Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Massive Details on #OperationFistful, 11 Alleged Members and Associates of Genovese Crime Family Charged With Reaping Millions in Criminal Profits

Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that seven alleged members and associates of the New York-based Genovese organized crime family were arrested and one more is being sought on an arrest warrant on first-degree racketeering charges for allegedly reaping millions of dollars in criminal profits in New Jersey through loansharking, unlicensed check cashing, gambling and money laundering, including laundering of proceeds from narcotics trafficking. Three other alleged associates were charged by summons, bringing the total number charged to 11.

Acting Attorney General Hoffman made the announcement in Newark with Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice, New Jersey Commissioner Michael Murphy and Executive Director Walter Arsenault of the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, and representatives of the other law enforcement agencies that assisted in the operation.

Much of the illicit revenue allegedly was collected and laundered through licensed and unlicensed check-cashing businesses in Newark run by alleged Genovese associate Domenick Pucillo, 56, of Florham Park. Pucillo and the other associates charged allegedly are part of a New Jersey crew operating under the supervision and control of two alleged “made” members of the Genovese crime family – Charles “Chuckie” Tuzzo, 80, of Bayside, N.Y., a Genovese “capo,” and Vito Alberti, 55, of New Providence, N.J., a Genovese “soldier” – who answer to the Genovese hierarchy in New York. Tuzzo, Alberti and Pucillo were among the seven men who were arrested early this morning.

The charges stem from “Operation Fistful,” an ongoing joint investigation by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, conducted with assistance from the New York and Queens County District Attorneys’ Offices and other law enforcement agencies. The eight men targeted for arrest face racketeering and money laundering charges that carry consecutive sentences of 10 to 20 years in prison for each charge, including lengthy periods of parole ineligibility.

The 11 defendants are charged, in varying combinations, with running the following criminal schemes, as more fully outlined below, which generated “tribute” payments up the Genovese chain of command:


  1. a massive loansharking operation that yielded about $1.3 million in illegal interest per year;
  2. an illicit multi-million dollar offshore sports gambling enterprise;
  3. an unlicensed check-cashing business that made $9 million in fees in four years, while enabling customers to launder funds and evade taxes by skirting federal reporting requirements;
  4. laundering of $666,000 in drug money via check-cashing businesses owned by Pucillo in Newark and Florida;
  5. illegal control and use of a trucking firm with a contract to transport cars from Port Newark;
  6. tax fraud and evasion.

“We charge that this crew of the Genovese crime family was up to many of the Mafia’s old tricks in New Jersey, including loansharking and illegal gambling, to the tune of millions of dollars,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “History teaches us that as long as demand exists for illegal loans, illicit gambling, drugs, and other black-market goods and services, organized crime is going to turn a profit by preying on society. Our message to the Mafia is that as long as they do, we’re going to be here to send them to prison.”

“This case illustrates that the Mafia has evolved and learned to exploit sophisticated financial systems to hide and launder the proceeds of traditional street crimes such as loansharking and illegal gambling,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Through it all, as always, the Mafia makes its money largely through the ever-present threat of violence. This case demonstrates that, as much as the Mafia may change its criminal tactics, we will work tirelessly to remain one step ahead and root out their corrosive influence.”

“This case presents yet another instance of the Waterfront Commission’s concerted efforts with its law enforcement partners to disrupt the influence of organized crime in the metropolitan area,” said New Jersey Commissioner Michael Murphy of the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor. “The Genovese Crime Family has historically exerted its influence on the Port of New Jersey. Disruption of its profits from gambling, loansharking and money laundering weaken that family’s grip.”

LOANSHARKING

Pucillo allegedly used his check-cashing businesses for a massive loansharking operation. He runs several businesses, but the main one is Tri-State Check Cashing, Inc., with headquarters at 17 Avenue A in Newark. He allegedly used cash and credit lines extended to his business to loan money “on the street” at usurious rates. He made loans at one to three “points.” A point equals 1% interest, due weekly, so one point equates to 52% annual interest, two points to 104% annual interest, and three points to 156% annual interest. New Jersey law defines criminal usury as loaning money to an individual at an annual interest rate exceeding 30%, and makes it a second-degree crime if the rate exceeds 50% per year.

