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

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Friday, May 10, 2024

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Monday, April 29, 2024

Elderly Genovese Captain sentenced to two years in prison for punching steakhouse owner

An elderly mafia capo got two years in prison for socking a Manhattan steakhouse owner to collect a gambling debt, and his lawyer said he had no regrets about the fateful punch.

Federal prosecutors were asking Anthony “Rom” Romanello get a much more serious sentence, nearly seven years, to account for the 86-year-old  Genovese member’s long, mostly unpunished life of crime.

But Romanello’s lawyer, Gerald McMahon, called the charges a “meatball case” that prosecutors sat on for years in the hopes Romanello would do something more serious so they could try and flip him against now-deceased Genovese big Anthony “Tough Tony” Federici.

“When the government asks for 71 months, and the judge gave 24, thank God justice was done in Brooklyn,” an ebullient McMahon said after the sentencing in Brooklyn Federal Court Monday. “His lawyer thinks, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that Rom has no regrets.”

Romanello was convicted in December of extortion-related charges after he punched steakhouse owner Shuqeri “Bruno” Selimaj on May 11, 2017 to collect an $86,000 gambling debt owed by the restaurateur’s kin. The punch, inside Selimaj’s now-closed swanky Lincoln Square Steak, was caught on video.

McMahon argued that his elderly client punched Selimaj because the restaurateur called him a “washed-up Italian.”

“What would Gerry McMahon do? I would have knocked him flat out,” the defense lawyer told reporters Monday.

The confrontation happened after Selimaj’s nephew, Toni, and the nephew’s brother-in-law, Eddie, lost big gambling with a Queens ring run by bookie Michael Regan, according to prosecutors.

Romanello, a regular at Selimaj’s restaurants, knew all the parties involved, and was brought in to resolve the debt — which he did in three menacing visits over two months, prosecutors allege.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dana Rehnquist characterized Romanello as a lifelong career criminal who hasn’t held legitimate work since the 1960s. In a letter to Judge Eric Komitte, she argued that Romanello was convicted of 23 crimes over his life, but only sentenced to 36 months.

He got no jail time for bribing cops in the 1970s, three years for a $900,000 armed robbery in the 1980s, and probation in 2007 and 2012 for obstruction of justice and racketeering conspiracy.

In a one-sentence response letter, McMahon referred to Rehnquist’s arguments as “unhinged screeching” — a description Rehnquist took issue with Monday.

“This is about a defendant who lived his whole life as someone who commits crimes,” Rehnquist told the judge on Monday. “What this defendant did was illegal … and the defendant has never understood that, because he’s never been held accountable for his crimes.”

She also suggested that a longer sentence would put other aging La Cosa Nostra members on notice. “He can’t use old age as a shield to not be punished,” she said.

Two members of Romanello’s family booed the prosecutors as they left the courtroom after the sentencing.

McMahon also blasted the victim’s family as degenerate gamblers who collected $300,000 from Regan when their bets paid off, but refused to pay $86,000 when they lost.

“On the street, street justice would say that those guys deserve a far bigger beating than what was administered to Bruno,” he said. “They know it’s a meatball case. It’s a nothing case.”

He said prosecutors waited on the charges for more than four years, but Romanello never committed any new crimes. Romanello even skipped last year’s big Genovese crime family Christmas party while he was out on bail, McMahon said.

“He’s pretty much been out of the life. He certainly intends to stay out of the life,” McMahon said.

Romanello’s been in jail since December, which means he’ll likely be released in 15 months with good time.

Komitte said he hoped Romanello manages to uphold the law for the rest of his golden years. “We all know people are living well into their 90s these days, sometimes their hundreds,” he said. “I have every confidence as I sit here today that the meaning of this sentence, as reduced as it is, has come through clearly.

Romanello’s co-defendant, Joseph Celso, had his sentencing adjourned until next month.


Thursday, April 18, 2024

New York set to establish new waterfront commission to combat mob influence

Gov. Kathy Hochul won support from state lawmakers to create a waterfront commission to fight the kind of mob corruption made famous in Marlon Brando’s 1954 flick “On the Waterfront.”

Hochul beat back objections from the dock workers’ union to push through a new unit to replace the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor — a joint venture with New Jersey that Garden State Gov. Phil Murphy pulled out of last year.

Murphy knocked the bi-state agency, founded in 1953, saying it was a relic that was weighed down by bureacracy and impeding port business. Jersey state police now oversee the port business on the other side of the river.

The International Longshoremen’s Association opposed Hochul’s plan for a new group, saying they should follow Murphy’s lead.

But Hochul prevailed with the legislature in the $237 billion budget deal, saying she did not want to return to the bad old days when the violent Mafia terrorized the New York docks.

