Prosecutors charge 16 alleged Gambino mafia members in US and Italy

Francesco Vicari
Image caption,Francesco Vicari in a photo released by prosecutors, who said it was sent to associates after the collection of extortion money

By Mike Wendling

BBC News

Sixteen alleged leaders and associates of the Gambino crime family have been arrested in the US and Italy, American prosecutors said on Tuesday.

The charges against them include racketeering, extortion, witness retaliation, conspiracy and fraud.

Ten were arrested in the New York area and six by Italian authorities in Palermo in Sicily.

Another suspect is still at large, according to the US Department of Justice.

The US-based suspects were due to appear in court in New York on Wednesday.

In an indictment, prosecutors outlined a pattern of intimidation and violent assaults intended to embezzle funds and defraud unions and employee benefit plans.

The syndicate targeted demolition companies and the carting industry – also known as waste management or rubbish collection.

According to the indictment, members of the group threatened businessmen and demanded protection payments. They evaded union rules and rigged bids for lucrative demolition contracts.

The defendants were also charged with threatening witnesses, money laundering and firearms offenses.

Among those arrested was a leader or “captain” in the Gambino family, Joseph “Joe Brooklyn” Lanni, alleged Gambino soldier Angelo “Fifi” Gradilone, and Francesco Vicari, also known as “Uncle Ciccio”, an alleged Sicilian mafia associate and Gambino associate.

The Gambino family is one of the five prominent New York-area mafia syndicates collectively known as La Cosa Nostra.

The family was led by boss John Gotti until his death in prison in 2002 and later by Frank Cali, who was killed outside his Staten Island home in March 2019.

His death marked the first targeted killing of a Mafia boss in the city since the death of the then head of the Gambino family, Paul Castellano, in 1985.

A number of recent investigations and police operations have targeted the group in the US and Italy.

The defendants face maximum sentences of between 20 and 180 years in prison.

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