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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information:
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December 18, 2007   

Peter Aseltine
609-292-4791

Office of The Attorney General
- Anne Milgram, Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
- Gregory A. Paw, Director

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Attorney General Milgram Announces Arrests of Two Top Bosses of Lucchese New York Crime Family and Top New Jersey Capo On Gambling, Money Laundering And Racketeering Charges
32 Charged in Investigation by NJ Division of Criminal Justice That Also Uncovered Alliance Between Lucchese Family and Bloods Gang to Distribute Drugs and Cell Phones in Prison

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WEST ORANGE - Attorney General Anne Milgram and Criminal Justice Director Gregory A. Paw announced that the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice today arrested two ruling members of the New York-based Lucchese organized crime family and charged 25 other members and associates, including its top New Jersey capo, for allegedly running a gambling operation that transacted approximately $2.2 billion in wagers in 15 months and relied on extortion and violence to collect debts.

The arrests resulted from a year-long investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice dubbed “Operation HEAT,” which also led to charges against a New Jersey corrections officer and a high-ranking member of the Nine Trey Gangster set of the Bloods gang in connection with an alliance between the Lucchese crime family and the gang member to smuggle drugs and pre-paid cell phones into East Jersey State Prison in Woodbridge.

The Division of Criminal Justice today arrested two members of the three-man ruling panel of the Lucchese crime family – Joseph DiNapoli, 72, of Scarsdale, N.Y., and Matthew Madonna, 72, of Seldon, N.Y. – on charges of promoting gambling, money laundering and racketeering. DiNapoli and Madonna are charged with controlling the crime family’s gambling operations and other criminal activities from New York. They were arrested with assistance from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the New York City Police Department.

“With today’s arrests and charges, we have disrupted the highest echelon of the Lucchese organized crime family in both New York and New Jersey,” said Attorney General Milgram. “Disruption of the command structure of an organization is the most effective way to disable it. We also broke up an alarming alliance between the Lucchese crime family and the Bloods street gang to smuggle heroin, cocaine, marijuana and cell phones into East Jersey State Prison through an allegedly corrupt prison guard.”

The racketeering and money laundering charges are first-degree crimes, each of which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison upon conviction.

Investigators made 20 arrests. Arrest warrants remain pending for four individuals, and complaint summonses were issued charging an additional eight people alleged to be associated with the crime family. Investigators executed search warrants at 12 locations, 10 in New Jersey and two in New York. In addition, the state obtained court orders to seize or restrain seven homes, 16 bank accounts and 16 vehicles. A full list of defendants and charges is attached.

In New Jersey, the Division of Criminal Justice arrested Ralph V. Perna, 61, of East Hanover, who allegedly was made top capo for the New Jersey faction of the family this year. Also arrested were Perna’s three sons, Joseph M. Perna, 38, of Wyckoff, John G. Perna, 30, of West Caldwell, and Ralph M. Perna, 35, of West Caldwell. The sons, led by Joseph, allegedly managed day-to-day gambling operations under their father’s oversight. Two other men arrested today, Michael A. Cetta, 41, of Wyckoff, and Martin Tacetta, 56, of East Hanover, the former New Jersey underboss for the family, exercised their own management control over family gambling operations. Cetta is a Bonnano crime family associate but has close ties to the Lucchese family through marriage.

Those six New Jersey defendants also face charges of racketeering, money laundering and promoting gambling. In addition, Joseph Perna and John Perna were charged with extortion and aggravated assault, both second-degree offenses, in connection with threats and attempts to use violence against individuals who owed money or tried to take business away from the gambling operation.

The investigation uncovered an international criminal gambling enterprise that, according to records reviewed by the Division of Criminal Justice, transacted an estimated $2.2 billion in wagers, primarily on sporting events, since August 2006.

“These defendants in the Lucchese crime family used sophisticated means to try to hide their gambling transactions, including password-protected Web sites and a Costa Rican wire room where they processed bets,” said Director Paw. “But we charge that they collected debts with the same crude tactics that have always characterized organized crime, namely extortion, violence and loan sharking.”

