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

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Alzheimer's has former Acting Boss of the Colombo family thinking he is the President of the United States


 Victor Orena leaving 26 Federal Plaza with two unidentified FBI agents and Agent R. Lindley DeVecchio (right) in a file photo.

Vic Orena went from leading the Colombo crime family to thinking he’s the president of the United States, his lawyer revealed Wednesday.

The lawyer for the Alzheimer’s stricken ex-boss of the crime family called for the mafioso’s compassionate release from prison, revealing the mobster sometimes believes he’s the commander-in-chief or running the military because of the degenerative disease.

Orena, who now uses a wheelchair and turned 87 in August, is “a shell of a man,” his attorney David Schoen said at a Brooklyn Federal Court hearing.

“Mr. Orena is completely unable to self-care. The delusions have been there for quite a while. Mr. Orena does not know who he is or where he is.”

When not laying claim to the White House, said Schoen, the octogenarian Orena — known during his reign as acting boss of the Colombos as “Little Vic” — believes he is the warden of the facility where he remains imprisoned, the Federal Medical Center Devens in Massachusetts.

According to Schoen, Orena contracted COVID-19 in prison and then declared the pandemic was a conspiracy conjured up by President Biden. Orena is now unable to walk on his own or use the bathroom without help, the lawyer said.

While federal prosecutors did not dispute Orena’s myriad health issues, they argued that the venerable gangster should remain behind bars because he could still pose the threat of violence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Devon Lash referenced the bloody Colombo family war of the early 1990s, with the Orena faction squaring off with supporters of imprisoned boss Carmine Persico.

“He instigated a conflict that injured 28 people and claimed 12 lives,” Lash said about the mob war that ended with Orena’s Dec. 22, 1992, conviction for racketeering, murder and other charges. He was hit with a staggering three life sentences plus 85 years in federal prison, with family members fighting in recent years for his release as Orena’s health continued to fail.

Judge Eric Komitee did not rule from the bench on the appeal for compassionate release for the frail Orena, head of a large family with five sons and 20 grandkids.

Schoen, in addressing the judge, claimed his client was drawn into the mob war that landed him behind bars through the efforts of allegedly corrupt FBI agent Lindley DeVecchio, who was reportedly aligned with the Persico loyalists.

“In the history of the FBI and the Justice Department, the misconduct in this case was unprecedented. ... It’s as if we don’t have a fully developed record of what happened there. The agent who testified as the expert witness in the Orena case was indicted for murders,” Schoen said of DeVecchio.

“I think the judge is forcing us to put everything on the table. It needs to be exposed” said Orena’s son Andrew Orena, 59, who was in court Wednesday. “Unfortunately, it’s not the time frame we would want.”

https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/ny-orena-court-hearing-20211013-6pllg3cq6fhmpigvakm4fxj5re-story.html

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Former Underboss of the Gambino family linked to John Gotti dies in prison serving life sentence


 Former Gambino underboss Frank LoCascio.

A Gambino crime family underboss famed for professing his loyalty to John Gotti as they were convicted at a murder and racketeering trial has finished his life prison sentence.

Frank LoCascio, who was 89, died Friday at FMC Devens in Massachusetts, which houses federal prisoners with health issues.

“I am guilty of being a good friend of John Gotti,” the defiant underboss famously said in court in 1992 after he was found guilty of racketeering. “If there was more men like John Gotti, we would have a better country.”

“Frankie Loc” LoCascio and the Dapper Don were nabbed in 1991 and charged in a sprawling racketeering case in which they were caught on tape discussing criminal activity — including murder — in the apartment of an old widow who lived above Gotti’s Ravenite Social Club on Mulberry St. in Manhattan.

Gotti was convicted of murder and racketeering at the same trial as LoCascio. Gotti was nicknamed the Teflon Don for beating the rap in several criminal cases during the 1980s, but his conviction with LoCascio was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

LoCascio’s daughter, Lisa LoCascio, told the Daily News that her father never complained during his 31 years in prison — and that he never snitched.

“That means something,” she said. “I won’t explain it to you.”

She said her dad was a favorite among the staff at Devens and that he called her last Monday to say his goodbyes to the family.

“He said the things you say to your daughter when you choose your daughter to be the last phone call you’re going to make,” LoCascio said.

She rushed to the Massachusetts prison and held her father in her arms singing him Frank Sinatra as he took his final breaths.

A made guy for 35 years when he was busted by the feds, LoCascio was a consummate gangster, and took his life sentence without testifying for the government. He was Gotti’s underboss from 1987 to his arrest in 1991.

LoCascio helped Gotti carry out the murder of Gambino family member Louis “Jelly Belly” DiBono in 1990, who was shot in the head with three .25-caliber bullets in his Cadillac in the parking garage of the twin towers.

Gotti wanted DiBono dead because the Gambino soldier once refused to come meet with him when he called.

“He didn’t do nothing else wrong,” Gotti said on the wiretap with LoCascio in the room. “He’s gonna get killed because he, he disobeyed coming.”

LoCascio also bribed an NYPD detective for confidential information, hatched an ultimately unsuccessful plan to kill someone the Gambino family thought might snitch, and obstructed the investigation into the 1985 murder of then-Gambino boss Paul Castellano.

While he remained silent on the tapes about the DiBono killing, prosecutors argued that his mere presence in the room when Gotti hatched the rubout plans made him him guilty, since his job as underboss was to advise Gotti and, where necessary, correct him.

Gotti and LoCascio’s fates were sealed by turncoat mobster Sammy “Bull” Gravano, who was initially indicted with them, but turned rat in the weeks leading up to the 1992 trial.

Fast forward 27 years, however, and Gravano changed his story, arguing that LoCascio had not wanted DiBono killed.

Gambino turncoat Gravano, who admitted to a role in 19 gangland killings, provided a declaration in November 2018 asserting LoCascio “had no role in the planning of, nor did he participate in any way in the murder.”

But Brooklyn Federal Court Judge Leo Glasser, who presided over the 1992 trial, would have none of it and rejected LoCascio’s late-in-life bid for freedom.

“LoCascio’s utter silence upon that stark pronouncement bespeaks a wordless assent,” wrote Glasser, affirming the conviction. “That wordless assent was to a death sentence on DiBono, not because he committed a crime but worse — only because he did not come in when called by John Gotti.”

Gotti died of throat cancer behind bars in 2002.

https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ny-gambino-underboss-frank-locascio-john-gotti-dead-20211005-2fddomao3fdfhnv2xsskbudb6m-story.html

Monday, October 4, 2021

Modern day mob plagued by management problems and lousy recruits


Andrew Russo

The kiss of death for mob families isn’t necessarily from gang wars or snitches. These days, organized crime is further threatened by mismanagement, lousy hires, and half-baked succession plans.

