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

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Former South Florida Genovese Family Captain cooperates with the government

When the grandfather who once ran South Florida operations for the Genovese organized crime family was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison, he said he wasn't helping prosecutors.
Perhaps the former "capo" didn't mean it — or maybe prison, old age and a good deal changed his mind.
On Wednesday, prosecutors went back to court to recommend that Renaldi "Ray" Ruggiero's sentence be cut in half because of his "cooperation with the government."
The defense asked for a little more: If the judge was inclined to cut the sentence in half, would he shave off another six months because Ruggiero is now 78 and has serious medical conditions, including heart trouble and diabetes.
With standard time off for good behavior and the prosecution's half-off offer, Ruggiero would have been eligible for release in early August. With the defense's suggestion, he would be free in a matter of days or weeks.
U.S. District Judge James Cohn agreed to both requests, saying prosecutors showed that Ruggiero provided "substantial assistance" to them.
"In light of Mr. Ruggiero's health conditions, I don't know that serving an additional six months is going to really make that much difference," the judge said. "I think the punitive aspect and the deterrent aspect of the court's sentence have been accomplished."
Prosecutors didn't publicly say what Ruggiero did, but wrote in court records that he helped with investigations or prosecutions. Lawyers for both sides spoke briefly with the judge at a sidebar conference where they provided some detail.
Ruggiero, who owned the Soprano's restaurant in West Palm Beach and formerly lived in Palm Beach Gardens, has been in custody since June 2006, court records show. He appears to be held under an assumed name.
Because of his poor health, the fact he's in custody out of state and "other concerns," Ruggiero wasn't in court on Wednesday, but his daughter, Susan, and two granddaughters came from New York to attend. Ruggiero's daughter hugged the defense lawyer, Michael Salnick, after the hearing.
Ruggiero became South Florida's top Genovese boss in 2003. He pleaded guilty in 2007 to racketeering conspiracy for his role in criminal activities in Broward and Palm Beach counties between 1994 and 2006. Among the criminal activities he sanctioned were robberies, extortion, money laundering and loan sharking, according to court records.
Ruggiero approved a violent assault on a South Florida businessman at a Coral Springs office in October 2003. Ruggiero wasn't there for the beating, but was caught on a wiretap bragging that his crew "broke [the victim's] fingers, messed up his other hand, beat him up, and told him if he did not pay him his money by next week, he'll know what to expect."
Ruggiero also laundered alleged drug money and accepted more than $100,000 worth of stolen goods from an undercover agent, records show. During a search of Ruggiero's house, agents found records of about 40 loans Ruggiero made at annual interest rates between 52 percent and 156 percent.



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