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

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Feds bust 10 Gambino family members and associates with racketeering charges

Ten alleged mafiosos from the Gambino crime family were indicted by the feds for their alleged violent attempts to take over the Big Apple’s garbage hauling and demolition industry — which included a hammer attack that sent one worker to the hospital and a grim threat to cut a business owner in half with a knife.

The defendants — who include made men and mob associates — were hit with charges including racketeering conspiracy, extortion, witness retaliation, fraud and embezzlement, according to the indictment unsealed Wednesday in Brooklyn federal court.

They each face between 20 and 180 years in prison for the laundry list of crimes they’re accused of — many so brutal they’d make Tony Soprano grin.

“As alleged, for years, the defendants committed violent extortions, assaults, arson, witness retaliation and other crimes in an attempt to dominate the New York carting and demolition industries,” Breon Peace, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement.

The 16-count indictment lists the defendants as Joseph “Joe Brooklyn” Lanni, 52, of Staten Island; Diego “Danny” Tantillo, 48, of Freehold, New Jersey; Robert Brooke, 55, of New York; Salvatore DiLorenzo, 66, of Oceanside, New York; Angelo “Fifi” Gradilone, 57, of Staten Island; Kyle “Twin” Johnson, 46, of the Bronx; James LaForte, 46, of New York; Vincent “Vinny Slick” Minsquero, 36, of Staten Island; Vito “Vi” Rappa, 46, of East Brunswick; and Franceso “Uncle Ciccio” Vicari, 46, of Elmont, New York.

Several of the accused kicked up hundreds of thousands of dollars to Lanni —a made man who was the crew’s “caporegime,” or captain — through an intricate web of payments made by companies they owned, according to federal prosecutors.

“The investigation has revealed that, since at least 2017, the defendants have profited from extorting individuals in the New York carting and demolition industries, including through actual and threatened violence, stealing and embezzling from union employee benefit plans and conspiring to rig bids for lucrative demolition jobs,” according to the US Attorney’s office.

Much of the indictment centers on the group’s attempts to extort money from an unidentified garbage hauling company and an unidentified demolition company, starting in late 2017.

That’s when prosecutors say Tantillo demanded monthly extortion payments from the garbage company’s owner — who was identified in court papers as “John Doe 1.”

To put a point on their friendly request, Tantillo, Johnson, Rappa and Vicari regularly threatened and intimidated their victim by lighting the steps of his home on fire, damaging his trucks and threatening to seriously hurt him, the papers said.

For instance, the man was paying Tantillo $1,000 one day when Tantillo broke out a metal baseball bat and told him it was for him, court documents said. Cops said they later found the bat in Tantillo’s car.

Another time, Rappa allegedly sent the victim a picture of his business late at night — just to let him know they’d been there.

It got worse when the man stopped making payments, the feds said.

On Sept. 22, 2020, someone lit his front steps on fire while his wife and kids were inside, the court papers said. About a month later, someone broke into his business and tried slashing the tires on his garbage trucks.

They somehow messed that up, though. So instead, they let the air out, according to the feds.

Two weeks later, on Oct. 29, 2020, someone allegedly attacked an employee of the unidentified demolition company with a hammer as a message to the garbage company owner — the two companies often shared business, and beating the man with a hammer intimidated both firms in one shot, the indictment states.

The attacker only quit when another employee broke up the attack, and the bloody victim was sent to the hospital.

Vicari also forced the man’s father-in-law to pick up a knife and threaten to cut his son-in-law in two if he didn’t keep making payments.

“Get this axe and you make him – two,” Vicari allegedly told the man, according to Rappa’s description caught on an intercepted phone call.

The money started flowing again, according to court papers. And when it did, Rappa sent the man a photo of Vicari toasting him with a small bottle of champagne.

Tantillo, Brooke and Johnson also tried to extort the demolition company and its unidentified owners, prosecutors said.

Tantillo and Brooke allegedly wanted a $40,000 payment — but when they didn’t pay, Brooke attacked one of them on a Midtown Manhattan street corner.

He beat the man until his face was bloody and his eye was blackened — which convinced them to pay Tantillo $50,000 and give $3.9 million worth of discounts for using a facility they owned.

The defendants also gave each other no-show jobs so they could get union benefits they didn’t deserve, tried to rig bids for lucrative demolition jobs and embezzled from benefits plans by breaking collective bargaining agreements, prosecutors said.

In February 2021, LaForte and Minsquero also allegedly beat a man identified as “John Doe 6” who they thought talked to the cops about the mob — right in a Midtown restaurant.

“That evening, John Doe 6, his girlfriend, and their friends went to Sei Less, a restaurant near West 38th Street and Broadway in Manhattan,” according to the indictment. “According to witnesses, while the group was waiting to pay their bill, LaForte and Minsquero approached their table.”

“LaForte called John Doe 6 a ‘rat,’ and hit [him] in the face with a bottle,” the indictment continued. “LaForte and Minsquero also flipped John Doe 6’s table, sending drinks and shattered glass everywhere.”

The indictment outlined other assaults — some charged and some not — including Lanni and Minsquero’s aborted attempt to burn down a restaurant in Toms River, New Jersey, after they were chucked out of it. 

All 10 alleged wise guys were taken into custody Wednesday — with Italian police arresting another six organized crime members in the multi-continent sting.

“Today’s arrests reflect the commitment of this Office and our law enforcement partners, both here and abroad, to keep our communities safe by the complete dismantling of organized crime,” Peace said.

Nine of the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges on Tuesday, according to a US Attorney’s Office spokesperson.

Only one, Dilorenzo, was released on a $500,000 bond as of Wednesday night.

Lanni, Johnson,Tantillo and Gradilone were all being held without bond after prosecutors argued they were violent and could potentially intimidate witnesses. 

Brooke, Rappa, Vicari, and Minsquero were each granted release on a $1 million bond — but their releases are stayed for 24 hours so the government can appeal.

Louis Gelormino, Minsquaro’s defense attorney, told The Post his client “completely denies these allegations and looks forward to a complete investigation of the facts and looks forward to being fully exonerated.”

Laforte was not arraigned on Wednesday because he is currently in jail in Pennsylvania and will be arraigned on a later date.



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