02/07/2007

FBI arrests 19 reputed members of N.Y. crime family

By Anthony M. Destefano
Newsday

The aging men believed to be the current leadership of the decimated Bonanno crime family were arrested yesterday in an FBI sweep that netted 19 people.

Grabbed by agents at their homes were Nicholas Santora, 64, the crime family's reputed acting underboss, and Anthony Rabito, 73, the acting consiglieri, officials said.

Both men are considered by the FBI to be the latest patchwork of leaders of a crime family that in the past five years has seen more than 70 of its members, including former boss Joseph Massino, convicted of federal charges.

Santora, known by the moniker "Nicky Mouth," and Rabito, whose nickname is "Fat Anthony," were the lead defendants in an indictment that charges various defendants with racketeering, loansharking, extortion, gambling and a murder conspiracy. A charge of securities fraud is also listed.

Also indicted were reputed Bonanno captains Jerome Asaro, 48; Joseph Cammarano Jr., 47; and Louis DeCicco, 60. Cammarano is the son of reputed Bonanno crime captain Joseph Cammarano Sr.

The 37-count indictment also levied additional charges on three other defendants who had been previously accused of shaking down Howard Beach housewife Yvonne Rossetti. Those charged in the Rossetti case and included in yesterday's indictment were reputed Bonanno soldiers Michael Cassese and Michael Virtuoso. The indictment added Santora and Rabito to the Rossetti extortion allegation. Rossetti's husband, Vincent, became a cooperating witness for the government and is believed to be the source of some of the information used in the latest round of charges, court records indicate.

Joseph Rossetti, 38, who a law enforcement source said is Vincent's younger brother, was arrested yesterday on charges he was involved in securities fraud from 2002 to 2004 with Cassese and another defendant.

The case is the latest salvo in a continuing offensive by the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn, which began focusing on the Bonanno family earlier in the decade. Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf said in a prepared statement that more than 70 crime family members and associates have been convicted since March 2002.

The murder conspiracy charges involved Cammarano and another defendant named Paul Spina. No one was harmed as a result of that conspiracy, according to court papers.

Untouched by the latest charges is Salvatore Montagna, reportedly the acting boss of the Bonanno crime family. A snippet of information about Montagna's reputed status came out in a letter submitted by prosecutors. In a secret tape recording made by a government informant, Cassese said that "Sal [Montagna]'s the acting boss; there is nobody in between. That is it."

Rabito was indicted in 2005 by Queens County prosecutors in a gambling case and was free on bail. He was also convicted in 1982 of federal narcotics charges in a major racketeering case against the Bonanno family. Santora also was convicted in that case of conspiracy, but that judgment was overturned on appeal. Santora was sentenced to prison for other charges and was released after 15 years.

Magistrate Lois Bloom ordered Rabito, Santora and Spina held pending bail arguments. Rossetti, Cammarano, Asaro, DeCicco and most of the other defendants were released on bonds. Cassese and Virtuoso were already in custody.

Copyright 2007 Newsday, Inc.

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