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

Monday, January 22, 2024

Judge gives elderly Colombo Underboss a break and sentences him to 15 months

A reputed Colombo Crime Family Underboss caught a break from a Brooklyn federal judge Monday — after his attorneys argued that he’s too old and sick to receive a lengthy prison sentence.

Benjamin “The Claw” Castellazzo, 86, got hit with 15 months in the slammer by Judge Hector Gonzalez on a guilty plea to money laundering conspiracy, despite prosecutors seeking a little over two years.

A longer prison sentence would “jeopardize” Castellazzo’s wellbeing, his attorneys argued, telling the judge his health issues — including a decade-long battle with cardiac problems — have him on so many medications, that he wouldn’t receive the proper care in federal prison.

Being placed in the wrong detention center, could “effectively turn into a death sentence” for the reputed mobster, attorney Ilana Haramati said.

“He goes to the doctor often. He gets checkups. He’s on a whole battery of medications,” Haramati told the court.

But prosecutors weren’t too interested in hearing about Castellazzo’s ailments and advanced age — which they argued haven’t steered him away from his alleged mafioso lifestyle.

For instance, Castellazzo swore to a judge that the courts would never see him again when he was sentenced to 63 months in prison in 2013 after pleading guilty to mob extortion stemming from a dispute over a stolen red sauce recipe from famed pizza joint L&B Spumoni Gardens in Gravesend.

His health issues seem to pop up each time Castellazzo is in hot water for his alleged crime family dealings, prosecutors said.

“The defendant has referred to his health each time he has been before a court in his district,” Brooklyn Assistant US Attorney Andrew Reich told the judge.

Beyond his health issues, Castellazzo’s attorneys argued that the accused wiseguy could lose his subsidized apartment due to the new conviction — which would leave him “homeless,” Haramati wrote in a Jan. 3 pre-sentencing letter to the court.

Castellazzo was indicted in 2021 with 13 other defendants — among them nine reputed Colombo family members — on a slew of charges including labor racketeering, extortion and money laundering.

He spent time in lockup before posting a $1.6 million bond in March 2022.

“He didn’t lose it when he was in for six months, but he was kind of on the brink,” his attorney, Michael Marinaccio, said, referring to his client’s subsidized apartment.

Among the co-defendants was alleged Colombo crime family mobster Ralph DiMatteo, 68, who infamously posed shirtless in a poolside snapshot while on the lam.

DiMatteo said he had no regrets about the photo when he was sentenced to three years behind bars last year.

Castellazzo pleaded guilty on July 7.

Prosecutors were seeking a sentence between 21 and 27 months in prison.

Castellazzo’s woeful health also includes blockages in his arteries and a bout with prostate cancer between 2011 and 2015, according to his attorney.

At the end of his sentencing, the judge told Castellazzo that he hoped he would grow out of alleged crime family dealings — but didn’t sound too hopeful.

“Hopefully this will be the end but only time will tell,” Gonzalez said, ordering Castellazzo to surrender to begin his sentence on March 22.

Asked at the end of the proceedings why his nickname is “The Claw,” Castellazzo laughed along with his son.

“I was a carpenter,” he quipped.



Post a Comment