Over a two-year period, Pucillo had approximately $3 million in usurious loans on the street and collected approximately $1.3 million in interest per year. It is alleged that Genovese associate Robert “Bobby Spags” Spagnola, 67, of Morganville, N.J., partnered with Pucillo in the loansharking business and received a commission of one point on each loan he secured for Pucillo. In addition, Pucillo allegedly shared the loansharking proceeds up the Genovese chain of command to Alberti and Tuzzo.

Victims were required to pay interest on a weekly basis. The scheme was designed so that, when the victims made loan payments by check, it appeared that they were cashing checks in the ordinary course of Pucillo’s check-cashing business. When they took out loans, victims were required to sign partially completed checks, which Pucillo and his co-defendants could complete and cash through the check-cashing business to collect weekly interest or payments of principal. Victims also could pay in cash.

Defendant Flor Miranda, 40, of Newark, worked as office manager for Pucillo’s check-cashing operation. She allegedly collected loansharking payments and helped Pucillo keep extensive records of the loansharking and money laundering operations run out of his check-cashing businesses.

SPORTS GAMBLING

Vincent P. Coppola, 37, of Union, N.J., son of imprisoned Genovese capo Michael Coppola, allegedly was part of a network of Genovese associates who ran a multi-million dollar illegal sports gambling enterprise in New Jersey that utilized an off-shore “wire room” in Costa Rica to process bets. Coppola allegedly was an “agent” who managed sub-agents or package holders, each of whom had a “package” of bettors under him. He allegedly supervised sub-agents John W. Trainor, 42, of Brick, N.J., and Jerry J. Albanese, 47, of Scotch Plains. Agents decide which bettors can open accounts and gamble using the enterprise’s website and toll-free phone number. They also dictate how much a bettor can gamble per game and per week, and monitor the action and balances of the packages they oversee. Eventually, Coppola allegedly gave Trainor and Albanese more complete control of the bettors in their packages. Coppola allegedly had four packages under him, including those of Trainor and Albanese. In a single year, in 2011, Coppola’s packages allegedly handled more than $1.7 million in bets, and Coppola, Trainor, Albanese and the Genovese crime family – through Alberti and Tuzzo – allegedly made more than $400,000 in profits.

UNLICENSED CHECK-CASHING BUSINESS

In addition to Tri-State Check Cashing and his other licensed check-cashing businesses, Pucillo allegedly financed an unlicensed, illegal check-cashing operation with partners and Genovese associates Abel J. Rodrigues, 52, of Bridgewater, N.J., and Manuel Rodriguez, 49, of Chatham, N.J. This scheme operated out of Portucale Restaurant & Bar at 129 Elm Street in Newark, also known as Viriato Corp. – which is owned by Abel Rodrigues – under the guise that Rodrigues was legally allowed to cash checks as Pucillo’s agent. In reality, this arrangement is illegal, and the defendants allegedly used it to enable clients to launder money and evade taxes. It is alleged that over a four-year period they illegally cashed over $400 million in checks through Portucale Restaurant and collected over $9 million in fees.

Many customers cashed checks at Portucale Restaurant to launder money, hide income or obtain cash for “under-the-table” payrolls because Abel Rodrigues allegedly did not ask for any identification and would not file proper “currency transaction reports,” or CTRs, for any check or combination of checks exceeding $10,000, as required by federal law. Tri-State Check Cashing provided the cash disbursed at Portucale Restaurant, but instead of processing and reporting the individual checks that were cashed, Tri-State would receive checks from Viriato Corp. for sums in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, which bundled together the amounts of the checks cashed at Portucale Restaurant. Tri-State would then file CTRs only for the checks from Viriato Corp. Jennifer Mann, 30, of Bayonne, was employed by Pucillo as the compliance officer for Tri-State. At Pucillo’s direction, she allegedly issued hundreds of false CTRs to conceal tax evasion and money laundering at Portucale Restaurant.

In return for cashing checks for over $10,000 without scrutiny, customers paid fees of up to 3% percent per check, which exceeds the limit of 2.21% permitted under New Jersey law. Abel Rodrigues allegedly received 1% on each check, and the remainder went to Pucillo. It is alleged that Pucillo in turn provided one-quarter of his fees to Manuel Rodriguez, who shared a portion of his fees up the chain to Alberti, Tuzzo and the Genovese crime family.

