Yesterday, the NY Attorney General's Organized Crime Task Force and NYPD raided a number of homes and business in Staten Island, Brooklyn, NJ, Pennsylvania, and Nevada, arresting 22 people from two investigations dubbed "Operation Pure Luck" and "Operation Night Gallery." The charges, according to Cuomo's office, stem "from the operation of lucrative loan sharking and gambling activities closely controlled by organized crime"—the Gambino and Luchese crime families.
The Staten Island Advance reports that among the charged are the owners of two prominent Staten Island businesses -- Top Tomato and Casale Tile -- who allegedly headed a lucrative Gambino crime family loansharking and gambling ring...Carmine Sciandra, 57, of Eltingville, who co-owns three popular Top Tomato stores with his family, ran the operation that loaned victims money at exorbitant rates, prosecutors charge. The cash allegedly was fronted by Benedetto (Benny) Casale of Todt Hill, owner of Bulls Head-based Casale Tile. Victims were threatened with violence if they didn't pay, said authorities."
The Post reminds us that Sciandra "last made headlines in 2005, when he was shot in the stomach by ex-cop Patrick Balsamo because the Mafioso's brother groped the former lawman's daughter." Another arrestee is Frederick Grimaldi, a Department of Sanitation deputy chief. According to the Daily News, "Prosecutors said Grimaldi, 44, of Marlboro, N.J., leaked confidential information about a city contract to his father-in-law, Michael Murdocco, 64, a reputed soldier in the Gambino crime family. That was done to ensure Vincent Alessi, 42, owner of Duramix Concrete Corp. in Bayonne, N.J., would make the winning bid last May."
Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said, “One of the more satisfying aspects of these take-downs is that it began with an unsuccessful attempt by members of the Luchese crime family to bribe New York City Police officers with a quarter of a million dollars. It ended with arrests for bribery last month and the dismantling of two important gambling rings today.”