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Merrick man and nephew face extortion, racketeering conspiracy charges, say feds

The reputed captain of a New York crime family and his nephew face extortion charges after forcing a business owner to pay them hundreds of dollars a month for years, prosecutors said Friday.

Luca DiMatteo, 70, of Merrick, and Lukey DiMatteo, 46, of Brooklyn, are also charged with racketeering conspiracy, loansharking, and operating an illegal gambling business stemming from their "criminal activities in Brooklyn and elsewhere between January 2009 and June 2015," according to the Eastern District U.S. attorney.

The charges were announced Thursday at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn at the arraignment hearings of Luca DiMatteo and alleged associate John Shields, 46, of East Atlantic Beach.

All three men are believed to be associated with the Colombo family, part of the La Cosa Nostra organized crime network, prosecutors said.

Luca and Lukey DiMatteo extorted biweekly payments of $100 to $200 from a business owner at an undisclosed location, prosecutors said. The owner told prosecutors that he feared retaliation and handed over the money for more than a decade, until the business recently closed.

Lukey DiMatteo and Shields are also accused of running a Brooklyn gambling club and participating in a sports betting operation, officials said.

"We will not tolerate the use of violence or threats of violence to extort local business people, and we will shut down illegal gambling businesses in our neighborhoods," acting U.S. Attorney Kelly T. Currie said in a news release.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak ordered Luca DiMatteo remanded Thursday. He pleaded not guilty. Shields, who also pleaded not guilty, was released on $200,000 bond.

Both men are due at a status conference before Judge I. Leo Glasser on July 22.

Attorneys for both men declined comment.

Lukey DiMatteo is scheduled to be arraigned Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ramon E. Reyes Jr. at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn.

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