Eighteen members and associates of the Genovese crime family — one of New York’s most notorious organized crime syndicates — were charged Thursday with an eight-count indictment that includes conspiracy to commit murder, federal officials said.
Robert Debello (aka “Old Man”), Steven Pastore, Ryan Ellis (aka “Baldy”), Salvatore Delligatti (aka “Jay” or “Fat Sal”), Luigi Romano (aka “Louie Sunoco”) and Betram Duke (aka “Birdy”) were among those arrested in the law enforcement sweep carried out in Nassau County and New York City, officials said.
Of the 18 defendants charged in the indictment, 17 were in custody late Thursday, including 13 who were arrested as part of a coordinated takedown by FBI agents, NYPD detectives and members of the Nassau County Police Department earlier in the day, federal officials said.
“This racket was as old as La Cosa Nostra,” NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said in a written statement. “From murder for hire to extortion and gambling, there wasn’t a scheme that was off limits to these soldiers and associates of the Genovese family. The mob may be diminished, but it’s not dead, and it requires our continued vigilance.”
Among their numerous alleged crimes, the defendants are accused of extorting businesses, running protection rackets, and operating a sports betting and bookmaking operation that earned thousands of dollars a day, officials said.
In 2014, several of the men conspired to murder an unidentified victim “for the purpose of gaining entry to and maintaining and increasing position” in the Genovese family, court records show.
Officials did not release any details about the murder for hire plot or the attempted murder charge, nor did they specify who were the targets.
The indictment — unsealed Thursday in Manhattan federal court — charges several of those arrested with racketeering conspiracy, attempted murder, extortion conspiracy, operating an illegal gambling business, illegal use of firearms, and other crimes, officials said.
The charges stem from the Genovese family’s alleged involvement in a racketeering scheme carried out between 2008 and 2016, court records show.
Several of the men charged Thursday are from Long Island, including Scott Jacobson, 31, of Old Bethpage, Frank Celso, 50, of West Hempstead, Michael Vigorito, 35, of Massapequa, Spyro Antonakopoulos, 31, of Elmont, and Jonathan Desimone, 34, of Huntington, officials said.
Attorneys for the accused, who were to be arraigned in federal court Thursday, were not identified.
Nassau County police and prosecutors also helped with the investigation, officials said.
“With today’s charges, we strike an important blow against the Genovese Crime Family,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a written statement. “Whether you are an old school made member of the mob or a young street criminal looking to join it, the message today is clear: the life of a mobster is a dead-end street that ends nowhere good.”
Thanks to Kevin Deutsch.
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