17 Associates Of The Gambino Organized Crime Family Indicted

State Attorney General Spitzer and federal and state authorities today announced the arrests and indictments of 17 members and associates of the Gambino Organized Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra for racketeering, extortion, wire-fraud, loan sharking, operating illegal gambling businesses, money laundering, witness tampering and other related crimes.

The 68-count indictment outlines the Gambino family’s influence, through extortion and wire fraud, over the International Longshoremen’s Association ("ILA"), specifically Local 1814 and Local 1, as well as businesses on the Brooklyn and Staten Island waterfronts. The indictment alleges that waterfront employees and their relatives, several business owners and an individual in the film industry were extorted. The individuals charged had a hand in selecting high-level ILA officials and received kickbacks from the ILA national health plans. In addition, the individuals charged operated large scale illegal gambling businesses, and conspired to launder the proceeds of the criminal activity.

The three-year investigation, initiated by the New York State Organized Crime Task Force, was conducted through court-authorized wiretaps and eavesdropping devices. Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of assaults on organized crime’s activities on the New York/New Jersey waterfronts, and the third time in a decade that the government has prosecuted the Boss of the Gambino crime family.

"This case is a major step in our efforts to clean up the wide-spread corruption of a vital segment of New York’s economy -- our waterfronts, and as important, to dismantle the Gambino crime family’s influence," AG Spitzer said. "Working men and women who make their living moving commerce through our ports and the labor unions representing them were victimized by the illicit activities of this powerful criminal organization."

Spitzer was joined at the news conference by US Attorney for the Eastern District Alan Vinegrad, Federal Bureau of Investigation Deputy Director Kevin Donovan, Waterfront Commissioner Michael Axelrod, Inspector General of the US Department of Labor Gordon Heddell, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelley and Richmond County District Attorney William Murphy.

The defendants are: boss, Peter Gotti; captains, Anthony Ciccone and Richard V. Gotti; soldiers, Richard G. Gotti, Primo Cassarino, Jerome Brancato, and Peter Piacenti; associates, Frank Scollo (president of Local 1814 and vice president of ILA), Vincent Nasso, Julius Nasso, Richard Bondi, Salvatore Cannata, Thomas Lisi, Carmine Malara, Anna Eylenkrig, Anthony Pansini and Jerome Orsino, Jr. The charges are mere accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

The indictment alleges that after John A. Gotti was convicted in 1999 of federal racketeering charges, his uncle, Peter Gotti became the acting boss of the Gambino crime family. Historically, the Gambino family and the Genevose crime family divided up control of the New York and New Jersey waterfronts, with Brooklyn and Staten Island falling under the Gambino family’s control.

The families are alleged to have coordinated efforts to select ILA officials at the highest levels. Anthony Ciccone, Primo Cassarino, Vincent Nassa and Frank Scollo, together with members of the Genovese family, intimidated trustees of MILA -- the ILA’s health plan – to award prescription pharmaceutical service contracts to a company partly owned by Vincent Nassa, GPP/VIP. The Gambino and Genovese families then split a kick-back of approximately $400,000 for the contract award.

The indictment also alleges that Anthony Ciccone and several other co-defendants extorted owners of waterfront businesses, including Howland Hook Container Terminal and a trucking company, both in Staten Island as well as businesses in Brooklyn. As part of this criminal activity, Frank Scollo is charged with personally collecting thousands of dollars in extortion money from the owner of Howland Hook on a monthly basis between April 2000 and August 2001. Ciccone is charged with personally collecting thousands of dollars in extortion money from the trucking company owner on a bi-monthly basis, beginning in 1999 and continuing through May 2002.

The indictment also charges that beginning in September 2000 and continuing through May 2002, Ciccone, Cassarino, V. Nasso and Julius Nasso attempted to extort a well-known movie star and film director. The defendants attempted to use Ciccone’s position as a captain in the Gambino family to pressure the victim either to pay them money or to include J. Nasso in the victim’s next film project. In one incident, the victim was directed to pay Ciccone $150,000 for each film he made.

At least two of the defendants -- Cassarino and Scollo -- are also charged with extorting thousands of
dollars from a relative of an individual seeking employment on the waterfront, in exchange for a waterfront job. In another count, the indictment charges that during the summer of 2001, an employee of the Howland Hook company was heavily pressured to step down from his job so that a relative of Anastasio could be installed to take his place. In a third count, the indictment alleges that Ciccone and Cassarino demanded that an injured longshoreman pay them a portion of the monetary settlement he received as a result a work-related injury.

The indictment also alleges that in February 2002, Ciccone and Cassarino directed a witness who had been subpoenaed to testify in this case before a federal grand jury in Brooklyn to refuse to answer questions because it would open a "Pandora’s box" for Ciccone and his crew.

Each count of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, extortion, extortion conspiracy and money laundering carries a maximum term of 20 years. The defendants arrested this morning will be arraigned this afternoon by United State Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollack at the US Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn.

The case will be prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Frederick J. Whelan III, who is an Assistant Deputy New York State Attorney General in the AG’s Organized Crime Task Force, and Assistant US Attorneys Andrew M. Genser, Katya Jestin and Arthur Hui. The Task Force is headed by Deputy Attorney General George Quinlan, and supervised by Chris Prather, Assistant Deputy of the AG’s Criminal Division.

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