Ten members and associates of the Gambino crime family were arrested and accused of strong-arming their way into New York City garbage hauling and demolition businesses, authorities said Wednesday.
At least four of the defendants were accused of wielding baseball bats as part of their intimidation tactics to gain entry to the lucrative fields, prosecutors said.
The men face a 16-count indictment, unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn, which includes allegations of racketeering conspiracy, extortion, witness retaliation and union-related crimes “committed in an attempt to dominate the New York carting and demolition industries,” the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement.
The U.S. Courthouse in Brooklyn, N.Y.Kena Betancur / AFP via Getty Images file
“As alleged, for years, the defendants committed violent extortions, assaults, arson, witness retaliation and other crimes in an attempt to dominate the New York carting and demolition industries,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement.
Alleged Gambino organized crime family soldier Diego “Danny” Tantillo and associates Vito Rappa and Kyle “Twin” Johnson allegedly threatened a victim in the carting business with a baseball bat and set fire to the steps of his house, damaged one of his trucks and assaulted an associate, prosecutors said.
In another incident, Tantillo and Johnson are alleged to have “coordinated a violent hammer assault on the dispatcher” of a demolition company that left the victim “bleeding and seriously injured,” according to the government.
“Today’s arrests reflect the commitment of this Office and our law enforcement partners, both here and abroad, to keep our communities safe by the complete dismantling of organized crime,” Peace said in the statement.
The list of suspects was topped by Joseph Lanni, also known as “Joe Brooklyn” or “Mommino,” an alleged Gambino captain.
Alleged Gambino soldiers Angelo “Fifi” Gradilone and James LaForte also face charges.
Francesco “Uncle Ciccio” Vicari, Salvatore DiLorenzo, Robert Brooke and Vincent “Vinny Slick” Minsquero were also implicated.
The defendants are accused of helping one another to various benefits in the form of no-show jobs that brought pay and union benefits, officials said.
DiLorenzo allegedly provided Rappa with such a position, and Tantillo is accused of arranging for Gradilone to get a no-work gig.
Attorneys for DiLorenzo, Lanni, Gradilone, Vicari and Tantillo could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday. Johnson’s lawyer declined to comment.
“Mr. Brooke was properly not charged in the overarching RICO conspiracy involving the carting and demolition industries,” Brooke’s attorney Vincent Martinelli said in a statement.
“He was merely charged with a relatively isolated, tiny business dispute completely unrelated to the RICO conspiracy. And we intend to prove he is completely innocent of any alleged ‘violent extortion’ related to it. To claim he extorted anyone is utter nonsense.”
DiLorenzo was released after he posted $500,000 bond.
Lanni, Johnson, Gradilon and Tantillo remained in custody Wednesday night.
Rappa, Minsquero, Brooke and Vicari were all granted release on $1 million bonds each. But their releases were stayed for 24 hours so the government could appeal.
“Despite the government’s insistence defendants should be remanded pending trial —the judge rejected their arguments,” Rappa’s attorney Wayne Gosnell said. “He refused to simply take the government at its word. Mr. Rappa will hold the government to its burden and vigorously litigate this case in court. “
All the defendants who appeared in court on Wednesday pleaded not guilty.
“Mr. Minsquero completely denies these allegations,” Minsquero’s attorney, Louis Gelormino, said. “He is looking forward to a complete investigation and expects to be fully vindicated.”
Laforte was not arraigned Wednesday because he’s in jail in Pennsylvania and will be arraigned later. It was not clear Wednesday night if he had a lawyer for this matter in New York.