News and Press Releases

Colombo Organized Crime Family Underboss John “Sonny” Franzese Convicted of Racketeering Conspiracy and Loansharking

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 7, 2010

Three Colombo Associates Also Convicted

Following three weeks of trial, a federal jury in Brooklyn today returned a verdict convicting Colombo Organized Crime Family underboss John “Sonny” Franzese and Colombo family associates Joseph DiGorga and Christopher Curanovic of racketeering conspiracy. In addition, Colombo family associate John Capolino was convicted of extortionate collection of credit conspiracy.

The convictions were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and George C. Venizelos, Acting Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office.

Among the predicate acts in the racketeering conspiracy was a 2006 armed robbery conspiracy in which Curanovic impersonated a DEA agent, and the extortion of several restaurants and bars, including the Hustler and Penthouse clubs in New York City. Among other witnesses, the government presented the testimony of John Franzese, Jr., Sonny Franzese’s son, who testified about how the defendant Franzese used his son to pass messages for him to other members of the Colombo Family.

At trial, the government introduced consensual recordings in which Franzese admitted that he was the underboss of the family, and consensual recordings in which DiGorga and Franzese discussed various extortions, including the extortions of the Penthouse and Hustler clubs. In one recording DiGorga stated, regarding the Penthouse club, “[Y]ou can’t look like there’s something gonna happen because then they know you’re shaking ‘em down.” In another recording, the defendant Franzese instructed his son and a Colombo family captain how to collect money from an extortion victim, “[I]f he don’t give it to you leave him on the floor.” The defendant Christopher Curanovic was also captured on consensual recordings admitting, among other things, to his involvement in the armed robbery conspiracy.

“This case is the perfect example of how organized crime makes money for its criminal enterprise,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “This office is committed to prosecuting members and associates of organized crime who prey on business owners and threaten the public safety.” Ms. Lynch praised the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which led the investigation.

FBI Acting Director-in-Charge Venizelos stated, “Today’s verdict serves the interests of justice. The case serves to remind us that the mob is still a criminal enterprise whose objective is making money, and the means to that end is often actual or threatened violence. The case also serves notice that the FBI remains committed to vigorous investigation of all five families.”

When sentenced by United States District Judge Brian M. Cogan, the defendants John “Sonny” Franzese, Joseph DiGorga, and John Capolino face a maximum of 20 years of imprisonment. The defendant Christopher Curanovic faces a maximum of life imprisonment.

The government’s case was tried by Assistant United States Attorneys Cristina Posa and Rachel Nash.

The Defendants:

Name: JOHN “SONNY” FRANZESE
Age: 93

Name: JOSEPH DIGORGA
Age: 70

Name: JOHN CAPOLINO
Age: 42

Name: CHRISTOPHER CURANOVIC
Age: 29



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