By David Amoruso for Gangsters Inc.
Published December 2019 - Updated January 2021: Two mobsters once praised by Mafia boss John Gotti are among twelve Gambino Mafia family gangsters and associates who were indicted in federal court in Brooklyn on Thursday and charged with racketeering conspiracy, bribery, loansharking, fraud, obstruction of justice and related offenses. The biggest fish caught up in this bust is alleged Gambino family capo Andrew Campos.
Along with Campos, agents arrested Gambino crime family soldiers James Ciaccia, George Campos, Vincent Fiore and Richard Martino; and alleged Gambino associates Renato Barca, Jr., Benito DiZenzo, Mark Kocaj, Frank Tarul and Michael Tarul. They are charged with crimes that occurred “throughout the New York metropolitan area since February 2013”.
“[Mob crew] ran the gamut of criminal activity”
“The Gambino members arrested in this case ran the gamut of criminal activity,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney. “Everything from the usual thuggish behavior of beating people up, forcing people to take the fall for their crimes, all the way to defrauding the federal government. Several suspects even went to prison, were released, and allegedly went right back to breaking the law. At some point, these crime families should realize we see what they're doing, and their actions are going to lead them right back to the same prison cells.”
Prosecutors allege that 50-year-old Andrew Campos and members of his crew used bribery, fraud and extortion schemes to infiltrate the construction industry and earn millions of dollars in criminal proceeds. Campos and 60-year-old Richard Martino were seen as the cream of the crop of the Gambino family. Mob boss John Gotti (right) himself said they would make the family proud after he had inducted them into La Cosa Nostra.
Gotti: “I want guys that done more than killing”
“I want guys that done more than killing,” Gotti was caught saying on tape. “I like the Richies. […] They’re young – twenty-something, thirty-something – […] They’re beautiful guys. […] Ten years from now, these young guys we straightened out, they’re going to be really proud of them.”
Turned out Gotti was right. They did hit the jackpot, but their success was interrupted by law enforcement. In 2005, Campos and Martino (right) were convicted for their role in a massive multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud users of adult entertainment services. Martino was ultimately sentenced to 108 months’ imprisonment and ordered by the court to pay $9.1 million in forfeiture.
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Upon their release, prosecutors claim, the two went straight back to the Gambino family and resumed their activities. Albeit, while taking a lot of precautions. According to the indictment, once Martino got out of prison, he worked with 45-year-old Gambino associate Frank Tarul and others to conceal his substantial wealth and income, falsely reporting that he had limited assets and worked for Tarul’s flooring company.
Court-authorized wiretaps, however, revealed that Martino operated multiple companies that earned millions of dollars, including construction work, investments in pizzerias and other business ventures.
Andrew Campos, meanwhile, also was hard at work after getting out. Together with 57-year-old Gambino soldier Vincent Fiore, 49-year-old Mark Kocaj, and 53-year-old Benito DiZenzo, he operated a carpentry company named CWC Contracting Corp. Prosecutors allege the company got an edge on the competition by paying bribes and kickbacks to employees of numerous construction companies and real estate developers. In exchange, these employees took steps to benefit CWC, including awarding contracts and approving change orders to add or delete from the original scope of a contract.
“Punched in the face and your teeth get knocked out”
All the front companies aside, gangsters will always do gangster things, of course. Various Gambino wiseguys were charged with using extortionate means to collect money. In one case, Campos (right) and Fiore used threats of violence to collect at least $100,000 from one victim.
In a wiretapped phone conversation on March 13, 2019, Fiore warned the victim: “When you get punched in the face and your teeth get knocked out [...] you’re not going to laugh no more, okay? […] At the end of the day, when you’re upside down [DA: Unable to make certain payments], you deal with him,” referring to the victim having to take things up with the powerful Campos.
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Chances are the victim would have caved long before then, thanks to muscle men like Kocaj and 56-year-old Adrial Lopez, a former professional boxer. Both men are charged with loansharking. When law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Lopez’s home, they seized $25,000 in cash, brass knuckles and several large knives.
“A couple of my Albanian guys”
Kocaj’s charges include his recovery of tens of thousands of dollars of a gambling debt on behalf of an Albanian organized crime figure. Kocaj bragged about his ability to violently collect money, stating that he could send “a couple of my Albanian guys” and have somebody “grab [a potential victim] by the fucking neck.” Kocaj helped collect over $30,000, threatening that if the victim did not pay, “[h]e’s going to get his head split open […] These are not the guys to fuck around with […] These Albanians, you know what they’ll do.”
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Omerta above all
Mafiosi adhere to one cardinal rule: Omerta, the code of silence. As someone who was inducted by John Gotti, the ultimate standup gangster, Andrew Campos knew this intimately. When he believed that a worker at CWC had testified before the grand jury, he allegedly ordered that he be fired. Subsequently, during a recorded conversation by authorities on November 22, 2019, Fiore directed that the CWC worker be fired as “a personal favor to Andrew,” because the worker “could’ve pled the Fifth,” meaning refuse to testify.
In La Cosa Nostra, you can lie, you can cheat, you can steal, and you can kill. But you don’t talk.
UPDATE - January 17, 2021: Eleven of the Gambino mobsters pleaded guilty on Friday to a variety of charges ranging from racketeering conspiracy, fraud, obstruction of justice, tax evasion and offenses related to organized criminal activities. The New York Post reported that, Campos, Cobos, DiZenzo, Fiore, Kocaj, Martino and Frank Tarul each face 20 years in prison. Barca, George Campos, Ciaccia and Michael Tarul each face up to 5 years in prison. Simonlacaj faces up to 3 years in prison.
UPDATE - February 11, 2022: Andrew Campos was sentenced to 3 years in prison.
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