Following the record bust last January of more than 120 suspected mobsters involving seven Northeast Mafia families, Talking Points Memo submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain their mugshots which so far has yielded the scowling faces of the fourteen defendants charged in New Jersey. The Jersey boys largely comprise reputed Genovese members and associates who allegedly were involved with the waterfront rackets. Among those on display in the rogues gallery is accused soldier Stephen "Beach" Depiro who was released on bail last week after three priests went on record for him. If having an ugly puss were a crime then these boys would be guilty!
"They remain a very powerful group," agreed Jack Garcia, a legendary FBI undercover agent who posed as moneyman Jack Falcone to infiltrate the Gambino family for three years beginning in 2002. The Gambinos have dropped to No. 2, he said. "In the Genovese family, you really don't have that many defectors. They're still very entrenched in the unions and construction industry," Garcia said.
Reputed Genovese soldier Stephen Deprio was charged last Thursday for allegedly running the family's rackets on the New Jersey waterfront "with leaders of the longshoremen's union in what authorities say was a decades-long plot to shake down dockworkers for thousands of dollars in annual tribute to the mob" as reported by Peter J. Sampson for The Record.
The Genovese family, known as the "ivy league" of the Mafia, was instrumental in developing New York City's gay nightlife scene, and in 1985 reputed capo Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianniello was convicted with several associates for skimming profits out of several bars including the tranny bar Gilded Grape and the hustler bar Hay Market.
The feds have indicted more than 100 suspected members and associates from all five of New York's Mafia families as well as New Jersey's DeCavalcante family pursuant to 16 indictments in four federal jurisdictions.
Several of of the men arrested, the people who had been briefed said, were charged with murders — some dating back to the 1980s and 1990s. Others were charged with selections from a full menu of mob crimes: racketeering, extortion, loan-sharking and gambling, as well as labor-racketeering crimes in two sectors that officials say remain under the mob's sway: the construction industry and the waterfront.
The raids have reached throughout the NY/NJ/CT tri-state area, and among those arrested were several suspected top leaders of the Colombo family -- including reputed street boss Andrew "Mush" Russo, reputed underboss Benjamin Castellazzo, reputed consigliere Richard Fusco and reputed capo Anthony Russo -- and the Gambino family -- including reputed consigliere Joseph "JoJo" Corozzo and reputed capos Bartolemeo Vernace, Alphonse Trucchio and Louis Mastrangelo -- as reported by John Marzulli for the Daily News.
In Brooklyn, 12 indictments were unsealed today charging 85 defendants from all five New York-based families as well as defendants from the Decavalcante family. One indictment (United States v. Russo) charges 39 defendants, including the entire leadership of the Colombo family not currently in prison – street boss Andrew Russo, acting underboss Benjamin Castellazzo and consigliere Richard Fusco – as well as four of the crime family's official captains and eight of its soldiers, with crimes including racketeering and racketeering conspiracy committed during an approximately 20-year period. Among other acts of violence, Colombo family acting captain Anthony Russo is charged with the 1993 murder of Colombo family underboss Joseph Scopo during an internecine war among family members. According to court documents, Scopo was shot in the passenger seat of a car outside of his residence in Ozone Park, Queens, N.Y. The Russo indictment also charges numerous crimes of extortion and fraud, including charges related to the Colombo crime family's alleged long-standing control of Cement and Concrete Workers Union Local 6A, and its alleged defrauding of the City of New York in regard to an annually held feast, the Figli di Santa Rosalia. The indictment is based in part on hundreds of hours of recorded conversations of members and associates of the Colombo family, including meetings of the Colombo family administration. Download Russo Indictment
Two of the indictments returned in Brooklyn (United States v. Vernace and United States v. Dragonetti) charge 13 members and associates of the Gambino family, including Bartolomeo Vernace, a member of the current Gambino family administration. The Vernace indictment includes, among others, charges against Vernace in regard to the 1981 double murder of Richard Godkin and John D'Agnese inside the Shamrock Bar in the Woodhaven neighborhood of Queens. D'Agnese died from a single gunshot to the face and Godkin died from a point-blank gunshot to his chest. The Dragonetti indictment charges numerous acts of extortion, including a conspiracy by the Gambino family to extort a New York City cement manufacturer, as well as various construction companies and sites outlined on the crime family's so-called "Construction List." Download Vernace IndictmentDownload Dragonetti Indictment
