Two Organized Crime Members Sentenced To 180 Months And 168 Months, Respectively, For Conspiring To Distribute Cocaine
Earlier today, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, Joseph Sclafani and Neil Lombardo, members of the Gambino organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra, were sentenced to terms of imprisonment of 180 months and 168 months, respectively, following their April 2013 guilty pleas to conspiracy to distribute cocaine in Brooklyn and Staten Island. The sentences were imposed by United States District Court Judge John Gleeson, who also ordered that both defendants serve three years of supervised release upon their release from prison, and forfeit $500,000 in narcotics proceeds.
The sentences were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Brian R. Crowell, Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
“Years ago these defendants chose a life of violence and crime, pledging their loyalty to the Gambino crime family. Today’s case shows them still clinging to that choice, despite previous arrests and incarcerations. Once out of prison, both men continued their criminal connections and activities, working to bring cocaine across the country into the streets and neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Staten Island,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “Today’s sentencings send an important message to both organized crime and drug trafficking enterprises. Both remain high priorities for the Department and this Office, and we will pursue them with all available resources and law enforcement methods -- particularly in the case of violent recidivists like the defendants in this case.” Ms. Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the DEA, the agency responsible for leading the government’s investigation.
Between 2008 and August 2011, Lombardo and Sclafani conspired to distribute multi-kilogram amounts of cocaine in Brooklyn and Staten Island. Lombardo, who lived in Las Vegas, Nevada, obtained the cocaine from his sources in Mexico and then arranged for it to be transported to Brooklyn. Once the cocaine was in Brooklyn, Lombardo delivered it to Sclafani, who distributed to cocaine dealers throughout Brooklyn and Staten Island. According to government filings, in May 2009, Sclafani was stopped in Kansas en route to Las Vegas in possession of more than $100,000 that he intended to use to pay Lombardo for cocaine, and in April 2011, DEA agents at John F. Kennedy International Airport seized $155,000 in cash that Lombardo possessed as he waited to board a flight back to Las Vegas. In addition, Lombardo and Sclafani were recorded by a cooperating witness explicitly discussing their cocaine business and arranging multi-kilogram transactions. Lombardo and Sclafani agreed as part of their plea agreements with the government that they were responsible for conspiring to distribute between 15 and 50 kilograms of cocaine.
Both Lombardo and Sclafani have storied criminal histories. In addition to a prior felony narcotics trafficking conviction, in 1999, Lombardo was convicted of attempted murder in New Jersey State court and witness tampering in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York after he shot the brother of an individual who he believed was cooperating with law enforcement against him. He was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment. In addition to felony racketeering and narcotics trafficking convictions, in 1990, Sclafani was convicted of criminal possession of a weapon and harboring the fugitive Gus Farace, who was wanted by authorities for the February 1989 murder of DEA Special Agent Everett Hatcher on Staten Island. Specifically, in November 1989, in an effort to protect Farace, Sclafani returned fired at assailants who shot at and killed Farace. Sclafani was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment.
Both Lombardo and Sclafani are inducted members -- “made men” -- in the Gambino crime family, a sign of their lifelong commitment to organized crime and the crime family’s recognition of their capacity for committing violent and lucrative crimes.
Eight other members of the conspiracy that Lombardo and Sclafani headed up have pled guilty to cocaine conspiracy charges, including Staten Island resident Afrim Kupa and his brother Lulzim Kupa. On August 9, 2013, Lulzim Kupa, who has prior convictions for narcotics trafficking, racketeering, bank larceny, and bank fraud, was sentenced to 132 months’ imprisonment for his role in the conspiracy. Afrim Kupa, who also has prior convictions for narcotics trafficking, racketeering, bank larceny and bank fraud, is awaiting sentencing.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Allon Lifshitz and Robert T. Polemeni.
JOSEPH SCLAFANI, also known as “Joe Boy”