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

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bonanno associate dodges life sentence for massive pot smuggling ring

City pot kingpin dodges life behind bars
A Bonanno crime family associate who helped run one of the city’s biggest pot rings dodged a life sentence, instead landing 11 years behind bars during sentencing Tuesday in Brooklyn federal court.

John “Big Man” Venizelos, 35, who plead guilty last year to marijuana trafficking charges, was one of the biggest New York customers of French Canadian alleged drug kingpin Jimmy “Cosmo” Cournoyer.

During his bust in 2013, federal agents seized more than $150,000 in drug proceeds, narcotics, encrypted blackberry devices and multiple guns, including a handgun that was stolen from a law-enforcement officer.

Venizelos also got into trouble for witness tampering last year after prosecutors say he sent encrypted Blackberry messages to a colleague explaining that Cournoyer bankrolled a “murder fund” for hits against informants.

“No question, I sold pot. … Now that I’m clean and sober for the first time, I see the mistakes I made,” Venizelos said in court, wearing his signature horn-rimmed glasses, as about 20 friends and family looked on.

Before sentencing, Judge Raymond Dearie offered a stern warning, telling Venizelos that if he was ever arrested again, “God only knows what’s going to fall on you.

“You have some shady friends, got to make some new friends,” Dearie told him.

United States Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement, “Venizelos used violence and intimidation to protect his position as a major narcotics distributor.

“[His] conviction underscores our commitment to prosecuting drug offenders who flood our communities with narcotics, especially when those individuals have chosen a life of organized crime.

Cournoyer is awaiting sentencing. His alleged operation ran on alliances with the Bonanno family, Hell’s Angels, Montreal mafia and the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel.



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