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Ten alleged members of the Gambino crime family and their associates were arrested Thursday, accused of using violence and intimidation to gain footholds in the city’s garbage carting and demolition industries.
According to a 16-count indictment unsealed in Brooklyn federal court, the defendants since at least 2017 extorted owners of New York-area carting and demo companies, conspired to rig bids for profitable demolition jobs and embezzled from union benefit plans.
The 10, who hail from Manhattan, Staten Island, the Bronx and towns in New Jersey, were variously charged with racketeering conspiracy, extortion, witness retaliation and union-related crimes. They face maximum sentences of between 20 and 180 years’ imprisonment.
Among them, Joseph Lanni, aka “Joe Brooklyn” and “Mommino,” of Staten Island, an alleged captain in the Gambino organized crime family, faces a single count of racketeering conspiracy.
Alleged Gambino soldiers Diego “Danny” Tantillo, of Freehold, New Jersey, James LaForte, of Manhattan, and Angelo Gradilone, aka “Fifi,” of Staten Island, also face a racketeering conspiracy count, along with other charges. LaForte, who is being held in Pennsylvania, faces weapons counts.
All 10 were arrested Thursday and arraigned before United States Magistrate Judge Ramon E. Reyes Jr. and all except LaForte, who will be arraigned at a later date, pleaded not guilty.
“As alleged, for years, the defendants committed violent extortions, assaults, arson, witness retaliation and other crimes in an attempt to dominate the New York carting and demolition industries,” the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District, Breon Peace, said in a statement. “Today’s arrests reflect the commitment of this Office and our law enforcement partners, both here and abroad, to keep our communities safe by the complete dismantling of organized crime.”
The arrests were coordinated with Italian authorities, who on Thursday arrested six organized crime figures and their associates on charges of mafia association and connected criminal offenses. One person remained at large Thursday, Peace’s office said.
No-show union jobs
The 22-page indictment and supporting letter to the judge details the defendants’ alleged Gambino ties and their extortion, thievery, embezzlement and bid-rigging schemes, as well as their intimidation tactics and violent acts and threats.
In one instance, four of the accused demanded and received monthly $1,000 payments from the owner of a New York-area carting and hauling company. To ensure the payments kept coming, Tantillo showed the owner a metal bat, telling him it was meant for him, according to the letter to the judge.
When the owner stopped making the payments, one of the defendants lit the steps of the company owner’s home on fire, tried to damage his company’s trucks, and assaulted a company employee with a hammer.
Two of the accused mobsters then threatened a company associate with a knife, telling him to use the blade to menace the owner into resuming the payments. “Get this axe and you make him — two,” one of the mobsters said, according to a summary of their wiretapped call to Tantillo immediately afterward.
In another instance, the alleged mobsters demanded $40,000 from the owners of a demolition company under threat of violence. When they did not pay up, one jumped him on a Midtown Manhattan street corner, bloodying his face and giving him a back eye.
Although the owners paid him $50,000 and gave Tantillo discounts for him to use a facility they owned, the threats and violence continued, and one of the company’s dispatchers was assaulted with a hammer and seriously injured by an associate of the mobsters, the feds said.
The defendants also committed a series of crimes against unions, including by securing low- and no-show jobs for which they were paid and received health-care paid. Tantillo is also accused of embezzling unions by using laborers from a non-union company to work for union companies he operated and not making required contributions called for in collective bargaining agreements.
Also arrested were Vito Rappa, of East Brunswick, New Jersey, and Francesco Vicari, aka “Uncle Ciccio,” of Elmont, New York, said by the feds to be U.S.-based Sicilian Mafia members and Gambino associates. They face racketeering conspiracy and Hobbs Act extortion and conspiracy counts.
Alleged Gambino associates Salvatore DiLorenzo, of Oceanside, New York, Robert Brooke, of Manhattan, and Vincent Minsquero, aka “Vinny Slick,” of Staten Island, face racketeering conspiracy and other charges. Kyle Johnson, aka “Twin,” of the Bronx, faces a single Hobbs Act extortion and conspiracy count.
Lanni, Tantillo, Gradilone and Johnson were being held without bond. And although Brooke, Rappa and Vicari were granted release on $1 million bonds, their releases were stayed for 24 hours while the government appealed their release. DiLorenzo was released on a $500,000 bond.
Federal authorities say that all pose serious flight risks, given that the charged offenses carry significant penalties.
The investigation involved the FBI, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Office of Inspector General, the city’s Business Integrity Commission, New York Waterfront Commission, the NYPD, the Italian National Police as well as prosecutors in Sicily.
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