On Wednesday, Nov. 8, prosecutors unveiled a 16-count indictment against the 10 U.S. defendants, accusing them of “racketeering conspiracy, extortion, witness retaliation, and union-related crimes committed in an attempt to dominate the New York carting and demolition industries.”
Among the defendants are alleged Gambino family captain Joseph Lanni (a.k.a. “Joe Brooklyn” and “Mommino”) as well as several alleged Gambino family soldiers, Diego Tantillo, Angelo Gradilone, and James LaForte. The other defendants are to be alleged to be Gambino associates and/or alleged members of the U.S.-based Sicilian Mafia.
Meanwhile, in Italy, law enforcement officials arrested “six organized crime members and associates who are charged with, among other crimes, mafia association and connected criminal offenses.” While a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York noted that one individual in Italy was still at large, The Guardian has since reported that all seven suspects were arrested in Italy.
For the U.S. defendants, the charges against them carry maximum penalties of between 20 and 180 years in prison. It was not immediately clear who would provide legal representation for the defendants.
In court filings, prosecutors noted that the arrests Wednesday were the result of a “multi-year investigation” that involved “judicially-authorized wiretaps” and an array of evidence like bank and financial records, law enforcement surveillance, and text messages, photos, and other material recovered from cell phones belonging to the defendants and their alleged co-conspirators.
Among the crimes alleged in the indictment are extortion schemes tied to the carting and demolition industries. Four of the defendants are accused of demanding payments from John Doe 1, who operated a carting business, and allegedly threatening him with a bat and setting fire to the steps of his house. Two of the defendants were also apparently caught on a wiretap discussing threats made to John Doe 1’s father. After John Doe 1 paid one of the defendants, Francesco Vicari, $4,000, Vicari allegedly sent a photo to Tantillo (one of the alleged captains) of him “raising a small champagne bottle, as in a toast.”
Meanwhile, another alleged extortion scheme targeted the owners of a demolition scheme over “purported debts owed to Tantillo” and a company he operated. Prosecutors claim that as negotiations over the alleged debt grew contentious, one of the company’s employees was “violently assaulted with a hammer by an individual” sent by two of the defendants. Prosecutors claim that “minutes after the assault,” defendant Kyle Johnson texted Tantillo “three thumbs-up emojis followed by ‘work today.’”
Beyond the extortion claims, the indictment lists a variety of alleged frauds and crimes designed “to steal and embezzle from unions and employee benefit plans.” These include the alleged arrangement of “no-show” jobs for associates, as well as embezzling from employee benefit plans by hiring non-union workers to perform union work and then “failing to make contributions for such work as required by collective bargaining agreements.” Several defendants are also accused of conspiring to “rig bids for lucrative demolition contracts” in New York, including a major project on Fifth Avenue.
The indictment even includes an allegation as recent as this past September. Two of the defendants, Joseph Lanni and Vincent Minsquero (a.k.a. “Vinny Slick”), are accused of causing a disturbance at a restaurant in New Jersey, during which Minsquero allegedly “damaged a painting and punched a wall,” while Lanni told the owner he would “burn this place down with you in it,” while also allegedly referring to himself as a “Gambino.” About 18 minutes after this alleged altercation, Lanni was caught on security footage at a nearby gas station “purchasing a red gas container, walking to a pump, and trying briefly to fill the container with gas before apparently being dissuaded by Minsquero and a gas station attendant.”
But wait, there’s more: In the hours after the alleged incident, telephone records showed Lanni called the restaurant “approximately 39 times,” at one point allegedly demanding the restaurant owner “beg for [his] forgiveness.” After that, Lanni and Minsquero are accused of coordinating an assault on the owner and his spouse, an attack that allegedly involved “physically assaulting a woman at knifepoint.”