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

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Veteran Colombo family Boss dies at the age of 87 while out on $10 million bond for racketeering charges


Colombo family kingpin Andrew “Mush” Russo, the mob veteran busted for racketeering last year before myriad health woes led to his release on a $10 million bond, died Monday night, his attorney confirmed to the Daily News.

The 87-year-old Russo, a cousin of the late and legendary boss Carmine Persico, was arrested in a huge federal sweep last September over the crime family’s attempt to violently seize control of a local labor union, according to court documents. He was turned loose a month later and died in the company of family without facing trial in the pending case, attorney Jeffrey Lichtman said Wednesday.

“He had a number of medical issues,” Lichtman told the News. “I don’t know what ultimately did him in. He was not well when he was arrested, which is why we were successful in getting him out on bail.

“I would hope there is some small solace for the family in that he was able to die surrounded by his loved ones as opposed to in a prison.”

The federal charges alleged that Russo and the rest of the family administration “used extortionate means, including direct threats of bodily harm,” in their plot to snap up the labor union.

The veteran gangster, caught on a wiretap before his 2011 guilty plea to federal charges, offered a glimpse of his management style: “I don’t hesitate, I’ve never hesitated” to use violence against mob colleagues who stepped out of line.

Russo, who lived in Glen Head, L.I., was convicted alongside his relative Persico in a 1986 mob trial on racketeering charges, and was reportedly bumped up to acting boss after his release from prison eight years later.

In late 2020, Russo assembled the family’s top hierarchy in late 2020 for a mob sitdown at the legendary Brennan and Carr restaurant in Brooklyn as federal agents surreptitiously watched, the Daily News previously reported.

Russo was long involved in the Colombo family hierarchy, serving as an acting underboss in the mid-1970s before his 1994 promotion by the imprisoned Persico.

According to authorities, he became the official head of the family in 2010 after his parole on a prior arrest ended. He then continued to head the Colombos from behind bars after his conviction on a separate charge one year later.

Russo, freed in June 2013, stayed on in the top spot until his arrest in last year’s massive racketeering sweep that initially left him behind bars with 13 other Colombo leaders and associates.

Back in 1981, Russo was believed dead by the FBI when he suddenly disappeared — only to stunningly resurface at a court hearing where he surrendered to authorities.

The mob boss was also a schoolboy pal of “The Godfather” actor James Caan, who was subpoenaed to appear at Russo’s 1985 Manhattan Federal Court trial.

“We grew up together,” Caan told reporters at the time. “I’ve never heard anything about this. He’s got eight grandchildren. This is unreal.”



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