Hard blow to the New York mafia: the capo, the “consiglieri” and several captains of the Colombo family fell

Andy "Mush" Russo, head of the Colombo crime family, when he was arrested in 2013. Yesterday he was arrested again in a raid in Brooklyn.
Andy “Mush” Russo, head of the Colombo crime family, when he was arrested in 2013. He was arrested again yesterday in a raid in Brooklyn.

At 87, most people Andy “Mush” Russo’s age would be thinking of retiring. Maybe in settling down, in moving to Florida. Surely Andy could have done it if he wanted to. Money was never a problem for him; Andy had been a “highly successful” entrepreneur during his lifetime, and still had dark societies in bars and restaurants in Brooklyn and Manhattan. If i wanted to, Andy He could sell his luxurious Old Brookville, Long Island mansion, and live the rest of your years in any other large residence on a sunny beach.

But evidently retirement is the last thing “Mush” has in mind. In fact, in 2010, at age 76, Andy accepted his promotion as “street boss” of the Colombo crime family, one of the most violent gangsters in New York history. He had been waiting fifteen long years for the opportunity to take the helm again. In the 90s, helped rebuild the family after a devastating internal war, But the FBI threw their effort to the ground when it arrested him in 1996, claiming that he had taken over illegal control of Long Island’s garbage collection industry with baseball bats.

“Mush” Russo was intocable. Until yesterday, when the New York attorney general had him arrested along with 13 other people – including “The entire administration of the Colombo organized crime family”– in relation to charges that include blackmail, money laundering and extortion. Among those arrested are the top boss Russo, deputy chief Benjamin “Benji” Castellazzo, consiglieri John Ragano, also connected with the other great Bonnano mafia family, and several lieutenants. He is also among the accused, Theodore Persico, nephew of the late and mythical of this mobster group, Carmine Persico.

Carmine “Junior” Persico, “Mush” Russo’s cousin, who introduced him to the mob.

This time, they accuse the Colombo associates of infiltrate and take control of a construction union headquartered in Queens. The gangsters were in charge of “fixing” any misunderstanding with the safety certifications in construction sites and of laundering money through the benefits of a social work in which they also trafficked drugs. At least two of the family members have received “a part” of the salary of a senior union official since 2001 after being “threatening to harm him and his family,” the indictment states.

“Under the leadership of the Colombo crime family leadership, beginning in late 2019, the defendants expanded the extortion effort to force the union boss and other affiliates to make decisions that benefited the Colombo family, including pressuring you to select vendors for contracts that they were associated with criminals, ”the indictment alleges. “The defendants tried to divert more than $ 10,000 per week of the assets of the Health Fund and 250,000 dollars through a supposed loan ”.

Among the evidence presented by the prosecution is a telephone recording of June 21, 2021 in which the “captain”, Vincent Ricciardo“He threatened to kill the union boss if he did not agree to the demands. “I’m going to put you on the floor right in front of your wife and your children, right in front of your f —– g house, and do not cause you any thanks, friend, I am not afraid of going to jail, how long do you think I will last there? Any. I kill you and I don’t pay anything.”Ricciardo, better known as “Vinny Unions”, he also pressured the union boss to hire a deputy administrator to handle the interests of the mafia family. “From now on, he is the one who makes the decisions”, Told him.

Scene from a typical mafia reckoning in 1957 in New York, when the five great families of Cosa Nostra reigned.
Scene from a typical mafia reckoning in 1957 in New York, when the five great families of Cosa Nostra reigned.

The indictment also charged the “soldier” of the crime family, John Ragano, for falsify certificates of training in occupational safety. He was listed as the principal of a Franklin Square school where occupational safety courses were given. Together with his partners Domenick Ricciardo and John Glover, falsified documentation from the Department of Labor with which they enabled thousands of workers to perform tasks on construction sites without having any idea of ​​the safety hazards they faced. In school too cocaine shipments were stored and at one point it was used as a fireworks store while children attended there in the mornings.

“Everything we say in this research shows that history repeats itself over and over again. The mafia continues to function as usual“Said FBI Deputy Director Michael Driscoll. “The guts of New York City crime families are alive and well. These soldiers, consiglieres, deputy chiefs and chiefs are obviously not history students, and they do not seem to understand that they are going to spend a long time locked up. “

Andy “Mush” Russo already spent many years in jail. He has been in and out since 1977, when he was named “caporegime”. He was in prison between 1986 and 1994. Then, for two years, he again assumed the leadership of the family. In 96 it fell until 2008. It returned between 2011 and 2013. Since then he directed all operations through captains. Still, in the late 1990s, the Colombo family’s dominance over New York unions began to wane, as did their gambling, loan, and stock fraud operations. In March 2010, “Mush” Russo reorganized the entire structure. Using his son, Billy, as his right hand, Andy once again gave splendor to one of the great five families of the “Cosa Nostra. In one of the many recorded conversations, he is heard saying to “Paulie Guns” Bevacqua, one of his confidants: “I can’t walk away… I can’t rest. My commitment of loyalty to the family is for life”.

Billy Russo, son of "Mush Russo and his right-hand man in New York's Colombo crime family organization.
Billy Russo, son of “Mush Russo and his right hand in the organization of the Colombo mafia family of New York.

It was his cousin, Carmine “Junior” Persico, who introduced Russo to the mob. Persico rose through the chain of command after the famous coup against rival Gambino boss Albert Anastasia, assassinated in a barber shop in 1957. When his boss and mentor Frank “Frankie Shots” Abbatemarco was assassinated in 1959, Persico and the also young men Gallo brothers rebelled against their family leadership. But Persico betrayed his companions and was handsomely rewarded for it. In 1963, 30-year-old Carmine was a powerful kingpin, but he was unable to promote his cousin Andy Russo at the time to pledge allegiance to the family. The Mafia’s governing body, the Commission, had banned entry ceremonies. Carlo Gambino temporarily suspended the incorporation of new members until the situation calmed down after a series of assassinations of drug lords.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Andy Mush moved more independently and established valuable businesses in both Brooklyn and Long Island, including a “wide-ranging” usury network that began in 1968, and control of garbage collection companies. It was when he bought his luxurious residence almost opposite where the mayor of the city resided. Another “businessman” of the transport Dominic Cavalieri, who wanted to keep some contracts, appeared sewn with bullets in the same area. All the evidence indicated that the murderer was Russo, but they disappeared before prosecutors could present them to the judge.

When the books and mobster oath ceremonies reopened in 1976, Russo was one of the first to be admitted. Carmine Persico had a five-year sentence for kidnapping and quickly put him in charge of his business. “Mush” began rubbing shoulders with influential mob bosses across the country as a representative of Persico. One of the meetings was described by James “Jimmy the Weasel” Frattiano, a former Los Angeles mob boss, in the 1985 Russo trial. According to Frattiano, after a Frank Sinatra concert there was a dinner with gangsters from all over the country in the Rainbow room of the RCA building. Russo, a “done guy” according to Frattiano, was introduced by the acting head of the Colombo family, Tommy DiBella, and Captain Gennaro ‘Gerry Lang’ Langella. Legendary Pennsylvania mob boss Russell ‘Russ’ Bufalino, who is credited with impressive criminal exploits at the time was leading New York’s Genovese crime family, and after some hesitation ended up welcoming him.

From that moment on, Russo became one of “the great bosses.” Yesterday he fell for a “misdemeanor” offense by his standards. His lawyers are surely already preparing “some magic” so that he does not spend a long time in prison. Anyway, he will most likely continue to give the great directives from there. Of retiring, there is no talk.


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