“Governor Hochul is fighting crime wherever it occurs: on our streets, in our subways, and even on the waterfront. She promised to crack down on criminal activity by reinstating the Waterfront Commission — and she got it done,” said John Lindsay, the governor’s spokesman.

The new commission will be led by one commissioner appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate.

Like the prior comission, it will continue to conduct critical investigations into organized crime in the Port of New York, as well as ensure fair hiring practices that bar discrimination.

It will conduct background checks and license companies and people working in the cargo business at the port.

The commission will have the power to oust employees from the workforce who are found to have engaged in serious criminality and other violations.

“In 1953, the conditions under which waterfront labor was employed within the port of New York district were depressing and degrading…..resulting from the lack of any systematic method of hiring, the lack of adequate information as to the availability of employment corrupt and discriminatory hiring practices, criminal practices, and coercion of employees or employers,” the budget bill being voted on by the legislature states.

“Now, it continues to be in the best interest of the state to regulate activities within the port of New York district in this state to prevent such conditions and to prevent circumstances that result in waterfront laborers suffering from irregularity of employment, fear and insecurity, inadequate earnings, an unduly high accident rate, subjection to borrowing at usurious rates of interest, exploitation and extortion as the price of securing employment, a loss.”

Strict licensing and oversight of port workers will eliminate “oppressive, unlawful, discriminatory, and corrupt hiring practices,” the bill says.

The dock workers’ union, ILA 1814, said the legislature made changes that made the commission’s oversight more palatable.

“The breakup of the former bi state Waterfront Commission of N.Y. Harbor was an event that was avoidable.  But because of the former Commission’s lack of transparency, ineffective oversight, and dictatorial powers over the method and manner of hiring new longshoreman workers, the old paradigm could not be sustained,” said ILA lobbyist James “Cadillac” McMahon.

“Both the Senate and Assembly ought to be commended for their leadership and commitment to our waterfront and we are grateful for their help.”

Under the revised law, the waterfront commission must conduct a review of its regulation and recommend changes within 180 days of its existence, after consultation with employers and unions.

The commission will be barred from suspending port workers who “without unlawful purpose” consult with known criminals, according to the ILA.   


Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Genovese gangster pleads guilty to operating gambling ring out of shoe store on Long Island

A Long Island cobbler known as “Sal the Shoemaker” has admitted running an illegal gambling ring raising money for the Mafia out of his now-shuttered store.

Salvatore Rubino pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to a slew of charges related to the illegal gambling business and using the proceeds to bolster the coffers of the notorious Genovese crime family, federal prosecutors have announced.

He told a judge in Brooklyn federal court that there were gambling machines installed in the back of Sal’s Shoe Repair in Merrick, where he also operated poker games three nights each week, Newsday reported.

Rubino, 60, and Joseph Rutigliano, 65 — known as “Joe Box” — would collect the profits for the Genoveses and distribute the funds to high-ranking members.

Their operation was active from May 2012 through 2021, when Sal’s Shoe Repair had to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, other mobsters operated out of seemingly innocuous business fronts across Long Island, including a gelato shop in Lynbrook called the Gran Caffe Gelateria and Centro Calcio Italiano Club in West Babylon, prosecutors said.

The businesses secretly operated poker-type gambling machines and poker games, and would bring in more than $2,000 in a single day, the feds said.

Four others involved in the massive operation pleaded guilty earlier this month, including Rutigliano and Carmelo “Carmine” Polito, 64, the alleged acting captain of the Genovese crime family, who also faced charges for running an illegal online sports betting operation through a website called PGW Lines.

He once threatened to “break” a debtor’s “face” before instructing an underling in 2019 to relay the message, “Tell him I’m going to put him under the f–king bridge,” according to prosecutors.

Joseph Macario, 69 — aka “Joe Fish” — also pleaded guilty to racketeering charges, and Mark Feuer, 61, pleaded guilty to felony charges relating to the operation of other illegal gambling businesses.

“With their guilty pleas, these five members and associates of the Genovese crime family have admitted they committed crimes to benefit a criminal enterprise notorious for inflicting harm on our communities for generations,” US Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement.

“As long as the Mafia doesn’t get it that illegal gambling is a losing proposition, they can bet on this office and our partners vigorously enforcing the law and flushing them out of the shadows,” he added.

Rubino is expected to be sentenced to between four and 10 months in prison as part of a plea deal — though he could face up to five years behind bars and have to pay $250,000 in fines, Newsday reported.


Wednesday, April 3, 2024

FBI agents return to New York farm looking for bodies in Gambino family investigation


FBI agents were back at two upstate New York horse farms after searching the same properties for bodies last year in connection to federal investigations into the Gambino crime family.

The feds, along with members of the New York State Police and NYPD, descended on the two farms on Hampton Road in Goshen and on Hamptonburgh Road in Campbell Hall on Tuesday morning, witnesses told The Times Union.

