jump to navigation

Operation Heat: Over 30 Alleged Mafia Members and Associates Indicted May 14, 2010

Posted by jefhenninger in News.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

New Jersey Attorney General Paula T. Dow announced the indictment today of two ruling members of the New York-based Lucchese crime family and 32 other members and associates, including alleged current and former top New Jersey capos Ralph V. Perna and Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., on first-degree charges of racketeering, conspiracy and money laundering.

“Operation Heat” uncovered an international criminal gambling enterprise that transacted billions of dollars in wagers, primarily on sporting events, and relied on extortion and violence to collect debts. The indictment also charges a former New Jersey corrections officer and a high-ranking member of the Nine Trey Gangsters set of the Bloods in an alleged alliance with the Lucchese crime family to smuggle drugs and pre-paid cell phones into East Jersey State Prison.

The indictment charges two members of the three-man ruling panel of the Lucchese crime family, Joseph DiNapoli, 74, of Scarsdale, N.Y., and Matthew Madonna, 74, of Seldon, N.Y. The indictment also charges Ralph V. Perna, 64, of East Hanover, and Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., 44, of Ventnor. Perna allegedly became top capo of the New Jersey faction of the family when Scarfo was deposed in 2007.

A warrant has been issued for Scarfo’s arrest but most of the defendants were initially charged and arrested in Operation Heat in December 2007. However, Scarfo and two other men were charged today for the first time in the ongoing investigation. The other two men are Frank Cetta, 71, of Las Vegas, Nevada, who allegedly ran the gambling operation’s Costa Rican wire room, and Gary P. Medure, 56, of New York, N.Y., a close associate of DiNapoli who allegedly managed gambling “packages,” groups of bettors who regularly gambled through the operation.

Three other men named in the indictment were arrested after the initial arrests but prior to today’s indictment. They are Michael A. Maffucci, 24, of Cedar Grove, N.J., Charles J. Bologna, 57, of Port Chester, N.Y., and Robert V. DeCrescenzo, 35, of Port Chester, N.Y. Each of them allegedly managed or assisted in the management of gambling packages.

Each of the first-degree charges of racketeering, conspiracy and money laundering carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in state prison. In addition to those charges DiNapoli, Madonna and Perna were charged with being leaders of organized crime, a second-degree offense.

Most of the defendants – including DiNapoli, Madonna, Perna, Scarfo, Cetta, Medure, Maffucci, Bologna and DeCrescenzo – were also charged with promoting gambling and possession of gambling records, both third-degree offenses.

It is alleged that DiNapoli and Madonna controlled the crime family’s gambling operations and other criminal activities from New York. Both Perna and Scarfo are alleged to have overseen the Lucchese crime family’s operations in New Jersey.

Also indicted were Perna’s three sons, Joseph M. Perna, 40, of Wyckoff, John G. Perna, 32, of West Caldwell, and Ralph M. Perna, 38, of West Caldwell. The sons, led by Joseph, allegedly managed day-to-day gambling operations under their father’s oversight. Two other men who were indicted, Michael A. Cetta, 43, of Wyckoff, and Martin Tacetta, 59, of East Hanover, the former New Jersey underboss for the family, allegedly exercised their own management control over family gambling operations. Tacetta is currently serving a life sentence in state prison as a result of a Division of Criminal Justice prosecution in the 1990s. Michael Cetta, who is Frank Cetta’s son, has close ties to the Lucchese family through marriage.

Joseph Perna, John Perna, Michael Cetta and three other defendants are charged with extortion and aggravated assault, both second-degree offenses, in connection with alleged threats and attempts to use violence against individuals who owed money or tried to take business away from the gambling operation.

The Division of Criminal Justice has seized or restrained millions of dollars in assets of the defendants alleged to be subject to forfeiture as criminal proceeds, including seven homes, 16 bank accounts, 15 vehicles, over $200,000 in cash, and numerous watches and items of jewelry. The indictment alleges that Joseph M. Perna and his wife, Roseanna Perna, 36, obtained approximately $900,000 in mortgage funds through fraudulent loan applications. The indictment further charges various tax offenses against the couple, as well as Ralph M. Perna, Michael Cetta and Vita Cetta, 41, of Wyckoff.

The investigation uncovered an international criminal gambling enterprise that, according to records reviewed by the Division of Criminal Justice, transacted an estimated $2.2 billion in wagers, primarily on sporting events, during a 15-month period.

The gambling operation involved agents or “package holders,” each of whom brought in bets from a group of gamblers. The enterprise and all of its packages involved hundreds or even thousands of gamblers. Records showed that one high-rolling gambler wagered more than $2 million in a two-month period. Those indicted include package holders as well as individuals who allegedly acted as collectors for the operation, collecting and paying out wins and losses.

