Federal prosecutors have indicted 19 men on racketeering, murder conspiracy, and other charges stemming from their alleged roles in the Lucchese crime family.
Those charged include alleged Lucchese boss Matthew Madonna, 81, alleged underboss Steven Crea Sr., 69, of Westchester County, and alleged consigliere Joseph DiNapoli, 81, of the Bronx.
Madonna, Crea, Crea's son, Steven Crea Jr., and several others are accused of arranging the murder of reputed Purple Gang hit-man Michael Meldish in Throgs Neck in November 2013, as well as a failed East Harlem hit on Enzo "The Baker" Stagno, a made man in the Bonnano crime family, according to the New York Post. The indictment includes three other attempted murders, including one in October 2016, when alleged Lucchese muscle "Big Joe" Datello purportedly traveled to New Hampshire to try to rub out a mob witness.
The violence allegedly occurred in connection with a vast range of illegal business ventures, including importing cocaine from South America; selling cocaine, heroin, prescription opiates and marijuana; fraud in connection with the construction of an unnamed hospital; loansharking; sports betting; illegal poker machines; and the sale of untaxed cigarettes.
Madonna, Terrence Caldwell, and Christopher Londonio were already in custody on charges related to the murder of Meldish, a case which the superseding indictment tacks more counts onto. Vincent Bruno, 33, was also named in connection with the Meldish killing, and is currently serving a nine-year federal prison term after pleading guilty to a drug-dealing conspiracy charge in 2013. His arrest in that case predates the murder, suggesting that it's possible his alleged involvement came while he was locked up.
The rest of the defendants were arrested Wednesday. An attorney for Caldwell declined to comment, as did Stacey Richman, an attorney for Crea Jr.
Richman's father, famed mob lawyer Murray Richman, said that his client, Joseph DiNapoli, pleaded not guilty at arraignment and "will prevail in the end."
DiNapoli was released after putting up his house to satisfy a $750,000 bond.
The bust is the latest in a long line of legal entanglements for many of the reputed Lucchese mobsters. Madonna reportedly became a made man in the mid-'90s after serving 20 years for heroin trafficking, having been a supplier for Harlem kingpin Leroy "Nicky" Barnes. Madonna and DiNapoli have been repeatedly indicted since then for loan-sharking, illegal gambling, gun trafficking, and infiltrating the Department of Buildings to solicit massive bribes.
"He's a wonderful guy," Richman said of DiNapoli. "I've known him for 47 years."
Asked how that characterization squares with DiNapoli's priors, Richman said, "Let's not get carried away with ourselves."
Lawyers for the other suspects could not be reached or did not respond to messages.
Steven Crea Sr. served three years in federal prison in the mid-2000s for extorting payments from a New York construction company for a decade. Joseph Datello and "Big John" Castelucci have also been previously charged in connection with loansharking and illegal gambling, among other mob trades.
The criminal enterprises described in the latest indictment allegedly date back to 2000. All but two of the defendants face up to life in prison if convicted of the most serious offenses.