Two associates of the Genovese La Cosa Nostra (LCN) crime family pleaded guilty today in federal court in Worcester to extortion-related charges.
Ralph Santaniello, 50, and Giovanni Calabrese, 54, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by threats or violence; one count of interference with commerce by threats or violence – aiding and abetting; one count of conspiracy to use extortionate means to collect extensions of credit; and one count of using extortionate means to collect extensions of credit – aiding and abetting. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman scheduled their sentencings for Jan. 29, 2018, and Jan 30, 2018, respectively. Santaniello and Calabrese were arrested and charged in August 2016 along with three other associates, Gerald Daniele, Francesco Depergola and Richard Valentini.
Santaniello and Calabrese, along with their alleged co-defendants, were associates of the New York-based Genovese LCN crime family and engaged in various criminal activities in Springfield, Mass., including loansharking and extortion from legitimate and illegitimate businesses, such as illegal gambling businesses and the collection of unlawful debts. The defendants allegedly used violence, exploited their relationship with LCN, and implied threats of murder and physical violence to instill fear in their victims.
In 2013, Santaniello, Calabrese, Depergola and Valentini allegedly attempted to extort money from a Springfield businessman. Santaniello assaulted the businessman and threatened to cut off his head and bury his body if he did not comply. Over a period of four months, the businessman paid $20,000 to Santaniello, Calabrese, Depergola and Valentini to protect himself and his business.
In addition, during a six-month period in 2015, it is alleged that Daniele extended two extortionate and usurious loans to an individual, and then, along with Santaniello and Calabrese, threatened the individual if he did not make payments on the loans.
Each charge provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 and forfeiture. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting U.S. Attorney William D. Weinreb; Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni; and Colonel Richard D. McKeon, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police made the announcement today. Kevin O’Regan, Chief of Weinreb’s Springfield Branch Office, and Trial Attorney Marianne Shelvey of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section are prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The remaining defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.