The Chicago Syndicate: Feds: Indictment Targets Genovese Crime Family
The Mission Impossible Backpack

Monday, July 10, 2006

Feds: Indictment Targets Genovese Crime Family

Friends of ours: Genovese Crime Family, Renaldi "Ray" Ruggiero, Albert "Chinky" Facchiano, Liborio S. "Barney" Bellomo
Friends of mine: Joseph Dennis Colasacco, Francis O'Donnell, Charles Steinberg, Mitchell Weissman

A federal judge considered Friday whether five reputed South Florida members of the Genovese crime family should remain in jail pending trial on charges of extortion, robbery, money laundering and other acts of racketeering.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Seltzer was expected to decide whether Renaldi "Ray" Ruggiero, 72, whom federal prosecutors identified as a Genovese capo or captain, and four of his co-defendants should be released before trial.

Ruggiero and Joseph Dennis Colasacco, 54, Francis O'Donnell, 47, Charles Steinberg, 30, Mitchell Weissman, 54, and Genovese "soldier" Albert "Chinky" Facchiano, 96, were arrested June 30. Facchiano, of Miami, was released on a $100,000 bond on Friday.

The case, considered the latest blow to New York's most powerful Mafia family, deals with 10 years of alleged criminal activity, including murder. The family's reputed acting boss, Liborio S. "Barney" Bellomo, and 31 others were arrested in February in New York.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Kaplan told the court the investigation of the group began in 2001 and lasted mainly through 2003, when Internal Revenue Service agents searched Ruggiero's home. More than 130 undercover recordings of the men's conversations "bought out the violent nature of the defendants," Kaplan said.

Prosecutors alleged that Colasacco beat a man with a gun while Weissman held a baseball bat over him. The victim eventually escaped, covered in blood, Kaplan said. The men later met the victim at Ruggiero's Palm Beach restaurant, aptly named Soprano's, to again threaten him, prosecutors said.

Ruggiero's attorney, Michael Salnick, repeatedly stopped prosecutors who claimed his client was connected to the Mafia or that he was a dangerous person. Salnick asked the court that his client be released before trial, noting that Ruggiero suffers from serious health problems. Salnick noted that Ruggiero has no passport and has left the country only once in 20 years.

The indictment covered alleged illegal enterprises from 1994 to the present, with a few specific examples. In one instance in 2003, Ruggiero allegedly gave approval to Colasacco to extort a man identified as "Victim-1."

Prosecutors claimed the victim was lured to O'Donnell's office, where a gun was held to his head and he was ordered to pay $1.5 million. Prosecutors said Ruggiero feigned innocence when confronted by the victim and promised to intercede, but later agreed to split the money with other defendants.

The group is also accused of laundering money through as many as six companies. An undercover agent gave O'Donnell $250,000 in cash to launder and "made it clear the cash was from drugs," Kaplan alleged.

If convicted under the racketeering charges, Ruggiero could face up to 120 years in prison and fines of up to $1.75 million. Convictions would result in slightly lower maximum sentences for the other defendants.

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