The illicit proceeds allegedly were divided by the package holders and the members they worked under, such as the Pernas, Michael Cetta, Tacetta and Medure, who in turn made “tribute” payments to the New York bosses, including DiNapoli and Madonna. It is charged that collection operations at times took the form of threats or acts of violence.

The gambling operation received and processed the wagers using password-protected Web sites and a Costa Rican “wire room” where bets were recorded and results tallied.

The prison smuggling scheme allegedly involved inmate Edwin B. Spears, 36, of Neptune, and a former corrections officer at East Jersey State Prison in Woodbridge, Michael T. Bruinton, 46, of Ringoes. Spears was at East Jersey State Prison at the time of the alleged conduct. Also indicted were Spears’ brother, Dwayne E. Spears, 30, of Neptune, and Kristen A. Gilliam, 27, of Farmingdale. Another defendant, Francine Hightower, 52, of Tinton Falls, pleaded guilty on Feb. 21, 2008, to conspiring to launder money.

It is charged that Edwin Spears, an admitted “five-star general” in the Nine Trey Gangsters set of the Bloods, formed an alliance with Joseph Perna and Michael Cetta to smuggle drugs and cell phones into East Jersey State Prison through Bruinton. The alliance allegedly extended beyond smuggling. In one instance, Joseph Perna allegedly sought assistance from Spears to stop an individual associated with the Bloods from extorting money from a man with ties to the Lucchese family.

It is charged that Perna and Cetta would provide money to Dwayne Spears to acquire contraband including heroin, cocaine, marijuana and pre-paid cell phones. Dwayne Spears allegedly would give the contraband to Bruinton to smuggle into East Jersey State Prison. The drugs and cell phones were allegedly distributed to inmates who had previously placed orders through Edwin Spears. Cell phones are prohibited in prison. It is charged that the purchasers paid by sending money orders or checks to individuals including Hightower and Gilliam, who delivered the proceeds to Cetta to “re-invest” in the smuggling scheme. Samuel A. Juliano, 65, of Glen Ridge, is charged with supplying drugs for the smuggling scheme.

In addition to the first-degree charges of racketeering, conspiracy and money laundering, Bruinton, Edwin Spears, Dwayne Spears, Gilliam, Joseph Perna, Michael Cetta and Juliano are charged for the alleged smuggling operation with conspiracy (2nd degree), official misconduct (2nd degree), bribery (2nd degree), and unlawful possession of a cell phone in prison (3rd degree).

As Operation Heat proceeded it yielded evidence that was pursued by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in an investigation that culminated on Oct. 1, 2009 with the indictment of 29 defendants, including DiNapoli, Madonna and other Lucchese crime family members, alleged to have run a criminal enterprise that bribed city building inspectors, among other crimes.

In addition to the defendants already named in this press release, the indictment also charges:

John V. Mangrella, 67, of Clifton;
Alfonso “Tic” Cataldo, 68, of Florham Park;
Antonio “Curly” Russo, 73, of Bloomingdale;
Elliot Porco, 47, of Bronx, N.Y.;
Gianni Iacovo, 34, of Elmwood Park;
James Furfaro Jr., 30, of Parsippany;
John N. Turi, 31, of Clifton;
Michael T. Ramuno III, 36, of Philadelphia;
Robert A. Romano, 31, of Brick;
Ron Scrips, 46, of Staten Island, N.Y.;
Shpetim “Tim” Hani, 33, of North Haledon;
Blerim Ibraimi, 29, of Hawthorne; and
George Maiorano, 65, of Belleville.
The indictment charges the defendants as follows:

Count 1 – Racketeering – First Degree
All Defendants

Count 2 – Leader of Organized Crime – Second Degree
Joseph DiNapoli and Matthew Madonna

Count 3 – Leader of Organized Crime – Second Degree
Ralph V. Perna

Count 4 – Conspiracy – Second Degree
Joseph DiNapoli, Matthew Madonna, Ralph V. Perna, Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., Joseph M. Perna, Michael Cetta, Frank Cetta, John G. Perna, Ralph M. Perna, John Mangrella, Gary Medure, Elliot Porco, Martin Taccetta, Antonio Russo, Alfonso Cataldo, Michael Ramuno III, Ronald Scripps, Gianni Iacovo, Robert Decrescenzo, Charles Bologna, James Furfaro, Robert Romano, John Turi, Michael Maffucci, George Maiorano, Blerim Ibriami, Shpetim Hani, Vita Cetta and Rosanna Perna

