In the early 1900’s, five Italian families dominated the New York crime scene. These Sicilian Mafia gangs started in the heart of New York City. After a series of hearings, the names of the Five Families became public knowledge. They were the Massino, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, and Lucchese families.
New York Crime and the Five Families
The violence and illegal activities were notorious. So much so that the Films like the Godfather centered around the Five Families. The gruesome depictions of people getting “whacked” was not far off from the truth. This was a violent group of individuals who profited off of money laundering, gambling, prostitution, pornography and just about every illegal activity imaginable. There were several big busts over the years and many people went to prison. However, neither the police nor the FBI was ever able to dismantle the Five Families completely.
Many people mistakenly assume that the Mafia has all but died. This is probably because we don’t hear many news reports of frequent bloodbaths carried out by their goons. Things may have calmed down since the 20’s, but the Mafia is alive and well and still profiting from illegal activity. They may not be in the limelight anymore, but they are still at the center of New York Crime.
Mafia Racketeering Conspiracy in 2016
In August of 2016, a news report gave the details of a large racketeering conspiracy carried out by the Mafia. Nearly 50 members of the Mafia, all members of the Genovese, Gambino, Lucchese and Bonanno families, were arrested and charged with racketeering. Racketeering is a broad term meaning “fraudulent business dealings”. This group, however, ran a large scale operation from Massachusetts to Florida. They were involved in some serious criminal activities that included arson, selling firearms, illegal gambling, and even credit card fraud. Most of the charges originated in New York.
The recent bust involved the FBI, local law enforcement, and even undercover agents! The mass arrests proved that even though the Mafia is out of the public eye, they are still a major player when it comes to New York crime.
Merlino is the big name in the case. He is considered to be the “supervisor” of the operation. His father was an underboss, and Merlino rose to power within the Mafia during the 1990’s. Merlino was charged with racketeering and murder back in 2001 but somehow was never convicted.
The Mafia Back in Court
Prosecutors had the work cut out for them. The Mafia is not new to this. The carried out their operations by meeting in private places and speaking in code to make plans. Prosecutors had to decipher the code to use wiretapping recordings as evidence.
The Five Families haven’t always got along or “played nice.” While they were not known to “snitch” or “rat” out someone, even from another family, they certainly wouldn’t step in to help the competition. These days, it is common for them to cooperate. This also makes it difficult for the prosecution.
Although the prosecution has its work cut out for them so does the defense. Despite the Mafia’s best efforts to conceal their efforts, law enforcement was able to collect lots of evidence. The operation happened over a period of several years. It’s one of those situations where they don’t want to strike too early. They wanted to be sure they had enough evidence to put as many people behind bars as possible.
In a case like this, the best hope for defense is to find an example where evidence was collected illegally, or the rights of the suspects were violated in some way. This can result in the court dismissing the evidence.
The defense was certainly hoping their clients would remain calm, silent, and take some sort of plea bargain. It turns out that not much has changed when it comes to the Mafia’s approach to court. Law enforcement found evidence that the suspects used intimidation and death threats against potential witnesses if they talked. This certainly didn’t help their case. Parello allegedly threatened to choke a witness.
Don’t Be Like The Mafia
Remember, just because members of the Mafia don’t wear suits and hats like they did in the 30’s, doesn’t mean they aren’t there. They are still a big part of New York Crime. If you find yourself in legal problems and possibly facing charges, play it cool and listen to the counsel of your defense attorney. Do not follow the example of the Mafia and threaten the families of potential witnesses. If you are innocent, a good lawyer will help you retain your freedom. If you really did do what they say you did, a good lawyer will help you get the minimum sentence.