Members and associates of the Gambino and Bonanno organized-crime families have been charged with racketeering conspiracy in connection with criminal activities on Long Island and elsewhere, authorities said.
The defendants — John Ambrosio, an acting captain in the Gambino family, Frank Salerno, a soldier in the Bonanno family, and Thomas Anzalone, Alessandro Damelio, Joseph Durso, Anthony Rodolico and Anthony Saladino, associates of the Gambino family — were arrested early Tuesday, prosecutors said.
Ambrosio, Damelio, Durso and Rodolico pleaded not guilty in the afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gary R. Brown in Central Islip.
Federal prosecutors say they ran gambling, loan sharking, drugs and other operations from January 2014 to this month. “Today’s arrests represent a major disruption of La Cosa Nostra’s activities on Long Island,” Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Rohde said in a statement.
Rohde also praised the “exceptional” investigative efforts and collaboration of the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations New York, and the Suffolk County police and NYPD.
According to the indictment and court filings, Ambrosio, 74, of Huntington, conducted a lucrative loan-sharking operation in which he, Anzalone, Rodolico, Saladino and others extended “extortionate” loans to numerous people, often charging exorbitant interest rates and employing violent collection methods.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Artie McConnell told Brown that Ambrosio could not be trusted to obey the law.
“He’s also been a fixture of organized crime on Long Island for literally decades,” McConnell said, adding that Ambrosio corresponded with legendary Gambino boss John Gotti after Gotti was imprisoned. Gotti died in prison.
McConnell said Ambrosio hadn’t worked or filed taxes in 10 years, yet agents seized $60,000 in cash when they raided his home Tuesday.
Defense attorney Michael Alber of Commack said his client is a sickly old man who is no risk to anyone. Brown, however, disagreed, finding that Ambrosio is a “serious risk” to obstruct justice. He ordered him held without bail.
Alber said later that accusations are easy to make based on overheard conversations, but proving that crimes were committed will be considerably more difficult.
Anzalone, 44, Rodolico, 46, and Saladino, 67, are from Queens, Huntington and Glen Cove respectively.
Authorities said Ambrosio also was involved in a variety of gambling operations, including illegal poker games, electronic gaming machines and internet sports betting; Damelio, 49, of Queens, Durso, 26, of Glen Cove, Salerno, 43, of Queens, and Saladino were responsible for many of the day-to-day operations.
In addition, prosecutors said Anzalone, Damelio, Durso, Saladino and Salerno distributed a variety of drugs, including cocaine, marijuana and alprazolam, which is commonly known as Xanax. If convicted, Ambrosio, Anzalone, Damelio, Durso and Rodolico face up to 20 years in prison. Saladino and Salerno each face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for the cocaine conspiracy offenses.
Brown allowed family members of Damelio, Durso and Rodolico to put up their homes as collateral to bail those men out.