Count 5 – Promoting Gambling – Third Degree
Joseph DiNapoli, Matthew Madonna, Ralph V. Perna, Nicodemo Scarfo, Jr., Joseph M. Perna, Michael Cetta, Frank Cetta, John G. Perna, Ralph M. Perna, John Mangrella, Gary Medure, Elliot Porco, Martin Taccetta, Antonio Russo, Alfonso Cataldo, Michael Ramuno III, Ronald Scripps, Gianni Iacovo, Robert Decrescenzo, Charles Bologna, James Furfaro, Robert Romano, John Turi, Michael Maffucci, George Maiorano, Blerim Ibriami, Shpetim Hani, Vita Cetta and Rosanna Perna

Count 6 – Possession of Gambling Records – Third Degree
Joseph DiNapoli, Matthew Madonna, Ralph V. Perna, Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., Joseph M. Perna, Michael Cetta, Frank Cetta, John G. Perna, Ralph M. Perna, John Mangrella, Gary Medure, Elliot Porco, Martin Taccetta, Antonio Russo, Alfonso Cataldo, Michael Ramuno III, Ronald Scripps, Gianni Iacovo, Robert Decrescenzo, Charles Bologna, James Furfaro, Robert Romano, John Turi, Michael Maffucci, George Maiorano, Blerim Ibriami, Shpetim Hani, Vita Cetta and Rosanna Perna

Count 7 – Attempted Theft by Extortion – Second Degree
Joseph M. Perna, John G. Perna, Michael Cetta, Gianni Iacovo, James Furfaro and Robert Romano

Count 8 – Aggravated Assault – Second Degree
Joseph M. Perna, John G. Perna, Michael Cetta, Gianni Iacovo, James Furfaro and Robert Romano

Count 9 – Possession of a Weapon for Unlawful Purpose – Third Degree
John G. Perna and Robert Romano

Count 10 – Theft by Deception – Second Degree
Joseph M. Perna

Count 11 – Falsifying Records – Fourth Degree
Joseph M. Perna

Count 12 – Theft by Deception – Second Degree
Joseph M. Perna and Rosanna Perna

Count 13 – Falsifying Records – Fourth Degree
18 months / $ 10,000
Joseph M. Perna and Rosanna Perna

Count 14 – Failure to File Tax Return – Third Degree
Joseph M. Perna and Rosanna Perna

Count 15 – Failure to Pay Gross Income Tax – Third Degree
Joseph M. Perna and Rosanna Perna

Count 16 – Failure to Pay Gross Income Tax – Third Degree
Ralph M. Perna

Count 17 – Failure to File Tax Return – Third Degree
Michael Cetta and Vita Cetta

Count 18 – Failure to Pay Gross Income Tax – Third Degree
Michael Cetta and Vita Cetta

Count 19 – Conspiracy – Second Degree
Joseph M. Perna, Michael Cetta, Edwin Spears, Samuel A. Juliano, Michael Bruinton, Dwayne Spears and Kristen Gilliam

Count 20 – Official Misconduct – Second Degree
Joseph M. Perna, Michael Cetta, Edwin Spears, Samuel A. Juliano, Michael Bruinton, Dwayne Spears and Kristen Gilliam

Count 21 – Bribery – Second Degree
Joseph M. Perna, Michael Cetta, Edwin Spears, Samuel A. Juliano, Michael Bruinton, Dwayne Spears and Kristen Gilliam

Count 22 – Unlawful Possession of Certain Electronic Devices in Prisons – Third Degree
Joseph M. Perna, Michael Cetta, Edwin Spears, Samuel A. Juliano, Michael Bruinton, Dwayne Spears and Kristen Gilliam

Count 23 – Possession of Oxycodone with Intent to Distribute – Second Degree
Samuel A. Juliano

Count 24 – Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute – Second Degree
Samuel A. Juliano

Count 25 – Possession of Cocaine and Oxycodone – Third Degree
Samuel A. Juliano

Count 26 – Certain Persons Not To Have Weapons – Second Degree
Samuel A. Juliano

Count 27 – Unlawful Possession of a Weapon – Third Degree
Samuel A. Juliano

Count 28 – Unlawful Possession of a Weapon – Third Degree
Samuel A. Juliano

Count 29 – Prohibited Weapon – Third Degree
Samuel A. Juliano

Count 30 – Possession of Weapons During Commission of Certain Crimes – Second Degree
Samuel A. Juliano

