Eleven residents from either Westchester, Putnam or Rockland are among 46 people charged in a massive federal mob racketeering bust according to an indictment by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan.
Early Thursday afternoon, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara charged 46 leaders, members and associates of several organized crime families of La Cosa Nostra, which allegedly was involved in a “sprawling and long-running racketeering conspiracy.”
According to Bharara, the sting took down members of the Genovese, Gambino, Luchese, Bonanno and Philadelphia Organize Crime families of East Coast La Cosa Nostra (LCN). The suspects have been charged with racketeering conspiracy, arson, illegally trafficking firearms and conspiracy to commit assault in aid of racketeering.
The arrests come following a multi-year joint investigation conducted by the FBI, NYPD, U.S. Attorney’s office and the Westchester County District Attorney’s office. Evidence includes thousands of hours of recordings obtained by undercover officers and corroborating witnesses.
In an effort to expand their business and criminal operations, members made threats and destroyed the property of those that stood in their way, according to the indictment. Members “promoted a climate of fear in the community through threats of economic harm and violence, as well as actual violence, including assault and arson.”
To raise money, members of the La Cosa Nostra families trafficked firearms, illegal gambling businesses, healthcare and credit card fraud, sold untaxed cigarettes and made extortionate extensions of credit, the district attorney's office said.
During their reign, members of the La Costa Nostra family engaged in multiple violent crimes, the district attorney's office said.
In 2011, Tuckahoe resident Pasquale Parrello, already on federal supervision, set fire to a competing illegal gambling establishment in Yonkers, the district attorney's office said. Later that year, Parrello would order a panhandler’s knees to be broken and threatened a man’s life over gambling debts, according to the D.A.
In 2013, Brewster native Anthony Vazzano, who is also charged in the indictment - was stabbed in the neck, to which Parrello directed members of his crew to retaliate and “keep the pipes handy and pipe him, pipe him, over here (gesturing to the knees), not his head," the district attorney's office said.
Other crimes include loansharking, casino-style gambling, sports gambling, illegal cigarette trafficking and various fraud conspiracy.
Also charged on Thursday were Yonkers residents Agostino, Camacho, Mitchell Fusco, Vincent Terracciano and Joseph Tomanelli, Nanuet resident Paul Cassano, Stony Point resident Anthony DePalma, Pelham resident Richard LaCava, Scarsdale native Mark Maiuzzo, Mount Vernon resident Bradford Wedra. Each faces up to 20 years in prison.
“Today’s charges against 46 men, including powerful leaders, members and associates of five different La Cosa Nostra families, demonstrate that the mob remains a scourge on this city and around the country,” Bhara said in a statement. “ From loansharking and illegal gambling, to credit card and health care fraud, and even firearms trafficking, today’s mafia is fully diversified in its boundless search for illegal profits. And as alleged, threatening to assault, maim and kill people who get in the way of their criminal schemes remains the go-to play in the mob’s playbook.”
“I want to congratulate the prosecutors and investigators whose combined efforts resulted in today’s indictment,” acting Westchester County District Attorney James McCarty stated. “Those charged these crimes believe they can commit them at will, undetected and without consequences.
“Those dedicated members of law enforcement, through their actions, have made it clear that those individuals who commit these crimes will be rooted out.”
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