NEW YORK – The entire administration of the Luchese Family, as well as the captains, soldiers and associates, 19 members in total, are being charged with racketeering, murder, narcotics and firearms offenses. The superseding indictment announced Wednesday stems from a joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York, the FBI, the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the Waterfront Commission of the New York Harbor.
“Organized crime families believe their way of life is acceptable and continue to show through their criminal behavior that they don’t plan to stop. Their crimes aren’t victimless, and this case proves they’re willing to use murder and many other violent tactics to enforce their dominance. The FBI/NYPD Joint Organized Crime Task Force and our other law enforcement partners, who have done exceptional work in this case, don’t plan to stop our pursuit of these crime families because they have a direct negative impact on communities and neighborhoods where they operate,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr.
“The allegations and extent of the criminal behavior are extraordinary. The Luchese Family operated with seeming impunity, allegedly carrying out murder, robberies and extortion, among a myriad of other charges unsealed today. We will not stop until violence has been eradicated, be it from a street gang or the mob,” said NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill.
The superseding indictment builds on charges previously filed against Luchese soldier Christopher Londonio and Luchese associate Terrence Caldwell, who were charged in February 2017 with racketeering offenses, including the murder of Michael Meldish, a Luchese associate who was killed in the Bronx November 15, 2013.
The superseding indictment charges Matthew Madonna, the alleged street boss of the Luchese Family, Steven Crea Sr., the alleged underboss of the Family, and Steven Crea Jr., Londonio’s alleged captain in the Family, with ordering the murder of Meldish. The superseding indictment also contains additional racketeering charges against Madonna, Crea Sr., and Crea Jr., as well as the alleged consigliere of the Luchese Family, Joseph Dinapoli, and numerous other members and associates of La Cosa Nostra.
Fifteen of the defendants charged were taken into custody Wednesday. Christopher Londonio, Terrence Caldwell and Vincent Bruno were already in federal custody on other charges. Matthew Madonna was already in custody on state charges and was transferred today to federal custody.
According to the allegations in the superseding indictment, which was filed in White Plains federal court on May 24, 2017, and was unsealed Wednesday, La Cosa Nostra or “the Mafia” is a criminal organization composed of leaders, members, and associates who work together and coordinate to engage in criminal activities.
La Cosa Nostra operates through entities known as “Families.” In the New York City area, those families include the Genovese, Gambino, Luchese, Bonanno, Colombo, and Decavalcante Families. Each Family operates through groups of individuals known as “crews” and “regimes.” Each “crew” has as its leader a person known as a “Caporegime,” “Capo,” “Captain,” or “Skipper,” who is responsible for supervising the criminal activities of his crew and providing “Soldiers” and associates with support and protection. In return, the Capo typically receives a share of the illegal earnings of each of his crew’s Soldiers and associates, which is sometimes referred to as “Attribute”.
Each crew consists of “made” members, sometimes known as “Soldiers,” “wiseguys,” “friends of ours,” and “good fellows.” Soldiers are aided in their criminal endeavors by other trusted individuals, known as “associates,” who sometimes are referred to as “connected” or identified as “with” a Soldier or other member of the Family. Associates participate in the various activities of the crew and its members. In order for an associate to become a made member of the Family, the associate must first be of Italian descent and typically needs to demonstrate the ability to generate income for the Family and the willingness to commit acts of violence.
At most times relevant to the charges in the superseding indictment, Matthew Madonna was the street boss of the family; that is, the individual who managed the affairs of the Family on behalf of the formal boss, who is serving a life sentence in federal prison. Steven Crea Sr., a/k/a “Wonder Boy,” was the Underboss of the Luchese Family, and Joseph Dinapoli was the Consigliere of the Luchese Family. Additionally, Steven Crea Jr., Dominic Truscello, John Castelucci, a/k/a “Big John,” and Tindaro Corso, a/k/a “Tino,” were Captains or Acting Captains in the Luchese Family. Joseph Venice, James Maffucci, a/k/a “Jimmy the Jew,” Joseph Datello, a/k/a “Big Joe,” a/k/a “Joey Glasses,” Paul Cassano, a/k/a “Paulie Roast Beef,” and Christopher Londonio were Soldiers in the Luchese Family.
The superseding indictment alleges that from at least in or about 2000 up to and including in or about 2017, Matthew Madonna, Steven Crea Sr., Joseph Dinapoli, Steven Crea Jr., Dominic Truscello, John Castelucci, Tindaro Corso, Joseph Venice, James Maffucci, Joseph Datello, Paul Cassano, Christopher Londonio, Terrence Caldwell, a/k/a “T,” Vincent Bruno, Brian Vaughan, Carmine Garcia, a/k/a “Spanish Carmine,” Richard O’Connor, Robert Camilli, and John Incatasciato, along with other members and associates of La Cosa Nostra, committed a wide array of crimes in connection with their association with the mafia, including murder, attempted murder, assault, robbery, extortion, gambling, narcotics trafficking, witness tampering, fraud, money laundering and trafficking in contraband cigarettes.
Of particular significance, on or about November 15, 2013, Madonna, Crea Sr. Crea Jr., Londonio, and Caldwell murdered and procured the murder of Michael Meldish in order to maintain or increase their status in La Cosa Nostra.
The superseding indictment also alleges the following additional violent incidents:
In late 2012, Paul Cassano and Vincent Bruno, acting at the direction of Crea Sr. and Crea Jr., attempted to murder a mafia associate who had shown disrespect toward Crea Sr.
As charged in the initial Indictment, on May 29, 2013, Terrence Caldwell attempted to murder a Bonanno Soldier in the vicinity of First Avenue and 111th Street, in Manhattan.
In or about October 2016, Steven Crea Sr. and Joseph Datello attempted to murder a witness who had previously provided information regarding the activities of La Cosa Nostra to state and federal law enforcement.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by the Southern District of New York’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit and White Plains Division.