Excavators, a police K9 unit and a New York City medical examiner were also on site, video from the scene shows. It’s not clear if anything was found.

The two farms, located about five miles apart, were raided by the FBI last November after a tipster said bodies were buried on the grounds, sources told The Post at the time.

An FBI spokesperson confirmed to The Post that agents from its New York office were at the two addresses on Tuesday, but could not provide additional information about the investigation.

Both farms were formerly owned by Giovanni DiLorenzo — who has the same surname as one of the 10 alleged mafiosi from the Gambino crime family indicted in November over accusations they used violent tactics to take over the Big Apple’s garbage hauling and demolition industry.

The Campbell Hall farm is currently owned by Viviane DiLorenzo, according to property records. The Goshen farm is currently owned by GDLI LLC.

Salvatore DiLorenzo was one of 10 alleged Gambino associates indicted on racketeering charges in November in federal court in Brooklyn. Much of the indictment centers on the group’s alleged attempts to extort money from an unidentified garbage company and an unidentified demolition company, starting in late 2017.

The defendants include Joseph Lanni, also known as “Joe Brooklyn” and “Mommino,” an alleged captain in the Gambino family; and three alleged Gambino soldiers: Diego “Danny” Tantillo; Angelo Gradilone, also known as “Fifi;” and James LaForte.

They allegedly hospitalized a man in a vicious hammer attack, threatened to saw a business owner in half and tried to burn down a restaurant that had thrown them out, among other crimes, according to the 16-count indictment.

The men were hit with charges including racketeering conspiracy, extortion, witness retaliation, fraud and embezzlement. They each face between 20 and 180 years in prison for the laundry list of alleged crimes.


Saturday, March 30, 2024

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Monday, March 18, 2024

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Son of infamous Irish mobster busted for slugging dog walker in Hells Kitchen

The son of notorious Manhattan mobster Mickey Spillane landed in court Monday for allegedly taking a whack at a dog-walker in Hell’s Kitchen — the same area his dad controlled in the 1970s.

Michael J. Spillane Jr., 60, got his Irish up and allegedly punched the stranger in the face outside Mediterranean wine bar Kashkaval Garden at around 7:37 p.m. on Feb. 21, according to a criminal complaint.

Spillane — who owns Mickey Spillane’s, a bar named after his dad about six blocks south on Ninth Avenue — pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor counts of assault and harassment and was released after his Manhattan Criminal Court arraignment.

His ties to the neighborhood date back decades to when his father ruled Hell’s Kitchen as the head of the Irish-American mob in the ’60s and ’70s.

Known as the last “Gentleman Ganger,” Mickey was a quick riser in the loan sharking scene who opposed dealing drugs and was adamant about not associating with the Italian mafia.

After he was pushed out of Hell’s Kitchen by the Westies, a more vicious rival Irish gang, Mickey was murdered outside his Woodside, Queens home in 1977 — shot five times in the head in what cops said was a gangland assassination.

He was married to Maureen McManus, a daughter of the famed local political dynasty who ran the city’s Tammany Hall Democratic party for decades — which Michael Jr. led as district leader, according to W42ndSt.com.

“My dad was a serious man. Back when he was in business, he worked with a lot of labor unions and they controlled most of the docks,” Spillane said in the 2016 interview with the website. “Then the Italian branch of the mob tried to dominate everything. And if it wasn’t for men like my dad, there would be no Irish unions.”

The Irish-American mob scion’s beef with the dog-walker is said to have started when the man encountered Spillane and a group of people standing outside the restaurant, creating a bottleneck.

He asked the group to make a path for him and his two dogs to get through, and most of them did — except for Spillane, who allegedly stuck his foot out and tried tripping the dog-walker, according to a source in the victim’s camp.

Spillane was allegedly aggressive and looked at the dog-walker “menacingly,” the source said.

The man went to grab Spillane — who then allegedly laid a closed-fist haymaker to his face, according to the source.

The dog-walker was also arrested and hit with the same charges. He suffered swelling and bruising from the punch and a laceration to the neck, according to the complaint against Spillane.

Spillane, who doesn’t have a rap sheet, was spotted flipping through a wad of $100 bills as he stood next to his attorney, Eugene Byrne, shortly after his arraignment. He’s due back in court April 29.

Spillane is the eldest of three children,

His actor brother, Bobby Spillane, who appeared in shows “Rescue Me” and “Law & Order,” tragically died when he leaned against his window screen and fell from his sixth-floor apartment on Eighth Avenue in 2010.


Sunday, March 10, 2024

Notorious Lucchese Soldier paroled from life sentence

They’re getting the gang back together.

