Fourteen New Yorkers in the Colombo crime family, including 10 Long Islanders, have been indicted on a host of charges that includes labor racketeering, extortion, and money laundering.
In federal court this week, a 19-count indictment was unsealed charging the 14, including the entire administration of the Colombo organized crime family, with a variety of offenses.
According to federal officials, those arraigned will face charges that include labor racketeering involving multiple predicate acts of extortion conspiracy, attempted extortion and extortion, extortionate collection of credit conspiracy, extortionate collection of credit, and money laundering conspiracy.
They are also accused of conspiring to commit fraud in connection with workplace safety certifications
Acting US Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis said that the charges in the indictment relate to multiple charged schemes in a long-running effort to “infiltrate and take control of a Queens-based labor union and its affiliated health care benefit program.”
Those charged in the indictment:
- Andrew Russo, a/k/a “Mush,” age 87, of Glen Head;
- Joseph Bellantoni, age 39, of Massapequa;
- Benjamin Castellazzo a/k/a “Benji,” age 83, of Manahawkin, N.J.;
- Thomas Costa, age 52, of West Islip;
- Ralph DiMatteo, age 66, of Merrick;
- Richard Ferrara, age 59, of Brooklyn;
- John Glover, age 62, of Queens;
- Vincent Martino, age 43, of Medford;
- Theodore Persico, Jr. a/k/a “Teddy,” age 58, of Brooklyn;
- John Ragano a/k/a “Bazoo,” a/k/a “Maniac,” age 59, of Franklin Square;
- Domenick Ricciardo, age 56, of Franklin Square;
- Vincent Ricciardo a/k/a Vinny Union,” age 75, of Franklin Square;
- Erin Thomas, age 53, of Franklin Square;
- Michael Uvino, age 56, of Garden City.
Prosecutors noted that of those charged, Russo is the boss of the crime family, Castellazzo is an underboss, and DiMatteo is the consigliere.
Captains Persico, Jr, Ferrara, and Vincent Ricciardo were all charged with racketeering, and Uvino, a soldier, and associates Costa and Domenick Ricciardi were all charged with racketeering.
Additionally, alleged Bonanno family soldier John Ragano is charged with loansharking, fraud, and drug trafficking offenses.
“Today’s charges describe a long-standing, ruthless pattern by the administration of the Colombo crime family, its captains, members, and associates, of conspiring to exert control over the management of a labor union by threatening to inflict bodily harm on one of its senior officials and devising a scheme to divert and launder vendor contract funds from its health care benefit program,” Kasulis stated.
It is alleged that top Colombo crime family members and alleged co-conspirators extorted the labor union management by threatening bodily harm to force decisions that benefitted the crime family.
Since 2001, one of the captains and his cousin allegedly collected part of a senior labor union official's salary by making threats to harm both him and his family.
Beginning in 2019, the crime family breaded their extortion efforts to include other officials at the labor union and its health fund to select vendors with ties to the Colombo family.
As recently as June 21, Ricciardo was recorded on the phone threatening to kill the labor official if he failed to comply with the family’s demands.
“I’ll put him in the ground right in front of his wife and kids, right in front of his (expletive deleted) house, you laugh all you want pal, I’m not afraid to go to jail, let me tell you something, to prove a point?,” the indictment states.
“I would (expletive deleted) shoot him right in front of his wife and kids, call the police, (expletive deleted) it, let me go, how long you think I’m gonna last anyway?”
“The indictment of 14 defendants, including members of the Columbo crime family on labor racketeering, extortion, and money laundering charges should send a clear and concise message that these types of crimes will never be tolerated by law enforcement,” Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder stated.
“By infiltrating and taking control of a Queens-based labor union and its affiliated health care benefit program these defendants were able to extort a substantial amount of money which should have been used for the members of the union.”
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