Former mob investigators point to the case against Andrew Russo, the man federal prosecutors say heads the Colombo crime family, one of the five gangster clans that ruled the New York underworld for much of the last century.

The alleged management problems of the Colombo leader seem to mirror those of Tony Soprano, the fictional boss of the television mafia who struggled to choose a successor and keep his hands off the dirty work.

Mr. Russo was arrested on September 14 in a crippling takedown of the Colombo family’s executive leaders and middle managers. Prosecutors said in court documents that Mr. Russo, his deputy chief, consigliere, several captains and other subordinates carried out an alleged scheme for two decades to extort money from a New York City union and related health fund.

In hindsight, Russo’s executive mistakes included micromanaging subordinates and, at 87, hanging on to his job too long, said Scott Curtis, a former agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation who investigated the family operation for years.

“I can’t walk away. I can’t rest, ”Russo said in one of his conversations secretly recorded by the FBI over the years and revealed in court documents.

Curtis, who is not involved in the court case, said Russo did not follow the best business practices established by past generations of bosses: maintaining a healthy distance between mischief and boss.

Russo, nicknamed “Mush,” was too practical, Curtis said. Prosecutors said in court documents that the alleged Colombo leader, who has seven previous convictions, knew the heart of the alleged crackdown.

“That’s why you see some of these guys getting arrested repeatedly,” said Curtis, who now works as vice president of investigations at Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. “They have to get their hands on all these minute details of the plan. “

That predisposes them to failure, he said, that is, to jail. Mr. Russo has pleaded not guilty to nine criminal charges, including charges spanning racketeering, extortion, money laundering, and conspiracy.

Curtis said the high-level micromanagement in the Colombo case reflected concerns about the incompetence of lower-level members.

A new generation of savants did not properly learn the business, according to former government researchers. Older members complain that millennials, who grew up in the suburbs rather than on city streets, are softer, dumber, and not as loyal as gangsters of the past. Also, they are always texting.

“Everything is on the phones with them,” said a former Colombo family member who knows some of the men accused in the case. A Colombo associate is accused of sending threatening text messages to a union official over extortion charges.

“Hey, this is the second text, there is not going to be a third,” wrote the associate, according to court records.

“I’m sure that’s frowned upon in mob circles,” former FBI agent and crisis management consultant Richard Frankel said of what appeared to be incriminating texts.

In the mid-20th century, the five New York mob families “operated like a McDonald’s franchise,” said Jerold Zimmerman, professor emeritus at the Simon Business School at the University of Rochester.

Illegal businesses, such as gambling houses, trafficking in illicit goods and corruption involving unions and construction companies, are operated independently, he said. Those in charge paid a portion of the proceeds to the boss, who kept the peace and handed out promotions, said Dr. Zimmerman, one of the authors of a book on business practices in New York criminal families.

One reason for the mafia’s decline is the FBI’s prosecution of organized crime in the 1980s and 1990s, which resulted in the arrest and conviction of hundreds of experts. All five families are still operating, but their market reach has been reduced and membership has suffered.

Gangsters are trying to keep a low profile by reducing violence. “They certainly don’t kill people like they used to,” said Michael Gaeta, a former FBI agent who spent 13 years investigating organized crime in New York. “At the end of the day, it draws too much heat.”

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York lobbied to keep Mr. Russo behind bars while awaiting trial by presenting transcripts of recordings that they allege show him as a danger to society. Jeffrey Lichtman, Russo’s attorney, said the recordings were more than a decade old.

“In terms of danger, he’s an 87-year-old man and they are relying on tapes from 11 years ago,” Lichtman said.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment.

Some alleged Colombo members appear to have been pining for an administrative shakeup, court documents show.

Prosecutors allege that Colombo leaders at a meeting at a Brooklyn restaurant last year decided that Russo would eventually be replaced by Theodore Persico Jr., the nephew of Carmine “The Snake” Persico, a long-time suspected Colombo crime boss. Mr. Persico died while serving a sentence in federal prison two years ago at age 85.

Persico Jr., also a defendant in the current case, has pleaded not guilty. His attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

Prosecutors said a recording of the investigation captured a suspected Colombo soldier saying extortion from the union would be “easy” once Persico took control of the family. “The guy is the best man in the world to deal with,” she said, according to transcripts of court documents.

In another transcribed recording, the soldier regretted that Mr. Russo had no intention of resigning. “The problem is that this old man wanted to be the boss all his life,” he said.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/lousy-management-knucklehead-hires-plague-operations-of-real-life-sopranos-11633360973?mod=searchresults_pos1&page=1

Inside the life of 83 year old Colombo Underboss known as The Claw


SO-POORANOS! Trailer-park mob slob says he's living on food stamps! - New  York Daily News

Accused mob underboss Benjamin Castellazzo is known as the “Claw” because he gets his hands on everything.

It started in the 1950s when he was convicted for hijacking a carpeting truck and continued in the decades since.

But when he appeared before a federal judge in New York in 2013 to be sentenced as the underboss of the Colombo crime family on a racketeering charge, which included extortion over a pizza sauce recipe of a famed Brooklyn pizzeria, Castellazzo said he was done with the life of crime.

He was 75, his wife of 58 years had health issues and he wanted to live out his final years in New Jersey with his two children, eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

The claws would be retired, he promised.

“I have reflected on my life during the last two years I have been in jail since my arrest. I can tell your honor without hesitation, I am not proud of the life I have led,” Castellazzo wrote to the judge before being sentenced to 63 months in prison. “...I can tell your honor in all sincerity that you will never see me before this or any court of law again.”

He was released from federal prison in 2015, but the feds came calling once again last month.

Castellazzo, now 83, was indicted once again as the underboss of the Colombo crime family on a number of charges related to its long-running scheme to take control of a New York City-based labor union. Federal authorities have pinpointed Castellazzo as the man in charge of the matter recently.

He was denied bail and is currently being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. Castellazzo has pleaded not guilty to the latest charges.

“Mr. Castellazzo plans to fight the charges against him,” his attorney, Jennifer R. Louis-Jeune, said in a statement. She did not respond to additional requests for comment.

The 19-count indictment unsealed in the Eastern District of New York delivered a blow to the Colombo crime family as its administration (the boss, underboss and consigliere) were all charged in connection with the conspiracy, along with a number of other members.

Mob organizational structure

The FBI's depiction of the mob's organizational structure is shown in a file graphic.

