Reputed Mobsters Accused Of Turning Religious Feast Into Mafia Cash Cow
NEW YORK (AP) _ The ``almighty dollar″ was the real deity of the nation’s most powerful mob family as it muscled its way into a Manhattan street festival that honors an Italian saint, said an FBI official.
On Tuesday, 19 reputed mobsters were charged in an indictment that attacks the Genovese crime family as a murderous racketeering enterprise.
The Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy was used as a prop to dupe the public into believing the festival’s proceeds would benefit churches and charities, said U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White.
James Kallstrom, head of the FBI’s New York office, said the crime family ``used the facade of a religious festival ... to mask the object of their true devotion, which is the almighty dollar.″
White and Kallstrom, who announced the charges at a news conference, said the family made nearly $20 million since 1980 on illegal businesses.
White said almost none of the money collected during the 11-day Manhattan feast each September went to churches and charities. The indictment estimated that $1.5 million was made in the past two years by charging businesses for space to operate booths.
The Society Saint Gennaro Naples and Suburbs Inc., which ran the festival, ``was nothing but a front for the Genovese crime family,″ said White, noting they even pocketed the money pinned to a religious statue paraded through the streets.
Louis Zacchia, the society’s vice president, is among the 19 reputed Genovese family members charged in the indictment. Eighteen of the suspects were arrested Monday, and one, Thomas Barrett, 52, remained a fugitive today.
Those charged include Liborio ``Barney″ Bellomo, who reputedly took over as acting Genovese boss when Vincent ``The Chin″ Gigante was indicted on murder and racketeering charges five years ago, and Bellomo’s reputed deputy, Michael ``Mickey″ Generoso.
A two-year investigation produced the indictment that includes charges of murder, extortion, labor racketeering, conspiracy, illegal bookmaking, loansharking, money laundering and interstate transportation of stolen goods.
Among the alleged crimes is the murder of Antonio Dilorenzo in 1988, in West New York, N.J., and Ralph Desimone in 1991, in Englewood, N.J. Both were allegedly killed because they were suspected of being informants.
If convicted, five defendants could face life in prison without parole, eight could get from 40 to 500 years and six others could serve up to eight years on gambling charges.
The Genovese clan became the most powerful crime family in America after Gambino family boss John Gotti was imprisoned for life in 1992. He was convicted of plotting to kill his predecessor, Paul Castellano, in 1985.