The Mafia bust yesterday targeted dozens from multiple families along the East Coast who allegedly "worked together in a conspiracy that spanned from Springfield, Mass., to South Florida, and involved extortion, arson, health care and credit card fraud, illegal gambling and the sale of illegal firearms and cigarettes" although "a majority of those charged were from New York" as reported by The New York Times. Federal prosecutors "identified three men who they said 'supervised and controlled' the network: Joseph Merlino, whom they believe to be the boss of the so-called Philadelphia crime family; Eugene O'Nofrio, a Genovese capo known as Rooster, who they said was in charge of crews on Mulberry Street in Manhattan's Little Italy neighborhood; and Pasquale Parrello, who is believed to be a capo in the Genovese organization."
Multiple defendants were charged with "running a casino-style gambling operation the indictment calls the 'Yonkers Club,' where they allegedly held poker and dice tournaments, had poker machines and took bets on horse races" as reported by The Journal News: "Anthony Zinzi of the Bronx, aka 'Anthony Boy,' allegedly ran the Yonkers club and, with other associates, paid Parrello tribute from the gambling profits," and "others involved with the club included Israel Torres of Queens, Anthony Vazzano of Brewster, Agostino Camacho of Yonkers and Mark Maiuzzo of Scarsdale, the indictment says."
In addition to his Little Italy crew reputed capo Eugene O'Nofrio also allegedly headed a crew in Springfield, MA where five suspected associates were "arrested on extortion-related charges as part of a conspiracy to chop off a tow truck drivers head" as reported by the Hartford Courant: "Ralph Santaniello, 49, Giovanni Calabrese, aka John Calabrese, 53, and Gerald Daniele, 51, all of Longmeadow, Mass.; Francesco Depergola, 60, of Springfield, Mass.; and Richard Valentini, 51, of East Longmeadow, Mass., were each charged with federal crimes related to extortion."
Reputed Philly boss Skinny Joey Merlino was arrested at his home in Boca Raton, FL as reported by the Courier-Post: "the indictment alleges Merlino was involved in multiple sports-gambling ventures, including one based in Costa Rica that operated in New Jersey and other states," and "it also contends Merlino took part in a health care fraud scheme that got corrupt doctors to bill insurers for unnecessary and excessive prescriptions for expensive compound creams in exchange for kickbacks."
Six others from South Florida were also busted as reported by the Sun Sentinel:
Pasquale Capolongo, 67, of West Palm Beach, who goes by "Mustache Pat," "Patsy," "Pat C." and "Fish," is a longtime bookmaker and placed large bets on behalf of several professional gamblers to help conceal their status as professionals, authorities said. The others charged are Frank "Harpo" Trapani, 63, Craig Bagon, 56, Bradley "Brad" Sirkin, 54, all of Boca Raton; Carmine Gallo, 38, of Delray Beach, and Wayne Kreisberg, 39, of Parkland.
Sirkin, Gallo and Kreisberg are accused of being part of Merlino's "ring that caused corrupt doctors to issue prescriptions for expensive cream that then were billed to victims' insurance companies."
Of course, it wouldn't be a proper mob bust without at least one defendant, reputed Genovese member Alex Conigliaro, from Staten Island in New York as reported by the Staten Island Advance:
Conigliaro, authorities allege, was involved in illegal gambling activities. One of the victims was working as a bookkeeper for defendant John Tognino, aka "Tugboat," who worked under Conigliaro. The Staten Island man had suspected the victim was allowing professional bettors to place bets, and as a result of the winning bets, Conigliaro was in the hole for about $400,000, federal officials said. In February 2012, the feds allege Conigliaro and two of his associates lured the victim to a small room in the basement of an Italian restaurant in Middletown, N.J. There, they intimidated and threatened the victim, and Conigliaro refused to pay the money owed, authorities said.
Yesterday's bust illustrates that the feds may be focusing on the terrorists but they're still watching the mobsters! Go Team America!