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Genovese Crime Family Member From Westchester Destroys Evidence, Obstructs Justice, Feds Say

Manhattan federal court.
Manhattan federal court. Photo Credit: File

A member of the Genevose Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra already charged with the stabbing death of a Westchester man is now facing new charges for destroying evidence and obstructing justice, prosecutors announced.

John Tortora Jr., known as "Johnny T," was arrested in August by FBI agents and Yonkers Police in connection with the 1997 death of 29-year-old Richard Ortiz in Yonkers.

Tortora, 61, of Yonkers, had previously been indicted on charges of racketeering conspiracy, murder in the aid of racketeering and murder for hire. He was arrested on Aug. 3 and has been remanded in custody since then. He is scheduled to be arraigned on the new charges on Nov. 19 at the United States Courthouse in Manhattan.

On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman announced that Tortora is now being charged with destruction of evidence, falsifying records and obstruction of justice. He faces up to 20 years in prison on each count if convicted.

According to the indictment, Tortora’s newest charges come from his alleged role in destroying video recording evidence, and in the subsequent creation of a letter containing false information about the destruction of that evidence, which was provided to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

"As alleged, these acts were undertaken with the intent to impede the investigation into the racketeering activities of the Genovese Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra," Berman said.

“As alleged in the Superseding Indictment, in an attempt to hide his illegal racketeering activity, the defendant was willing to destroy evidence and obstruct justice. 

“Thanks to the ongoing efforts of the FBI and the Yonkers Police Department, the defendant’s alleged attempts to impede the criminal justice process have  resulted in his being charged with additional federal crimes.”

Tortora, an associate member of the Genovese Crime Family, along with other members of La Cosa Nostra, committed a wide range of crimes, including murder, extortion, gambling, and narcotics trafficking, according to Berman. 

The family was hired to kill Ortiz in an effort to further the goals of the Genovese family, leading to his fatal stabbing on Nov. 11, 1997.

At the time of Tortora’s arrest, Yonkers Police Commissioner Charles Gardner said: “This arrest for the 1997 murder of Mr. Ortiz demonstrates the resolve and commitment of law enforcement to hold those accountable for their actions and serves as a warning to all members of La Cosa Nostra engaging in violent criminal activity in our communities. 

"We will continue to work with our federal partners to aggressively target alleged criminals and criminal enterprises operating in our City.”

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