Notorious Lucchese crime family hitman Joey Testa will be out on the streets in April after 35 years behind bars, the Federal Bureau of Prisons announced — just weeks after The Post reported on the release of Testa’s partner Anthony Senter, the other half of the murderous duo known as the Gemini Twins.

Both Testa, 69, and Senter, 68, were paroled after serving a fraction of the life-plus-20-year sentences they were handed in 1989 for participating in at least 11 murders, the feds confirmed.

“Joey’s had serious medical problems for years, and he has done well in prison,” Testa’s attorney Linda Sheffield told The Post.

“Those are things that play into setting a release date.”

In the 1970s and 1980s, Testa and Senter belonged to a mob crew run by Gambino made man Roy DeMeo.

The crew used the Gemini Lounge at 4021 Flatlands Ave. in Flatlands, Brooklyn, as the launchpad for murders, car thefts, drug trafficking and other crimes.

“It was a regular blue-collar place,” a one-time Gemini Lounge regular recalled of the bar, which has since become a storefront church. 

“You didn’t know that there was a murderous maniac running around.”

The inseparable Testa and Senter, pals since childhood, spent so much time at their boss’s hangout that they were dubbed the Gemini Twins.

Federal and city authorities traced at least 75 deaths and disappearances to DeMeo’s crew — and independent researchers put their savage toll at more than 200.

Witnesses for the prosecution in Testa’s 1989 trial revealed that those marked for death would be lured to an apartment-turned-slaughterhouse next to the Gemini Lounge.

“When the [victim] would walk in, somebody would shoot him in the head with a silencer,” former gang member Dominick Mantigilio told the court.

“Somebody would wrap a towel around to stop the blood and somebody would stab him in the heart to stop the blood from pumping.”

Crew members would haul their prey into the bathtub to let his blood drain away, then “take him apart and package him,” Mantigilio testified — dumping the body parts in a nearby landfill.

Many of the gang’s alleged targets were never found.

The gruesome murders were “so horrendous and so inhumane and so unbelievable,” US District Court Judge Vincent L. Broderick said at Testa’s 1989 sentencing, that “the only sane course” was to send him to prison for life.

But because his crimes were committed prior to 1987, when new federal sentencing guidelines kicked in, Testa became eligible for parole after serving just 10 years of his lifetime term, according to the US Parole Commission.

Nephew and godson Tony Testa, 44, said the family is thrilled to see the ex-mobster set free.

“The Lord is amazing,” said Testa, a real estate developer in Commack, Long Island. 

“Uncle Joey did his time, he never complained. And the parole board saw that he’s served his penance.”

Tony Testa – who bills his family as “The Kennedys of Cosa Nostra” on social media — has tried to spin his uncle’s infamy into pop-culture gold.

A self-proclaimed “mob rapper,” he has released two albums — complete with a grisly music video dramatizing the DeMeo crew’s bloody execution technique.

“Hey, that’s entertainment,” he said.

“I’m a law-abiding citizen, but I’ll use what I can, you know?”

While Senter, scheduled to be released in June, is already living in a New York City halfway house, Testa will likely reside with his wife JoAnn, 71, in Nevada, Sheffield said. 

The couple has two grown daughters and two grandchildren.

“He is not well enough to go to a halfway house,” the attorney said.

“He’ll go home.”

But locals suspect the dual release signals new revelations to come.

“There’s a rumor going around that when those guys get out, they’ll spill the beans,” the former Gemini Lounge patron said.

“They know where a lot of bodies are buried. There is no reason for them to be let out unless they’ve been cooperating with someone.”


Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Junior Gotti's family rejects plea deals after basketball game brawl

It was an offer they could refuse.

John “Junior” Gotti’s wife and daughter shot down plea deals that would’ve put them in anger management to settle charges that they sparked a wild brawl at a Long Island youth basketball game.

Kimberly Gotti, 55, and 23-year-old Gianna Gotti refused an offer to plead guilty to assault charges in exchange for 12 weeks of anger management and an order of protection for the victim, the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday.

The pair were charged with attacking a woman at a Locust Valley High School game in Lattingtown on Feb. 8 after the victim shouted insults at Kimberly’s son, Joe, who was playing for visiting Oyster Bay High School, according to authorities and court records.

The victim suffered “substantial pain to her scalp and bruises to both sides of her face,” according to a complaint filed in Nassau County First District Court.

The Gottis’ attorney blamed the blowup on the victim, telling The Post last month that she threw the first punch and was “badgering” Kimberly’s youngest son.

The lawyer, Gerard Michael Marrone, also denied his client used a homophobic slur.  

He said after the incident that Gianna, a professional basketball player who played for Brooklyn College before signing with a team in Portugal, stepped in to break up the brawl and help her mom after she was slugged in the face by the alleged victim.

But he said both Gottis declined to press charges against the woman when cops arrived.

“The Gottis don’t press charges,” Marrone said after the pair was arraigned last month.