The gambling operation involved agents or “package holders,” each of whom brought in bets from a group of gamblers. The enterprise and all of its packages involved hundreds or even thousands of gamblers. Records showed that one high-rolling gambler wagered more than $2 million in a two-month period. The arrests include package holders as well as individuals who allegedly acted as collectors for the operation, collecting and paying out wins and losses.

The illicit proceeds allegedly were divided by the package holders and the members they worked under, such as the Pernas, Cetta and Tacetta, who in turn made “tribute” payments to the New York bosses of the family, including DiNapoli and Madonna. It is charged that collection operations at times took the form of threats or acts of violence. At other times, debtors were allegedly forced to take loans at annual interest rates reaching higher than 200 percent, in violation of New Jersey’s criminal usury statute, or were forced to refinance their homes.

The gambling operation received and processed the wagers using Web sites and a Costa Rican “wire room” where bets were recorded and results tallied.

The prison smuggling scheme allegedly involved inmate Edwin B. Spears, 33, and a corrections officer at East Jersey State Prison, Michael T. Bruinton, 43, of Ringoes. Spears was at East Jersey State Prison at the time, but has since been transferred to Northern State Prison. Also charged were Spears’ brother, Dwayne E. Spears, 28, of Neptune, Francine Hightower, 50, of Tinton Falls, and Kristen A. Gilliam, 24, of Farmingdale.

It is charged that Edwin Spears, who holds a leadership position as a “five-star general” in the Nine Trey Gangsters, formed an alliance with Joseph Perna and Michael Cetta to smuggle drugs and cell phones into East Jersey State Prison through Bruinton. The alliance allegedly extended beyond smuggling. In one instance, Joseph Perna sought assistance from Spears to stop an individual associated with the Bloods from extorting money from a man with ties to the Lucchese family.

It is charged that Perna and Cetta would provide money to Dwayne Spears to acquire contraband including heroin, cocaine, marijuana and pre-paid cell phones. Dwayne Spears allegedly would give the contraband to Bruinton to smuggle into East Jersey State Prison. The drugs and cell phones were allegedly distributed to inmates who had previously placed orders through Edwin Spears. Cell phones are prohibited in prison. It is charged that the purchasers paid by sending money orders or checks to individuals including Hightower and Gilliam, who delivered the proceeds to Cetta to “re-invest” in the smuggling scheme.

Samuel A. Juliano, 62, of Glen Ridge, who was arrested on drug and weapons charges on Dec. 6 by the Division of Criminal Justice, was charged with additional offenses today for allegedly supplying drugs for the smuggling scheme.

In connection with the smuggling operation, Bruinton, Edwin Spears, Dwayne Spears, Hightower, Gilliam, Joseph Perna, Cetta and Juliano were charged with racketeering; conspiracy to distribute heroin (second degree), in connection with an attempt to distribute .8 ounces of heroin in the prison; bribery (second degree); and money laundering (third degree).

Attorney General Milgram credited State Investigators Christopher Donohue and Patrick Sole, who were lead investigators for this case, Acting Supervising State Investigator James Sweeney, and State Investigators Audrey Young, Ho Chul Shin, Brian Bruton, Mario Estrada, Richard DaSilva, Noelle Holl and John Delesio. She credited Chief State Investigator Paul Morris for directing the investigation. She thanked the many other investigators from the Division of Criminal Justice – Gangs and Organized Crime Bureau who provided assistance.

Attorney General Milgram also credited the attorneys working on the case: Supervising Deputy Attorney General Mark Eliades, Deputy Attorney General Christopher Romanyshyn and Deputy Attorney General Lauren Scarpa-Yfantis.

She thanked Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morganthau and members of the New York City Police Department for assisting in the arrests of the New York defendants. She also credited the New Jersey State Police for their assistance in the investigation.

First-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $200,000 fine, while second-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison and a $150,000 fine,
First-degree money laundering carries an enhanced fine of up to $500,000. Third-degree promoting gambling carries a maximum sentence of five years in state prison and a $35,000 fine.

The charges filed against the defendants are merely accusations and they are presumed innocent until proven guilty.


arrowDefendants & Charges
arrowComplaint Summonses

arrowCourt Ordered Liens Against Real Property


Note: Racketeering is always first-degree and promoting gambling is always third-degree. Money laundering is first-degree unless otherwise specified here.

