News and Press Releases

Colombo Organized Crime Family Acting Boss, Underboss, and Ten Other Members and Associates Indicted

June 04, 2008

Charges Include Racketeering Conspiracy, Robbery, Extortion, Narcotics Trafficking, and Loansharking

BROOKLYN, NY – A seventeen-count superseding indictment charging twelve defendants – including Thomas Gioeli, the acting boss of the Colombo organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (the “Colombo family”), John “Sonny” Franzese, the Colombo family underboss, and ten additional Colombo family members and associates – was unsealed this morning in federal court in Brooklyn.1 The indictment charges racketeering conspiracy, robbery, extortion, narcotics trafficking, and loansharking. The charged racketeering predicate acts include, among others, four acts of murder, murder conspiracy, and felony murder.

The defendants arrested in New York today are scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak at the U.S. Courthouse, 271 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, NY.2 The case has been assigned to United States District Judge Nina Gershon.

The charges were announced by Benton J. Campbell, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Kathleen M. Rice, Nassau County District Attorney, and Mark J. Mershon, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Division.

According to the indictment and a detention memorandum filed by the government today, the charges are the product of a three-year investigation into the illegal activities of the Colombo family. The broad scope of the investigation includes historical acts of murder by the Colombo family as well as more recent criminal activity. The evidence relating to many of the charged crimes consists of hundreds of hours of recorded conversations secured by multiple cooperating witnesses who infiltrated the Colombo family.

The indictment and detention memorandum document the Colombo family’s brazen use of violence – including murder – to earn money, seek revenge, and obstruct justice, including:

The Felony Murder of Carlos Pagan. Colombo family captain Dino Calabro is charged with the January 9, 1992, armed robbery and felony murder of Carlos Pagan. Pagan, an armored truck guard, was shot and killed during a botched effort by Calabro and others to rob Pagan as he and a co-worker were delivering money to a check-cashing store in Brooklyn.

The Murders of John Minerva and Michael Imbergamo. Colombo family acting boss Thomas Gioeli and captain Dino Calabro are charged with the March 25, 1992, double murder of Colombo family soldier John Minerva and Minerva’s friend, Michael Imbergamo. Minerva was murdered as part of the bloody Colombo family war, which pitted two factions of the Colombo family against each other in a violent struggle for control of the family. Imbergamo was not a target of the murder, but was killed because he was with Minerva at the time of the attack.3

The Murder of Frank Marasa. Acting Colombo family boss Thomas Gioeli, captain Dino Calabro, and soldier Joseph “Joey Caves” Competiello are charged with the 1991 murder of Frank Marasa. On June 12, 1991, Marasa was shot multiple times outside his home in Brooklyn in retaliation for his perceived involvement in the murder of a Colombo family associate.

“The charges announced today are part of our Office’s relentless campaign to prosecute and convict the highest echelons of the Colombo family, and La Cosa Nostra as a whole, including the late 2007 conviction after trial of former Colombo acting boss Alphonse Persico, Jr., and former Colombo acting underboss John DeRoss, on murder and witness tampering charges,” stated United States Attorney Campbell. “The message could not be any clearer – we will not rest until the violent scourge of organized crime is eliminated.” Mr. Campbell thanked the Nassau County Police Department, the New York City Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Department of Labor for their cooperation and assistance in the investigation.

“We will continue to root out organized crime and sever its tentacles on Long Island,” said Nassau County District Attorney Rice. “We need multi-jurisdictional effort when it comes to taking on the hierarchy of these operations. These characters live and work in New York City and on Long Island so we have to be willing to cross borders to bring them to justice.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Mershon stated, “Our most powerful strategy in countering organized crime families is to effect a vertical takedown of the organization. The very serious charges announced today hold accountable the leadership, mid-management, soldiers, and associates who constitute a key component of the Colombo family.”

If convicted, defendants Thomas Gioeli, Dino Calabro, Joseph “Joey Caves” Competiello, Orlando Spado, and Christopher Curanovic face life imprisonment. Defendant Michael Catapano faces 40 years’ imprisonment, and defendants John “Sonny” Franzese, Frank Campione, Joseph DiGorga, Angelo Giangrande, and John Capolino face 20 years’ imprisonment. Defendant Nicholas Bova faces five years’ imprisonment.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Elizabeth Geddes and James Gatta, and by Special Assistant United States Attorney Doug Leff.

The Defendants:

Age: 55

Age: 89

Age: 41

Age: 42

Age: 65

Age: 36

Age: 67

Age: 63

Age: 55

Age: 39

Age: 31

Age: 26




1 The original underlying indictment charged Colombo family associate Christopher Curanovic with robbery and firearms possession. The charges in the original indictment and the superseding indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

2 Colombo family underboss John "Sonny" Franzese is currently incarcerated based on a violation of supervised release following his prior conviction in the Eastern District of New York. Colombo family associate Nicholas Bova is currently incarcerated based on a New York State conviction, and Colombo family associate Christopher Curanovic is currently incarcerated pending trial on the underlying indictment in the Eastern District of New York.

3 Colombo captains Joseph "JoJo" Russo and Anthony "Chucky" Russo and soldier Joseph Monteleone were previously convicted in the Eastern District of New York for their participation in this double murder.

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