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

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Colombo Underboss says his net worth is $5K and is almost homeless on the eve of sentencing

Crime really didn’t pay for a reputed Colombo family underboss — who once again is claiming poverty as he asks for leniency when he’s sentenced for a union shakedown scheme.

Benjamin “The Claw” Castellazzo, 86, is so short on cash that he might become homeless if he loses his federally subsidized senior housing while he’s in the can, his lawyer wrote to a federal judge this month. His net worth is just $5,092, according to his lawyer.

Castellazzo is slated to be sentenced for money laundering conspiracy on Jan. 22.

“While Mr. Castellazzo was not evicted during his approximately six-month period of pretrial detention earlier in this case, a sentence that exposes him to far more time in custody would risk his eviction,” his lawyer, Ilana Haramati, wrote in a Jan. 3 sentencing letter to Brooklyn Federal Court Judge Hector Gonzalez.

“In his late 80s, he would be homeless. Without access to subsidized senior housing, he is unlikely to be able to afford another apartment.”

Castellazzo also cast himself as a brokefella with a laundry list of medical conditions at a 2013 extortion sentencing in Brooklyn Federal Court.

His lawyer at the time said Castellazzo and his wife were living in a modest mobile home in New Jersey, getting by on Social Security payments and food stamps.

In a 2021 feature story about Castellazzo’s life, NJ.com reported that he and his wife reported a combined monthly income of $1,115 when she filed for bankruptcy in 2011, and they paid $450 a month to live in the mobile home.

Hard times or not, he still got hard time — Judge Kiyo Matsumoto still sentenced him to more than five years behind bars, pointing out his decades-spanning criminal career, and noting that he brought up his medical condition in a 2002 sentencing.

Castellazzo and his wife moved into a HUD-subsidized rental apartment complex, Stafford by the Bay, in Manahawkin, N.J., in 2018. He’s lived alone there since her death, Haramati wrote.

Castellazzo could face between 24 to 30 months behind bars after pleading guilty in his most recent case, which stems from a takedown of the entire leadership of the Colombo crime family.

The crime family’s labor union shakedown started in 2001, and by 2019, the Colombos were trying to turn the Queens union, which represented construction workers in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, into a mob-run operation.

All of the 14 defendants busted in the case have taken a plea, except for the Colombo boss, Andrew “Mush” Russo, who died in April 2022 at age 87.

Haramati also argued that Castellazzo’s failing health should factor into his sentence, pointing to how a recent detainee at Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center was not sent to a medical facility for several weeks despite a highly contagious MRSA infection.

“Mr. Castellazzo’s long term care cannot be entrusted to the (Bureau of Prisons) — the BOP’s recent track record caring for sick and elderly inmates is nothing short of appalling,” she wrote.



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