DRUG MONEY

In January 2012, Pucillo acquired a check-cashing business in Hialeah, Florida, called I&T Financial Services. It is alleged that he subsequently entered into an agreement to launder and transfer drug money from New York and New Jersey to Florida. The drug traffickers allegedly would deliver cash to Flor Miranda at Tri-State Check Cashing in Newark. The money then was wired under the fictitious company name “Gold Shiny” to Florida, where it was laundered through I&T Financial’s business accounts and was received by the client, whose identity remained concealed. Pucillo allegedly laundered and transferred $666,000 in this manner, collecting $22,500 in fees on the transactions.

TRUCKING COMPANY

It is alleged that the Genovese crime family, through members and associates including Tuzzo, Alberti, Pucillo and Trainor, illicitly took control of a company called GTS Auto Carriers, siphoned money from it, and used it to commit other crimes including check forgery and tax evasion. Trainor owned and operated GTS, which transports cars from Port Newark to dealerships throughout New Jersey under a lucrative contract with Nissan. After Trainor obtained the contract, Alberti required GTS to lease trucks to transport the cars from Alberti for over $300,000 per year. Alberti created a company called AMJ Transport solely to lease trucks to GTS.

Alberti also allegedly required GTS to carry Coppola and another Genovese crime family associate on the GTS payroll even though neither actually worked for GTS. In addition, Trainor allegedly had checks issued from a GTS business account to fictitious persons to conceal the fact that he was siphoning money from GTS for his personal use and to pay Alberti and other Genovese crime family members and associates. In five months, Trainor allegedly cashed GTS checks totaling over $100,000 at Pucillo’s check-cashing business, including several on which Trainor forged the signature of the person authorized to sign checks for the GTS account.

TAX FRAUD AND EVASION

It is alleged that, in conducting their criminal schemes, Alberti, Trainor, Rodriguez and Rodrigues – through Pucillo’s check-cashing businesses and other means – concealed their income and either failed to file tax returns or filed fraudulent tax returns which did not account for their criminal earnings.

The detectives who conducted Operation Fistful for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau are Lt. Brian Bruton, Detective Mario Estrada, Detective Patrick Sole and Detective Matthew Tully, under the supervision of Deputy Chief of Detectives Christopher Donohue. The attorneys who conducted the investigation are Deputy Attorney General Lauren Scarpa Yfantis, who is Chief of the Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, Deputy Attorney General Annmarie Taggart, who is Deputy Bureau Chief, and Deputy Attorneys General Jacqueline Weyand, Ray Mateo and Vincent Militello. Acting Attorney General Hoffman thanked Director Honig, Deputy Division Director Christopher Romanyshyn and Chief of Detectives Paul Morris for their leadership in the operation.

Acting Attorney General Hoffman thanked the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor for partnering with the Attorney General’s Office in the investigation. The following individuals conducted the investigation for the Waterfront Commission: Capt. Margaret Baldinger, Sgt. George Falvo, Sgt. Kristen Brylinski, Sgt. Michelle Turner, Detective Joseph Longo, Detective Salvatore Arrigo, Detective Andrew Varga, Detective Matthew Moroney, Detective Frank Albanese, Detective Marc Valentin, Detective Wojciech Stobinski, Detective Vincent King, Detective Fauna Mitchell-Foster, Detective Shanti Kurschner and Detective Michael Petrillo.

Acting Attorney General Hoffman also thanked the following agencies for their valuable assistance:

New York County District Attorney's Office
Queens County District Attorney's Office
United States Department of Homeland Security
Florida Department of Financial Services
New York City Police Department
United States Internal Revenue Service
New Jersey Department of Taxation
New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance
New Jersey State Police
El Dorado Task Force.

