Colombo Crime Family Faces Massive Federal Indictment

Former American organized crime boss Joseph Colombo (1914 - 1978) sits at his desk in New York City in a 1971 file photo. He was the patriarch of the Colombo organized crime syndicate. (Photo by Express/Getty Images)

Former American organized crime boss Joseph Colombo (1914 – 1978) sits at his desk in New York Metropolis in a 1971 file picture. He was the patriarch of the Colombo organized crime syndicate.

A grand jury indictment unsealed on Tuesday prices 14 particular person defendants — amongst them “the whole management construction of the Colombo crime household” — with a litany of crimes.

These charged embrace Colombo crime household boss Andrew “Mush” Russo, underboss Benjamin “Benji” Castellazzo, and consigliere Ralph DiMatteo.

Additionally charged are Colombo crime household captains Theodore Persico, Jr., Richard Ferrara and Vincent Ricciardo.  Soldier Michael Uvino and associates Thomas Costa and Domenick Ricciardo are additionally indicted.

Bonanno household soldier John Ragano is charged with “loansharking, fraud and drug trafficking offenses,” prosecutors stated.

However the core defendants are charged with siphoning roughly $10,000 a month away from a labor union’s well being plan to assist fund organized crime actions.  A few of the cash got here by way of threats geared toward numerous union officers and their households and have been taken from these officers’ salaries, prosecutors stated.

A complete of 19 counts are alleged. They embrace “labor racketeering involving a number of predicate acts of extortion conspiracy, tried extortion and extortion, extortionate assortment of credit score conspiracy, extortionate assortment of credit score and cash laundering conspiracy,” federal prosecutors stated in a information launch.

Prosecutors stated the Colombo crime relations have been engaged “in a long-running effort . . . to infiltrate and take management of a Queens-based labor union . . . and its affiliated well being care profit program . . . that gives medical advantages, together with dental, optical and pharmacy advantages, to the members of the Labor Union, and to a conspiracy to commit fraud in reference to office security certifications.”

A request for pretrial detention filed by federal prosecutors lays out a number of the case:

Roughly one yr in the past, regulation enforcement brokers acquired info that a number of members of the Colombo crime household have been extorting a senior official of a Queens, New York primarily based labor union (the “Labor Union”). The federal government’s investigation has recognized that the senior official, who is called as “John Doe #1” within the Indictment, was considered one of a number of people related to the Labor Union or its worker welfare profit fund (the “Well being Fund”) who’ve acquired threats, stress and calls for from the Racketeering Defendants.

Between August 2020 and March 2021, the federal government intercepted phone communications, pursuant to judicially approved wiretaps, for telephones utilized by Racketeering Defendants DiMatteo, Persico, Ferrara, Vincent Ricciardo, Uvino and Domenick Ricciardo. The interceptions revealed, amongst different issues, that the senior management of the Colombo crime household, together with boss Andrew Russo was intimately concerned in directing the extortion of the Labor Union, Well being Fund and their workers and consultants.

13 of the defendants have been rounded up in New York and New Jersey on Tuesday.  One, Ricciardo, was caught in North Carolina.  DiMatteo has not been arrested and “stays at massive,” prosecutors stated.

“In the present day’s prices describe a long-standing, ruthless sample by the administration of the Colombo crime household, its captains, members and associates, of conspiring to exert management over the administration of a labor union by threatening to inflict bodily hurt on considered one of its senior officers and devising a scheme to divert and launder vendor contract funds from its well being care profit program,” stated Performing U.S. Lawyer Jacquelyn M. Kasulis stated. “As well as, for their very own enrichment, the defendants conspired to have interaction in extortionate loansharking, cash laundering and fraud, in addition to drug trafficking.”

Kasulis stated considered one of her workplace’s precedence was to “shield[] the independence of labor unions.”

“The whole lot we allege on this investigation proves historical past does certainly repeat
itself,” stated Michael J. Driscoll, the FBI Assistant Director-in-Cost of the New York area workplace. “The underbelly of the crime households in New York Metropolis is alive and nicely. These troopers, consiglieres, below bosses, and managers are clearly not college students of historical past, and don’t appear to grasp that we’re going to catch them. No matter what number of occasions they fill the void we create of their ranks, our FBI Organized Crime Job Power, and our regulation enforcement companions, are positioned to take them out once more, and once more.”

Elsewhere, prosecutors alleged that Vincent Ricciardo and Domenick Ricciardo “collected a portion of the wage of a senior official within the Labor Union (“John Doe #1”) by threatening to hurt John Doe #1 and his household.”

