They kept it in the family.
Five Brooklyn men alleged to be part of two of the city’s five main Mafia families were indicted on fraud charges in Brooklyn Federal Court on July 11. The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York said the men targeted locals in their deceptive business schemes, and that law enforcement officials will continue to prioritize punishing people engaged in organized crime — including the iconic “La Costa Nostra” Sicilian-linked crime families.
“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,” said Richard 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.”
The 32-count indictment slapped two inducted members and two associates of the Colombo family with racketeering charges — including extortion, money laundering, and illegal gambling — and one inducted member of the Gambino family with extortionate collection and related conspiracy. The alleged crimes took place in Brooklyn, Staten Island, and elsewhere between December 2010 and June 2018.
The indictment alleges that a member of the Colombo family, Gravesend resident Jerry Ciauri — also known as “Fat Jerry” — made inflated loans, used threats to collect the debts from six victims, and concealed the money he made to hide his actions. Ciauri allegedly stalked and threatened to shoot a partner, and allegedly ordered an associate to slash another victim’s tires in the middle of the night, according to Donoghue.
One of the Colombo family’s associates, Ridgite Salvatore Disano — also known as “Sal Heaven” — allegedly helped Ciauri hide the funds and separately collected debts from three victims, allegedly stalking and threatening to shoot a partner, and allegedly ordering an associate to slash another victim’s tires in the middle of the night, according to the indictment.
Another inducted member of the Colombo family, Dyker Heights resident Vito Difalco — also known as “Victor” and “The Mask” — allegedly made inflated loans and used fraudulent means to collect debts from eight victims — including allegedly threatening one victim by saying he had a history of torching the cars of people who didn’t pay up, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Difalco’s associate, Park Slope resident Joseph Maratea — another alleged associate of the Colombo family — also allegedly unlawfully collected debts from five victims, and allegedly worked with Difalco to require debtors to provide copies of their driver’s licenses and contact information.
An inducted member of the Gambino family, Bensonhurst resident Anthony Licata — also known as “Anthony Suits,” — was also indicted for allegedly working with Disano to collect two extortions of credit.
Each defendant faces a maximum of 20 years in prison on the racketeering, money laundering, and extortionate collection charges, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The city Police Commissioner said the department will continue to chase organized crime groups.
“The mob is certainly diminished, but it is not dead. These groups require our constant vigilance,” said James O’Neill. “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.”