These eight defendants were arrested or are being sought on arrest warrants charging the following crimes. Those arrested were lodged in jail with bail set at $400,000 for each. (* indicates the defendant remains a fugitive)


  • Charles “Chuckie” Tuzzo. Racketeering (1st degree), Money Laundering (1st degree), Conspiracy (1st degree), Criminal Usury (2nd degree), Promoting Gambling (3rd degree).
  • Vito Alberti. Racketeering (1st degree), Money Laundering (1st degree), Conspiracy (1st degree), Criminal Usury (2nd degree), Promoting Gambling (3rd degree), Filing a Fraudulent Tax Return (3rd degree).
  • Domenick Pucillo. Racketeering (1st degree), Money Laundering (1st degree), Conspiracy (1st degree), Criminal Usury (2nd degree), Possession of Usurious Loan Records (3rd degree), Operating an Unlicensed Check-Cashing Facility (3rd degree).
  • Robert “Bobby Spags” Spagnola. Racketeering (1st degree), Money Laundering (1st degree), Conspiracy (1st degree), Criminal Usury (2nd degree), Possession of Usurious Loan Records (3rd degree).
  • Manuel Rodriguez. Racketeering (1st degree), Money Laundering (1st degree), Conspiracy (1st degree), Operating an Unlicensed Check-Cashing Facility (3rd degree), Filing a Fraudulent Tax Return (3rd degree), Failure to File a Tax Return (3rd degree).
  • *Vincent P. Coppola. Racketeering (1st degree), Money Laundering (1st degree), Conspiracy (1st degree), Promoting Gambling (3rd degree).
  • Abel J. Rodrigues. Racketeering (1st degree), Money Laundering (1st degree), Conspiracy (1st degree), Operating an Unlicensed Check-Cashing Facility (3rd degree), Filing a Fraudulent Tax Return (3rd degree).
  • John W. Trainor. Racketeering (1st degree), Money Laundering (1st degree), Conspiracy (1st degree), Promoting Gambling (3rd degree), Forgery (3rd degree), Failure to File a Tax Return (3rd degree).


These three defendants were charged by summons with the following crimes:


  • Jerry J. Albanese. Money Laundering (1st degree), Conspiracy (1st degree), Promoting Gambling (3rd degree).
  • Flor Miranda. Money Laundering (1st degree), Conspiracy (1st degree), Criminal Usury (2nd degree), Possession of Usurious Loan Records (3rd degree).
  • Jennifer Mann. Money Laundering (1st degree), Conspiracy (1st degree), Operating an Unlicensed Check-Cashing Facility (3rd degree), Issuing a False Financial Statement (3rd degree), Forgery (3rd degree).


First-degree racketeering carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison – 85 percent of which must be served without parole under the No Early Release Act – and a fine of up to $200,000. First-degree money laundering carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison – including a mandatory period of parole ineligibility equal to one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed – with the sentence to run consecutive to the sentences for other charges. First-degree money laundering carries an enhanced fine of up to $500,000. Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000, or an enhanced fine of up to $35,000 for the crime of promoting gambling.

Gulf Cartel Leader Juan Francisco Saenz-Tamez Arrested

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced the arrest of current Gulf Cartel leader Juan Francisco Saenz-Tamez, 23, of Camargo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, on Oct. 9, 2014 while shopping in Edinburg, Texas. Saenz-Tamez made an initial appearance in the Eastern District of Texas on drug trafficking charges.

“Juan Francisco Saenz-Tamez became the head of the Gulf Cartel following the 2013 arrest of former leader Mario Ramirez-Trevino,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “He moved steadily up the cartel ranks, working as a lookout, record keeper, plaza boss, and finally its leader. Thanks to the quick actions of DEA and our local partners, we were able to identify and safely arrest Saenz-Tamez while he was in the United States. He oversaw much of the violence and bloodshed that has plagued Mexico and DEA is pleased he will face justice in the United States.”

A federal investigation into the large-scale trafficking of illegal drugs from Mexico into the Eastern District of Texas led to the identity of Saenz-Tamez. The investigation revealed thousands of kilograms of cocaine and marijuana were shipped into the Eastern District of Texas and then to locations across the nation, including Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Mississippi, Louisiana, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Maryland and Georgia.

Saenz-Tamez was indicted by a federal grand jury on Sep. 5, 2013 and charged with conspiracy with intent to distribute cocaine, conspiracy with intent to distribute marijuana, and conspiracy to money launder. Saenz-Tamez was transported from McAllen, Texas to Beaumont where he appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Zack Hawthorn for a detention hearing and initial appearance.

