More Than 100 Mobsters Rounded Up in Early Morning Raids
By Murray Weiss
Special to DNAinfo
MANHATTAN — More than 100 mobsters from the city's notorious five families and two mob organizations in New Jersey and Rhode Island were swept up by the FBI, NYPD and other authorities Thursday morning, officials said.
FBI officials described it as the largest mob bust in the agency's history, with roughly 127 people arrested and indicted in New York, New Jersey and as far away as Italy.
The busts were "an important and encouraging step forward in disrupting La Cosa Nosta operations," U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said at a press conference in Brooklyn.
Powerful consiglieres and other leaders of the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo crime families were all rounded up, Holder said.
Andrew Russo, an alleged acting boss of the Colombo Crime Family, Bobby Vernace, an alleged capo in the Gambino Crime Family and Joseph Corrozzo, the alleged former acting boss of the Gambino Crime Family who's already in prison, were charged in a sweeping indictment that included at least six murders and drug, extortion and labor racketeering charges.
"For Hollywood, the mob is just good material for the big screen. But in real life, the mob commits real murder and actual extortion," NYPD Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. "It’s not an act."
Sources say the case is actually three separate overlapping indictments involving all five crime families, as well as the DeCavalcante mob in New Jersery and an organized crime faction in Rhode island.
Among the six murders, which Holder said included mob hits and "truly senseless" killings, is a 1980s double homicide inside the Shamrock Inn allegedly carried out by the Gambino mob, sources said.
The victims were Richard Godkin and John Dagnese, who were both shot at point-blank range. Godkin was shot in the chest, and Dagnese was hit in the face.
In addition to the Shamrock Inn executions, Anthony Russo has been charged in a 1993 slaying connected to the infamous Colombo Crime Family wars that left dozens of hoods dead on city streets during a power struggle for family control, sources said.
The investigation began three years ago, and during the course of the probe, the FBI managed to confront and convince several mobsters to become informants and wear secret recording devices in exchange for leniency.
Janice Frederick, assistant director for the FBI's New York office, said turning mobsters was "a trend tipping in law enforcement's favor" and that the mob honor code of "Omerta" is overrated.
The FBI also bugged a dozen telephones and recorded thousands of hours of conversations, sources said.
The mob has continued to keep a stranglehold on the waterfront and among local labor unions.
Officials said that in these cases, the indictments included labor racketeering charges in connection to the International Longshoremen's Association and Local 6A of the Cement and Concrete Workers Union.
"Organized crime means what it has always meant on the waterfront: mobsters getting rich on the backs of dock workers," Kelly said.
Several years ago, three top union officials and alleged mobsters were acquitted in a sensational trial in Brooklyn Federal Court. One of the defendants, however, did not live to celebrate his victory. He disappeared during the trial and his body was later found in a car trunk. Ironically, he was killed because the mob wanted him to plead guilty before trial to spare them the publicity of a trial. He refused.
"Early this morning FBI Agents along with our law enforcement partners began arresting over 100 organized crime members for various criminal charges," said Diego Rodriguez, the special agent in charge of the FBI's New York office, in a statement. "Additional information will be available at the US Attorney's offices later today."
The FBI called the arrests the biggest mafia round-up in the history of New York.
FBI agents, NYPD officers and New York State Police joined U.S. Marshals to carry out the raids across the tri-state area.