme in an unrelated case.

Russo was caught on tape allegedly threatening to kill Altieri with a shotgun — which the feds found under Russo’s bed when he was arrested, according to prosecutors.

“I have a tactical shotgun. If anything gets crazy with you guys, just come straight here. I have all the lights on, I will tactically shoot everybody’s kneecaps off. I’m not worried,” Russo allegedly said.

He also threatened to pull the teeth out of the mouth of Altieri’s son, the feds said.

“You know, I have handled organized crime cases for 20 years. I’ve never run across that kind of a threat,” said Brooklyn Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis at a hearing in August.



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