Count 31 – Prohibited Weapon – Fourth Degree
Samuel A. Juliano

Count 32 – Prohibited Weapon – Fourth Degree
Samuel A. Juliano

Count 33 – Conspiracy – First Degree
All Defendants

Count 34 – Money Laundering – First Degree
All Defendants

Advertisements

14 indicted in Atlantic City voter fraud case September 3, 2009

Posted by jefhenningeresq in News.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

Back in June, I blogged about the arrests of David Callaway and Luquay Zahir.  In that post I said “Another issue I would want to know as an attorney for either man is if anyone else was involved.  If so, that information could go a long way.”  Guess what?  I was right to wonder who else was involved.  What seemed like a voter fraud case involving just a couple of guys turns out to be a massive case involving over a dozen people.  Hopefully, some of these people had good attorneys that made good use out of the last few months but for some reason, I doubt much was done.

TRENTON – Attorney General Anne Milgram announced that Atlantic City Councilman Marty Small and 13 individuals who worked on his unsuccessful 2009 mayoral campaign were indicted on charges they conspired to commit election fraud during the June Democratic primary through a variety of schemes involving messenger absentee ballots.

The Division of Criminal Justice obtained a 10-count state grand jury indictment charging Councilman Small and 13 campaign workers and operatives. Each defendant is charged with conspiracy (2nd degree), four counts of election fraud (2nd degree), absentee ballot fraud (3rd degree), tampering with public records (3rd degree), falsifying records (4th degree) and forgery (4th degree). Four defendants are also charged with hindering apprehension or prosecution (3rd degree).

The indictment alleges that Small and the other defendants conspired to commit election fraud through the following schemes:

  • They allegedly solicited applications for messenger absentee ballots from individuals not qualified to receive them and had the voters not fill in the name of the messenger, so they could fraudulently designate themselves as the authorized messengers or bearers.
  • They allegedly obtained messenger ballots from the county clerk and submitted them to the board of elections as votes on behalf of voters who, in fact, never received or voted the ballots or, in some cases, were given only the security envelope for the ballot and were told to sign it. Those voters were not given the opportunity to vote in most instances.
  • They allegedly picked up sealed absentee ballots from voters, unsealed them and, if they were votes for mayoral candidates other than Small, destroyed them, thereby disenfranchising those voters. If they were votes for Small, they allegedly resealed them and submitted them as votes.
  • They allegedly illegally instructed voters to fill in messenger ballots as votes for Small.
  • They allegedly submitted voter registration applications and messenger ballot applications on behalf of individuals who were not residents of Atlantic City, falsely representing they were.
  • They allegedly forged the signatures of voters on messenger ballots.
  • They allegedly fraudulently delivered messenger ballot applications and messenger ballots to voters simultaneously and instructed the voters to fill out both during the same visit.

Small and the indicted members of his campaign staff allegedly sought to maximize the number of absentee ballots messengered by the campaign by enlisting operatives and campaign workers to engage in fraud and by paying campaign workers based on how many messenger ballots they collected. The workers allegedly were told to direct voters to vote for the Small ticket, or simply have the voters sign the ballots so the workers could fill them out as votes for the Small ticket.

The campaign allegedly held an “autograph party” at which messengers selected by Small or by other defendants would fill in their own names as designated messengers on absentee ballot applications where that information had been left blank by the voters.

The indictment charges the following 14 defendants: 

  1. Marty Small, 35, of Atlantic City;
  2. Luquay Zahir, a.k.a. Luqua McNair, 34, of Atlantic City;
  3. David Callaway, 46, of Pleasantville;
  4. Floyd Tally, a.k.a. Floyd Harrell, 39, of Atlantic City;
  5. Mark Crumble, a.k.a. Johnny Crumbles, 48, of Atlantic City;
  6. Tracy PiJuan, 37, of Atlantic City;
  7. Michele Griffin, 30, of Atlantic City;
  8. Toni Dixon, 52, of Atlantic City;
  9. Demaris Jones, 27, of Atlantic City;
  10. Ramona Stephens, 48, of Atlantic City;
  11. Ernest Storr, 43, of Linwood;
  12. Thomas Quirk, 57, of Ventnor;
  13. Dameka Cross, 34, of Smithville; and
  14. Ronald Harris, 23, of Atlantic City.

Callaway, Zahir, Tally, Griffin and Dixon were previously charged by complaint in connection with the alleged illegal campaign activities.  Small, Pijuan, Storr and Quirk are the four defendants named in the count of the indictment charging third-degree hindering apprehension or prosecution. They allegedly provided false information to investigators.

There is a good chance that this case (like others going on right now) could ensnare others over time as there is still much to learn about exactly what went on, who was involved, etc.