New York family charged with 'old-school mob activity'

Wednesday 10 July 2013 16.57
New York prosecutors say organised crime is still operating in the city
New York prosecutors say organised crime is still operating in the city

Nine reputed members of an organised crime family in New York have been charged with "old-school mob activity", including loan sharking, extortion and drugs.

The Bonannos are one of New York City's five Italian organised crime families.

All have been weakened in the past several years by prosecutions aided by former associates willing to give up mob secrets in exchange for leniency.

"The 158-page indictment demonstrates that organised crime is still operating in New York City.

"It has its hooks into the labour movement," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R Vance Jr said.

Mr Vance said that prosecutors have done such a good job taking down the mob in the past that it may seem like they are no longer a threat.

"Many mistakenly believe that the mob has disappeared entirely except if you watch HBO," he said, referring to The Sopranos. "But we know in fact this is not the case."

Prosecutors said the defendants were accused of using their trade union positions to solicit members as clients for their criminal enterprises, including online gambling and drugs.

They were also accused of gun possession.

Seven of the suspects pleaded not guilty and their lawyers said they were innocent of the charges and would make bail.

Former Bonanno boss Joseph Massino became the highest-ranking member of the city's Italian organised crime families to ever take the witness stand for the government.

He betrayed his one-time associate Vincent Basciano, who was sentenced to two life terms.

Mr Massino broke his family's sacred vow of silence and began talking with investigators after his 2004 conviction for orchestrating a quarter-century's worth of murder, racketeering and other crimes as he rose through the ranks of the Bonannos.

The bloodshed included the shotgun killings of three rival captains and the execution of a mobster who vouched for FBI undercover agent Donnie Brasco in the 1980s.