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

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Brothers admit extorting money from owner of Hawthorne landscape business

Two brothers from Middlesex County pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring to extort thousands of dollars from the owner of a Hawthorne landscaping business, authorities said.
Peter Ventricelli, 33, and Mark Ventricelli, 27, both of Parlin, invested money in Harrington Landscape and then later demanded interest-only payments from the owner of the business, whom authorities identified only by the initials “M.H.” The brothers enforced the payments through death threats and other means, according to court papers.
The scheme started in May 2006 when Peter Ventricelli, an employee at Harrington Landscape, initially invested in the business, claiming that the money came from friends and family, according to a superseding indictment.
More than a year later Peter Ventricelli told M.H. that $25,000 of the invested funds had in fact come from Michael Sciarra, 75, of Pompton Lakes, who pleaded guilty in 2009 to an extortion charge for his role in the case. Sciarra, who was also known as “The Old Man” or “Big Mike,” is a former president of a Union City truckers’ union and is said to have had ties to the Genovese crime family.
Peter Ventricelli also hinted to M.H. that Sciarra was associated with organized crime when demanding payments. In September 2007, Peter Ventricelli threatened M.H. with two .22-caliber pistols on Sciarra’s behalf, firing one from M.H.’s balcony and hinting that they had been used on previous “jobs,” according to the indictment. The guns were later given to Mark Ventricelli for safekeeping.
Several months after the gun incident Sciarra met M.H. outside the Oak Leaf Social Club in Hoboken and threatened him again, saying that if he did not repay some of the loans — which at that point totaled $150,000 — M.H. would be met with harm, according to the indictment.
At a diner in Carlstadt in February 2009, Sciarra and Peter Ventricelli met with M.H. to again demand repayment of the loans, which Sciarra said by this point had grown to $350,000. Peter Ventricelli asked Sciarra for permission to harm M.H. at the diner meeting, eventually growing so animated that Sciarra said, “Would you stop! You wanna go to jail? You’re going to go to jail here.”
Sciarra and both Ventricellis were arrested nine months later for the scheme, which prosecutors said cost M.H. nearly $212,000.
Both Ventricellis pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of conspiracy to commit extortion and one count of extortion. They are scheduled to be sentenced in August. They face up to 20 years in prison and more than $250,000 in fines.



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