In New Jersey state authorities have announced a sweeping indictment of 34 suspected members and associates of the Lucchese crime family on racketeering and other charges pursuant to "a continuation of Operation Heat, a year-long investigation that culminated in several arrests targeting a $2.2 billion underground gambling operation in 2007" as reported by Chris Megerian for The Star-Ledger:
Named in the indictment are the current and former leaders of the crime family's New Jersey faction: Ralph Perna, 64, of East Hanover, and Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., 44, of Ventnor. Two New York leaders are also included: Joseph DiNapoli, 74, of Scarsdale, N.Y., and Matthew Madonna, 74, of Seldon, N.Y. * * * Authorities said the investigation revealed connections between the Lucchese crime family and the Bloods gang. The indictment said Edwin Spears, 36, of Neptune, a high-ranking member of the Nine Trey Gangsters set, worked with former corrections officer Michael Bruinton, 46, of Ringoes to smuggle drugs and cell phones into East Jersey State Prison in Woodbridge.
Nicky Jr. is the son of 81-year-old Nicodemo Scarfo who is the former reputed boss of the Philadelphia Mafia now serving a life sentence in a federal prison in Georgia following his 1988 racketeering conviction as reported by Jim Walsh for the Courier-Post. The junior Scarfo "has had run-ins with the law practically since he was old enough to drink and enter a casino" as reported by Michael Clark and Elaine Rose for the Press of Atlantic City:
He was arrested and charged with weapons offenses after an August 1987 incident inside Resorts International casino. The judge dismissed the charges at trial because the knife he was carrying was not involved in the fight. He was arrested again in 1988 for assaulting a woman in an elevator of Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia while visiting his brother who was a patient. He was later found guilty and sentenced to probation. Scarfo, then 24, was shot four times on Halloween night in 1989 while having dinner in a South Philadelphia restaurant, an incident authorities later said was part of a feud within his crime family. Scarfo Jr. was indicted in March 1991 on charges of running a criminal operation and distribution of illegal gambling machines. He was alleged to be relaying messages from his father, who at the time was serving a sentence in federal penitentiary in Marion, Ill. He was sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy. In March 1997, Scarfo was sentenced to another 13 months in prison on weapons charges stemming from a fight a year earlier at the Deja Vu nightclub in Atlantic City. His last stint behind bars began in 2002, when he was sentenced to 33 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to running a gambling operation.
In connection with the gambling component of the indictment announced yesterday, NJ Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor stated through a press release:
Most of the defendants were initially charged and arrested in Operation Heat in December 2007. However, Scarfo and two other men were charged today for the first time in the ongoing investigation. The other two men are Frank Cetta, 71, of Las Vegas, Nevada, who allegedly ran the gambling operation's Costa Rican wire room, and Gary P. Medure, 56, of New York, N.Y., a close associate of DiNapoli who allegedly managed gambling "packages," groups of bettors who regularly gambled through the operation. Three other men named in the indictment were arrested after the initial arrests but prior to today's indictment. They are Michael A. Maffucci, 24, of Cedar Grove, N.J., Charles J. Bologna, 57, of Port Chester, N.Y., and Robert V. DeCrescenzo, 35, of Port Chester, N.Y. Each of them allegedly managed or assisted in the management of gambling packages. * * * It is alleged that DiNapoli and Madonna controlled the crime family's gambling operations and other criminal activities from New York. Both Perna and Scarfo are alleged to have overseen the Lucchese crime family’s operations in New Jersey. Also indicted were Perna's three sons, Joseph M. Perna, 40, of Wyckoff, John G. Perna, 32, of West Caldwell, and Ralph M. Perna, 38, of West Caldwell. The sons, led by Joseph, allegedly managed day-to-day gambling operations under their father's oversight. Two other men who were indicted, Michael A. Cetta, 43, of Wyckoff, and Martin Tacetta, 59, of East Hanover, the former New Jersey underboss for the family, allegedly exercised their own management control over family gambling operations. Tacetta is currently serving a life sentence in state prison as a result of a Division of Criminal Justice prosecution in the 1990s. Michael Cetta, who is Frank Cetta's son, has close ties to the Lucchese family through marriage.
And in connection with the alleged prison smuggling operation in which the Lucchese crime family hooked up with the Nine Trey Gangsters set of the Bloods street gang, the press release provides:
The prison smuggling scheme allegedly involved inmate Edwin B. Spears, 36, of Neptune, and a former corrections officer at East Jersey State Prison in Woodbridge, Michael T. Bruinton, 46, of Ringoes. Spears was at East Jersey State Prison at the time of the alleged conduct. Also indicted were Spears' brother, Dwayne E. Spears, 30, of Neptune, and Kristen A. Gilliam, 27, of Farmingdale. Another defendant, Francine Hightower, 52, of Tinton Falls, pleaded guilty on Feb. 21, 2008, to conspiring to launder money. It is charged that Edwin Spears, an admitted "five-star general" in the Nine Trey Gangsters set of the Bloods, formed an alliance with Joseph Perna and Michael Cetta to smuggle drugs and cell phones into East Jersey State Prison through Bruinton. The alliance allegedly extended beyond smuggling. In one instance, Joseph Perna allegedly sought assistance from Spears to stop an individual associated with the Bloods from extorting money from a man with ties to the Lucchese family. It is charged that Perna and Cetta would provide money to Dwayne Spears to acquire contraband including heroin, cocaine, marijuana and pre-paid cell phones. Dwayne Spears allegedly would give the contraband to Bruinton to smuggle into East Jersey State Prison. The drugs and cell phones were allegedly distributed to inmates who had previously placed orders through Edwin Spears. Cell phones are prohibited in prison. It is charged that the purchasers paid by sending money orders or checks to individuals including Hightower and Gilliam, who delivered the proceeds to Cetta to "re-invest" in the smuggling scheme. Samuel A. Juliano, 65, of Glen Ridge, is charged with supplying drugs for the smuggling scheme.