NEW YORK — A Bronx restaurateur ordered his associate in an organized crime ring to break the knees of a panhandler supposedly bothering people near his eatery as part of a massive racketeering conspiracy, according to a federal court indictment.
Pasquale's Rigoletto restaurant owner and Arthur Avenue mainstay Pasquale "Patsy" Parrello, along with associates including Anthony "Tony the Cripple" Cassetta, John "Tugboat" Tognino and Nicholas "Nicky the Wig" Vuolo are alleged to have been part of an Mob enterprise that took part in arson, extortion, firearms trafficking, assault, operating illegal gambling businesses and more.
The Mafia super-group, called the East Coast LCN Enterprise, included members of the Genovese, Gambino, Luchese, Bonanno and Philadelphia organized crime families, and Parrello is suspected of leading a crew based out of Rigoletto, located at 2311 Arthur Ave., at East 184th Street, according to the indictment and the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office.
"These mobsters seemed to use every scheme known to us, from arson, to shake-downs, violence, health care fraud, and even untaxed cigarettes to keep the racket going," outgoing NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said in a statement.
Members operated a casino-style gambling club in Yonkers with illegal poker machines that held dice tournaments and took bets on horse races, and on March 7, 2011, Mark "Stymie" Maiuzzo and others torched a car they thought belonged to the bookmaker of a nearby gambling club to decrease business there and intimidate the bookmaker, the feds said.
Additionally, in June 2011, Parello ordered members of the group to break the knees of a panhandler who was harassing customers near his Italian restaurant in The Bronx, and after Israel "Buddy" Torres initially grabbed and threatened the wrong person, the group found and assaulted the panhandler with glass jars, sharp objects and steel-tipped boots, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Parello also instructed members of his crew to take revenge on a person who stabbed Anthony "Tony the Wig" Vazzano in January 2013, telling them to "keep the pipes handy and pipe him, pipe him, over here [gesturing to the knees], not on his head," federal prosecutor said.
The organization obtained roughly $3 million of contraband cigarettes and stole credit card information to make new fraudulent cards as well, according to the indictment.
Members also engaged in health care fraud by having doctors issue unnecessary prescriptions for expensive compound cream, court papers say.
A total of 46 defendants have been charged in the case, and 39 were taken into custody today, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.
"From loansharking and illegal gambling, to credit card and health care fraud, and even firearms trafficking, today’s mafia is fully diversified in its boundless search for illegal profits," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. "And as alleged, threatening to assault, maim and kill people who get in the way of their criminal schemes remains the go-to play in the mob’s playbook.”