It also highlighted how the mob continues to operate in the region. The indictment details discreet meetings in Brooklyn garages, threats to union officials and how the family allegedly maneuvered money to top mobsters from union health funds.

“The underbelly of the crime families in New York City is alive and well,” Michael Driscoll, the assistant director-in-charge of New York’s FBI field office, said when announcing the charges.

It’s a world that Castellazzo, a longtime Manahawkin resident, has long been a part of, according to court documents from numerous convictions related to his life in the underworld.

Theft. Drugs. Extortion. Gambling operations. Racketeering.

Dating back to the mid-20th century, Castellazzo has faced charges for a wide range of crimes that the mob is often involved in.

And at 83 — despite a large family and numerous health concerns of his own — the Claw apparently hasn’t been able to leave the life, which is not uncommon for those entrenched in the Mafia, according to organized crime experts.

Because of this, many of the leaders stay in the game over decades and earn status as a leader.

The Colombo crime family boss busted earlier this month, Andrew Russo, is 87. And years ago, during the monumental Mafia Commission Trial, which took down the leaders of the five families in New York City in the 1980s, multiple high-ranking members were over the age of 70.

“Whenever you look back on a lot of these cases of these guys, they are not often spring chickens,” said Jay Albanese, a criminology professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, who specializes in organized crime.

The blend of street crimes and white-collar schemes is all many of them know, and since much of the money members earn is off the books, there is a financial incentive to remain in the game.

Castellazzo, according to court documents, has lived in a New Jersey trailer park in recent years and his wife previously filed for bankruptcy.

“You have these guys that are doing this their whole lives,” said David Shapiro, a John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor and former FBI agent who investigated the mob in New York City. “What else are they going to do?”

It’s unclear when Castellazzo earned his nickname as the Claw, but it was more than 60 years ago when he was first sentenced for getting his hands on something that wasn’t his.

In 1959, Castellazzo, then in his 20s, was sentenced to a four-to-eight-year prison sentence following a conviction for grand larceny after he was involved in a theft, with others, of a tractor trailer truck containing carpeting, according to court documents.

It would be the start of a life of crime spanning decades.

Castellazzo got caught up in a heroin importation and distribution ring and was sentenced to four years in prison in 1976 following a conviction for the unlawful use of a telephone in the commission of a felony.

His next prison stint would be in 1995 when he was sentenced to an eight-months after being convicted of operating an illegal gambling business that held craps games, conducted illegal numbers betting operations and accepted wagers on sporting events, according to court documents.

It wasn’t until 2002 that federal authorities identified Castellazzo’s place in the mob. He was described that year by authorities as a captain — a prominent position — of the Colombo crime family when he was convicted of owning and operating a social club where he used extortive measures related to credit, gambling and other criminal activity.

As a 64-year-old, he pleaded with the judge then to lessen his sentence due to his age and health reasons, including hypertension and other blood-related issues, but was eventually sentenced to three years in prison for running the club.

Upon being released in 2005, Castellazzo still couldn’t leave the life behind.

Castellazzo was able to elevate himself within the Colombo family’s hierarchy. By 2008, according to court documents, he became the family’s underboss, or second-in-command.

He helped lead a “months-long project to re-energize the Colombo crime family,” prosecutors said in court documents, and presided over a 2009 ceremony inducting new members into the family.

It came to a head in 2011 when federal authorities arrested 127 accused mobsters, including Castellazzo, from around the region, making it the largest one-day Mafia bust in U.S. history.

He was indicted on charges of racketeering, money laundering conspiracies, extortion and possessing a firearm.

Prosecutors said in his capacity as the underboss, Castellazzo “sanctioned and indirectly oversaw, and profited from, several of the crimes of violence alleged in the Indictment.”

But he quickly cut a deal. Within nine months of being charged, Castellazzo pleaded guilty to one count racketeering conspiracy related to shaking down a construction company, as well as being involved in a pizza sauce recipe war.

A family member of a Colombo associate owned L&B Spumoni Gardens, a famed Brooklyn pizzeria. The family came to believe that the children of a Bonanno crime family associate, who worked at the pizzeria and later left to open their own store on Staten Island, stole the sauce recipe for their new venture.

Members of the Colombo family confronted the new owners and wanted proceeds from the Staten Island pizzeria. Eventually, they settled on a few thousand dollars, a cut of which was given to Castellazzo, who had been “kept apprised of the situation,” according to court documents.

Prosecutors even alluded to his nickname in their sentencing memo.

Castellazzo was able “to get his ‘claw’ into any crime committed by any member or associate of the Colombo crime family, including violent crimes,” they wrote.

‘An extraordinary man’

Castellazzo was seen as a much different man to those close to him than to prosecutors.

As he went before a judge in 2013 to be sentenced after pleading guilty to racketeering from the 2011 indictment, those around him described Castellazzo as a loving and devoted family man, who was ready to put his criminal life behind him and live within the law.

James J. Dipietro, his attorney, said Castellazzo had “deep remorse and (made an) unconditional promise to be rid of his past life involving crime.”

“I know he has a criminal history, but I truly believe he has now come to the realization that the only real issue in life that matters is to spend the rest of his remaining years in the comfort of his wife, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren,” Dipietro wrote eight years ago as he sought a lesser sentence for his client.

“He is an extraordinary man,” Castellazzo’s daughter wrote at the time.

His daughter-in-law described how Castellazzo gave shoes and food to less fortunate residents near his Manahawkin home.

“He is a loving, caring individual who has touched many lives with his gentle ways,” she wrote.

A retired school teacher and former tutor to his children even wrote to the judge on behalf of Castellazzo.

“The values of family and community are the very fabric of our society,” the woman wrote. “In my estimation Mr. Castellazzo has always demonstrated the importance of being a loving father and caring, compassionate neighbor.”

He did not live the flashy lifestyle of a mobster often depicted in pop culture.

For at least the last 15 years, Castellazzo and his wife, Sophie, lived very modestly in Manahawkin and struggled financially, according to court documents.

His wife filed for bankruptcy in 2011, saying the combined monthly income between her and her husband was $1,115 — entirely from Social Security, according to a bankruptcy filing. Their monthly net income was -$490, according to the filing.

They were paying $450 per month to live in a mobile home in Manahawkin, the filing says.

Sophie Castellazzo was also sued numerous times for failing to pay other small claim debts in state court in New Jersey, according to court documents.

Shapiro, the professor and former FBI agent, said Castellazzo is an example of how made men aren’t always as wealthy as the general public imagines.

