Two associates of the Genovese La Cosa Nostra (LCN) crime family pleaded guilty in federal court to extortion-related charges.
Ralph Santaniello, 50, and Giovanni Calabrese, 54, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by threats or violence; one count of interference with commerce by threats or violence – aiding and abetting; one count of conspiracy to use extortionate means to collect extensions of credit; and one count of using extortionate means to collect extensions of credit – aiding and abetting.
U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman scheduled sentencing for Jan. 29 for Mr. Santaniello and Jan. 30 for Mr. Calabrese.
The men were arrested and charged in August 2016 along with three other associates, Gerald Daniele, Francesco Depergola and Richard Valentini.
Mr. Santaniello and Mr. Calabrese, along with their alleged co-defendants, were associates of the New York-based Genovese LCN crime family and engaged in various criminal activities in Springfield, including loansharking and extortion from legitimate and illegitimate businesses, such as illegal gambling businesses and the collection of unlawful debts.
The defendants allegedly used violence, exploited their relationship with LCN, and implied threats of murder and physical violence to instill fear in their victims.
In 2013, Mr. Santaniello, Mr. Calabrese, Mr. Depergola and Mr. Valentini allegedly attempted to extort money from a Springfield businessman. Mr. Santaniello assaulted the businessman and threatened to cut off his head and bury his body if he did not comply. Over a period of four months, the businessman paid $20,000 to Mr. Santaniello, Mr. Calabrese, Mr. Depergola and Mr. Valentini to protect himself and his business.
In addition, during a six-month period in 2015, it is alleged that Mr. Daniele extended two extortionate and usurious loans to an individual, and then, along with Mr. Santaniello and Mr. Calabrese, threatened the individual if he did not make payments on the loans.
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