Instead, they were arrested and charged.

Marrone did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

Kimberly Gotti is the daughter-in-law of the late mafia boss “Dapper Don” John Gotti — who infamously took over the Gambino crime family by ordering the mob hit of boss Paul Castellano outside Sparks Steak House in 1985.

He died of throat cancer in federal prison.

John “Junior” Gotti, meanwhile, served six years and five months behind bars for racketeering.

The hulking Queens-bred mafia scion was the target of four federal trials between 2004 and 2009 — all of which ended in mistrials. Federal prosecutors said they would no longer seek cases against him.


Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Elderly Colombo Captain sentenced to four years in prison for shaking down NYC union

A Mafia member was sentenced Wednesday to more than four years in federal prison for his role in a long-running scheme in which he and others extorted funds from a New York City labor union, federal prosecutors said.

Vincent Ricciardo, a captain in Colombo crime family, was also ordered to pay $350,000 in forfeiture and $280,890 in restitution by a Brooklyn court judge.

Ricciardo, who is also known as "Vinny Unions," pleaded guilty to racketeering last July for his participation in the labor union extortion as well as money laundering, loansharking, fraud and other mob schemes.

Lawyers for Ricciardo didn't immediately respond to messages seeking comment Wednesday.

Breon Peace, U.S. attorney for the eastern district of New York, said in a statement that the sentence holds Ricciardo "accountable" for his participation in a wide range of Mafia crimes.

"This prosecution represents our continued commitment to combatting organized crime and prosecuting the individuals who seek to enrich themselves at the expense of hardworking union members and their employers," he said.

The extortion scheme involved death threats, phony payments, and other hallmarks of Mafia-type shakedowns seen in movies.

Prosecutors say it started in 2001 when Ricciardo started squeezing a senior official with a Queens-based construction union to fork over a portion of his salary.

Russo and other Colombo leaders then concocted a plan to force the union to make decisions beneficial to the crime family, including driving contracts to vendors associated with the family, prosecutors said.

In one recorded conversation, Ricciardo even threatened to kill the union official in front of his family if he didn't comply.

"You laugh all you want pal, I’m not afraid to go to jail," he said, according to prosecutors.

Ricciardo is the tenth defendant sentenced in connection with the union scheme, according to Peace's office. Four others still await sentencing.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Gotti family members charged with assault after high school basketball game


This is the kind of thing that could leave someone wearing a pair of cement Air Jordans.

The daughter-in-law and granddaughter of one of America’s most notorious mob bosses got involved in an ugly scene at a Long Island youth basketball game that could have been pulled right from “The Sopranos” — when they allegedly brawled with another woman over some rude words to her teen son Thursday night.

Kimberly and Gianna Gotti allegedly attacked the victim at Locust Valley High School for shouting insults at her son Joe, who was playing for the visiting Oyster Bay High School team, according to sources and court records.

Both Kimberly, 55, and Gianna, 23, allegedly lunged at the victim, pummeled her and pulled her hair, and at one point called the other team’s players “fa—ts and pussies,” sources said.

The victim suffered “substantial pain to her scalp and bruises to both sides of her face,” according to a complaint filed in Nassau County First District Court.

The judge in the case charged the mother-daughter crew with third-degree assault and let them go on their recognizance during their Friday morning arraignment.

The judge also issued an order of protection meant to keep the infamous mob family members away from the victim in the case, who has not been named.

The Gottis’ attorney, Gerard Michael Mattone, blamed the blowup on the other parent, telling the Post that the woman threw the first punch and had been “badgering” Kimberly’s youngest son. He also denied his client used the homophobic slur.  

“They were making fun as he was playing, and then there was a little bit of a verbal thing that went back and forth between the fans – both sets of parents,” Mattone said. “And this ‘victim’ actually punched Mrs. Gotti. She threw the first punch.”

Mattone insisted that Kimberly is “the nicest lady” and never called the players any names.

“This is supposedly all on video,” Mattone argued. “This lady just went wild. She was uncontrollable. Security could not throw her out and then when she was finally thrown out, she kept coming back into the gymnasium to start more trouble with the Gotti family.”

Once Kimberly took a blow to the face, Gianna – herself a professional basketball player who previously played for Brooklyn College before signing with a team in Portugal – stepped in to break up the fight and help her mom, Mattone said. 

When police responded, they asked the Gotti pair if they would like to press charges – but they declined, Mattone said. 

“The Gottis don’t press charges,” he said. “And that’s why Mrs. Gotti was arrested and the daughter was arrested.”

Their next court date is set for March 6.

“It’s just unfortunate that, you know, you run into a person that’s a little bit of a maniac that has just zero respect for children and punches my client in the face,” Mattone said. “Because the Gottis don’t press charges, my client and her daughter wound up getting arrested. And that’s OK. Because we’ll find it [out] in court.”