“The kernel of truth of what he was saying (about the mobile home) is that a lot of these guys aren’t nearly as wealthy as you think,” Shapiro said. “They don’t make nearly as much money as you think so if they want to live large, they have to stay in the game. There is no way to get out of the game and live that kind of lifestyle. They don’t have savings or severance plans.”

“What are they going to do?” he added. “Go work at Costco?”

Latest charges

So the Claw apparently kept working, according to federal authorities.

In the latest allegations against him, authorities said Castellazzo was recently put in charge of the Colombo family’s two-decade long scheme to infiltrate and take control of a Queens-based labor union and its health care benefit programs as their extortion efforts stalled.

The scheme was centered around forcing a senior union official and others to make decisions that benefitted the crime family, like forcing them to select vendors for contracts who were associated with the mobsters, according to the indictment.

Castellazzo reportedly worked directly with Vincent Ricciardo, also known as “Vinny Unions,” who was on the ground leading the alleged extortion efforts, authorities said. Ricciardo could be heard on a recording in April saying that Castellazzo was in charge of the Colombo crime family’s takeover of the union and its health fund, according to the indictment.

Ricciardo was also caught in a recorded conversation threatening to kill the senior union official the family was allegedly extorting, authorities said.

Castellazzo and other Colombo mobsters also allegedly used a scheme to launder money from the health benefit programs to themselves, according to the indictment. They sought to divert more than $10,000 per month from health fund to the administration of the Colombo crime family, which included Castellazzo, authorities said.

He has been charged with racketeering, extortion and money laundering conspiracies, conspiracy to steal and embezzle health benefit funds, and conspiracy to commit health care fraud, among other charges.

Authorities said crime families cannot survive without structure and leadership, which they allege Castellazzo played a role in.

“Members and associates of the crime family could not commit the bread and butter crimes of the mafia such as extortion and loansharking, if not for Castellazzo,” the indictment says.

It was the role he told the judge he was going to leave in 2013 after a life of crime.

Castellazzo knew his life would soon come to a close. He told the judge he wanted to spend the remaining years of his life with his immediate family, who he had embarrassed once again.

Instead, Castellazzo now sits behind bars once again and could for years, as the prosecution moves forward with another case against him and his other family.

https://www.nj.com/news/2021/10/inside-the-criminal-life-of-the-83-year-old-mob-underboss-from-nj-known-as-the-claw.html

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Federal judge refuses to grant bail for ailing Colombo Captain Vinny Unions


Vincent “Vinny Unions” Ricciardo, 75, was arrested and will be arraigned before United States...

A jailed Colombo crime family capo’s bid for bail was shot down by a federal judge.

Brooklyn Federal Magistrate Judge James Cho flatly rejected the appeal from lawyers representing ailing but still ornery 75-year-old Vincent Ricciardo, caught on wiretaps threatening to whack a union boss before his arrest last month for a massive union shakedown.

“The defendant is a significant danger to the community, given his history,” Cho ruled immediately after oral arguments Friday in a remote hearing. “There were allegations as recently as June of this year of threatening a witness ... and there’s a risk of flight.”

Arguments by defense counsel Kelley Sharkey about her client’s assorted health woes fell on deaf ears as prosecutors detailed Ricciardo’s 50-year association with organized crime and cited audio recordings of his violent threats made during the probe into a local labor union.

“We will send people he don’t know right to his f---ing house,” Ricciardo said in one conversation recounted by prosecutors. In another, Ricciardo appeared to reference his failing health in the midst of a threat to kill a union boss.

“Let me tell you something,” he declared. “To prove a point? I would f---ing shoot him right in front of his wife and kids. Call the police ... How long you think I’m gonna last anyway?”

The mob veteran — supposedly too weak to put on his own socks — was currently housed in the Mecklenburg County Jail in North Carolina pending his return to New York. He was one of 14 suspects, including reputed Colombo boss Andrew “Mush” Russo and his two top aides, busted last month in the Mafia takedown.

Federal prosecutor Devon Lash noted the defendant’s poor health did nothing to slow his role in the criminal conspiracy.

“He is a danger to (a union official) regardless of his medical condition,” said Lash. “What we’re talking about here is a longtime member of a violent organized crime family, and he has a leadership role.”

Sharkey detailed an assortment of medical issues facing the senior citizen gangster, including heart problems, kidney disease and severe breathing issues.

“He is a hot mess and I request the government allow us to proffer a bail package and allow the defendant to be released at this time to his wife in North Carolina while under medical care,” she said.

Prosecutors countered that this was the third federal labor racketeering case against Ricciardo, known as “Vinny Unions” among his mob friends. And Cho was hardly swayed by the defense contentions about the need to let the mobster return to his wife and home.

“Defendant is charged with multiple serious crimes of violence,” said Cho. “He threatened to kill someone ... This application fails to rebut the presumption that he should be detained.”

https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ny-colombo-capo-no-bail-20211002-5fieqjmgmrgtjapkvyxhw3msha-story.html

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Leadership of the Colombo family met multiple times at famous restaurant to discuss future of the mob


Andrew "Mush" Russo, an alleged Colombo crime family boss, arrives at Brooklyn Federal Court in 2013. 
Andrew "Mush" Russo, an alleged Colombo crime family boss, arrives at Brooklyn Federal Court in 2013.  

The to-die-for hot roast beef sandwich wasn’t the only thing on the menu when the Colombo family hierarchy gathered at Brooklyn’s legendary Brennan and Carr restaurant.

The Daily News has learned the crime family’s top echelon assembled on two separate occasions to discuss mob business inside the 83-year-old eatery last November, much to the surprise of a somewhat amused management.

“That’s interesting,” said veteran Brennan and Carr manager Richie Egan, a smile on his face. “I never even knew.”

Federal investigators, on the other hand, were well aware of the sessions led by Colombo boss Andrew “Mush” Russo. Court documents indicate both meetings were under law enforcement surveillance as the 86-year-old Russo, underboss Benjamin Castellazo, consigliere Ralph DiMatteo and a pair of family capos discussed a change at the top of the family leadership and the ongoing shakedown of a local union.

Ralph DiMatteo
Ralph DiMatteo

Like a plate of pasta and a glass of red wine, the mob and New York’s restaurant business remain inextricably linked a full 90 years after Guiseppe “Joe the Boss” Masseria was gunned down inside Coney Island’s Nuova Villa Tammaro on April 15, 1931.

The scene after Guiseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria was killed inside Coney Island’s Nuova Villa Tammaro in 1931.
The scene after Guiseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria was killed inside Coney Island’s Nuova Villa Tammaro in 1931.