If convicted, Saenz-Tamez faces a minimum of 10 years and up to life in federal prison for the drug charges and up to 20 years in federal prison for the money laundering charge.

"The news that Juan Saenz-Tamez has been arrested is further proof that justice is prevailing in Mexico,” said U.S. Attorney John M. Bales. “I am encouraged that the efforts of so many law enforcement officers are now paying off. Congratulations to them and I look forward to seeing Saenz-Tamez answer for his crimes in a Beaumont courtroom."


“The arrest of Juan Francisco Saenz-Tamez, will put a stop to his role in the distribution of illegal drugs and the laundering of drug proceeds,” said IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Lucy Cruz. “Laundering their profits is as important and essential to drug traffickers as the distribution of their illegal drugs. IRS CI is proud to provide assistance as we work alongside our law enforcement partners to bring these criminals to justice."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Detention Facility Scheme to Smuggle Pot and Cell Phones into Jail Results in Guilty Pleas

Two Newark men admitted their involvement in a scheme to smuggle contraband, including marijuana and cell phones, into the Essex County Jail, a federal pretrial detention facility, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Darsell Davis, 29, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper to an information charging him with one count of conspiring with others to commit extortion under color of official right. Dwayne Harper, 30, pleaded guilty before Judge Cooper to an information charging him with one count of conspiring to smuggle contraband into the Essex County Jail. Davis has been released on bail and Harper remains in custody. According to the documents filed in this case and other cases and statements made in court:

On multiple occasions between September 2013 and May 2014, Stephon Solomon, 26, a corrections officer at the Essex County Jail, smuggled contraband—including cell phones, tobacco, and marijuana—to Quasim Nichols, 29, a federal pretrial detainee at the Essex County Jail, in exchange for cash bribes. Davis and Harper aided the smuggling scheme by collecting the contraband to be smuggled into the jail. After receiving contraband and cash bribes from Davis, Solomon smuggled the contraband to Nichols, who ultimately sold some of the marijuana and cell phones to other inmates. The inmates purchased the contraband by having friends and family send Western Union money transfers to Nichols, who then enlisted Davis and others to retrieve those payments for him. Davis obtained at least $4,300 in Western Union payments over the course of the conspiracy.

Charges against Nichols are still pending. The charges and allegations against Nichols are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Solomon pleaded guilty on Oct. 1, 2014, to one count of conspiring to commit extortion under color of official right and awaits sentencing on Jan. 21, 2015. He has been released on bail.

The charge of conspiring to commit extortion under color of official right, to which Davis pleaded guilty, carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Davis also will forfeit $4,300, consisting of his proceeds from the conspiracy. The charge of conspiring to provide contraband, including marijuana, to inmates at the Essex County Jail, to which Harper pleaded guilty, carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.

Davis and Harper are set to be sentenced before Judge Cooper on Feb. 11, 2015, and Feb. 4, 2015, respectively.

Real World Of Mafia Boss, Michael Franzese And His True Life Redemption Shown Through Scenes Of The Crucifixion, Deemed Too Violent By MPAA In Upcoming Film "God The Father"

The upcoming release God the Father, slated for release on October 31, the day Michael Franzese, once dubbed the Prince of the Mafia, became a "made man," vividly depicts both Franzese's life as a Mob kingpin and as a man transformed by faith.  The film does not shy away from illustrating the real world and life that Franzese swore allegiance to.  But it is a scene of Christ's Crucifixion shown as part of his prison epiphany and the Mob stock footage scenes combined, that tipped the scales at the MPAA who gave the film an R rating.

The irony is not lost on Franzese: "I spent over 20 years on the street, every day in violation of both God's laws and the laws of man. And the powers that be have a problem not only with Mob reality being seen, but also with Biblical history? You see worse images and stories on the 6 o'clock news! The entertainment business can't afford to be out of touch with real world problems our youth are experiencing, from gangs to drugs and violence. Anyone over 13 needs the opportunity to see this film."

