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

Monday, June 28, 2010

More than 30 members of Lucchese crime family plead not guilty to N.J. racketeering, conspiracy

Thirty-two people, including two dozen from New Jersey, pleaded not guilty today to being part of an international gambling ring linked to the Lucchese crime family and accused of processing $2.2 billion in sports bets during a 15-month period.
Indicted May 14 in New Jersey in a 2007 probe dubbed "Operation Heat," the defendants include reputed mob leaders Joseph DiNapoli, 74, of Scarsdale, N.Y., and Matthew Madonna 74, of Selden, N.Y., who allegedly control the crime family from New York, as well as Ralph Perna, 64, of East Hanover and Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., 44, of Egg Harbor, who have overseen Lucchese operations in New Jersey.
Also charged is Martin Taccetta, 59, of East Hanover, a former New Jersey underboss for the family serving life in prison for a 1993 racketeering conviction, and 27 other "associates," authorities said.
The alleged gambling operation involved mostly sports bets, routed through a "wire room" in Costa Rica. The charges include racketeering, weapons possession, tax evasion, bribery, money laundering and conspiracy.
Of 35 defendants in the case, 32 were arraigned in Superior Court in Morristown today and entered not-guilty pleas. Plea offers, which have not yet been made, will occur by grouping defendants in tiers of top, middle and bottom, with the lower tiers getting the first plea offers, Deputy Attorney General Mark Eliades told Judge Thomas Manahan.
Each defendant was provided with evidence against them, including thousands of pages of affidavits, wiretap orders, grand-jury minutes and search warrants. Forthcoming evidence will include videotape surveillance and wiretaps.
Other New Jersey defendants arraigned today were: Michael Maffucci, 24, of Cedar Grove; Perna’s sons, John Perna, 32, and Ralph M. Perna, 38, both of West Caldwell, and Joseph Perna, 40, and his wife, Roseanna Perna, 36, of Wyckoff; Michael Cetta, 43, and his wife, Vita Cetta, 41, of Wyckoff, John Mangrella, 67, of Clifton; Alfonso "Tic" Cataldo, 68, of Florham Park; Antonio "Curly" Russo, 73, of Bloomingdale; Gianni Iacovo, 34, of Elmwood Park; James "Beans" Furfaro Jr., 30, of Parsippany; John Turi, 31, of Clifton; Robert Romano, 31, of Brick; Shpetim "Tim" Hani, 33, of North Haledon; Blerim Ibraimi, 29, of Hawthorne; George Maiorano, 65, of Belleville; Samuel Juliano, 65, of Glen Ridge; Kristine Gilliam, 27, of Farmingdale; Edwin "Money" Spears, 36, of Neptune; and Michael "Mac" Bruinton, 46, of Ringoes, a former East Jersey State Prison corrections officer.
Also arraigned were Ron Scripps, 46, of Staten Island, N.Y.; Gary Medure, 56, of New York, N.Y.; Charles Bologna, 57, and Robert DeCrescenzo, 35, both of Port Chester, N.Y.; Elliot Porco, 47, of Bronx, N.Y.; and Michael Ramuno III, 36, of Philadelphia.
Three defendants did not appear in court today: Frank Cetta, 71, of Las Vegas, the subject of a bench warrant for his arrest; and two associates, Francine Hightower, who previously pleaded guilty, and Dwayne Spears, brother of Edwin, who is incarcerated in Pennsylvania, authorities said.
The probe also alleges a Lucchese-Bloods gang connection, as Edwin Spears is named as a "self-professed" gang leader. The Spears brothers are accused of working with former corrections officer Bruinton to smuggle heroin and cell phones into East Jersey State Prison in Woodbridge in a scheme financed by Joseph Perna and Michael Cetta.



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