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Press Release

Colombo Crime Family Captain Sentenced to 51 Months for Long-Running Labor Union Extortion and Other Schemes

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York
Vincent Ricciardo is the Tenth Defendant Sentenced for Extorting and Attempting to Siphon Funds from a Queens-Based Labor Union

Earlier today, Vincent Ricciardo, also known as “Vinny Unions,” was sentenced to 51 months in prison, $350,000 in forfeiture and $280,890 in restitution by United States District Judge Hector Gonzalez at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, for his participation in the long-running extortion of a senior official of a Queens-based labor union (the “Labor Union”) and other criminal schemes he carried out as a captain in the Colombo crime family of La Cosa Nostra.  Ricciardo pled guilty to racketeering in July 2023, and admitted to his participation in the extortion of the Labor Union and various conspiracies to commit money laundering, loansharking and fraud in connection with workplace safety certificates.

Vincent Ricciardo is the tenth defendant sentenced in the case for conduct in connection with the scheme to infiltrate and divert funds from the Labor Union and other schemes.  Four defendants still await sentencing.

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and James Smith, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI) announced the sentence.

“This prosecution represents our continued commitment to combatting organized crime and prosecuting the individuals who seek to enrich themselves at the expense of hardworking union members and their employers,” stated United States Attorney Peace.  “Today’s sentence holds Vincent Ricciardo accountable for his long-running extortion scheme, as well as for his yearslong participation in the wide range of crimes committed by the Colombo crime family.”

Mr. Peace expressed his appreciation to the New York City Police Department, the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, the Nassau County Police Department, the New York City Department of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Gang Section for their valuable assistance in the investigation.

As set forth in court filings and facts presented during the sentencing proceedings, Vincent Ricciardo and his co-conspirators committed a variety of crimes – including extortion, loansharking, fraud and drug-trafficking – to enrich themselves and to promote the continued operation of the Colombo crime family.  The Colombo crime family’s administration, including then-boss Andrew Russo (who passed away during the pendency of the case), underboss Benjamin “Benji” Castellazzo and consigliere Ralph DiMatteo, as well as captains Theodore Persico, Jr. and Richard Ferrara, and solider Michael Uvino, agreed to use extortionate means, including threats of bodily harm, to force the senior union official to give over a portion of his salary and ultimately to make decisions that would financially benefit the Colombo crime family’s administration.  This included pressure from the defendants to force the trustees of the Labor Union’s associated healthcare benefit fund (the “Health Fund”) to select vendors who were associated with the Colombo crime family and handpicked by some of the defendants.  Among other goals, the crime family’s administration sought to divert more than $10,000 per month from the Health Fund’s assets to themselves. 

In one consensually recorded conversation, Vincent Ricciardo threatened to kill the senior union official, stating that the senior union official would continue to obey him because he knew Ricciardo would “put him in the ground right in front of his wife and kids, right in front of his fucking house, you laugh all you want pal, I’m not afraid to go to jail, let me tell you something, to prove a point? I would f*****g shoot him right in front of his wife and kids, call the police, f**k it, let me go, how long you think I’m gonna last anyway?”

In addition, Ricciardo and fellow Colombo crime family members Castellazzo, DiMatteo, Persico, Ferrara and Uvino joined with others — co-defendants Albert Alimena, Erin Thompkins and Joseph Bellantoni — who assisted other labor unions and health funds to devise a scheme to launder money from Health Fund contracts and vendor payments.  These defendants attempted to re-bid Health Fund vendor contracts for claims administration, pharmaceuticals and other health services to persons and companies affiliated with Bellantoni, and to select a company run by Alimena as the Health Fund’s third-party administrator.

Vincent Ricciardo also worked with Bonanno crime family solider John Ragano, who was also known as “Bazoo” and the “Maniac,” in a scheme to issue fraudulent workplace safety training certifications from two occupational safety schools Ragano purported to operate in Long Island.   Rather than provide workplace safety trainings required to obtain Occupational Safety and Health Administration certification, Ragano, along with John Glover and Domenick Ricciardo, falsified paperwork submitted to the U.S. Department of Labor and other government agencies which represented that hundreds of workers had completed construction safety training courses when they had not.  Vincent Ricciardo plotted to funnel various Union workers to Ragano’s schools for fraudulent certifications and used the facilities to conduct meetings involving members of La Cosa Nostra.

Nine defendants were previously sentenced.  Persico, Jr., who the government alleged was slated to be the family’s next crime boss, pled guilty to racketeering and was sentenced to 60 months’ imprisonment and restitution in the amount of $280,890.  Underboss Castellazzo pled guilty to money laundering conspiracy and was sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment.  Consigliere DiMatteo pled guilty to racketeering and was sentenced to 36 months’ imprisonment and restitution in the amount of $280,890.  Solider Michael Uvino pled guilty to racketeering and was sentenced to 41 months’ imprisonment, forfeiture of $66,000 and restitution in the amount of $280,890.  Associate Domenick Ricciardo pled guilty to racketeering and was sentenced to 28 months’ imprisonment, forfeiture of $25,000 and restitution in the amount of $280,890.  Alimena and Bellantoni pled guilty to health care fraud conspiracy and received two years’ probation and fines of $20,000 each.  Ragano was sentenced to 57 months’ custody, as well as forfeiture of $500,000.  Four defendants await sentencing, including Colombo crime family captain Richard Ferrara and associate Thomas Costa.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Devon Lash, Michael W. Gibaldi and Andrew Reich are in charge of the prosecution.

The Defendant:

VINCENT RICCIARDO (also known as “Vinny Unions”)
Age: 77
Franklin Square, New York

Other Defendants:

Age: 69
Pompano Beach, Florida

Age: 41
Massapequa, New York

BENJAMIN CASTELLAZZO (also known as “Benji”)
Age: 85
Manahawkin, New Jersey

Age: 54
West Islip, New York

Age: 68
Merrick, New York

Age: 61
Brooklyn, New York

Age: 64
Queens, New York

Age: 45
Medford, New York

THEODORE PERSICO, JR. (also known as “Teddy”)
Age: 59
Brooklyn, New York

JOHN RAGANO (also known as “Bazoo” and the “Maniac”)
Age: 61
Franklin Square, New York

Age: 57
Franklin Square, New York

Age: 55
Franklin Square, New York

Age: 57
Garden City, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 21-CR-466 (S-1) (HG)


John Marzulli
Danielle Blustein Hass
U.S. Attorney's Office
(718) 254-6323

Updated February 28, 2024

Financial Fraud
Labor & Employment