NYC Mafia bust: Feds charge 6 Genovese crime family mobsters in 11-year gambling, violent extortion enterprise

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Six members of a notorious New York City crime family were charged with a racketeering conspiracy involving illegal gambling and extortion in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday.

Prosecutors said the six alleged mobsters, associated with the Genovese organized crime family, made money through illegal gambling and loan sharking by saddling victims with incredible debt that they could not pay back. The suspects include alleged high-ranking members Nicholas Calisi and Ralph Balsamo, known as “captains,” as well as alleged “soldiers” Michael Messina and John Campanella and alleged “associates” Michael Poli and Thomas Poli.

“From extortion to illegal gambling, the Mafia continues to find ways to prey on others to fill its coffers,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. “Our office and our law enforcement partners remain committed to putting organized crime out of business.”

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The office of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The office of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
(Reuters/Carlo Allegri)

The superseding indictment unsealed Tuesday in the Southern District of New York says the “Genovese Organized Crime Family” was part of a nationwide criminal organization known by various names, including “Las Cosa Nostra” (LCN) and the “Mafia,” which operated through entities known as “families.” 

The Genovese family is one of five families that primarily operated in the New York City area. The others are the Gambino, Luchese, Colombo and the Bonanno organized crime families of LCN. 

From at least 2011 to April 2022, the six defendants are accused of helping to run a criminal racketeering enterprise, which affected interstate and foreign commerce. 

The defendants allegedly generated income for the enterprise through making, financing and collecting extensions of credit by extortion, operating illegal gambling business, and other offenses. 

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The indictment says they “kept victims and citizens in fear” of the enterprise and its leaders, members and associates by identifying themselves as “Mafia,” causing and threatening to cause economic harm and committing and threatening to commit physical violence. 

To protect and expand business and criminal operations, prosecutors say the defendants assaulted and threatened to assault “persons who engaged in activity that jeopardized the power and criminal activities of the enterprise, the power of the leaders of the enterprise and the status of its members and the flow of criminal proceeds to members and associates of the enterprise.”

To avoid law enforcement scrutiny, they “conducted meetings surreptitiously, typically using coded language when speaking on telephones, and avoiding discussing LCN activities in locations they suspected to be monitored by law enforcement surveillance,” the indictment says. 

Messina was previously arrested and presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ona T. Wang on April 12. Balsamo, Campanella, and Michael and Thomas Poli were arrested Tuesday and presented in Manhattan federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert W. Lehrburger. Calisi was arrested in Boca Raton, Florida, and presented before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the Southern District of Florida. 

The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl.

All six suspected mobsters could face up to 20 years in prison if they are convicted.

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In a statement, New York State Attorney General Letitia James said members of the Genovese crime family have “terrorized New York communities with violence and illegal businesses.” She then vowed to continue to root out organized crime.

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