Kimberly Gotti is the daughter-in-law of the late mafia boss “Dapper Don” John Gotti — who infamously took control of the Gambino crime family by ordering the killing of boss Paul Castellano at Sparks Steak House in 1985.

He died of throat cancer in federal prison.

John “Junior” Gotti, meanwhile, served six years and five months behind bars for racketeering.

The hulking Queens-bred mafia scion was the target of four federal trials between 2004 and 2009 — all of which ended in mistrials. Federal prosecutors said they would no longer seek cases against him.


Thursday, February 8, 2024

Bonanno Soldier accused of extortion while awaiting sentencing


A Bonanno crime family wiseguy didn’t let his arrest in a union shakedown scheme prevent him from committing more extortion and witness tampering, according to federal prosecutors in Brooklyn.

John “Bazoo” Ragano, a Bonanno crime family soldier with a criminal history spanning more than two decades, was awaiting sentencing on federal fraud and extortion charges when he extorted a loansharking victim between November 2022 and last July, prosecutors allege.

The indictment against Ragano, filed Feb. 1 in Brooklyn Federal Court, offers scant details about the allegations against him, except to say he engaged in harassing witnesses and witness tampering as well as extortionate collection of credit.

Ragano, 61, also known as “Maniac,” is currently serving a nearly five-year sentence in a low-security federal prison in Loretto, Pa. — after he was busted in a sweeping 2021 mob takedown that netted the entire leadership of the Colombo crime family.

His part of the scheme involved operating two bogus workplace training schools, in Franklin Square, L.I., and Ozone Park, Queens, that sold Occupational Safety and Health Administration certification cards for $500 a pop.

He slashed the tires of a woman he thought might tell law enforcement officials what he was up to, then bragged in a recorded call about how “there’s nothing they can do to me,” according to court filings by prosecutors.

“If she calls the cops and tells them that? I’ll just tell them, ‘Hey, OK, put me in jail, what’s the problem?’ … What are they gonna give me, three years? I’ll do that with my c–k on the bars,” he boasted.

He also took part in a $100,000 loansharking scheme with several Colombo members, and conspired to traffic pot in New York and Florida, prosecutors said.

Ragano’s criminal history dates back to at least 1999, when he was sentenced to 10 years behind bars for kidnapping after he robbed an Ozone Park accounting firm and held several workers there hostage at gunpoint, according to court filings.

He was also sentenced to more than four years in prison after a 2014 racketeering conspiracy case involving the late Vincent Asaro, a Bonanno capo who gained notoriety after he was charged in the infamous 1978 Lufthansa heist at Kennedy Airport depicted in Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas.” In a bombshell 2015 verdict, Asaro was found not guilty of taking part in the $6 million robbery.

Asaro died at age 88 in October.

Ragano has yet to be arraigned in the latest extortion case. Defense lawyer Joel Stein, who represented him in the 2021 case, said he hadn’t heard about the new indictment.

“This is all news to me,” he said.


Sunday, February 4, 2024

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Monday, January 29, 2024

Ex-husband of Real Housewives of NJ star looks to throw out charges he hired Lucchese Soldier for beating

He’s asking the court to fuggedaboutit.

The ex-husband of “Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Dina Manzo is looking to throw out a years-old racketeering case that accused him of hiring a Mafioso to rough up Manzo’s new beau.

Attorneys for Garden State restaurateur Tommy Manzo have asked a federal judge to dismiss the case against him because they say he’s been denied the “speedy trial” afforded to him by law.

The case centers on a 2020 indictment that says Manzo cut a deal with a Lucchese crime family soldier to rough up his ex-wife’s then-boyfriend, David Cantin, in a North Jersey parking lot five years earlier.

His alleged accomplice — reputed mafioso John Perna of Cedar Grove, New Jersey — has already served time behind bars for the “Sopranos”-style beatdown, Manzo’s attorneys say their client should be cleared because the court’s glacial pace has violated the federal Speedy Trial Act of 1974.

“The last day that Mr. Manzo could have been brought to trial on the Indictment in compliance with the [law] was December 10, 2022,” attorneys Marc Agnifilo and Zach Intrater wrote in a Jan. 19 federal court filing.

“But no effective continuance was signed until nearly eleven months later,” they continued. “There is no question that there has been a violation of the [Speedy Trial Act] in this case … the indictment against Mr. Manzo must be dismissed.”

In a Friday afternoon statement, Intrater added that Manzo is “a respected businessman who looks forward to these charges being dismissed so that he can get back to his family and the work that he loves.”

The US Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey declined to comment Friday.

Manzo’s request is the latest salvo in a lengthy court battle that’s thrust one of New Jersey’s most infamous families into the spotlight yet again — for all the wrong reasons.