Franzese made over a billion dollars for his crime "family," earning more than anyone since Al Capone.  It was enough to place him at #18 (3 behind John Gotti) on Fortune Magazine's "Fifty Most Wealthy and Powerful Mafia Bosses."  He was a Hollywood producer, a restaurateur, a night club owner:  He was living the life of a man's man as he saw it.  A revelation that his own father went along with planning a hit on him, the love for his own family, and a realization that his life was heading like every other Mob guy before him straight to St. Johns Cemetery in Queens, New York, that made Franzese decide to leave "The Life."  In an act thought impossible, he publicly walked away from the Colombo family and organized crime.

"Its real world stuff (the Mob scene footage) that is around us all the time," says Franzese.  "It's not the gratuitous violence most movies include for the audience reaction, but real life, real crime and real people.  All ages need to see this, but especially our young people who are confronted every day with opportunities to go down the wrong path… This film was created from my reality, for all to see a life outside of the Mob, a way out… but you have to see the reality of it to understand the impact of the redemption that can occur, as what happened in my own life."

Franzese adds: "In making God The Father, we went to great lengths to show the dark aspect of my real life story in a subtle and intelligent way.  The story of Jesus's suffering and Crucifixion is very well known and in the past, audiences have been willing to endure the intensity of those scenes.   What is important to me is to share the parallel themes that I discovered in the story of the Crucifixion and my own experiences in 'The Life': themes such as perseverance, forgiveness, redemption and faith.   I hope that this film will allow everyone to see beyond the short-term and see that there are choices to lead a positive fulfilling life for themselves and those around them."

God The Father takes audiences on the untold personal journey into the life and spiritual transformation of Michael Franzese, a young and charismatic Capo in the Colombo crime family during the 1980's-90's, who's notorious father Sonny Franzese was also a renowned Underboss. It's a true story about mafia, money, love, loyalty and God.

GOD THE FATHER opens on Friday, October 31 across the country in select theatres.  It is rated "R" for violent images by the MPAA and has a running time of 101 minutes.

Friday, October 17, 2014

10 More Reputed Members of the Almighty Imperial Gangsters Nation Gang Indicted on Various Murder Chargers

Ten alleged members of the violent Almighty Imperial Gangsters Nation gang have been indicted by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Florida for their roles in various murders in Miami, Chicago, and East Chicago. Fifteen alleged members of the gang have now been charged by the Justice Department in this case.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge Robert J. Holley of the FBI’s Chicago Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office made the announcement.

The second superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury on Oct. 9, 2014, charges Robert Martinez, aka “Trap,” 20, of Miami, along with Rogelio Perez, aka “Popeye,” 40, Eddie Camacho, aka “NeNe,” 35, Miguel Pedraza, aka “Fuzzy,” 33, Ryan Perez, aka “Lil Dk,” 32, Carlos Mena, aka “Rollo,” 33, Carlos Gomez, aka “Lokes,” 35, and Guillermo Sinisterra, aka “Memo,” 26, all of Chicago, with conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity, including murder. Piero Benitez, aka “Bam Bam,” 27, of Skokie, Illinois, was charged with murder in aid of racketeering, and Santiago Salcedo, aka “Chino,” 25, of Miami, was charged with conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering. Alleged fellow gang members Jose Herrera, aka “Spyro,” 27, Leonel Carrera, aka “Leo,” 25, Victor Lopez, aka “Magic,” Ramon Madruga, aka “Porky” 28, and Alex Enrique Somarriba, aka “A-Rock,” 28, all of Chicago, were previously charged in the superseding indictment unsealed in this case on Aug. 4, 2014, and remain charged in the second superseding indictment.

According to the second superseding indictment, all fifteen defendants are members of the Almighty Imperial Gangsters Nation, which is a nationally-known organized street gang that originated in the near northwest side of Chicago and spread to other regions of the United States, including South Florida. Members and associates of the Almighty Imperial Gangsters Nation allegedly engaged in acts of violence, including murder, attempted murder, battery, aggravated battery, and aggravated assault, as well as narcotics distribution and other criminal activities. Specifically, the indictment charges that the gang is responsible for twelve murders in Miami, Chicago and East Chicago, Indiana between 1985 and 2011, including the murder of a state prosecution witness whose cooperation with law enforcement ultimately led to the conviction of the gang’s South Florida leader, Victor Lopez, on cocaine distribution charges.