On July 12, 1979, Bonanno boss Carmine Galante ate his last meal on the patio of Joe & Mary’s Italian-American Restaurant in Brooklyn, with a final course of lethal lead. The dead don was famously photographed with his post-lunch cigar still clenched between his teeth.

The July 12, 1979 murder of Bonanno boss Carmine Galante at Joe & Mary’s Italian-American Restaurant in Brooklyn.
The July 12, 1979 murder of Bonanno boss Carmine Galante at Joe & Mary’s Italian-American Restaurant in Brooklyn.

And just before Christmas 1985, Gambino boss Big Paul Castellano and driver Tommy Billotti parked illegally outside Spark’s Steak House before heading inside for some prime rib with fellow mobsters.

Neither made it to the front door, gunned down by four shooters waiting on orders from new boss John Gotti.

Death is not the only pitfall in public dining. On occasion, the assembled Mafiosi were caught on bugs that no Health Department inspector would ever find.

Back in 2003, veteran Genovese capo John “Buster” Ardito wound up with agita after discovering recording devices tucked beneath tables at two of his favorite New Rochelle restaurants.

And 16 years prior, wiretaps inside the ladies’ room of a Hoboken restaurant captured Gambino family consigliere Bobby Manna discussing a plot to whack both Gambino boss Gotti and his brother Gene.

“We’re gonna be paying for this, you know, for the rest of our lives,” one of the plotters observed during the recorded discussion.

The body of Carmine Galante is taken out of Joe & Mary's Restaurant on Knickerbocker Ave. in Brooklyn in 1979.
The body of Carmine Galante is taken out of Joe & Mary's Restaurant on Knickerbocker Ave. in Brooklyn in 1979.

Former Bonanno boss “Big Joey” Massino, a man who liked a good meal, opened his own Queens restaurant: CasaBlanca, where a sign promised “Fine Italian Cuisine” to its patrons. The eatery became a meeting place for the mob, with Bonanno capos among the regulars at the Maspeth business.

Among the menu favorites: Ravioli with scallops and portabella mushrooms.

According to court documents, the Colombo leadership first assembled inside Brennan and Carr in mid-November before returning for a second sitdown on Nov. 19. Russo did not attend the latter meeting, although his designated Colombo family successor Theodore Persico Jr. showed up.

And once again, so did the feds.

The 58-year-old Skinny Teddy, identified as a family captain in court papers, is a nephew of the late Colombo family boss Carmine “Junior” Persico.

The Brennan and Carr restaurant on Nostrand Ave. in Brooklyn.
The Brennan and Carr restaurant on Nostrand Ave. in Brooklyn.

After Gotti’s ascension to the Gambino seat of power, the Dapper Don’s favorite restaurants received a boost from his patronage: The since-shuttered Da Noi on the Upper East Side and the late, lamented Taormino in Little Italy became instant hot spots. He was known for paying in cash, and leaving generous tips.

And the April 7, 1972, mob hit of Colombo family legend “Crazy Joey” Gallo inside Umberto’s Clam House on Mulberry St. lives on in pop culture, featured prominently in director Martin Scorsese’s 2019 film “The Irishman.”

Umbertos Clam House at 129 Mulberry St. where Joe Gallo was shot and killed. (New York Daily News Archive)
Umbertos Clam House at 129 Mulberry St. where Joe Gallo was shot and killed.

The Brooklyn-born Gallo, killed at age 43 to end a long night celebrating his last birthday, was memorialized by Bob Dylan in a 1976 song with an oblique reference to the site of Joey’s last meal (shrimp, scungilli and clams).

“One day they blew him down in a clam bar in New York,” sang Dylan. “He could see it comin’ through the door as he lifted up his fork ... Joey, Joey. What made them want to blow you away?”

https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/ny-nyc-mob-restaurants-20210925-elugcddudndjriau4z4b7vazli-story.html#nt=pf-double%20chain~top-version-2021~flex%20feature~curated~colombo-936a~ELUGCDDUDNDJRIAU4Z4B7VAZLI~1~1~5~7~art%20yes

Jailed Underboss of the Buffalo crime family gets a new chance at freedom


Violi, now 55, was caught in an unusual police probe that featured a 'made member' of a New York City Mafia organization, the Bonanno family, working as a police informant for both U.S. and Canadian police.

An imprisoned Canadian who claimed he was the second-in-command of a New York Mafia family has won a new chance for freedom — after arguing he was never convicted of being a mobster and so he shouldn’t be considered one by the parole board.

Domenico Violi’s family has been an important part of Mafia history in both Canada and Italy for generations.

His father was Montreal Mafia boss Paolo Violi, who was killed in 1978 by members of the rival Rizzuto clan; his mother is the daughter of former Hamilton, Ont., Mafia chief Giacomo Luppino; and his namesake grandfather led a Mafia clan back in Italy.

In 2017, police wiretaps caught Violi boasting of making some Mafia history of his own, according to documents filed in court.

Violi, now 55, was caught in an unusual police probe that featured a “made member” of a New York City Mafia organization, the Bonanno family, working as a police informant for both U.S. and Canadian police. Because the Mafia is a secret society, recording what alleged members privately said to each other offered a rare, insider’s view of the Mafia on both sides of the border, prosecutors said.

Paulo Violi – Vic Catroni’s right hand man was expected to take over the family, He was 46 when he was invited to a card game on Jan. 22, 1978, that turned out to be a set up.
Paulo Violi – Vic Catroni’s right hand man was expected to take over the family, He was 46 when he was invited to a card game on Jan. 22, 1978, that turned out to be a set up. 

When the American informant met with Violi in 2017, according to court documents, Violi told him he had been made “the underboss” of the Mafia organization based in Buffalo, N.Y. The underboss is the second-highest position in an American Mafia family.

If true, he would be the only person in Canada to ever be named to one of the top leadership positions in any U.S.-based Mafia clan.

“Domenic, you know you made history,” Violi said the alleged boss of the Buffalo Mafia told him when Violi was promoted to the position, according to a wiretap summary.

Violi was arrested at the end of the three-year probe.

At his trial in 2018, Violi struck a deal, pleading guilty to drug trafficking and possession of property obtained by crime while criminal organization charges against him were dropped. His guilty plea meant the veracity of the wiretaps were never tested in court.

He was sentenced to six years, four months and 21 days in prison.

The plea also meant Violi was never judicially deemed a mob member, let alone the underboss of a Mafia family, and that became important this month when Violi made his case for freedom.

His application for day parole and full parole had been denied in April by the Parole Board of Canada.

At that parole hearing, the board heard Violi’s application and numerous letters of support from members of the community of his positive contribution as a businessman and a philanthropist.

