Dozens of alleged members of the Gambino crime family were arrested early Thursday in a massive mob sweep that netted a half dozen mob capos and two mob bosses on federal charges that included a pattern of racketeering that spanned about 30 years.
Billed as a case that took down the entire Gambino family leadership, it was the largest mob case seen in the United States in at least a decade.
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Benton J. Campbell said that the 157-page indictment included charges against "each member of the Gambino Family Administration currently at liberty."
By mid-day, most of those indicted were in custody, including the Gambino family underboss, the crime family consigliore (counsel to the boss) and six capos -- the men who run the "crews" involved in the day-to-day crime family money earning operations. The acting Gambino family boss was at large and said to be on vacation, according to multiple federal sources.
In all, 62 mobsters and mob associates from the Gambino, Bonanno and Genovese crime families were named in the 80-count indictment for racketeering conspiracy, extortion, theft of union benefits, mail fraud, false statements and loan sharking, embezzlement of union funds, money laundering and illegal gambling.
The racketeering conspiracy portion of the indictment named 25 of the defendants -- all members and associates of the Gambino crime family -- and contained predicate acts necessary for a conspiracy charge that included eight acts of murder, murder conspiracy and attempted murder.
A massive 167 page government motion for the permanent detention of 18 key defendants accompanied the indictment and further spelled out the nature and scope of the conspiracy.
The indictment charged that the mobsters profited from "extortion-related rackets" at construction sites in the New York City metropolitan area that included a proposed NASCAR track in Staten Island and a development overlooking New York harbor.
Federal sources said that the crime syndicate allegedly corrupted 10 public works projects, including the building of Manhattan's $210 million Staten Island Ferry Terminal which opened in 2005, a $1.3 billion water supply filtration plant required by the federal government at Croton-on-Hudson and the NASCAR track. Of these only the track was explicitly described in the indictment.
The conspiracy murder counts included the cold case murders of an armored car guard during an airport heist in 1990 and the 1976 murder of a court officer who was to testify against one of the indicted mobsters.
Another murder cited was that of mobster Louis DiBono allegedly by the defendant Charles Carneglia.
DiBono earned a degree of post-mortem fame during the final trial of John Gotti. During the trial, the government played a surreptitiously recorded tape in which the now-deceased head of the Gambino mob discussed DiBono's murder with his consigliore, Frank Locascio, inside what he believed to be the safety of his mob headquarters, the Ravenite Social Club in Manhattan's Little Italy.
Gotti was heard on tape to say, "He didn't rob nothin'. You know why he's dying? He's gonna die because he refused to come in when I called. He didn't do nothing else wrong."
Carneglia, who is now alleged in the conspiracy to have killed DiBono, at the time was a Gotti button man.
The arrests made the morning papers in Italy with "La Republica" reporting the case as one as important as the Pizza Connection. U.S. authorities make no such claim. The Pizza Connection was at the time the longest running federal criminal case in history -- a "megatrial," according to mob chronicler Shana Alexander -- and a massive heroin conspiracy case. This case included minor drug counts but was primarily a racketeering conspiracy in which drug dealing played the most minor role. U.S. authorities said publicly that there was routine cooperation with Italian officials on the case but not a joint investigation as suggested in Italian newspapers. Nor, said U.S. authorities, was there any investigative link between arrests in Italy that occurred virtually at the same time as the arrests in the U.S.
But Italy's "La Republica" newspaper did add a few grace notes to the proceedings.
One big name mobster arrested in New York was Francesco Paolo Augusto Calì aka "Frankie Boy," who the Italian paper described a wise guy and used the old-fashioned mob honorific "man of honor" to categorize him as a made mobster. In the U.S. indictment, he is described simply as a mob capo, a captain running a crew of made men and associates who earn the mob money by their crime.
"Frank è amico nostro," an Italian mobster told the paper, describing the gang boss in the now quaint mob idiom which differentiated the introduction of persons into the company of mobsters by indicating whether the guest was "a friend of ours" or "a friend of mine."