FIVE GAMBINO CRIME FAMILY MEMBERS AND ASSOCIATES PLEAD GUILTY IN MANHATTAN FEDERAL COURT
Gambino Associate Pleads Guilty to Murder Conspiracy Charge Related to 2002 Killing
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that VINCENZO FROGIERO, TODD LABARCA, JOHN BRANCACCIO, CHRISTOPHER REYNOLDS, and SEAN DUNN – all of whom are either members or associates of the Gambino Organized Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra – pled guilty to crimes including racketeering, narcotics trafficking, assault, and extortion. LABARCA also pled guilty to conspiring to commit the January 2002 murder of Martin Bosshart, which was part of a turf war over control of a Gambino Family marijuana trafficking operation. These five defendants were charged along with 17 others in the Southern District of New York in January 2011 in U.S. v. Joseph Corozzo, et al. as part of a nationwide takedown of members and associates of organized crime. FROGIERO, LABARCA, BRANCACCIO, and REYNOLDS pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman. DUNN pled guilty on Monday before Judge Berman.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “For more than a decade, the vicious murder of Martin Bosshart in a mafia turf battle went unsolved. With today’s guilty plea of Todd LaBarca, one of the responsible parties will be held to account. The laundry list of illegal conduct to which LaBarca and these four other defendants pled serves as a reminder of the scourge that is organized crime and that our efforts to root it out will continue unabated.”
According to the Indictment, the Informations, and other documents filed in the case, as well as statements made during the plea proceedings:
FROGERIO was a soldier and LABARCA was an associate in a crew run by Gambino Family Captain Louis Mastrangelo. Soldiers are members who have been formally initiated or “made,” and associates are non-initiated individuals who commit crimes with and for the Gambino Family. BRANCACCIO, REYNOLDS and DUNN were associates in a crew run by Gambino Family Captain Alphonse Trucchio.
In addition to LABARCA’s murder conspiracy plea, the five defendants pled guilty to racketeering charges. Various defendants also pled guilty to narcotics trafficking, assault, extortion, and other crimes.
Murder of Martin Bosshart
From the late 1990s through 2002, LABARCA, and other Gambino Family members and associates, including Michael Roccaforte, imported hundreds of kilograms of high-potency marijuana from Canada into the New York City area. The marijuana trafficking operation yielded millions of dollars in profits for the Gambino Family. In 2001, Martin Bosshart, who was involved in narcotics trafficking and other crimes with various members of Trucchio’s crew, began making efforts to exclude Michael Roccaforte from the marijuana importation operation. In an effort to prevent Bosshart from taking over for Michael Roccaforte and from moving in on the marijuana importation business, LABARCA plotted with other Gambino Family members and associates to murder Bosshart. On the night of January 2, 2002, LABARCA and others lured Bosshart to an isolated location in Queens, New York. There, another Gambino Family associate shot Bosshart in the back of the head at point-blank range, killing him. Bosshart’s body was recovered at the scene, and LABARCA’s guilty plea in this case is the first conviction of any individual in connection with Bosshart’s murder.
Narcotics Trafficking and Firearms Offenses
LABARCA, BRANCACCIO, REYNOLDS, and DUNN pled guilty to narcotics trafficking offenses. From the late 1980s through 2010, Trucchio and others oversaw the Gambino Family’s large-scale narcotics distribution operations, which were primarily located in Queens, New York. Numerous drug suppliers, wholesalers, and street dealers operated under the authority and protection of the Gambino Family in exchange for paying the Family a portion of their profits. Over the years, the named defendants and others distributed hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and marijuana, and thousands of ecstasy and vicodin pills, all of which generated millions of dollars in illegal proceeds for the Gambino Family. During a search of BRANCACCIO’s home, federal agents seized quantities of cocaine and marijuana, as well as a shotgun, a handgun, a bullet-proof vest, and a machete.
Extortions and Assaults
LABARCA, BRANCACCIO, and REYNOLDS pled guilty for their roles in extorting payments from various businesses’ owners and individuals based in New York City through the use of violence and threats. In one instance, LABARCA, BRANCACCIO, and others threatened a small business owner with guns and threats of death in an effort to extort tens of thousands of dollars. LABARCA and REYNOLDS also pled guilty to committing assaults for the Gambino Family.
FROGIERO, LABARCA, BRANCACCIO, and REYNOLDS pled guilty to various gambling offenses, including running Internet-based sports betting, or “bookmaking,” operations, various regular, high-stakes card games, and operating video poker machines.
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The maximum penalties that each defendant faces are outlined in a chart attached to this release.
Fourteen defendants previously pled guilty in connection with the case: Gambino Family Captains Trucchio and Mastrangelo; Gambino Family Soldiers Michael Roccaforte and Anthony Moscatiello; and Gambino Family Associates Christopher Colon, Salvatore Tortorici, Frank Bellantoni, Michael Kuhtenia, Salvatore Accardi, Keith Croce, Frank Roccaforte, Michael Russo, Robert Napolitano, and Anthino Russo.
Charges are pending against the remaining three defendants charged in the Indictment: Gambino Family Consigliere Joseph Corozzo, Gambino Family Ruling Panel member Bartolomeo Vernace, and Gambino Family associate Robert Bucholz. These defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Five defendants who were associates of the Gambino Crime Family and charged as part of last year’s takedown in a separate Indictment, U.S. v. John Cipolla, et al., have also pled guilty.
Mr. Bharara praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service. Mr. Bharara also noted that the investigation is continuing.
The case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elie Honig, Daniel Chung, and Natalie Lamarque are in charge of the prosecution.