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Press Release

Two Associates of La Cosa Nostra Sentenced to Prison For Extortion-Related Charges

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Two associates of the Genovese La Cosa Nostra (LCN) crime family were sentenced today in federal court in Worcester, Massachusetts on extortion-related charges.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling for the District of Massachusetts, Special Agent in Charge Harold H. Shaw of the FBI Boston Field Division, Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni and Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, made the announcement. 

Ralph Santaniello, 50, and Giovanni Calabrese, 54, both of Longmeadow, Massachusetts, were sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman to serve 60 months in prison and 36 months in prison, respectively. Following their prison sentences, they were both ordered to serve two years of supervised release. In November 2017, Santaniello and Calabrese each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by threats or violence; one count of interference with commerce by threats or violence – aiding and abetting; one count of conspiracy to use extortionate means to collect extensions of credit; and one count of using extortionate means to collect extensions of credit – aiding and abetting. Santaniello and Calabrese were arrested and charged in August 2016 along with three other associates, Gerald Daniele, 52, of Longmeadow; Francesco Depergola, 62, of Springfield, Massachusetts; and Richard Valentini, 51, of East Longmeadow, Massachusetts.

According to plea documents and evidence presented in court, Santaniello, Calabrese, and their co-defendants, were associates of the New York-based Genovese LCN crime family and engaged in various criminal activities in Springfield, Massachusetts, including loansharking and extortion from legitimate and illegitimate businesses, such as illegal gambling businesses and the collection of unlawful debts. The defendants used violence, exploited their relationship with LCN, and implied threats of murder and physical violence to instill fear in their victims.

In 2013, Santaniello, Calabrese, Depergola and Valentini attempted to extort money from a Springfield businessman. Santaniello assaulted the businessman, and Santaniello and Calabrese threatened to cut off the man’s head and bury his body if he did not comply. Over a period of two months, the businessman paid $20,000 to Santaniello, Calabrese, Depergola and Valentini to protect himself and his business.

In addition, during a six-month period in 2015, Daniele extended two extortionate and usurious loans to an individual, and then, along with Santaniello and Calabrese, threatened the individual if he did not make payments on the loans.

In March 2018, Daniele was sentenced to two years in prison. In December 2017, Depergola pleaded guilty and Valentini was convicted by a federal jury; they are both scheduled to be sentenced on May 11.

Trial Attorney Marianne Shelvey of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin O’Regan, Chief of Lelling’s Springfield Branch Office and Assistant U.S. Attorney Katharine Wagner of Lelling’s Springfield Branch Office are prosecuting the cases.

Updated April 10, 2018

Press Release Number: 18 - 434