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

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

COVID-19 outbreak in NJ prison sickens numerous mobsters

A massive coronavirus outbreak has turned a New Jersey federal prison into a house of horrors, with quarantined inmates bedridden, coughing and vomiting, according to harrowing inmate accounts.

At least five New York City mobsters have been sickened at FCI Fort Dix, in Burlington County, N.J., about 30 miles east of Philadelphia.

In one unit, 217 out of 230 prisoners — 94% — tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 5, say court filings. The prison’s 232 confirmed COVID-19 cases exceeds those of any other federal prison or jail in the country.

“I woke up at 3:00 a.m. Friday morning, drenched in sweat, unable to breath, I vomited for two hours, my entire body ached,” wrote Felix Morales — who is incarcerated at Fort Dix — in a Nov. 10 email obtained by the Daily News.

“Twenty minutes my breathing was constricted in little gasp, it felt like I was being suffocated.”

Fort Dix Unit 5812 has accounted for nearly all the COVID-19 cases in the prison, which — counting its adjacent prison camp — last week housed 2,774 inmates, more than any other federal lockup.

“I’ve been bedridden since I first got my symptoms on Monday,” inmate Robert Speed said between coughs during a recorded Nov. 8 phone call shared with The News. “I don’t see them [staff] doing anything but temperature checks.”

The outbreak has renewed calls from inmates for compassionate release from judges. Many of those seeking compassionate release are members of La Cosa Nostra in New York City.

One of the sick wiseguys at Fort Dix is Bonnano family member Daniel Mongelli, who was convicted of taking part in a mob rubout. Mongelli was ordered released by a Brooklyn federal judge Nov. 5.

Bonnanno soldier Michael Padavona caught the bug. “He is currently alone in his cell with a fever and an extremely irregular blood pressure,” wrote Padavona’s lawyer in a Nov. 4 request for release from prison for his client,

“To be sure, the government understands that the defendant has contracted COVID-19 and is currently in isolation suffering from the disease, and does not mean to downplay that fact,” the feds wrote in opposition to Padavona’s request for release.

But they argued that Padavona’s minor symptoms, fever, body aches, loss of smell, headaches and coughs do not merit compassionate release for the made man.

Other mobsters with COVID-19 are 75-year-old Genovese family member Ernest Montevecchi, Lucchese capo John Castelucci and Colombo associate Michael Spataro.

Lawyers, inmates and prison union officials say the outbreak began after numerous groups of men — some who ended up testing positive for COVID-19 — were transferred to Fort Dix from the minimum-security federal prison in Elkton, Ohio.

“It’s clearly a huge outbreak and it’s clear it happened because BOP screwed up and transferred people from another facility that had a huge outbreak — from Elkton,” said David Patton, attorney-in-chief of the Federal Defenders in Manhattan.

The Bureau of Prisons did not immediately respond to a request for comment.



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