Just 35 minutes into that hearing, however, board members started directly asking him about his alleged ties to “traditional organized crime,” which is what Canadian police and justice officials call the Mafia.

The board was told of Violi’s behaviour in prison.

“You have maintained institutional employment, with excellent work reports, and participated in voluntary activities including learning new languages and playing guitar, as well as attending church services institutionally,” the April decision said. It also cautioned he had been involved in the purchase of money orders by a known associate of his, and sent to other inmates, “some of whom are known to be involved in the institutional drug subculture.”

Police told the board in April that Violi’s safety, as well as public safety, “could be at risk due to retaliatory violent occurrences in the community.”

As well, the board heard confidential information from police and prison officials. Prison officials recommended his parole be denied, partly due to his “ties to organized crime as a key player in an identified crime family.”

Violi denied being involved in organized crime.

Nonetheless, the parole board in April denied him release.

“It is the Board’s opinion that any involvement with organized crime will not result in the protection of society. Therefore, on balance the risk that you present to the community as a whole is not manageable on either a day or full parole release,” the April decision said.

Violi complained that the board relied on unproven police information.

He appealed the decision to the parole board’s appeal division, saying it was procedurally unfair to ask him questions about being involved in organized crime because he hasn’t been convicted of gangsterism.

“You argue that saying someone is involved in organized crime does not necessarily imply that a person has committed any particular offence and it certainly does not mean that they are an unmanageable risk of criminally offending if released,” the appeal decision summarized some of Violi’s complaint.

When police arrested Domenico Violi and searched his home, they found an autographed photo of the cast of The Sopranos, the popular Mafia television series.
When police arrested Domenico Violi and searched his home, they found an autographed photo of the cast of The Sopranos, the popular Mafia television series. 

In the appeal decision, written on Sept. 13 but only released Tuesday, Violi’s complaint was accepted. The appeal division said it was “problematic” for the board members at the April hearing to question him on being a mobster for two reasons.

The first was that while board members can consider information someone may be a gangster, it is improper to directly demand answers about it during a hearing, based on past court decisions. The second was that the board’s written reasons did not explain the concern over organized crime.

The board failed to reconcile the disconnect between Violi’s impressive support from the community and good behaviour with being too risky to release because of an expected return to organized crime.

The appeal division said Violi’s successful complaint did not mean there aren’t potential problems with his bid for release, but that his application would have to face a better analysis at a new hearing.

Until then, the board’s decision to keep him in prison remains.

https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/mafia-underboss-gets-new-chance-for-freedom-because-parole-board-asked-about-mafia

Friday, September 24, 2021

Last known mobster FBI believes had knowledge of famous Boston art heist has died


 

Robert Gentile, the last person believed to have treasures from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist of 1990, has died.

Gentile’s attorney Ryan McGuigan told Boston.com Gentile died Friday of a stroke at Hartford Hospital. The FBI considers Gentile the last person known to have possessed items from the heist, but Gentile denied this until his death, McGuigan said.

On St. Patrick’s Day in 1990, burglars stole more than half a billion dollars worth of art. In that theft, two men showed up at the museum in the overnight hours dressed as police officers. They restrained the security guards and left soon after with 13 pieces from the collection, including works from Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Degas. The art has never been found.

In 2013, the FBI announced that the art had traveled from Boston to Connecticut to Philadelphia, while some ended up in Maine. A woman from Maine reportedly told the FBI her husband had handed two paintings to Gentile in 2003, according to WTNH.

Gentile, who had an extensive criminal record and served time in prison, was believed to have connections with those suspected of getting the art after it had been stolen, but he denied ever having any of the works.

“I had nothing to do with the paintings. It’s a big joke,” Gentile said in a phone interview with The Associated Press in 2019 after being released from prison.

Authorities didn’t think so. They said the widow of another mobster said her husband gave Gentile two of the paintings, and that Gentile talked about the stolen work while in prison.

In a search of his home that led to his 2013 conviction for illegally selling prescription drugs and possessing guns, silencers, and ammunition, prosecutors said federal agents found a handwritten list of the stolen paintings and their estimated worth, along with a newspaper article about the museum heist a day after it happened.

There is currently a $10 million reward for information that leads directly to the repossession of the stolen art. 

https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2021/09/22/robert-gentile-dead-at-85-gardner-museum-heist/

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Son of Mob Wives star is accused of unemployment fraud


Anthony Pagan

Staten Islander Anthony Pagan, the son of “Mob Wives” star Renee Graziano, stands accused of unemployment fraud.

Pagan, 27, illegally received more than $3,000 in unemployment payments from February through April of 2018 while he was working for a construction company, according to the criminal complaint.

The arrest stems from an investigation by the Economic Crimes Bureau of the District Attorney’s Office.

A review of business records of the New York State Department of Labor was part of the probe.

The complaint alleges that while Pagan “was employed and earning income from his employer, Tishman Construction Corp., the defendant certified to the New York State Department of Labor” the he was “totally unemployed and as a result received unemployment benefits issued by the New York State Department of Labor that defendant was not entitled to.”

Pagan is accused in the complaint of “utilizing the computer systems of the New York State Department of Labor to create false entries... in that defendant did fraudulently assert that defendant was totally unemployed and entitled to said benefits, when in fact the defendant was employed.”

The funds were directly deposited into a KeyBank benefits account accessed with a debit card mailed to the home address that Pagan listed on the application for unemployment benefits, the complaint states.

The complaint alleges that Pagan “did not have permission or authority to take, remove or possess said currency due to his employment status.”

Pagan has been charged with grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and falsifying business records.

He was issued a desk appearance ticket on Monday and released on his own recognizance.

He is due to appear in Criminal Court on Nov. 23, according to public records.

“I am vigorously defending Anthony’s case,” said Dawn Florio, his defense attorney. “It is a pending case so I will not be commenting further.”

Graziano became famous for her appearances on VH1′s “Mob Wives,” which was created by her sister, executive producer Jennifer Graziano.

The show was canceled in 2015 after six seasons.

https://www.silive.com/crime-safety/2021/08/son-of-mob-wives-star-accused-of-unemployment-fraud.html

Fugitive Colombo family Consigliere turns himself in to the FBI in NYC


 

Fugitive Colombo crime family consigliere turned himself in to the FBI in New York City Friday morning after his son posted - and later deleted - a picture of him sitting poolside in Florida, law enforcement sources told DailyMail.com. 

Ralph DiMatteo, 66, walked into the Brooklyn federal courthouse with his lawyer to surrender and was arraigned via teleconference on racketeering charges Thursday afternoon. 

