STAMFORD MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO FEDERAL
EXTORTION AND ILLEGAL AMMUNITION POSSESSION CHARGES
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that NICOLA MELIA, also known as “Nick,” 79, of Stamford, pleaded guilty today before United States District Judge Janet Bond Arterton in New Haven to one count of collecting an extension of credit by extortionate means, and one count of possession of ammunition by a previously convicted felon. A trial in this matter was scheduled to begin today.
According to court documents and statements made in court, between 2000 and 2011, MELIA made several high-interest “street loans” to an individual in Fairfield County. An original loan of $10,000 was made in May 2000, and MELIA required the individual to make weekly interest payments in the amount of $600 per week. In March 2008, after MELIA loaned the individual an additional $15,000, the interest payments were increased to $1100 per week.
In the spring of 2009, MELIA made approximately $130,000 in additional loans to the individual.
Law enforcement investigators have calculated that from May 2000 to March 2010, the individual paid approximately $308,000 in interest, with the majority of the interest being paid on the original $10,000 loan.
In late 2009 or early 2010, the individual helped to plan a home invasion at MELIA’s residence. On March 2, 2010, two other individuals entered MELIA’s home, bound MELIA, and took money, jewelry and other items from the residence.
In October 2010, the individual who had received the loans and helped to plan the home invasion robbery began to cooperate with law enforcement. Between October 2010 and March 2011, the individual recorded several conversations with MELIA during which MELIA threatened the individual with physical harm if he did not make timely interest payments to MELIA
On January 30, 2011, MELIA met the individual at a beauty salon owned by MELIA and forced the individual to sign a $375,000 promissory note. If the individual had refused to sign the note, MELIA stated that others, who had purportedly backed the loan, would harm the individual, stating “We’re going to have a lot of problems because the Bonanno Family. They are connected to the Bonanno Family. They don’t want to wait,” and “…they use rough muscle. They got a big crew....they go in the house and they kill people.”
MELIA was arrested on a federal criminal complaint on March 23, 2011. During a search of his Stamford residence, law enforcement investigators recovered approximately 40 bullets. Prior to that date, MELIA had been convicted of multiple federal felony offenses, including three federal felony offenses. It is a violation of federal law for a person previously convicted of a felony offense to possess a firearm or ammunition that has moved in interstate or foreign commerce.
Judge Arterton has scheduled sentencing for December 8, 2011, at which time MELIA faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years on the extortion charge and a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years for illegally possessing ammunition.
As part of his plea agreement, MELIA also has agreed to forfeit $253,800 and a 2000 Mercedes SL 600.
MELIA has been detained since his arrest on March 23, 2011.
The individual who received the loans from MELIA previously pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of interference with commerce by robbery for helping to arrange the burglary of MELIA’s home. He awaits sentencing.
This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Fairfield County Organized Crime Task Force, which includes members of the Stamford Police Department. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Hal Chen and Peter Jongbloed.
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