Ten reputed members of the Colombo crime family from Long Island, including its leadership, were arrested Tuesday on various crimes related to labor racketeering, attempted extortion and extortionate collection of credit and money laundering conspiracy, federal prosecutors said.
In Brooklyn federal court, a 19-count indictment was unsealed charging 14 defendants, including multiple charges against the suspects are related to multiple schemes in an alleged long-running effort to infiltrate and take control of a Queens-based labor union and its affiliated health care benefit program to extort money that should have been used for the members of the union, a law enforcement official explained.
“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 or launder vendor contract funds from its healthcare benefits program,” said Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. She added that along with the schemes for “their own enrichment,” the suspects allegedly conspired to engage in “extortionate loansharking, money laundering and fraud, as well as drug trafficking.”
Among the 14 suspect charged from across the New York Metro area were 87-year-old Andrew “Mush” Russo of Glen Head, the boss of the Colombo crime family, 39-year-old Joseph Bellantoni of Massapequa, 52-year-old Thomas Costa of West Islip, 66-year-old Ralph DiMatteo of Merrick, 43-year-old Vincent Martino of Medford, and 56-year-old Michael Univo of Garden City. There were also four suspects from Franklin Square charged: 56-year-old Dominick Ricciardo, 53-year-old Erin Thompkins, 75-year-old Vincent “Vinny Unions” Ricciardo, and 59-year-old John Ragano, who’s nicknames were “Bazoo” and “Maniac.”
“Everything we allege in this investigation proves history does indeed repeat itself. The underbelly of the crime families in New York City is alive and well,” FBI Assistant Agent-in-Charge Michael Driscoll said. “These soldiers, consiglieres, underbosses and bosses are obviously not students of history, and don’t seem to comprehend that we’re going to catch them. Regardless of how many times they fill the void we create in their ranks, our FBI Organized Crime Task Force and our law enforcement partners, are positioned to investigate these types of allegations.”
-With Timothy Bolger
This article first appeared on QNS.com