He pleaded not guilty to all charges and will be held in jail until his next court appearance, which is scheduled for October 21.  

The alleged mobster was the only one to avoid arrest in Tuesday's sweeping federal raid targeting the leadership of the Colombo crime family. 

The alleged consigliere, or advisor to the crime boss, made national headlines after his son Angelo posted a picture of his dad - shirtless and waist-deep in a Florida pool - to his Twitter account on Wednesday and removed it by Thursday morning. 

DiMatteo's wife is pictured behind him, with her head at the edge of the pool as she relaxes and enjoys its waters.

He also tweeted a picture of a rat, suggesting the family is unhappy about snitches getting them in trouble, on Tuesday. That too has been removed. 

The indictment accuses the crime family of running a scheme involving labor union shakedowns, extortion, loansharking, drug trafficking and money laundering.

DiMatteo is accused of colluding with fellow defendants to devise a scheme to launder money from union healthcare contracts and payments.

DiMatteo is said to have done this through various channels linked to Joseph Bellantoni, who was named as a co-conspirator in the indictment, and eventually to the Colombo crime family's leaders, according to the federal indictment.

He was also accused of threatening bodily harm to control the management of the labor union that they were targeting and influencing decisions that benefitted the family. 

Reputed Colombo street boss Andrew "Andy Mush" Russo, 87, and his underboss, Benjamin "The Claw" Castellazzo, 83, were also scooped up by federal agents and New York police, along with seven other members of the Colombo crime family.

Among those charged was 75-year-old capo (captain) Vincent "Vinny Unions'"Ricciardo, who was recorded during a phone call in June threatening to kill a labor union official if he didn't play ball, according to the 19-count indictment.

The other captains, or capos, arrested include Richard Ferrara, 59, and Theodore "Skinny Teddy" Persico Jr., 58, who is the nephew of the late Colombo boss Carmine 'The Snake' Persico.

Colombo soldier Michael Uvino, 56, and associates Thomas Costa, 52, and Domenick Ricciardo, 56 - Vincent's cousin - were also booked.

'Everything we allege in this investigation proves history does indeed repeat itself,' FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll said concerning the indictment. 'The underbelly of the crime families in New York City is alive and well.'

'These soldiers, consiglieres, underbosses, and bosses are obviously not students of history, and don't seem to comprehend that we're going to catch them. Regardless of how many times they fill the void we create in their ranks, our FBI Organized Crime Task Force, and our law enforcement partners, are positioned to take them out again, and again.'

According to the indictment, the defendants and their co-conspirators committed and are charged with a wide array of crimes – including extortion, loansharking, fraud and drug trafficking – on behalf of the Colombo organized crime family.

In 2019, the family sought to divert more than $10,000 per month from the union's healthcare system directly to the administration of the Colombo crime family.

The Colombo family is one of five major mafia organizations in the northeastern United States. The others are the Genovese, Lucchese, Gambino and Bonanno families.

The latest indictments leave it unclear who remains to take control of the Colombo syndicate on the street.

The entire administration of the Colombo crime family, including Russo and Castellazzo, already pleaded guilty to a variety of mobster activities in 2012.

The New York mafia has been weakened by several blows in recent years, including arrests, fratricidal struggles and competition from other criminal organizations, but they are still considered active.

The reputed boss of the Gambino clan, Frank Cali, was shot and killed outside his home in the New York borough of Staten Island in March 2019.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10002561/Fugitive-Colombo-consigliere-surrenders-FBI.html

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Fugitive Colombo Consigliere is on the run from the feds in Florida


 https://www.nydailynews.com/resizer/6dv8EfH0BfVDzKSGnWcNmEFgrF8=/800x668/top/cloudfront-us-east-1.images.arcpublishing.com/tronc/LD2M2IULBZFBTNPXY6CEAPMJYI.jpg

The newly-indicted consigliere of the Colombo family is getting along just swimmingly.

Fugitive mobster Ralph DiMatteo was on the run from the feds on Wednesday — and his son posted a taunting Twitter picture of his shirtless wiseguy dad waist-deep in a pool.

DiMatteo, 66, was the only member of the Colombos indicted Tuesday to evade arrest after he traveled to Florida the day before. On Tuesday, his arrest was expected imminently — but by Wednesday, he was in the wind, the feds said.

“We consider him now to be a fugitive,” said John Marzulli, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn.

DiMatteo’s son, Angelo DiMatteo, updated his Twitter profile picture Wednesday to a photo of his barrel-chested father leaning back in a swimming pool with his wife lying behind him.

It’s not clear if the shot was taken before or after the indictment was filed.

Angelo also posted a rat emoji to his Twitter account on Tuesday, suggesting someone in the Colombo family gabbed to the feds.

DiMatteo senior’s attorney, Mathew Mari, was in contact with the feds about a possible surrender Tuesday, but talks fell apart, a source familiar with the matter told the Daily News.

Federal investigators captured DiMatteo speaking on government recordings about mob family business, including one where he offered a menacing job description.

“That’s what I do for a living, I get people like you and I scare them,” he explained in a recorded phone call.

DiMatteo, known as “number three” by other members of the Colombo clan in deference to his rank in the family hierarchy, was hit along with 87-year-old boss Andrew Russo on charges of racketeering, including acts of extortion and money laundering.

He was also charged with conspiracy to steal and embezzle health benefit funds, attempted health care fraud and other charges as the feds took down the family’s entire hierarchy.

His co-defendants include underboss Benjamin "The Claw" Castellazzo and four capos — including the nephew of the crime family namesake Carmine "Junior" Persico.

Feds said the wiretaps illustrated his control over lower-ranking crime family members, with DiMatteo heard summoning his underlings immediately to meetings at Russo’s home or to report to “Brooklyn” — a reference to meet at a garage in Gravesend.

DiMatteo’s rap sheet includes a 1985 conviction for conspiracy to distribute heroin and drug trafficking offenses that got him a eight-year prison sentence. In 2001, he was convicted of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which got him an 18 month sentence.

https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ny-colombo-family-consigliere-ralph-dimatteo-fugitive-florida-20210915-3kfxbug6cvauhm73hgy5iexvk4-story.html

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Feds take down entire Colombo family administration in sweeping indictment



A sweeping federal indictment has charged the entire leadership structure of the Colombo crime family in a scheme involving labor union shakedowns, extortion, loansharking, drug trafficking and money laundering.   

Reputed Colombo street boss Andrew "Mush" Russo, 87, and his underboss, Benjamin Castellazzo, 83, were scooped up by federal agents and New York police, along with seven other members of the Colombo crime family, a U.S. attorney spokesperson said on Tuesday. 