"Papa Grande", Colombian Cartel Leader Salomon Camacho Mora, Admits Trafficking Narcotics

A Colombian cartel leader expelled from Venezuela to face federal charges in New Jersey for his role in an international cocaine distribution conspiracy admitted today in Newark federal court to conspiring traffic the drug into the United States, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman and FBI Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford announced.

Colombian national Salomon Camacho Mora, 70, a/k/a “Papa Grande,” a/k/a “El Viejo,” a/k/a “Hector,” was arrested in Valencia, Venezuela, on Jan. 13, 2010, and subsequently expelled by Venezuelan authorities to the United States. Previously, Camacho, who had been designated a Consolidated Priority Organization Target (CPOT) by the Department of Justice, was a New Jersey FBI fugitive for more than eight years.

Camacho was originally indicted in September 2002 in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. He entered a plea of guilty, to a count of conspiracy contained in a superseding indictment, before U.S. District Judge William H. Walls.

According to statements made during Camacho’s guilty plea proceeding and documents filed in Newark federal court:

Camacho admitted that he and members of his drug organization purchased multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine from various cocaine processing laboratories located in Colombia, and arranged for the transportation of the cocaine loads to various shipping ports in Venezuela. Camacho and members of his drug organization then sold the cocaine shipments to other drug trafficking organizations operating in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and the United States.

He also acknowledged that others in his organization received and stored the drug shipments in Venezuela, and arranged for their maritime transportation to Puerto Rico and the United States.

The drug trafficking operation generated substantial profits for Camacho and his conspirators.

Camacho faces a statutory mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison, a statutory maximum of life in prison, and fines of up to $10 million or twice the amount of profits he gained from his illegal conduct. As part of his plea agreement, Camacho has agreed to the entry of a $1.6 million forfeiture money judgment and the forfeiture of eight Colombian properties that were the product of ill-gotten gains. Sentencing is currently scheduled for March 10, 2015.

Christmas Bonus Extortion Conspiracy Earns Robert Ruiz 20 Months in Prison

A former delegate of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) Local 1235 was sentenced to 20 months in prison for conspiring to extort longshoremen on the New Jersey piers for Christmastime tribute payments, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman and Eastern District of New York U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch announced.

Robert Ruiz, 55, of Watchung, New Jersey—the delegate of the union from approximately 2007 through 2010—previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi to one count of an indictment charging him with conspiring to extort Christmastime tributes from ILA Local 1235 members. Judge Cecchi imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Ruiz and two other former ILA officers—Vincent Aulisi, 82, of West Orange, New Jersey, the president of ILA Local 1235 from 2006 through 2007; and Thomas Leonardis, 57, of Glen Gardner, New Jersey, the president of the union from approximately 2008 through 2011—admitted that they conspired to compel tribute payments from ILA union members, who made the payments based on actual and threatened force, violence and fear. The timing of the extortions typically coincided with the receipt by certain ILA members of “Container Royalty Fund” checks, a form of year-end compensation. Leonardis and Ruiz were suspended from their positions following their arrests in January 2011. Aulisi had already retired from his employment on the New Jersey piers at the time of his arrest.

Aulisi was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Oct. 8, 2014. Leonardis still awaits sentencing.

Charges are still pending against three defendants in the superseding indictment, including a racketeering conspiracy charge against Stephen Depiro, 59, of Kenilworth, New Jersey—a soldier in the Genovese organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra. Since at least 2005, Depiro has managed the Genovese family’s control over the New Jersey waterfront—including the nearly three-decades-long extortion of port workers in ILA Local 1, ILA Local 1235, and ILA Local 1478. Members of the Genovese family, including Depiro, are charged with conspiring to collect tribute payments from New Jersey port workers at Christmastime each year through their corrupt influence over union officials, including the last three presidents of Local 1235.

Two other Genovese family associates charged in the case are former union officials: Albert Cernadas, 79, of Union, New Jersey, the president of ILA Local 1235 from approximately 1981 to 2006 and former ILA executive vice president; and Nunzio LaGrasso, 63, of Florham Park, New Jersey, the former vice president of ILA Local 1478 and former ILA representative.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Cecchi sentenced Ruiz to serve two years of supervised release.