By Chris Dolmetsch
US prosecutors announced the arrest of 16 people, including 10 members and associates of the notorious Gambino family, in a sprawling trans-Atlantic crackdown on organized crime.
The defendants in the joint US-Italy sting face charges including the use of extortion, fraud, theft and embezzlement at the expense of the demolition and waste management industries in the New York area. Joseph “Joe Brooklyn” Lanni, 52, is a captain in the Gambino family, three others are soldiers and the remaining six are associates, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn said in announcing a 16-count indictment unsealed Wednesday.
They claim the 10, from New York and New Jersey, committed a series of crimes including a violent scheme against the unidentified owner of a waste removal business in New York who was threatened with a baseball bat and had the steps of his home set on fire to force him to make payments. Italian law enforcement arrested six people, with a seventh at large.
The US claims three of the defendants conspired to assault the owner of an unidentified demolition company on a midtown Manhattan street corner over debts and to attack a dispatcher at the firm with a hammer. Prosecutors say photos of the mayhem were sent to members of the hauling and demolition industries as a warning.
The defendants also allegedly schemed to embezzle from unions and employee benefit plans, providing associates with no-show jobs so they could receive health benefits. They conspired to rig bids for demolition projects in New York City, including exchanging information to secure a project on Fifth Avenue, the US claims.
The 10, who range in age from 36 to 66, were taken into custody pending their appearance before a federal magistrate judge in Brooklyn. In his appearance Wednesday afternoon, Lanni pleaded not guilty and was ordered held without bail pending trial. Outside court his lawyer, Fred Sosinsky, declined to comment on the charges but said he would seek his client’s release.
The US said in a detention memo to the judge that the indictment is the result of a multiyear probe of the Gambino family by federal prosecutors and others, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York Police Department.
The Gambinos, one of the Five Families that have dominated the Mafia in the New York area for decades, had a stranglehold on construction in the city at the height of their power, in the 1980s and 1990s, through their control of unions and the concrete business. The family traces its origins to Sicily, where its founder, Carlo Gambino, was born in the early 1900s.
Gambino took over the Mangano crime family after the assassination of its leader, Albert Anastasia, in the barbershop of a Midtown hotel in 1957 and gave it his own name. The family was brought under the control of John Gotti, the “Teflon Don,” in December 1985. Gotti led the family for seven years before he was convicted in April 1992 of murder and racketeering, and died in prison while serving life without parole in June 2002.
The case is US v. Lanni, 23-cr-443, US District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).
(Published 09 November 2023, 04:38 IST)