The defendants—Jerry Ciauri, also known as “Fat Jerry,” a member of the Colombo family, Vito Difalco, also known as “Victor” and “The Mask,” a member of the Colombo family, Salvatore Disano, also known as “Sal Heaven,” an associate of the Colombo family, Anthony Licata, also known as “Anthony Suits,” a member of the Gambino family, and Joseph Maratea, an associate of the Colombo family—were arrested arraigned before Magistrate Judge Ramon E. Reyes, Jr.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and James P. O’Neill, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the charges.
“This investigation shows that members of La Cosa Nostra continue to prey on members of our community, enriching themselves and their criminal network by making extortionate loans and using threats of violence to collect,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “Rooting out traditional organized crime’s dangerous and corrupting influence continues to be a high priority for this Office and our law enforcement partners.”
“As alleged in the indictment, these defendants instilled fear in the hearts of their victims through threats of violence,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “These extortionate threats are the trademark of the mafia’s power, but in the end all it does is expose their weakness. While criminal organizations such as La Costa Nostra continue to work hard to imbed fear and danger within our communities, the FBI New York Joint Organized Crime Task Force is working even harder to ensure the public’s safety and security.”
“The mob is certainly diminished, but it is not dead,” stated NYPD Police Commissioner O’Neill. “These groups require our constant vigilance. By working in close collaboration with our law enforcement partners in the FBI and the Eastern District, the NYPD will continue to ensure public safety through aggressive investigation and the dismantling of these types of organized-crime organizations.”
As alleged in the indictment and court filings, Ciauri is charged with making extortionate loans and with using extortionate means to collect debts from six victims, as well as laundering the proceeds of his loansharking business in order to conceal his involvement.
Disano is charged with using extortionate means to collect debts from three victims and with assisting Ciauri in laundering the proceeds. On one occasion, Ciauri threatened to shoot a loansharking partner who had fallen behind making payments to Ciauri. He subsequently recruited another associate to stalk that partner. On another occasion, Ciauri enlisted an associate to slash a victim’s tires in the middle of the night.
Difalco is charged with making extortionate loans and with using extortionate means to collect debts from eight victims. In one conversation, Difalco threatened a loansharking victim by telling him that he had a past history of setting on fire the cars of those who failed to make timely payments; Difalco told the victim, “Good things happen to me when I stay calm see like I was by your house the other day…. Four years ago, I would have put the Benz on fire.”
Maratea is charged with using extortionate means to collect debts from five victims. To ensure that Maratea and Difalco could find their debtors, Difalco and Maratea required debtors to provide a copy of their driver’s licenses and contact information.
Each of the defendants faces a maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment on the racketeering, money laundering and extortionate collection offenses. The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime & Gangs Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Elizabeth A. Geddes and Mathew S. Miller are in charge of the prosecution.
- JERRY CIAURI (also known as “Fat Jerry”) Age: 59 Brooklyn, New York
- VITO DIFALCO (also known as “Victor” and “The Mask”) Age: 63 Brooklyn, New York
- SALVATORE DISANO (also known as “Sal Heaven”) Age: 48 Brooklyn, New York
- ANTHONY LICATA (also known as “Anthony Suits”) Age: 49 Brooklyn, New York
- JOSEPH MARATEA Age: 42 Brooklyn, New York