In nine of the indictments charged in Brooklyn (United States v. Alesi, United States v. Balzano, United States v. Caramanica, United States v. Cicalese, United States v. Colandra, United States v. Gallo, United States v. Gioia, United States v. Messina and United States v. Samperi), members and associates of the Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Decavalcante families are charged variously with racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, extortion, perjury, obstruction of justice, illegal gambling, receipt of stolen property and possession of contraband cigarettes. For example, in United States v. Messina, Bonanno family associate Neil Messina is charged with the murder of Joseph Pistone during a home invasion robbery in 1992. The Alesi indictment charges, among other things, a former member of the Suffolk County, N.Y., Police Department's Emergency Services Unit with obstructing a state investigation of illegal gambling businesses by tipping off the business to upcoming law enforcement raids. The Cicalese indictment charges three members of the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) with committing perjury during testimony before a federal grand jury investigating organized crime's infiltration of the waterfront and the ILA. Download Alesi IndictmentDownload Balzano IndictmentDownload Caramanica IndictmentDownload Cicalese IndictmentDownload Colandra IndictmentDownload Gallo IndictmentDownload Gioia IndictmentDownload Messina IndictmentDownload Samperi Indictment
Another indictment (United States v. Depiro), being prosecuted jointly by the District of New Jersey and the Eastern District of New York, charges 15 defendants with various racketeering related crimes, including extortion of members of ILA Local Union 1235 and other New Jersey ILA locals, as well as for acts of illegal gambling through the management of a sports betting operation and a poker club, and extortionate collection of credit related to gambling debts. Certain defendants, who include numerous current and former officials in local ILA unions based in New Jersey, are alleged to be affiliated with the Genovese family. According to court documents, the Gambino and Genovese families have engaged in a multi-decade conspiracy to influence and control the unions and businesses that work on the New York-area piers. According to court documents, Stephen Depiro managed the Genovese family's illegal activities on the New Jersey piers, including the Genovese family's long-standing conspiracy to extort ILA members each year during the Christmas period, when the longshoremen annually receive a portion of royalty payments paid by shipping companies using the ports of New York and New Jersey. Depiro and others allegedly conspired with his cousin, Nunzio LaGrasso, an associate of the Genovese family and the vice-president of ILA Local 1478 in Newark, to extort ILA members each year. Download Depiro Indictment
In Manhattan, 26 defendants, primarily from the Gambino family, have been charged in two indictments that include charges related to racketeering conspiracy, murder, narcotics trafficking, extortion, assault, arson, loansharking, illegal gambling, mail and wire fraud, and stolen property crimes. Among the defendants charged are Joseph Corrozo, 69, who has served at times as the Gambino family consigliere; Bartolomeo Vernace, 61, a member of the Gambino family administration, who is also charged in Brooklyn; Gambino family captains Alphonse Trucchio, 34, and Louis Mastrangelo, 66; and Gambino soldiers Michael Roccaforte, 34, Anthony Moscatiello, 40, and Vincenzo Frogiero, 43. Download Corozzo IndictmentDownload Cipolla Indictment
According to court documents filed in the Manhattan cases, the criminal conduct allegedly occurred for more than two decades, from the late 1980s to approximately 2010. Gambino associate Todd LaBarca, 39, is charged with the 2001 conspiracy to murder and murder of Gambino family associate Marty Bosshart. According to the indictment, Bosshart was murdered on Jan. 2, 2002, with a single gunshot to the back of his head, and his body was left on the side of the road in Queens. According to court documents, a cooperating witness consensually recorded more than 100 conversations with other members and associates of the Gambino family, including conversations with LaBarca about the murder. In addition, according to court documents, the cocaine and marijuana trafficking involved multiple thousands of kilograms of the illegal drugs.
At an 11:00 AM press conference Attorney General Eric Holder said "today's arrests mark an important, and encouraging, step forward in disrupting La Cosa Nostra's operations":
But our battle against organized crime enterprises is far from over. This is an ongoing effort and it must, and will, remain a top priority. Members and associates of La Cosa Nostra are among the most dangerous criminals in our country. The very oath of allegiance sworn by these mafia members during their initiation ceremony binds them to a life of crime.