Once more, in keeping with prosecutors:

For instance, on June 21, 2021, in a consensually recorded dialog, Vincent Ricciardo threatened to kill John Doe #1 if he didn’t adjust to Vincent Ricciardo’s calls for. He defined that John Doe #1 is aware of, “I’ll put him within the floor proper in entrance of his spouse and youngsters, proper in entrance of his f—–g home, you snort all you need pal, I’m not afraid to go to jail, let me inform you one thing, to show some extent? I’d f—–g shoot him proper in entrance of his spouse and youngsters, name the police, f–okay it, let me go, how lengthy you assume I’m gonna final anyway?”

A number of different defendants are charged with falsifying paperwork to federal and state authorities companies that claimed “tons of of staff had accomplished required security programs when in actuality that they had not.”  Some defendants are charged with utilizing alleged security colleges “to conduct conferences involving members of La Cosa Nostra and to retailer unlawful medication and fireworks.”  A number of defendants are charged with “extending and gathering on extortionate loans;” a number of are charged with delivery marijuana from New York to Florida.

The defendants every withstand 20 years in jail if convicted.  The total listing of all fourteen defendants is beneath.

ANDREW RUSSO (also referred to as “Mush”), 87, of Glen Head, N.Y.

JOSEPH BELLANTONI, 39, of Massapequa, N.Y.

BENJAMIN CASTELLAZZO (also referred to as “Benji”), 83, of Manahawkin, N.J.

THOMAS COSTA, 52, of West Islip, N.Y.

RALPH DIMATTEO, 66, of Merrick, N.Y.

RICHARD FERRARA, 59, of Brooklyn, N.Y.

JOHN GLOVER, 62, of Queens, N.Y.

VINCENT MARTINO, 43, of Medford, N.Y.

THEODORE PERSICO, JR. (also referred to as “Teddy”), 58, of Brooklyn, N.Y.

JOHN RAGANO (also referred to as “Bazoo” and “Maniac”), 59 of Franklin Sq., N.Y.

DOMENICK RICCIARDO, 56, of Franklin Sq., N.Y.

VINCENT RICCIARDO (also referred to as “Vinny Unions”), 75, of Franklin Sq., N.Y.

ERIN THOMPKINS, 53, of Franklin Sq., N.Y.

MICHAEL UVINO, 56, of Backyard Metropolis, N.Y.

Costa and Uvino appeared in federal court docket Tuesday afternoon with their attorneys and pleaded not responsible.

Russo and Bellantoni have been arraigned individually. Russo appeared by videoconference from a hospital whereas below federal guard. It was unclear from the continuing exactly why he was in a medical facility, however a minimum of one participant on the distant name stated the beeping of hospital tools was bothersome. Russo’s lawyer stated he can be within the hospital “for a while.”

“I hear you!” Russo stated to a federal decide when requested if a distant video connection labored.

“I learn it. I did learn it, your honor,” Russo stated when requested if he acquired a replica of his indictment.

“Are you ready to enter a plea of responsible?” the decide requested in an obvious slip of the tongue. “Responsible or not responsible?” she instantly corrected.

“Not responsible,” Russo answered.

Bellantoni additionally entered a not responsible plea.

Costa, Uvino, and Russo have been ordered detained pending trial, however they’re being allowed to problem that call if they need.

“Maintain on, your honor,” Russo stated whereas asking a query — however the connection lower out.

The decide stated Russo can be launched from the hospital to a federal detention heart the place he and his lawyer may try to organize a bail utility.

“That’s all proper, your honor; thanks a lot,” Russo stated.

Prosecutors had requested that Russo, Costa, Uvino, and 7 different defendants not be allowed to be launched on bail pending trial.

“Can I get bail?” Russo then questioned — apparently confused concerning the continuing. The decide then re-explained that Russo would go to a detention heart when he’s launched from the hospital the place he and his lawyer may try and problem his pretrial detention.

Russo stated he would do regardless of the attorneys and the decide wished. The decide stated she didn’t have a vote within the matter. Russo’s lawyer consented to the plan articulated by the court docket and stated the time to problem the pretrial detention would come someday later — and after the protection had an opportunity to obtain and to assessment a number of the proof from prosecutors.

The attorneys and the court docket spent about ten minutes hashing out whether or not or not bond can be allowed for Bellantoni.

“I do, your honor,” Bellantoni stated when requested if he understood the restrictions imposed — which included no contact with organized crime figures, no contact with the allegedly focused labor union or its well being fund, and restrictions on journey to solely the New York Metropolis and Lengthy Island areas. A relative agreed to place up property as a part of a $100,000 bond. The property had been refinanced pursuant to a mortgage as not too long ago as final month, so there was some haggling over the quantity of fairness that had constructed up within the property.

Learn a number of the case paperwork beneath.  They delineate the precise prices filed in opposition to the precise defendants:

[Image via Express/Getty Images]

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