U.S. arrests 127 suspects in massive operation against mobsters

January 21st, 2011 - 12:17 am ICT by BNO News  

NEW YORK (BNO NEWS) — Federal indictments were unsealed in U.S. District Courts in Providence and in three other federal judicial districts on Thursday, charging 91 members and associates of seven organized crime families of La Cosa Nostra (LCN), including the New England LCN family, all five New York-based families and the New Jersey-based Decavalcante family, with federal crimes including racketeering and related crimes, murder and extortion. Another 36 defendants have been charged for their roles in alleged associated criminal activity, bringing the total to 127.

Indictments unsealed in Providence, Brooklyn, New York, Manhattan and Newark, New Jersey, which were announced at a news conference in Brooklyn by Attorney General Eric Holder, and attended by U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha, relate to a wide range of alleged illegal activity, including murder, murder conspiracy, loansharking, arson, narcotics trafficking, extortion, robbery, illegal gambling and labor racketeering, in some cases occurring over decades. The indictments charge leaders of these criminal enterprises, as well as mid-level managers, numerous soldiers and associates, and others alleged to be corrupt union officials. Four defendants are charged with participating in five murders.

An indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in Providence alleges that longtime New England LCN crime boss Luigi “Louie” Manocchio and mob associate Thomas Iafrate extorted cash “protection” payments for nearly two decades from the owner of the Satin Doll and Cadillac Lounge strip clubs and other adult entertainment businesses in Providence.

The indictment alleges that Manocchio, 83, also known as “Baby Shacks”, “The Professor,” and “The Old Man,” began extorting cash protection payments as early as 1993 from the owner of the strip clubs and other adult entertainment businesses. The indictment also alleges that Iafrate, 63, who worked as a bookkeeper for various adult entertainment businesses including the Satin Doll and Cadillac Lounge, was responsible for setting aside, collecting and delivering the “protection” payments to Manocchio on behalf of the businesses. In addition, the indictment alleges that on November 6, 2008, Manocchio and Iafrate obtained approximately $2,900 in cash from the owner of the adult entertainment businesses and strip clubs, induced by the use of force, violence and fear.

“Today’s arrests and charges mark an important step forward in disrupting La Cosa Nostra’s illegal activities,” said Attorney General Holder. “This largest single day operation against La Cosa Nostra sends the message that our fight against traditional organized crime is strong, and our commitment is unwavering. As we’ve seen for decades, 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. The violence outlined in these indictments, and perpetrated across decades, shows the lengths to which these individuals are willing to go to control their criminal enterprises and intimidate others. The Department of Justice and our partners are determined to eradicate these criminal enterprises once and for all, and to bring their members to justice.”

“Some believe organized crime is dead; unfortunately, there are still people who extort, intimidate, and victimize innocent Americans. The costs legitimate businesses are forced to pay are ultimately borne by American consumers nationwide,” said FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III.

According to indictments detailed by Attorney General Holder, the LCN operates in numerous cities around the United States, and routinely engages in violence and threatens violence to extort money from victims, eliminate rivals, settle vendettas and obstruct justice. In the New York City-area, five LCN families principally operate: the Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Luchese families. The Decavalcante family operates principally in New Jersey, while other LCN families operate in the New England area. Each LCN family has a hierarchical structure, with an administration comprised of a boss, underboss and consigliere at the top overseeing crews of criminals led by captains, who in turn supervise organized crime soldiers and associates.

In addition to Manocchio and Iafrate, also named in the indictments were Andrew Russo, 76, street boss of the Colombo family; Benjamin Castellazzo, 73, acting underboss of the Colombo family; Richard Fusco, 74, consigliere of the Colombo family; Joseph Corozzo, 69, consigliere of the Gambino family; and Bartolomeo Vernace, 61, a member of the Gambino family administration. In total, more than 30 official members of the LCN, or “made men,” were charged in the indictments unsealed on Thursday.

In Brooklyn, 12 indictments were unsealed charging 85 defendants from all five New York-based families as well as defendants from the Decavalcante family with various crimes including murder, racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, extortion, perjury, obstruction of justice, illegal gambling, receipt of stolen property and possession of contraband cigarettes; 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; and in Newark, New Jersey, indictments were unsealed naming 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 loansharking.

Luigi Manocchio was arrested in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, on Wednesday afternoon by FBI agents from Providence, Rhode Island State Police and Providence Police, and held overnight in the Broward County Jail. He is expected to make an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Ft. Lauderdale on Thursday on a federal arrest warrant from Rhode Island. Manocchio will be transported to Rhode Island by the U.S. Marshals Service for arraignment in U.S. District Court in Providence on a date yet to be determined.

Thomas Iafrate was arrested at his Johnston, R.I. home on Thursday morning by agents from the FBI in Providence. He has been turned over to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and will be arraigned in U.S. District Court in Providence before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lincoln D. Almond at 2 p.m. local time on Thursday on an indictment charging him with extortion conspiracy and extortion. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

The federal investigation into the alleged illegal activities of these individuals and possibly by others continues. U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha encouraged anyone with information to contact the FBI and to cooperate in the investigation.

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