Four reputed "made" members of the Bonanno crime family and four associates of the mob organization were indicted Tuesday on charges ranging from corruption and extortion to loan sharking and drug dealing, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced. New York's Italian organized crime families have been brought down by a slew of prosecutions in recent years, leading some to believe "old-school" mob activity in NYC was over.
This indictment proves otherwise. Vance called Tuesday’s indictment “the absolute heartland of what organized crime prosecutions are about -- prosecuting in one fell swoop the diversified rackets of organized crime families.”
The names of the reputed Italian crime family members included alleged Bonanno captain Nicholas “Nicky Mouth” Santora and members of his crew -- acting capos Vito Badamo and Ernest Aiello, soldier Anthony “Skinny” Santoro. Also arrested were Dominick Siano, Nicholas Bernhard, Scott O’Neill and Anthony Urban, who were identified by the DA’s office as Bonanno associates.
Bernhard, the president of Teamsters Union Local 917, allegedly used his position to dispatch O’Neill, the union’s assistant shop steward, to recruit union members to borrow money from mob loansharkers and place bets with the Bonanno family’s gambling operations, Vance alleged.
“The charges against this Bonanno crew and their captain, Nicholas Santora, make clear that traditional organized crime refuses to go away. This crew’s use of a union president in its corrupt activities is detrimental to honest union workers everywhere,” Vance said in a statement announcing the indictment. “I would like to thank our partners in the NYPD, U.S. Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Department of Labor for their assistance with this case.”
The Bonanno family members and associates arrested were accused of taking part in a wide range of mob-associated illegal activity, including extortion, gambling and drug dealing. Santoro, Bernhard and Urban also face gun possession charges.
A search warrant for Bernhard’s home allegedly turned up extortion records. According to the indictment, a victim of a Bonanno loan-sharking operation borrowed $15,000 at an interest rate of more than 200 percent. The victim alleged he “was threatened in a way that he feared future physical harm” when he fell behind on his payments.
The defendants were also accused of setting up a gambling operation in Costa Rica that took online bets. The operation allegedly took in $7 million in illegal bets between July 2011 and February 2012.
The Bonanno crew headed by Santora also was allegedly active in selling marijuana and narcotics, the DA’s office claimed. Search warrants for Santoro’s home yielded 10 pounds of marijuana and two-dozen boxed tablets of Viagra. At Urban’s home, 500 pills of oxycodone and eight pounds of marijuana were found. Authorities also allegedly discovered 40 grams of marijuana in Siano’s home and car.