Twenty people, including members of the Colombo crime family, have been charged with a litany of crimes, including racketeering, extortion and loansharking, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.
The three indictments that were unsealed also variously charge the accused with attempted sports bribery in connection to a scheme that sought to fix an NCAA college basketball game.
Among those charged with racketeering were Joseph Amato, an alleged captain in the Colombo organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (“the Colombo family”); Daniel Capaldo and Thomas Scorcia, alleged Colombo family members; and Joseph Amato, Jr. and Anthony Silvestro, alleged Colombo family associates. An additional alleged Colombo family member, Vincent Scura, was also indicted.
The alleged criminal activities detailed in the indictments allegedly took place in Staten Island and elsewhere since January 2014.
Attorney information for the accused was not immediately available.
Federal prosecutors say, citing the indictments and the government’s detention letters, that the investigation began in November 2016 when a GPS tracking device was found concealed on an MTA bus. Amato had allegedly obtained the device to surveil his then-girlfriend and boasted about the resources at his disposal to keep her under close surveillance.
According to the court documents, his then-girlfriend discovered the device on her vehicle and removed it. It was then allegedly attached to and recovered from the MTA bus at a depot on Staten Island.
Subsequently, the government obtained court-authorization to intercept communications over various cellphones used by the accused. As detailed in the government’s court filings, Amato and members of his alleged crew used violence and threats to earn illegal proceeds and solidify the crew’s reputation and standing.
Allegedly, on one occasion, an individual confronted Amato Jr. for insulting a woman in a bar. Prosecutors say that Amato Jr. told the individual to back off, and threatened, “Do you know who my father is?” The following day, the individual was allegedly lured to a location where Amato, Amato Jr. and other members of Amato’s crew brutally beat the victim, leaving him bloodied and in need of staples in his scalp.
According to the court documents, on other occasions, the wiretaps also captured Scorcia boasting of other violence or threats of violence, as well as a scheme to fix an NCAA college basketball game, in which Benjamin Bifalco, who is among the accused, offered members of a college basketball team thousands of dollars to intentionally lose the game.
Attorney information for Bifalco was not immediately known.
Federal prosecutors also say that two firearms, two stun guns, a canister of purported tear gas and thousands of dollars were recovered during court-authorized searches of residences of Amato and Scorcia.
All 20 of the accused are 21 to 60 years old and live in New Jersey or New York.