QUEENS, N.Y. — The entire administration of the Colombo organized crime family, part of the La Cosa Nostra mafia, has been indicted on a slew of charges tied to efforts to infiltrate a labor union based in Queens, New York. One of the arrests made included a family captain, who was arrested in North Carolina.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said in a news release Tuesday most of the 14 arrests included Colombo family members, among them 75-year-old Vincent Ricciardo, who was taken into custody in North Carolina. Ricciardo, who has a registered address in Waxhaw, North Carolina, is set to be arraigned before a federal judge in Charlotte.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Ricciardo and the other members of the Colombo crime family tried to take control of the Queens-based union and its health care benefits program via racketeering and extortion. The family administration made threats against a senior leader for the labor union and conspired to launder money from the benefits program. Drug trafficking and fake construction certificates were also part of the charges levied against people tied to the alleged scheme.
Ricciardo, who was also known as "Vinny Unions," notably is accused of directly threatening the senior labor union leader. The attorney's office said he and his cousin, Domenick Ricciardo, have collected a portion of the union official's salary by making threats against the official and his family. The Ricciardo cousins and the other members of the family broadened their extortion efforts in 2019 at the direction of the Colombo family's leaders, forcing the union and its health fund to make decisions that benefited the family. This included forcing their victims to use vendors for contracts that were associated with the Colombo crime family and seeking to divert more than $10,000 per month from the health fund's assets to the family administration.
In a consensually recorded phone call that happened in June 2021, Vincent Ricciardo reportedly threatened to kill the labor union official if Ricciardo's demands weren't met. The attorney's office said Ricciardo was recorded as saying: “I’ll put him in the ground right in front of his wife and kids, right in front of his f-----g house." Ricciardo claimed in the phone call he was not afraid of law enforcement, and further said, "I would f-----g shoot him right in front of his wife and kids."
Here is the full list of people charged in the case. As of publication, one person has yet to be arrested:
- Andrew Russo, 87, of Glen Head, New York
- Joseph Bellantoni, 39, of Massapequa, New York
- Benjamin Castellazzo ("Benji"), 83, of Manahawkin, New Jersey
- Thomas Costa, 52, of West Islip, New York
- Ralph DiMatteo, 66, of Merrick, New York (still at large)
- Richard Ferrara, 59, of Brooklyn, New York
- John Glover, 62m of Queens, New York
- Vincent Martino, 43, of Medford, New York
- Theodore Persico, Jr. ("Teddy"), 58, of Brooklyn, New York
- John Ragano (also known as "Bazoo" and "Maniac"), 58, of Franklin Square, New York
- Domenick Ricciardo, 56, of Franklin Square, New York
- Vincent Ricciardo ("Vinny Unions"), 75, of Franklin Square, New York
- Michael Uvino, 56, of Garden City, New York