Slapjacks and dirty deals

Manzo, 58, of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, married Dina in an over-the-top 2005 wedding chronicled on the VH1 reality series “My Big Fabulous Wedding.

But the couple split in 2012 over his alleged infidelity, “Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Kim DePaola told The Post in 2020 — though they wouldn’t officially divorce until 2016.

Federal prosecutors say Manzo got angry when Dina began seeing Cantin, an entrepreneur.

He allegedly hired Perna, reputedly a made man with the Lucchese crime family, to bust him up with a slapjack in front of a Passaic County strip mall, according to federal court documents.

In return, Manzo allegedly promised Perna a deeply-discounted wedding reception at The Brownstone, the well-known catering hall in Paterson, New Jersey, that his family had owned for decades.

At first, everything went according to plan, prosecutors claimed.

Perna grabbed a member of his crew and worked Cantin over on July 18, 2015, court documents said.

About a month later, The Brownstone hosted an opulent, 330-guest wedding for Perna’s family that was attended by a number of other crime family capos.

But of course, the feds eventually ruined it.

They arrested and indicted both men in the summer of 2020. A year later, Perna pleaded guilty to a charge of committing a violent crime in aid of racketeering activity and was sent to the slammer for nearly three years.

And Manzo, although free on bail, has languished with a federal albatross around his neck even as he runs his restaurant, which has long been a hangout for North Jersey politicos and bigwigs of all stripes.

The family business

Manzo’s father, Albert “Tiny” Manzo, bought The Brownstone from its original owners, the Clune family, back in the late 1970s, according to a history written by Rita Clune.

The Clunes had bought the “desolate, burned out” building just after World War II, she wrote. They turned it into a bar, then a banquet hall before selling to the 400-pound Tiny — whose nickname was steeped in irony — in the late 1970s.

An alleged mob enforcer, he’d once run for city mayor on a law-and-order platform whose main plank was bringing back public hangings at Passaic County Jail.

But the mobster’s fortunes eventually turned sour, and authorities found his naked body tied up in the trunk of his Lincoln Continental outside a Hillside, New Jersey supermarket in August 1983, with four bullet wounds cutting through his torso.

He and Gambino family soldier Peter A. Campisi had reportedly skimmed money from a mobbed-up casino on Staten Island — although rumors abound to this day about what actually led to his gangland execution.

His sons, Tommy and his brother Albert, have run the restaurant in the years since his death.

Other legal troubles

Of course, even if Manzo were to beat the federal rap, that doesn’t mean his problems are over.

He’s also embroiled in another court case involving his “Real Housewives of New Jersey” ex — this one stemming from charges that he and another man busted into Dina and Dave Cantin’s home in Holmdel, New Jersey, and beat them in 2017.

The Cantins — who married in June of that year — told cops that two men broke into their townhouse and attacked them as they walked in around 11 p.m. on May 13, according to NJ.com.

They hit Cantin with a bat and punched Dina several times, tied them up with zip ties and made off with cash and jewelry — including a new engagement ring.

During the attack, “an Italian guy with a North Jersey accent” told the pair: “This is what happens when you f–k with people from Paterson,” according to the affidavit.

Manzo and another man, James Mainello of Bayonne, were charged with robbery, burglary and aggravated assault for the crime.

But little information is available about the case, which has moved at a similarly slow pace and remains frozen until Manzo’s federal charges are resolved.

Christopher Adams, Manzo’s attorney for the state charges, did not respond to multiple inquiries requesting comment.

The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office said the next hearing is April 29, but declined to comment further.

That’s about two weeks after the April 16 jury selection for his federal case, meaning the North Jersey legend’s legal battles could soon be coming to a close — for better or worse.


Thursday, January 25, 2024

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.


Monday, January 15, 2024

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Colombo Underboss says his net worth is $5K and is almost homeless on the eve of sentencing

Crime really didn’t pay for a reputed Colombo family underboss — who once again is claiming poverty as he asks for leniency when he’s sentenced for a union shakedown scheme.

Benjamin “The Claw” Castellazzo, 86, is so short on cash that he might become homeless if he loses his federally subsidized senior housing while he’s in the can, his lawyer wrote to a federal judge this month. His net worth is just $5,092, according to his lawyer.

Castellazzo is slated to be sentenced for money laundering conspiracy on Jan. 22.

“While Mr. Castellazzo was not evicted during his approximately six-month period of pretrial detention earlier in this case, a sentence that exposes him to far more time in custody would risk his eviction,” his lawyer, Ilana Haramati, wrote in a Jan. 3 sentencing letter to Brooklyn Federal Court Judge Hector Gonzalez.

“In his late 80s, he would be homeless. Without access to subsidized senior housing, he is unlikely to be able to afford another apartment.”

