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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, July 19, 2019

Bonanno Crime Family Captain Sentenced To Over 7 Years In Prison

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that JOSEPH SABELLA, a/k/a “Joe Valet,” was sentenced to 87 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein for his role as a captain in the Bonanno Organized Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman stated:  “As he admitted in open court, Joseph Sabella was an active member of the Bonanno Crime Family who engaged in numerous racketeering acts.  He will now spend years in prison for his crimes.  Together with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to aggressively prosecute members of La Cosa Nostra who intimidate, threaten, and harm members of our community.”

According to the Indictment, documents filed in this case and statements made in related court proceedings:

La Cosa Nostra (“LCN”), also known as the “Mob” or the “Mafia,” operates through entities known as “Families.”  In the New York City area, there are five LCN Families, namely, the Bonanno Family, the Genovese Family, the Luchese Family, the Colombo Family, and the Gambino Family.  Members and associates of one La Cosa Nostra family at times work together with other La Cosa Nostra families in jointly undertaken criminal ventures.

The Bonanno Family, like other LCN Families, operates through a group of individuals known as “crews,” each of which is led by a “capo” or “captain.”  The crews are composed of “made” members, called “soldiers,” and trusted non-members called “associates.”  Above the capos are the highest-ranking members – the boss or acting boss, the underboss, and the consigliere, or counselor – who oversee the Family.

Between 2012 and January 2018, SABELLA acted as soldier and then captain in the Bonanno Family.  As a member of the Bonanno Family, SABELLA engaged in numerous racketeering acts, including extortion, fraud, and physical assaults.  In particular, SABELLA participated in the long-term extortion of a New York-based demolition company (“Company-1”) that netted the Bonanno Family thousands of dollars a year for nearly three decades.  SABELLA also participated in the physical assault of the owner of a strip club (“Victim-1”) and the subsequent extortion of Victim-1 out of his legitimate and illegitimate business interests.

SABELLA, 54, of Monroe, New Jersey, previously pled guilty on February 12, 2019, to conspiracy to commit racketeering.  As part of his guilty plea, SABELLA admitted to his involvement in the extortion of Company-1, the extortion of Victim-1, a large-scale, multi-year fraud at a construction site on Staten Island, and the physical assaults on Victim-1 and one of Sabella’s former business partners, all as part of his participation in the Bonanno Family.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the Department of Homeland Security – Homeland Security Investigations, the Department of Labor, the Diplomatic Security Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York City Police Department, and the Special Agents of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

This prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Jason M. Swergold, Gina Castellano, and Jacob R. Fiddelman are in charge of the prosecution.

Press Release Number: 
19-222
Updated July 19, 2019