Members of Gambino crime family arrested in Italy-U.S. takedown, charged in Brooklyn federal court

The federal courthouse in Downtown Brooklyn.
Ten members of the Gambino crime family have been arrested and are being charged in Brooklyn federal court.
File photo courtesy of Ajay Suresh/Flickr

In a coordinated effort from both Italian and American authorities, ten members of the infamous Gambino crime family were charged in a 16-count indictment in Brooklyn federal court on Wednesday. 

The defendants are Joseph Lanni, also known as “Joe Brooklyn” and “Mommino,” an alleged captain in the Gambino organized crime family; Diego “Danny” Tantillo, Angelo Gradilone, also known as “Fifi,” and James LaForte, alleged Gambino soldiers; Vito Rappa, alleged U.S.-based Sicilian Mafia member and Gambino associate, ;Francesco Vicari, also known as “Uncle Ciccio,” an alleged U.S.-based Sicilian Mafia associate and Gambino associate; and Salvatore DiLorenzo, Robert Brooke, Kyle Johnson, also known as “Twin,” and Vincent Minsquero, also known as “Vinny Slick,” alleged Gambino associates.

They are being charged with racketeering conspiracy, extortion, witness retaliation and union-related crimes authorities say were committed in an effort to dominate the demolition and carting industries in New York. The suspects are accused of violently threatening civilians, money laundering, and more. Additionally, as federal authorities were carrying out search warrants relating to the cases, several firearms were discovered and seized.

In coordination with the U.S. investigation, Italian law enforcement arrested six of the suspects, who are being charged with mafia association and other related offenses, on Wednesday. One suspect in Italy still remains at large.

“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,” stated United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Breon Peace as he announced the charges on Wednesday. “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.”

According to the government’s court filings, the defendants are all members or associates of the Gamino crime family — famed for former members like John Gotti, Paul Castellano and more. They all allegedly used violent extortion, fraud, theft and embezzlement schemes in order to infiltrate the carting and demolition industry in New York in order to profit financially. 

The filings include alleged examples of the defendants — particularly of Tantillo, Rappa, Vicari and Johnson — engaging in violent acts to terrorize their victims.

One such example alleged that one victim, John Doe 1 — who owned a carting business in New York City — was subject to violent intimidation tactics as the defendants attempted to extort money from him. According to the filings, Tantillo, Rappa, Vicari and Johnson threatened John Doe 1 with a bat, set fire to the front entrance of his home, and violently assaulted one of his associates.

Rappa was captured saying on judicially-ordered wiretaps that Vicari had “acted like the ‘Last of the Samurai’” while describing how Vicari had directed John Doe 1’s father-in-law to cut John Doe 1 in half while apparently brandishing a knife. 

After John Doe 1 ultimately made the $4,000 payment, Rappa allegedly sent Tantillo a photo of Vicari toasting with a bottle of champagne.

Gambino crime family member
The photo of Vicari toasting the camera. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Attorney’s Office

Tantillo, Brooke, and Johnson also allegedly threatened the owners of a local demolition company as part of an extortion scheme — at one point, per court documents, Brooke assaulted one of the company’s owner in Manhattan, and Tantillo and Johnson coordinated a brutal attack on a dispatcher at the company. 

Additionally, Tantillo allegedly arranged for Gradlione to receive a “no-show” job at a construction company and attempted to secure a similar job for Johnson so the men would receive paychecks and union benefits. Authorities said Tantillo also embezzled money from employee benefit plans by using non-union workers to perform work contracted for union workers and conspired with others named in the indictment to rig bids for lucrative contracts in the city. 

The feds are also pressing charges for racketeering for a series of crimes including money laundering, retaliating against federal witnesses, and more. 

Through an extended effort by the United States Attorney of the Eastern District’s office, the FBI, NYPD and U.S Department of Labor. the defendants were arrested and are scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon.

“These defendants learned the hard way that the FBI is united with our law enforcement locally and internationally in our efforts to eradicate the insidious organized crime threat,”  said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Smith. “Those arrested are alleged to have taken part in a racketeering conspiracy in an attempt to control the carting and demolition industries in the city. The FBI will continue to lead the fight against organized crime and ensure that individuals willing to cross the line face punishment in the criminal justice system.”

NYPD commissioner Edward A. Caban said that Wednesday’s arrests in Italy and the arraignment in NYC served as warnings to others that they could engage in organized crime in plain sight.

“The NYPD and our law enforcement partners exist to shatter that notion,” stated NYPD Commissioner Edward A. Caban. “And we will continue to take down members of traditional organized crime wherever they may operate.”

In a letter to judge Ramon E. Reyes, Peace asked that all defendants — except for DiLorenzo — be held in detention until their trial, citing flight risk and dangers to the community. Peace said DiLorenzo should only be released on strict conditions and “after posting substantial, heavily secured bonds.”