Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. That’s how it goes in organized crime families. On Tuesday, September 14, a federal court in Brooklyn, New York unsealed 19 counts against 14 defendants. Ten were from the Colombo mob and one is associated with the Bonanno family. The indictments read like a Mario Puzo novel.
All in the crime family
The Colombo family members are charged with “a long-running effort by the crime family to infiltrate and take control of a Queens-based labor union.” They also hijacked it’s health care benefit fund. The accused Bonanno soldier and his crew were running “a conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with workplace safety certifications.”
They all had various other criminal enterprises going on the side as well. As noted by FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll, “history does indeed repeat itself. Regardless of how many times they fill the void we create in their ranks,” he notes, they keep coming back.
The biggest fish caught in their net were Andrew “Mush” Russo, boss of the Colombo crime family, his underboss, Benjamin “Benji” Castellazzo, and Ralph DiMatteo, their consigliere. Some Colombo captains went down too. Theodore Persico, Jr., Richard Ferrara and Vincent Ricciardo.
Soldier Michael Uvino and associates Thomas Costa and Domenick Ricciardo were dragged along for the ride. Representing the interests of the Bonanno syndicate, soldier John Ragano was doing a little “loansharking, fraud and drug trafficking” with help from his friends.
the Colombo family’s administration “used extortionate means, including direct threats of bodily harm, to control the management of the Labor Union and caused it to make decisions that benefited the Colombo crime family.”
They’ve been doing it for decades. John Doe #1 is not a happy camper.
Right in front of the kids
Since sometime in 2001, “Colombo captain Vincent Ricciardo and his cousin, associate Domenick Ricciardo, have collected a portion of the salary of a senior official in the Labor Union,” the infamous “John Doe #1” by threatening to kill him and his family. Not in any particular order. In 2019 they “broadened the extortion effort” by forcing their victims to “select vendors for contracts who were associated with the Colombo crime family.” They raked in “$10,000 per month from the Health Fund’s assets.”
John didn’t have much choice. The FBI recorded, on June 21, 2021, Vincent Ricciardo saying clear as day, he knows, “I’ll put him in the ground right in front of his wife and kids, right in front of his f—–g house, you laugh all you want pal, I’m not afraid to go to jail, let me tell you something, to prove a point? I would f—–g shoot him right in front of his wife and kids, call the police, f–k it, let me go, how long you think I’m gonna last anyway?”
Ricciardo, Uvino, Ragano and Costa “are also charged with loansharking.” John Doe #2 made the mistake of taking out a $250,000 loan from the crime family.
“The defendants charged and collected a weekly 1.5% interest rate that did not reduce the principal owed and divided the proceeds between themselves.”
John Ragano got snagged in the crime dragnet with the Colombo mob but the feds charged him on a bunch of crimes. Some were connected to his “fraudulent workplace safety training” racket.
“Ragano operated two workplace safety schools” in the New York area to provide OSHA training courses and certifications to construction workers. Instead he used the schools to “conduct meetings involving members of La Cosa Nostra and to store illegal drugs and fireworks.”