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Indictment names 12 in reputed Colombo mob killings

Mob killings that spilled blood on the streets of Brooklyn and Long Island years ago were the focus Wednesday of arrests of several reputed members and associates of the Colombo crime family, law enforcement officials said.

The 17-count racketeering indictment unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn charged 12 people, including reputed acting Colombo boss Thomas Gioeli, 55, of Franklin Square, and reputed underboss John "Sonny" Franzese, 89, with crimes ranging from murder to extortion and drug dealing.

Nine of the 12 defendants, including Gioeli, were arrested yesterday. Franzese was already in custody for an earlier violation of his supervised release in a different case. Reputed crime family associate Nicholas Bova, 31, is imprisoned on a state conviction.

The indictment covers four mob killings. Among them are the March 1992 slayings of Colombo soldier John Minerva and his friend Michael Imbergamo on Broadway in North Massapequa. Minerva was gunned down as part of a war between factions in the crime family, while Imbergamo was killed as an innocent bystander while seated in Minerva's car, said investigators.

Officials noted that three men had already been convicted in 1994 of the Minerva-Imbergamo slayings: the late Joseph "Jo Jo" Russo, Anthony "Chucky" Russo and Joseph Montelone Sr.

At a Brooklyn news conference, Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice said that a 2006 tip from an informant led her staff to implicate Gioeli and Dino Calabro, 41, of Wantagh, in the two homicides.

"We have evidence to show they were actively and intimately involved in these murders," said Rice.

Federal agents made one arrest in the case in Los Angeles where Orlando Spado, 63, was picked up on charges that he and another suspect carried out a push-in robbery. Spado and co-defendant Christopher Curanovic, 26, used Drug Enforcement Administration caps and T-shirts to force their way into a home in a bogus drug bust, said investigators.

Eastern District U.S. Attorney Benton Campbell said the arrests were the latest in a long string of blows to the Colombo family. Beset by wars and infighting since the early 1990s, the group has lost members and leaders through numerous prosecutions. Current boss Carmine "The Snake" Persico is serving a life term in prison for his 1986 conviction in the federal mob Commission Case. In December, Persico's son Alphonse, 53, once the acting Colombo boss, was convicted of racketeering murder.

"Our goal is simple, to prosecute and convict the members of the Colombo organized crime family until that organized crime group is out of business," said Campbell at the news conference.

Among the extortions charged in the case is one in 2003 involving the Cujini Due Pizzeria in Albertson, officials said. In a memorandum filed in court prosecutors said Angelo Giangrande, a reputed Colombo associate from Mineola, paid Michael Catapano, 42, of Franklin Square, so that Catapano could use his mob ties to coerce two owners of the pizzeria to sell it at a discount. Franzese, Catapano and Joseph DiGorga, 67, of Oceanside were charged in the extortion.

Gioeli, Calabro, Catapano and Giangrande, pleaded not guilty at their arraignment yesterday. Giangrande was freed on bail while the others were held without bail. Franzese, Spado and Bova will be arraigned later.

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