This post was written by Connor Balough
Ten alleged members of the Bonanno mafia family have been charged with racketeering and related crimes, according to a 37-count indictment unsealed Tuesday.
The charges stem from what prosecutors claim was almost 20 years of organized criminal activity in and around Queens — including participation in gun battles, beatings, extortion, and arson.
“The Mafia hasn’t stopped operating and the crimes these members are charged with today prove that,” the FBI’s William Sweeny Jr. said in a statement.
The 10 defendants — Ronald “Ronnie G.” Giallanzo, Michael Padavona, Nicholas “Pudgie” Festa, Michael Palmaccio, Christopher “Bald Chris” Boothby, Evan “The Jew” Greenberg, Richard Heck, Michael Hintze, Robert Pisani and Robert “Chippy” Tanico — were arrested Tuesday and arraigned in federal court in Brooklyn.
Prosecutors: Vendetta prompted shootouts
Giallanzo, identified by the Department of Justice as an acting captain in the Bonnano family, stands at the center of the alleged crime wave.
A reputed Bonanno soldier for nearly two decades, Giallanzo used the proceeds from fraudulent stock market schemes to fund a loan-sharking business with more than $3 million, court documents state.
In the course of running his loan-sharking operation — and while awaiting trial for securities fraud — prosecutors claim Giallanzo ordered members of his crew, including Palmaccio and Padavona, to kill a suspected rival in the Howard Beach section of Queens.
The man was believed by Giallanzo to have been behind multiple robberies of Festa’s drug-dealing and loan-sharking operation, court papers state. The vendetta resulted in at least four shootouts in Howard Beach over a three-month period, according to prosecutors.
Defendants could face up to 20 years in prison
Giallanzo pleaded guilty to charges of securities fraud and was sentenced in 2007 to more than seven years in prison. Prosecutors allege, however, that he continued to run his loan-sharking operation from behind bars, instructing his associates to beat up borrowers who were in arrears.
When conditionally released in April 2013, Giallanzo took a personal role in the shakedowns, prosecutors contend. He allegedly beat someone who owed $250,000 until the man “soiled himself,” court documents state.
He also met with several ranking members of the Bonanno crime family in violation of the conditions of his release. Those meetings earned him another stretch in prison, from March until December 2016. Elizabeth Macedonio, Giallanzo’s attorney, could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday.
If found guilty of racketeering or loan sharking, the defendants face up to 20 years in prison.