The Department of Justice announced Tuesday that alleged Colombo crime family boss Andrew “Mush” Russo was among 14 mobsters—10 of whom are believed to be associates of the Colombo crime family—who were arrested by the NYPD and FBI on a slew of charges related to labor racketeering, NBC New York reports.
In addition to Russo, 87, underboss Benjamin “Benji” Castellazzo, and several other associates were nabbed. John Ragano, a soldier for the Bonanno crime family, was also detained and faces loansharking, fraud, and drug trafficking offenses. A Colombo crime family captain was arrested in North Carolina, while consigliere Ralph DiMatteo remains at large.
“Today’s charges describe a long-standing, ruthless pattern by the administration of the Colombo crime family, its captains, members and associates, of conspiring to exert control over the management of a labor union by threatening to inflict bodily harm on one of its senior officials and devising a scheme to divert and launder vendor contract funds from its healthcare benefit program,” Jacquelyn Kasulis, acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement.
The Colombo crime family is accused of trying to infiltrate and take control of a Queens-based labor union and its affiliated healthcare benefit program. Russo, among others, allegedly threatened the use of force and bodily harm in order to obtain control of the labor union, and force them to make decisions that would benefit them.
Colombo family captain Vincent Ricciardo was recorded threatening a labor official in a phone conversation. “I’ll put him in the ground right in front of his wife and kids, right in front of his f*cking house, you laugh all you want pal, I’m not afraid to go to jail, let me tell you something, to prove a point?,” the indictment reads. “I would f*cking shoot him right in front of his wife and kids, call the police, f*ck it, let me go, how long you think I’m gonna last anyway.”
These individuals are accused of coercing an official, among others, to select vendors for contracts associated with the Colombo family, and attempting to divert more than $10,000 a month from the health fund into their administration. Ragano allegedly issued fraudulent workplace safety training certifications to construction workers, and operated two workplace safety schools where family meetings were held and illegal drugs and fireworks were stored.
Ragano also allegedly filed paperwork to the U.S. Department of Labor falsely claiming hundreds of workers completed required safety courses.
The 12 defendants arrested in New York and New Jersey are all expected to appear in Brooklyn Federal Court Tuesday afternoon.