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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 2, 2018

Member Of The Genovese Family Of La Cosa Nostra Charged In 1997 Murder-For-Hire Of Richard Ortiz

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Charles Gardner, the Commissioner of the City of Yonkers Police Department (“YPD”), announced the arrest of JOHN TORTORA JR., a/k/a “Johnny T,” on charges of racketeering conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering, and murder for hire.  The murder charges arise out of TORTORA’s role in the November 11, 1997, murder of Richard Ortiz, 29, in Yonkers.  TORTORA was arrested this morning in Yonkers by FBI agents and Yonkers PD detectives.  TORTORA will be presented later today before the U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein at the United States Courthouse in Manhattan.  The case has been assigned to United States District Judge Sidney H. Stein.  An initial pretrial conference is scheduled for August 14, 2018, at 3:00 p.m., before Judge Stein.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said:  “As alleged in the indictment, the defendant was responsible for the stabbing death of Richard Ortiz over 20 years ago.  Today, thanks to the remarkable dedication and perseverance of the FBI and the Yonkers Police Department, the defendant faces charges for his crimes.”

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “The arrest of John Tortora should remind everyone that justice delayed is not justice denied.  Whether a crime was allegedly committed decades ago or just days ago, the FBI will maintain the same tenacity and we will be relentless toward ensuring those who commit violent crimes be held accountable for their actions.  The FBI New York Office never does these investigations alone, and we want to thank the Yonkers Police Department for their help in successfully solving a case from more than 20 years ago.”

Yonkers Police Commissioner Charles Gardner said:  “This arrest for the 1997 murder of Mr. Ortiz demonstrates the resolve and commitment of law enforcement to hold those accountable for their actions and serves as a warning to all members of La Cosa Nostra engaging in violent criminal activity in our communities.  We will continue to work with our federal partners to aggressively target alleged criminals and criminal enterprises operating in our City. 

I would like to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the FBI for their invaluable support and efforts in this investigation.”

According to the allegations contained in the Indictment[1] and statements made in court:

From in or about 1997 up to and including in or about 2018, TORTORA, an associate and later a member of the Genovese Crime Family, along with other members and associates of La Cosa Nostra, committed a wide range of crimes, including murder, extortion, gambling, and narcotics trafficking.  In particular, TORTORA hired others to kill Richard Ortiz in order to further the goals of the Genovese Family.  As a result, on November 11, 1997, Ortiz was brutally stabbed multiple times, causing his death.

*                      *                      *

TORTORA, 61, of Yonkers, New York, is charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering, murder in aid of racketeering, and murder for hire.  A chart showing the charges and maximum penalties for each count of the Indictment is below. The statutory maximum penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

COUNT

CHARGE

MAXIMUM PENALTY

1

Conspiracy to commit racketeering

Life in prison

2

Murder in aid of racketeering

Mandatory life in prison or the death penalty

3

Murder for hire

Mandatory life in prison or the death penalty

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI, the Yonkers Police Department, and the Special Agents of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jessica Lonergan, Jessica Fender, and Lauren Schorr are in charge of the prosecution.  The case is being handled by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit.

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

 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the description of the Indictment set forth below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Topic(s): 
Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 
18-265
Updated August 2, 2018