Russo's consigliere, Ralph DiMatteo, 66, was also charged in the indictment but remains on the run, prosecutors said. 

Among those charged was 75-year-old capo Vincent "Vinny Unions" Ricciardo, who was recorded during a phone call in June threatening to kill a labor union official if he didn't play ball, according to the 19-count indictment. 

'I'll put him in the ground right in front of his wife and kids, right in front of his f***ing house,' Ricciardo says in the disturbing recording described in the indictment.

'I'm not afraid to go to jail, let me tell you something, to prove a point? I would f***ing shoot him right in front of his wife and kids, call the police, f*** it, let me go, how long you think I'm gonna last anyway?' 

The other captains, or capos, arrested include Theodore Persico Jr., 58, - the nephew of the late Colombo boss Carmine Persico - and Richard Ferrara, 59. 

Colombo soldier Michael Uvino, 56, and associates Thomas Costa, 52, and Domenick Ricciardo, 56 - Vincent's cousin - were also booked.

The indictment against the crime family members lays out multiple schemes in a long-running campaign to infiltrate and take control of a Queens-based labor union and its affiliated health care benefit program, and to a conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with workplace safety certifications. 

Russo, Castellazzo, DiMatteo, Ferrara, Persico, Uvino, and Vincent and Domenick Ricciardo colluded with fellow defendants Erin Thompkins, 53, and Joseph Bellantoni, 39, among others, to devise a scheme to launder money from union healthcare contracts and payments through various channels linked to Bellantoni, and eventually to the Colombo crime family's leaders, according to the indictment.

'Today's charges describe a long-standing, ruthless pattern by the administration of the Colombo crime family, its captains, members and associates, of conspiring to exert control over the management of a labor union by threatening to inflict bodily harm on one of its senior officials and devising a scheme to divert and launder vendor contract funds from its health care benefit program,' Acting U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn M. Kasulis said of the high-profile arrests.

'In addition, for their own enrichment, the defendants conspired to engage in extortionate loansharking, money laundering and fraud, as well as drug trafficking.'

'This Office and its law enforcement partners are committed to dismantling organized crime families, eliminating their corrupt influence in our communities and protecting the independence of labor unions.' 

The feds also arrested a soldier for the Bonanno family, 59-year-old John "Maniac" Ragano, who is charged with loansharking, fraud and drug-trafficking offenses. 

Ragano is accused of leading a scheme to issue fraudulent workplace safety training certifications to construction workers, according to the indictment.

Rather than provide candidates the proper training, Ragano and fellow defendant and business partner, John Glover, 62, allegedly falsified federal paperwork, indicating hundreds of workers completed mandatory safety courses that they did not actually complete - or even attend.

Instead, various defendants used Ragano's pseudo-schools to conduct meetings involving Sicilian mafia members and to store stashes of illegal drugs.

Meanwhile they generated cash using the schools in Franklin Square and Ozone Park as 'certificate mills', charging $500 a pop for construction safety training certificates without providing any training or testing, according to the indictment. 

The final defendant, Vincent Martino, 43, was charged along with Vincent Ricciardo, Ragano, Costa, and Glover with conspiracy to distribute marijuana by transporting large shipments of the drug across state lines in vehicles from New York to Florida. 

'Everything we allege in this investigation proves history does indeed repeat itself,' FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll said concerning the indictment. 'The underbelly of the crime families in New York City is alive and well.' 

'These soldiers, consiglieres, underbosses, and bosses are obviously not students of history, and don't seem to comprehend that we're going to catch them. Regardless of how many times they fill the void we create in their ranks, our FBI Organized Crime Task Force, and our law enforcement partners, are positioned to take them out again, and again.' 

According to the indictment, the defendants and their co-conspirators committed and are charged with a wide array of crimes – including extortion, loansharking, fraud and drug trafficking – on behalf of the Colombo organized crime family.

The document asserts that Russo, Castellazzo, and DiMatteo, as well captains Persico, Ferrara and Vincent Ricciardo, initiated direct threats of bodily harm, to control the management of the labor union that they were targeting, and influenced decisions that benefitted the family. 

According to the U.S. attorney's office, Colombo captain Ricciardo and his cousin, associate Domenick Ricciardo, collected a portion of the salary of a senior union official for roughly 20 years, threatening the high-ranking official and his family with violence - and even murder - if he did not comply with the family's demands.

In 2019, the family sought to divert more than $10,000 per month from the union's healthcare system directly to the administration of the Colombo crime family. 

The suspects were taken to federal court in Brooklyn Tuesday afternoon and will appear before a judge via videoconference to face the slew of charges against them.   

Unlike the others, Vincent Ricciardo was arrested in North Carolina and will be arraigned in Charlotte, also Tuesday afternoon. 

Russo, known as 'Mush,' is a cousin of Carmine Persico, and first rose to prominence in the family when he was promoted to acting underboss in 1973. Carmine Persico, nicknamed the Snake, died in 2019.

Russo was sentenced to 14 years in state prison in November 1986, until his release in July 1994, under special parole conditions. 

He first ruled as street boss from 1996 to 1999, bringing the then-warring Colombos back from the brink after a devastating civil war, but was arrested again in 1996 by the FBI, who slapped him with racketeering charges, claiming he illegally controlled and oversaw Long Island's garbage hauling industry. 

In August 1999, Russo was convicted of jury tampering and sentenced to 57 months in prison, compounded by 123 months for both parole violation and his involvement in the racketeering case. 

After his release in 2010 at 76 years old, Russo again took over the family as street boss after his parole expired, succeeding the incarcerated Ralph DeLeo, while Persico's son, Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico, served as acting boss. 

In 2011, he was arrested again on racketeering charges, garnering a 33 month sentence. He resumed his role as street boss on his release in 2013. 

The Colombo family is one of five major mafia organizations in the northeastern United States. The others are the Genovese, Lucchese, Gambino and Bonanno families.

The latest indictments leave it unclear who remains to take control of the Colombo syndicate on the street. 

The entire administration of the Colombo crime family, including Russo and Castellazzo, already pleaded guilty to a variety of mobster activities in 2012. 

The New York mafia has been weakened by several blows in recent years, including arrests, fratricidal struggles and competition from other criminal organizations, but they are still considered active.

The reputed boss of the Gambino clan, Frank Cali, was shot and killed outside his home in the New York borough of Staten Island in March 2019.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9990007/Colombo-crime-boss-arrested-feds-one-famed-five-families-fraud-corruption-raid.html