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Gambino crime family member pleads guilty to racketeering

An acting captain in the Gambino crime family from Huntington pleaded guilty Thursday to racketeering conspiracy — admitting his role in an extensive loan-sharking, extortion and illegal gambling operation.

John Ambrosio, 75, was the last of seven associates from the Gambino and Bonanno organized-crime families — all arrested in December 2017 on federal racketeering charges — to take a guilty plea, prosecutors said.

Ambrosio, whose nickname is “Johnny Boy,” pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Central Islip, admitting to using extortion to collect a loan from one victim and supervising a gambling business involving poker games, electronic gaming machines and sports betting.

Magistrate Judge Gary R. Brown said he will consider a recommended sentence of 41 to 51 months in prison. As part of his plea deal, Ambrosio will also forfeit $100,000, including $66,116 in cash seized from his home at the time of his arrest. Ambrosio’s sentencing date has not been set.

Brown granted a defense request for supervised bail pending sentencing, citing both Ambrosio’s failing health, including heart and kidney disease and blood pressure problems, and his daughter’s terminal cancer.

Family members put up a $3.5 million bond — from four properties — to secure Ambrosio’s return. He also will wear an electronic ankle monitor and be limited in his travel to doctor and lawyer appointments. Ambrosio will also be prohibited from meeting with organized crime associates.

“Mr. Ambrosio has every reason to abide by the court order,” said his defense attorney, Michael Alber of Commack. “He does not pose a clear and present danger to the community.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Artie McConnell disagreed and said Ambrosio would probably return to his criminal lifestyle.

“I don’t know that the defendant could help himself,” said McConnell, noting that Ambrosio has used threats of violence in his leadership role in La Cosa Nostra.

Ambrosio family members declined to comment Thursday.

Federal authorities said Ambrosio and six co-conspirators ran gambling, loan sharking, drugs and other operations from January 2014 through December 2017, granting “extortionate” loans to numerous individuals, often charging exorbitant interest rates and employing violent collection methods.

Co-conspirators Frank Salerno, 43, of Queens, a soldier in the Bonanno family; and Thomas Anzalone, 44, of Queens; Alessandro Damelio, 49, of Queens; Joseph Durso, 26, of Glen Cove; Anthony Rodolico, 46, of Huntington; and Anthony Saladino, 67, of Glen Cove — all associates of the Gambino family — have pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, prosecutors said.

Anzalone, Damelio, Durso and Rodolico each face up to 20 years in prison at sentencing. Salerno and Saladino each face a mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison and up to 40 years for cocaine distribution, prosecutors said.

When the men were arrested last December, law enforcement executed numerous search warrants in Nassau and Suffolk counties and recovered gambling and loan sharking records, electronic gaming machines, drugs and firearms, including an AR-15, a .38 caliber revolver and a sawed-off shotgun, officials said.

Agents also recovered letters between Ambrosio and the late-Gambino family boss John Gotti, prosecutors said.

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