Castellazzo also cast himself as a brokefella with a laundry list of medical conditions at a 2013 extortion sentencing in Brooklyn Federal Court.

His lawyer at the time said Castellazzo and his wife were living in a modest mobile home in New Jersey, getting by on Social Security payments and food stamps.

In a 2021 feature story about Castellazzo’s life, NJ.com reported that he and his wife reported a combined monthly income of $1,115 when she filed for bankruptcy in 2011, and they paid $450 a month to live in the mobile home.

Hard times or not, he still got hard time — Judge Kiyo Matsumoto still sentenced him to more than five years behind bars, pointing out his decades-spanning criminal career, and noting that he brought up his medical condition in a 2002 sentencing.

Castellazzo and his wife moved into a HUD-subsidized rental apartment complex, Stafford by the Bay, in Manahawkin, N.J., in 2018. He’s lived alone there since her death, Haramati wrote.

Castellazzo could face between 24 to 30 months behind bars after pleading guilty in his most recent case, which stems from a takedown of the entire leadership of the Colombo crime family.

The crime family’s labor union shakedown started in 2001, and by 2019, the Colombos were trying to turn the Queens union, which represented construction workers in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, into a mob-run operation.

All of the 14 defendants busted in the case have taken a plea, except for the Colombo boss, Andrew “Mush” Russo, who died in April 2022 at age 87.

Haramati also argued that Castellazzo’s failing health should factor into his sentence, pointing to how a recent detainee at Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center was not sent to a medical facility for several weeks despite a highly contagious MRSA infection.

“Mr. Castellazzo’s long term care cannot be entrusted to the (Bureau of Prisons) — the BOP’s recent track record caring for sick and elderly inmates is nothing short of appalling,” she wrote.


Italian mobster earns degree after writing 170 pg thesis confessing to three unsolved murders

He graduated magnum cum laude.

An incarcerated Italian mobster is being hailed as a “brilliant” honor student after writing a 170-page thesis paper based on his life of crime — in which he confessed to three unsolved murders.

Catello Romano, 33, earned a sociology degree with the dissertation while serving a life sentence at the Calabrian prison of Catanzaro.

He was convicted in the 2009 murder of a Naples councilman and other crimes, according to El PaĆ­s, a Spanish newspaper.

“My name is Catello Romano. I am 33 years old, and I have been in prison for almost half my life, 14 consecutive years,” the thesis began, according to the outlet. 

“I have committed horrendous crimes and have been convicted of several Camorra murders. What follows is my criminal history.”

The gangster-turned-undergraduate said his first murder victims were rising rival mobster Carmine D’Antuono, and Federico Donnarumma — a man who was only rubbed out because he was conversing with D’Antuono at the time of the assassination.

The 2008 double murder was “the most violent, traumatic and irreparable event” of Romano’s life and left a “hole” in his “soul,” the honor student mafioso wrote.

He also copped to the previously unsolved slaying of rival mafioso Nunzio Mascolo the same year.

“Although I cannot prove it, I am sure that he did nothing wrong to deserve death,” the repentant killer lamented.

The thesis recounts Romano’s non-criminal family history as the prisoner reflected on what made him gravitate to “the allure of crime.”

“I have intimately known misery, and the negative influence it can have, since my childhood,” he wrote, arguing that the mafia is an attractive family “institution” for people who grew up on the margins of society.

“With them, I built my new alternative identity as a tough guy, as a mask with which to hide my inability to accept my fragility as a teenager and as a way of surviving in a violent and extreme world,” he wrote.

For Romano, violence became “a language and a way of claiming respect and social recognition” — something, he admitted, he was not proud of.

The paper ultimately sought to understand “the criminal phenomenon” and contribute “to its possible prevention.”

“I am convinced that words are important and this autoethnographic text aims to change the world around us,” he wrote, according to El Pais.

Romano’s admission to three unprosecuted killings, however, has now drawn the attention of prosecutors — who are weighing reopening the cases and led to him being transferred to a maximum-security prison in Padua, the outler reported.

Meanwhile, Catanzaro University professor and sociologist Charlie Barnao, who was Romano’s thesis advisor described the mobster as a “brilliant student, who has gotten very good grades throughout his course of study.”

“He has recounted in detail circumstances that will have consequences; he was very determined to expose that in his thesis,” the professor, who has taught Sociology of Survival to the imprisoned for five years, said.

“He has put his life in order once and for all and organized the episodes of his life to analyze them through a sociological research method, which has also had a kind of therapeutic function.”

Romano worked with the state after admitting to killing Castellammare di Stabia councilman councilman Luigi Tommasino for “meddling in too many things that did not concern him” in 2009.

His cooperation with the government was short-lived, however, after he escaped from custody, according to the outlet.


Sunday, January 7, 2024

Monday, January 1, 2024