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Press Release

Captain Of Genovese Crime Family And Associate Charged In Manhattan Federal Court With Racketeering

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, George Venizelos, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), James J. Hunt, the Acting Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Agency, James T. Hayes, Jr., the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (“ICE”) Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), Thomas Zugibe, the District Attorney of Rockland County, Joseph A. D'Amico, Superintendent of the New York State Police, and William J. Bratton, the Commissioner of the Police Department for the City of New York (“NYPD”) announced today the unsealing of an Indictment charging DANIEL PAGANO, an alleged Captain of the Genovese Organized Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra (the “Genovese Crime Family”), and MICHAEL PALAZZOLO, an associate of the Genovese Crime Family, with participating in a racketeering conspiracy by, among other crimes, committing extortion and loan sharking and operating an illegal gambling business. PAGANO was taken into custody today, and PALAZZOLO surrendered today. Both defendants were presented and arraigned in Manhattan federal court this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn. U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams has been assigned to the case.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Just as they have for decades, members of La Cosa Nostra – as alleged in this Indictment – continue to use muscle and intimidation to threaten and extort New Yorkers. Today’s arrests of a Captain and associate of the Genovese Crime Family should serve as a reminder to all members and associates of La Cosa Nostra that you do not operate with impunity. You may bully your way into financial gain but ultimately you will pay the price. I would like to thank all of our law enforcement partners who worked so hard on this case and in particular Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe, without whose support today’s arrests would not have been possible.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos said: “Today’s arrests mark 22 total arrests in this mob scheme. The charges, which we’ve seen time and time again, include racketeering, extortion, loan sharking, and operating illegal gambling businesses. The FBI will continue to work with our local, state, and federal partners to root out any and all organized crime activity—wherever we may find it.”

DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt said: “Today’s collaborative law enforcement effort by DEA, U.S. Attorney Office, Southern District of New York, FBI, ICE HIS, Rockland County District Attorney Office, New York State Police, NYPD Police and our other state and local counterparts is a testament to the fact that we will use all resources at our disposal to target any and all organized crime groups.”

ICE HSI Special Agent-in-Charge James T. Hayes said: “The arrests today illustrate the Department of Homeland Security's clear commitment to identify and fully prosecute organized crime networks operating in our cities. HSI will continue to work jointly with our law enforcement partners to dismantle these organizations from the top down.”

Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said: "While this case was initiated in Rockland County though our Regional Investigative Resource Center, Organized Crime Unit it quickly became apparent that the activity of these individuals impacted the metropolitan area. This is another example of how inter agency cooperation is instrumental to success and an analysis of the facts made it clear that these charges are best suited for Federal prosecution. With the arrests of Mr. Pagano and Mr. Palazzolo, both long time county residents with a long, documented history of organized criminal activity, law enforcement has dealt a significant blow to the Genovese Crime Family."

New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D'Amico said: "The hard work in this long term investigation has paid off with the indictments of Daniel Pagano and Michael Palazzolo. With Pagano, a known street boss, and his associate Palazzolo behind bars, this organization has suffered a huge blow to their operation. The indictments announced today and our partnerships should send a message to others involved in these types of crimes, this illegal activity and threats to others will not be tolerated by law enforcement. We thank our partners in this investigation, and look forward to continuing the fight against organized crime with them."

NYPD Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said: “Organized crime has no place in our communities. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the investigators and prosecutors involved in this case, this illegal enterprise has been shut down and these criminals will be brought to justice.”

According to the allegations in the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

The Genovese Crime Family is part of a nationwide criminal organization known by various names, including the “Mafia” and “La Cosa Nostra” (“LCN”), which operates through entities known as “Families.” The Genovese Crime Family operates through groups of individuals known as “crews” and “regimes,” most of which are based in New York City. Each “crew” has as its leader a person known as a “Caporegime,” “Capo,” “Captain,” or “Skipper,” who is responsible for supervising the criminal activities of his crew and providing “Soldiers” and associates with support and protection. In return, the Capo typically receives a share of the illegal earnings of each of his crew’s Soldiers and associates, which was sometimes referred to as Atribute.@ DANIEL PAGANO is a Caporegime or Captain in the Genovese Crime Family.

Each crew consists of “made” members, sometimes known as “Soldiers,” “wiseguys,” “friends of ours,” and “good fellows.” Soldiers are aided in their criminal endeavors by other trusted individuals, known as “associates,” who sometimes are referred to as “connected” or identified as “with” a Soldier or other member of the Family. Associates participate in the various activities of the crew and its members. In order for an associate to become a made member of the Family, the associate must first be of Italian descent and typically needed to demonstrate the ability to generate income for the Family and/or the willingness to commit acts of violence. MICHAEL PALAZZOLO is an associate of the Genovese Crime Family.

From in or about 2009 through in or about February 2012, PAGANO and PALAZZOLO, along with other members and associates of the Genovese Crime Family, committed a wide array of crimes including extortion, loan sharking, and operating an illegal gambling business. In or about 2012, PALAZZOLO and other co-conspirators, not named as defendants in the Indictment, used threats of force to attempt to collect payment from an individual who they believed robbed one of those co-conspirators of marijuana.

PAGANO, 61, of Rockland County, is charged with participating in a racketeering conspiracy. The charge carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison.

PALAZZOLO 49, of Rockland County, is charged with one count of participating in a racketeering conspiracy and one count of participating in an extortion conspiracy. These charges carry a maximum term of imprisonment of 40 years in prison.

Mr. Bharara thanked the FBI, the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office, the DEA, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Department of Homeland Security Investigations, the New York City Police Department, and the New York State Police.

This investigation was a result of the Department of Justice's Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force Program, and it combined the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in cooperation with local law enforcement. The investigation was conducted by a joint task force of the NYPD and the FBI.

The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Jennifer Burns, Rahul Mukhi, Daniel Goldman, and Emil Bove are in charge of the prosecution.

The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

U.S. v. Daniel Pagano & Michael Palazzolo Indictment

Updated May 18, 2015

Press Release Number: 14-229