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

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Mob connected robbery crew busted in $2M NYC jewelry heists


Five men with alleged mob ties were arrested Tuesday for stealing $2 million worth of bling in a pair of daytime gunpoint heists at Manhattan jewelry stores, federal prosecutors announced.

Frank DiPietro, Vincent Cerchio, Vincent Spagnuolo, Michael Sellick and Samuel Sore — associates of the Lucchese and Genovese crime families, according to NYPD officials — were charged over the two robberies, the first in January in Midtown and the other in lower Manhattan last month.

Four of the defendants — DiPietro, Cerchio, Spagnuolo and Sellick — made off with at least three diamond pieces, including 73-carat necklace, a six-carat ring and a 17-carat pair of earrings the Jan. 3 heist at a Madison Avenue jewelry store, prosecutors alleged.

DiPietro, 65, of Red Bank, New Jersey, and Sellick, 67, of Franklin Square on Long Island, were dressed in yellow and orange reflective construction clothes so they could enter the building without raising suspicion, prosecutors claimed.

They got in through a deli entrance in the same building as the jewelry store, which is located in the penthouse and operates by-appointment only, the criminal complaint against them states.

Workers had been preparing to put jewelry in the display window case located on the first floor when DiPietro and Sellick allegedly entered.

DiPietro — who goes by “Frankie the Fish” — pointed his gun at an employee saying “give it to me,” and Sellick told the worker to “turn around and get in the closet,” according to the complaint.

One of the two getaway cars the men used was stolen the morning of the robbery with the defendants swapping out its license plate, the complaint alleges.

The men had cased out the joint the day before the theft, prosecutors said.

Then on May 20, DiPietro and Sellick — again donning construction clothes — held up an Elizabeth Street jewelry store. Sellick allegedly pointed a gun at the employees telling them to get on the ground while DiPietro gathered the jewelry, prosecutors claimed.

The men made their escape in a car driven by Sore, 25, of Florham Park, NJ — who was also dressed as a construction worker, prosecutors alleged.

They then switched to another car being driven by Spagnuolo, a 65-year-old Monmouth Beach, NJ man, the feds said.

The men again swapped out the license plates for fraudulent ones the morning of the robbery, according to a criminal complaint.

Cops started pursuing one of the cars after someone at the lower Manhattan store called 911 later that morning. But the driver of the car abandoned it on Montgomery Street in the Lower East Side and fled on foot, the complaint alleges.

The five men are charged with conspiracy, robbery and brandishing a firearm in connection with a violent crime. They each face up to 20 years in jail if convicted on the top count.

The defendants are connected to the Lucchese and Genovese crime families, according to NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig.DiPietro has 12 prior arrests including for racketeering and murder in 1998, Essig said. 

Sellick has 23 prior arrests primarily for bank robberies dating back to the 1970s, Essig said. 

Spagnuolo has six prior busts, including for a 1986 fatal shooting in Manhattan, and Cerchio has prior arrests for conspiracy, Essig said.

“These five defendants allegedly carried out brazen and dangerous daylight robberies of jewelry stores in Manhattan, stealing about $2 million in jewelry at gunpoint,” Manhattan US Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.

“Dressed as construction workers, the defendants allegedly sought to blend into the busy streets around them before pointing guns at the jewelry stores’ employees and carrying out about $2 million in stolen diamonds and other valuable pieces.”

All of the men, but Spagnuolo, agreed to be held without bail. The judge hasn’t ruled yet on Spagnuolo’s bail arguments.

DiPietri’s lawyer Mathew Mari told The Post: “Law enforcement was desperate to solve these cases so they are rounding up the usual suspects. 

“This will be a trial that ends with the government having egg on their face!”

Sellick’s lawyer Gerald McMahon said the case against his client was “a terrible case of mistaken identity.”

McMahon said Sellick was painting bridges and “couldn’t have been on Madison Avenue pulling off a jewelry heist.”

Spagnuolo and Sorce’s lawyers declined to comment. Cerchio’s lawyer didn’t return a request for comment.



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