STAMFORD MAN SENTENCED TO FIVE YEARS IN FEDERAL
PRISON FOR EXTORTION, ILLEGAL AMMUNITION POSSESSION
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that NICOLA MELIA, also known as “Nick,” 79, of Stamford, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Janet Bond Arterton in New Haven to 60 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for collecting an extension of credit by extortionate means, illegally possessing ammunition, and violating his supervised release from a 2005 federal racketeering conviction. Judge Arterton also ordered MELIA to pay a fine in the amount of $50,000, and to forfeit $253,800.
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 to fund the individual’s business.
Based on the full investigation, law enforcement investigators have determined that from May 2000 to March 2010, the individual paid MELIA approximately $398,800 in interest, with approximately $250,000 of the interest being paid on the original $10,000 loan.
In late 2009 or early 2010, the individual helped to plan a robbery of 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 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: “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. 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.
On September 19, 2011, MELIA pleaded guilty to one count of collecting an extension of credit by extortionate means, and one count of possession of ammunition by a previously convicted felon.
This is MELIA’s third federal conviction in the last 11 years. In 2000, he was convicted of tax fraud and was sentenced to four months of imprisonment in a halfway house and one year of supervised release. In 2005, MELIA was convicted of racketeering and sentenced by Judge Arterton to 33 months of incarceration, a $50,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.
MELIA engaged in the most recent illegal activity while on supervised release from the 2005 conviction.
As part of his sentence, MELIA has forfeited to the government $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 has pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of interference with commerce by robbery for helping to arrange the robbery 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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