Brooklyn federal prosecutors on Tuesday arrested a dozen Colombo criminal family members, including all of the Mafia clan leaders, for racketeering and extortion.
The arrests included Andrew “Mush” Russo, the octogenarian boss of the family, and Benjamin “Benji” Castellazzo, the deputy head. Other people arrested include the family consigliere, captains, a soldier and associates.
The Colombo Criminal Family is the youngest of what were once the “Five Families” that dominated organized criminal activity across New York City and within La Cosa Nostra, or the US National Mafia Criminal Organization. . Additional arrests in the bust included an alleged Bonanno crime family soldier, also one of the “Five Families,” who has been charged with loan sharking, fraud and drug trafficking offenses.
The charges relate to various schemes as part of the family’s 20-year effort to “infiltrate and take control of a Queens-based union … and its affiliated health care benefits program … which provides benefits medical… to members of the Labor Union, and a conspiracy to commit fraud in the context of occupational safety certification, ”the Office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York said in a press release on Tuesday. .
The crime family has been accused of making direct threats of bodily harm to control the union. According to the statement, since 2001, Colombo “captain” Vincent Ricciardo and his cousin, Domenick Ricciardo, have extorted part of the salary of a senior union official by threatening to harm him and his family.
“I’m going to put him in the ground right away in front of his wife and children, right in front of his shitty house, you laugh all you want buddy, I’m not afraid to go to jail, leave I’ll go to you say something, to prove a point, “said Vincent Ricciardo in a consensual conversation recorded on June 21, 2021.” I would like to shoot him right in front of his wife and children, call the police, f- -k, let me go leave, do you think I’ll last how long anyway? ”he added.
The Colombo crime family has also been accused of devising schemes to launder money from health fund contracts and payments through third parties.
The indictments of the defendants are expected to begin Tuesday afternoon in federal court in Brooklyn. If found guilty, the accused each face up to 20 years in prison.
“This office and its law enforcement partners are committed to dismantling organized crime families, eliminating their corrupt influence in our communities and protecting the independence of unions,” said acting U.S. lawyer Jacquelyn Kasulis.
Over the years, several members of the Colombo crime family have been arrested in sweeping sweeps.
“Everything we allege in this investigation proves that history does repeat itself. The womb of New York crime families is alive and well. These soldiers, consiglieres, sous-chefs and bosses are obviously not history students, ”said the deputy director in charge of the FBI, Michael Driscoll.
“No matter how many times they fill the void we create in their ranks, our FBI Organized Crime Task Force and law enforcement partners are able to eliminate them time and time again,” he added.
Several of the defendants’ lawyers declined to provide comments to the Guardian. Nonetheless, a lawyer for Benjamin Castellazzo, the family’s deputy, told the Guardian he would plead not guilty.