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Press Release

Alleged Associates of La Cosa Nostra Charged with Extortion and Loansharking

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts

BOSTON – Five alleged associates of the Genovese La Cosa Nostra (LCN) crime family were arrested today on extortion related charges.

Ralph Santaniello, 49, Giovanni Calabrese, aka John Calabrese, 53, and Gerald Daniele, 51, all of Longmeadow, Mass.; Francesco Depergola, 60, of Springfield, Mass.; and Richard Valentini, 51, of East Longmeadow, Mass., were each charged with federal crimes related to extortion.  Santaniello, Calabrese, Depergola and Valentini were charged with conspiracy and interference with commerce by threats and violence.  Santaniello, Calabrese and Daniele were charged with conspiracy and the use of extortionate means to collect extensions of credit.  Daniele was charged with two counts of making extortionate extensions of credit.

According to the indictment, the defendants were associates of the Genovese LCN crime family in New York and committed various criminal activities in Springfield, including loansharking and extortion from legitimate and illegitimate businesses, including illegal gambling businesses and the collection of unlawful debts.  The defendants allegedly used violence, exploited their relationship with the LCN and implied threats of murder and physical violence to instill fear in their victims.

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

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

The changing statutes each provide for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 and forfeiture.  Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.  Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz of the District of Massachusetts; Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; and Colonel Richard D. McKeon, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police made the announcement today.   The case was investigated by the Massachusetts State Police Detective Unit assigned to District Attorney Gulluni’s office, the Massachusetts State Police Special Services Unit and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Springfield.  Kevin O’Regan, Chief of Ortiz’s Springfield Branch Office and Trial Attorney Marianne Shelvey of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section are prosecuting the case.

The charges and allegations contained in an indictment are merely accusations.  The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated August 4, 2016

Violent Crime