NEW YORK — Following an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York working jointly with the FBI and Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD), six members and associates of the Gambino organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (the “Gambino family”) and a member of the Bonanno organized crime family (the “Bonanno family”) are being charged with racketeering conspiracy, including predicate acts of loan sharking, illegal gambling, narcotics distribution conspiracy and obstruction of justice conspiracy.
The superseding indictment relates to the alleged criminal activities on Long Island, in Brooklyn, and elsewhere between January 2014 and December 2017 of the following individuals: John “Johnny Boy” Ambrosio, an acting captain in the Gambino family, Frank “Frankie Boy” Salerno, a soldier in the Bonanno family, Thomas Anzalone, Alessandro “Sandro” Damelio, Joseph Durso, Anthony Rodolico and Anthony Saladino, associates of the Gambino family.
“Today’s arrests represent a major disruption of La Costra Nostra’s activities on Long Island,” stated Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Bridget Rohde. “As alleged, the defendants engaged in a wide range of illegal and violent conduct in furtherance of their criminal enterprise. The indictment should send a message that this Office and our law enforcement partners are committed to dismantling these crime families which threaten the safety of our communities. Ms. Rohde also praised the exceptional investigative efforts and collaboration of the FBI, HSI and the Suffolk County Police Department.
The indictment is the result of a long-term investigation, with evidence gathered through a variety of methods, including wiretap recordings of the defendants, cooperating witnesses, undercover members of law enforcement, government and public records, electronic evidence and visual surveillance, all of which revealed a pattern of violence and intimidation that the defendants employed to further their enterprise’s economic interests, some of which is described below.
Loan Sharking Offenses
As alleged in the indictment and court filings, Ambrosio, an acting captain in the Gambino family, conducted a lucrative loan sharking operation in which he, Anzalone, Rodolico, Saladino and others extended extortionate loans to, and collected from, numerous individuals, often charging exorbitant interest rates and employing violent collection methods. For instance, in an intercepted conversation between Saladino and Anzalone, the two discussed various “gambling debts” owed by other parties, Saladino stated that he would give a debtor “something to be scared about”, but that he didn’t want “beef” at his “club”, because he is “responsible to John [Ambrosio] for what happens there.” In that same call, Saladino offered to “fix” another gambling debtor, saying “by the time we’re done…he’s not going to have an office to play anywhere.” In another conversation with Ambrosio, an individual asked for Ambrosio’s help collecting a debt and recounted telling the debtor, “I don’t know if you know who I am and where I come from, but I promise you, you will never walk again.” Ambrosio and Rodolico also allegedly attempted to obstruct the federal grand jury proceeding into their criminal activities by intimidating a loan shark victim into lying to law enforcement.
Illegal Gambling Offenses
According to the indictment and other court filings, Ambrosio also was involved with a variety of gambling operations, including unlicensed gambling parlors, electronic gaming machines and internet and sports betting, with Damelio, Durso, Salerno and Saladino being responsible for many of the day-to-day operations. In one intercepted call, Ambrosio stated that there was no need to travel to a casino -- “you can play right here” and “save gas money.” Recently, a search warrant executed on a storage facility belonging to Saladino yielded several electronic gaming machines and other gambling paraphernalia.
Narcotics Trafficking Offenses
As also alleged in the indictment and court filings, Anzalone, Damelio, Durso, Saladino and Salerno distributed a variety of narcotics, including cocaine, marijuana and alprazolam. Significantly, Saladino and Salerno engaged in the distribution of wholesale quantities of cocaine, including 12 separate sales to an undercover member of law enforcement totaling over half a kilogram.
The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.