Long-time Colombo Crime Family Associate Sentenced To 14 Years’ Imprisonment
Earlier today, Francis “BF” Guerra, a long-time associate of the Colombo organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (the “Colombo crime family”), was sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment for his role in a scheme to fraudulently obtain and distribute prescription drugs. The sentence was imposed by the Honorable Sandra L. Townes, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of New York, at the United States Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York.
The sentence was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and George C. Venizelos, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), New York Field Office.
Today’s proceeding marks the culmination of a lengthy investigation and prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI. Following a jury trial conducted in June and July of 2011, Guerra was convicted of one count of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and Oxycontin, and one count of actually distributing those drugs, in 2010 and 2011. In addition, he was convicted of four counts of wire fraud based on his fraudulently obtaining reimbursement for those drugs from his insurance provider.
During the sentencing proceeding, United States District Judge Sandra L. Townes found that, in addition to the crimes of conviction, the government proved by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant had committed numerous additional crimes, including the 1992 murder of Michael Devine and the 1993 murder of Joseph Scopo. Devine was murdered because he had a relationship with the wife of Alphonse Persico, then the acting boss of the Colombo crime family and son of the official boss, Carmine Persico, Jr. Scopo was murdered because he was the underboss of a faction of the Colombo crime family that sought to take control from the Persicos. By murdering Scopo, Guerra and his co-conspirators won the “Colombo family war” -- one of the most violent feuds in mafia history -- for the Persico faction.
“Years ago, the defendant Guerra chose a life of crime, with murder as his criminal stock in trade. Organized crime has always been about money rather than honor, and recent years saw Guerra move into the equally deadly business of illegal trafficking in prescription drugs,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “This sentence is a harsh warning to anyone considering introducing these addictive, deadly drugs into our community. This sentence also sends an important message to members and associates of organized crime. We will never stop investigating and prosecuting the murders and other violent crimes they commit, no matter how long ago they occurred, and we will hold those who commit such crimes accountable, regardless of how long they have avoided justice.” Ms. Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the FBI and the New York City Police Department for their assistance.
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Venizelos stated, “The illegal traffic in prescription drugs poses as grave a danger to society as trafficking in illicit drugs. Today’s sentence reflects the seriousness of the offense. The sentence also closes a chapter in the bloody Colombo war from 20 years ago. Responsibility for two murders has been laid at the feet of this defendant. There is no statute of limitations on the resolve of the FBI to see justice done.”
The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Nicole M. Argentieri and Allon Lifshitz.