As we've seen for decades, criminal mafia operations can negatively impact our economy – not only through a wide array of fraud schemes but also through the illegal imposition of mob "taxes" at our ports, in our construction industries, and on our small businesses. In some cases, La Cosa Nostra members and associates allegedly seek to corrupt legitimate businesses and those who have sworn to uphold the public trust. And many of them are lethal. Time and again, they have shown a willingness to kill – to make money, to eliminate rivals, and to silence witnesses.
In 2001 Barone coughed up the family's secrets for Team America after growing tired of the betrayals he had suffered from the so-called men of honor. The Genovese first squeezed Barone out of the waterfront rackets while he dutifully served a seven-year stretch in prison from 1983 to 1990, and in 2001 then-boss Vincent "The Chin" Gigante ordered his death. There was only so much indignity Barone could endure, and enough had become enough.
The feds apparently aren't done with their investigation into suspected Genovese-driven corruption on the New Jersey docks.
Last month the feds indicted Albert Cernadas Sr., a former vice president of the ILA and president of Local 1235 in Newark, NJ, for allegedly "shaking down his union members under threats of violence, in what was described as a long-running racketeering operation tied to the Genovese organized crime family" as reported by Ted Sherman for The Star-Ledger. Earlier in the same month the feds indicted Robert Ruiz, a Local 1235 delegate, on extortion charges after he allegedly solicited cash donations from union members intended as tribute payments to the Genovese boys.
And now "sources say a federal grand jury in Newark is investigating the family's links to sister Local 1478 -- whose longtime leader Nunzio LaGrasso was hit with corruption charges in March" as reported by Jerry Capeci for The Huffington Post: "The grand jury is also probing the murder of Genovese mobster Lawrence Ricci, who was killed while he was on trial for labor racketeering in 2005."
The Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor "for the first time since the 1970s took a long look at the influence of organized crime on the docks" as reported by Steve Strunsky for The Star-Ledger: "commission officials say the series of hearing -- which gathered testimony and other evidence of corruption to be presented in a report next year -- were meant to send a message to local leaders of the longshoremen's union and the shipping companies that employ its 6,000 local members that the agency plans to again police the docks aggressively."
The hearings commenced last October, and at the first one officials played a purported recording of a 2007 telephone conversation between longshoreman Edward Aulisi from Local 1235 of the International Longshoremen's Association and reputed Genovese capo Michael "Mikey Cigars" Coppola as reported by Richard Perez-Pena for The New York Times:
The two men spoke using code, translated by Joseph Longo, another commission detective: "Christmases" meant kickback payments, for example, and "shingle" meant lawyer. On the recording, the man said to be Mr. Aulisi updated the other man on news — a subpoena served to a Genovese associate, a loan shark customer falling short on a payment — and mentioned that the "Christmases" had doubled in a few years.
Aulisi, whose father Vincent was a former President of Local 1235, repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in refusing to answer questions at the hearing. In July 2009 Coppola was convicted for decades-long extortion against the local.
Last week the feds indicted Albert Cernadas Sr., a former vice president of the International Longshoremen's Association and president of ILA Local 1235 in Newark, NJ, for allegedly "shaking down his members under threats of violence, in what was described as a long-running racketeering operation tied to the Genovese organized crime family" as reported by Ted Sherman for The Star-Ledger: "The charges come nearly five years after Cernadas, 75, of Union Township, was removed from the ILA after pleading guilty to corruption charges involving thousands of dollars in union funds being funneled into a pharmaceutical company controlled by organized crime." Cernadas "was sentenced to only two years probation" in that case after U.S. District Judge Leo Glasser received from the NJ political establishment "292 letters asking for leniency" as reported by Bob Ingle and Sandy McClure in their book The Soprano State: New Jersey's Culture of Corruption.
The feds earlier this month busted Robert Ruiz, a delegate for Local 1235 of the International Longshoremen's Association, on extortion charges after he allegedly solicited cash donations from union members intended as tribute payments to the Genovese boys.