Nearly two dozen members and associates of the notorious Lucchese crime family, including the purported top leaders, were arrested on federal charges in a sweeping bust early Wednesday, law enforcement officials tell NBC 4 New York.
The FBI's Organized Crime Task Force and members of the NYPD executed the arrests on charges that include racketeering, wire fraud, possession of a weapon, gambling, narcotics and murder, law enforcement sources said. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan said 15 people were taken into custody Wednesday, while four others were already in custody on other charges.
The defendants, including street boss Matthew Madonna and underboss Steven Crea Sr., are expected to appear in federal court in White Plains later Wednesday. Four of the suspects are Capos, who rank right below the underboss on the totem pole, and another five are soldiers, who rank below that. The rest are associates.
In addition to the various alleged financial crimes, Madonna and Crea Sr. are charged with ordering the murder of a family associate in Nov. 2013.
The indictment reads like a 1980s tabloid crime story, with defendants like "Paulie Roast Beef, " "Wonder Boy," "Big Joe," "Big John," "Joey Glasses" and "Spanish Carmine."
They allegedly engaged in a 17-year-long pattern of crimes that included extortion, money laundering, trafficking in contraband cigarettes and the attempted murder of informants.
All but two of the men face life in prison if convicted.
"As today's charges demonstrate, La Cosa Nostra remains alive and active in New York City, but so does our commitment to eradicate the mob's parasitic presence," said Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim. "The defendants allegedly used violence and threats of violence, as the mob always has, to make illegal money to enforce discipline in the ranks and to silence witnesses."
"Organized crime families believe their way of life is acceptable and continue to show through their criminal behavior that they don't plan to stop," said FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney. "Their crimes aren't victimless, and this case proves they're willing to use murder and many other violent tactics to enforce their dominance."