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

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Colombo family heir apparent pleads guilty to union shakedown

The heir apparent to the Colombo crime family pleaded guilty Wednesday to taking part in a labor union extortion plot that led the feds to bust the Mafia clan’s entire leadership in 2021.

Theodore “Skinny Teddy” Persico Jr., the nephew of notorious Colombo boss Carmine “The Snake” Persico,” pleaded guilty to racketeering in Brooklyn Federal Court for what will likely be a six-year federal prison sentence.

Persico, 59, is the latest bigwig in the once-powerful Colombo family to take a plea in the case which brought down then-boss Andrew “Mush” Russo, underboss Benjamin “Benji” Castellazzo, consigliere Ralph DiMatteo and capos Richard Ferrara and Vincent Ricciardo.

DiMatteo pleaded guilty on July 6. Once Ricciardo enters his guilty plea on Friday, all of the 14 suspects in the case will have taken a plea — except for Russo, who died in April 2022 at age 87.

The labor union shakedown started in 2001. By 2019, the family’s hierarchy started plotting to turn the Queens union, which represented construction workers in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, into a mob-run operation — taking scoops out of officials’ salaries and pillaging its health fund.

Ricciardo, known as “Vinnie Unions,” threatened to murder a construction union boss who was forced to surrender a portion of his annual income to the mob, according to the feds.

A month before Russo’s death, federal prosecutors described Persico as the “boss-to-be” of the Colombos in a letter opposing his release on bond.

His career of crime started in 1981 at age 17, when he was busted for attempted grand larceny on Staten Island and later spent 17 years behind bars for drug dealing until his release in 2004.

The prison sentence didn’t stop him from doing the mob’s deadly business. In 1993, while on a brief furlough for his grandmother’s wake, he ordered members of his crew to kill Joseph Scopo, a member of a rival Colombo faction.

He pleaded guilty to murder conspiracy in 2012 in exchange for a 10-year sentence, and was freed on supervised release in May 2020.

“I assure you I’ll do my best not to be here again,” Persico Jr. pledged to Brooklyn Federal Judge Sandra Townes at his 2014 sentencing.

Persico’s future in the family became a topic of conversation during a meeting of the Colombo minds at Brooklyn’s notorious Brennan and Carr restaurant in 2020. Persico was tapped to take over for Russo once his supervised release ended, according to the feds.

On Wednesday, Persico pleaded guilty to racketeering, admitting to extortion conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy in connection with the labor union plot.

Though the charge carries a 20-year maximum sentence, prosecutors don’t expect to ask for more than 71 months, and he can appeal if the sentence exceeds 105 months.

Brooklyn Federal Court Judge Hector Gonzalez set his sentencing for Oct. 17, and when Persico chimed in that date was his fiancee’s birthday, the jurist told him, “She can come to court.”

When asked when the wedding would take place, Persico’s lawyer Joseph Corozzo told reporters, “It depends on the sentence. Hopefully sooner than later.”



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