By David Amoruso for Gangsters Inc.
It’s business as usual. Some curse-laden threats, a bit of labor racketeering, and men who are part of a “crime” family. A mob bust by the book. Yesterday, prosecutors charged the boss, underboss, consigliere, and several underlings of the Colombo crime family with labor racketeering, extortion, money laundering.
Among those charged with racketeering are 87-year-old Andrew “Mush” Russo (right), the boss of the Colombo family, 83-year-old underboss Benjamin “Benji” Castellazzo, and 66-year-old consigliere Ralph DiMatteo. Alleged Colombo family captains Theodore Persico, Jr. (55), Richard Ferrara (59) and Vincent Ricciardo (75) are charged with racketeering, along with 56-year-old soldier Michael Uvino and associates Thomas Costa (52) and Domenick Ricciardo (56).
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Queens labor union
The charge of labor racketeering dates back to 2001, when Colombo captain Vincent Ricciardo and his cousin, associate Domenick Ricciardo, collected a portion of the salary of a senior official in a Queen’s labor union by threatening to harm him and his family.
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At the direction of the Colombo crime family’s leadership, beginning in late 2019, they broadened the extortion effort to force the victim, others in the union, and its affiliated Health Fund to make decisions that benefitted the mob.
They forced them to select vendors for contracts who were associated with the Colombo crime family. The Colombo mobsters also sought to divert more than $10,000 per month from the Health Fund’s assets to the family’s leadership.
“I would fucking shoot him right in front of his wife and kids”
How did they achieve this? In typical mob fashion: by dropping a lot of f-bombs and using the La Cosa Nostra’s reputation to scare them into complying. On June 21, 2021, Vincent Ricciardo threatened to kill the senior official if he did not give in to his demands.
He explained that the man knows, “I’ll put him in the ground right in front of his wife and kids, right in front of his fucking house, you laugh all you want pal, I’m not afraid to go to jail, let me tell you something, to prove a point? I would fucking shoot him right in front of his wife and kids, call the police, fuck it, let me go, how long you think I’m gonna last anyway?”
While targeting the Colombos, authorities also caught alleged Bonanno family soldier John Ragano. He is charged with loansharking, fraud and drug trafficking offenses. He allegedly ran a scheme to issue fraudulent workplace safety training certifications. Operating two workplace safety schools in the New York area that claimed to provide Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (“OSHA”) training courses and certifications, along with various New York state certifications, to construction industry workers.
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Rather than provide training, Ragano falsified paperwork to the U.S. Department of Labor and other government agencies which represented that hundreds of workers had completed required safety courses when in reality they had not. Instead, various mobsters used Ragano’s “schools” to conduct meetings involving members of La Cosa Nostra and to store illegal drugs and fireworks.
Ricciardo, Uvino, Ragano and Costa are also charged with loansharking. Loaning a total of $250,000 to one debtor and charging and collecting a weekly 1.5% interest rate that did not reduce the principal owed. The men then divided the proceeds.
Prosecutors also charged Ricciardo, Ragano, Costa along with Glover and Vincent Martino with transporting large shipments of marijuana in vehicles from New York to Florida.
If found guilty each man faces up to 20 years in prison.
- READ: The Stalking Capo: How a mobster’s jealousy of his girlfriend caused the indictment of 20 Colombo family gangsters
“Everything we allege in this investigation proves history does indeed repeat itself,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll stated. “The underbelly of the crime families in New York City is alive and well. These soldiers, consiglieres, under bosses, 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 take them out again, and again.”
Check out the Colombo crime family section on Gangsters Inc. for more stories.
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