Arrest Warrants:

    1. Joseph DiNapoli, 72, Scarsdale, N.Y. Promoting gambling, money laundering and racketeering.
    2. Matthew Madonna, 72, of Seldon, N.Y. Promoting gambling, money laundering and racketeering.
    3. Ralph V. Perna, 61, East Hanover. Promoting gambling, money laundering and racketeering.
    4. Joseph M. Perna, 38, Wyckoff. Promoting gambling, money laundering, racketeering, extortion (second degree), aggravated assault (second degree), conspiracy to distribute heroin (second degree) and bribery (second degree).
    5. John G. Perna, 30, West Caldwell. Promoting gambling, money laundering, racketeering, extortion (second degree) and aggravated assault (second degree).
    6. Ralph M. Perna, 35, West Caldwell. Promoting gambling, money laundering and racketeering.
    7. Martin Tacetta, 56, East Hanover. Promoting gambling, money laundering and racketeering.
    8. Michael A. Cetta, 41, Wyckoff. Promoting gambling, money laundering, racketeering, conspiracy to distribute heroin (second degree) and bribery (second degree).
    9. John V. Mangrella, 65, Clifton. Promoting gambling, money laundering and racketeering.
    10. Alfonso “Tic” Cataldo, 65, Florham Park. Promoting gambling, money laundering and racketeering.
    11. Antonio “Curly” Russo, 70, Bloomingdale. Promoting gambling, money laundering and racketeering.
    12. Elliot Porco, 45, Bronx, N.Y. Promoting gambling, money laundering and racketeering.
    13. Gianni Lacovo, 32, Elmwood Park. Promoting gambling, money laundering, racketeering, conspiracy to commit aggravated assault (second degree), and criminal usury (second degree).
    14. James Furfaro Jr., 28, Parsippany. Promoting gambling, money laundering and racketeering.
    15. John N. Turi, 28, Clifton. Promoting gambling, money laundering and racketeering.
    16. Michael T. Ramuno III, 33, Philadelphia. Promoting gambling, money laundering and racketeering.
    17. Robert A. Romano, 29, Brick. Promoting gambling, conspiracy to commit aggravated assault (second degree) and racketeering.
    18. Ron Scrips, 44, Staten Island, N.Y. Promoting gambling, money laundering and racketeering.
    19. Samuel A. Juliano, 62, Glen Ridge. Racketeering, conspiracy to distribute heroin (second degree), bribery (second degree) and money laundering (third degree).
    20. Edwin B. Spears, 33, Northern State Prison. Racketeering, conspiracy to distribute heroin (second degree), bribery (second degree) and money laundering (third degree).
    21. Michael T. Bruinton, 43, Ringoes. Racketeering, conspiracy to distribute heroin (second degree), bribery (second degree) and money laundering (third degree).
    22. Dwayne E. Spears, 28, Neptune. Racketeering, conspiracy to distribute heroin (second degree), bribery (second degree) and money laundering (third degree).
    23. Francine Hightower, 50, Tinton Falls. Racketeering, conspiracy to distribute heroin (second degree), bribery (second degree) and money laundering (third degree).
    24. Kristen A. Gilliam, 24, Farmingdale. Racketeering, conspiracy to distribute heroin (second degree), bribery (second degree) and money laundering (third degree).

Top


arrowComplaint Summonses
arrowDefendants & Charges

arrowCourt Ordered Liens Against Real Property

    1. Shpetim “Tim” Hani, 31, North Haledon. Promoting gambling, money laundering and racketeering.
    2. Blerim Ibraimi, 27, Hawthorne. Promoting gambling and money laundering (third degree).
    3. Astrit “Adam” Hani, 30. Promoting gambling and money laundering (third degree).
    4. George Maiorano, 62, Belleville. Promoting gambling, money laundering and racketeering.
    5. David Ocejo, 30, Nutley. Promoting gambling and money laundering (third degree).
    6. Vita Cetta, 38, Wyckoff. First-degree money laundering.
    7. Wayne Cross Jr., 30, Nutley. Promoting gambling and money laundering (third degree)
    8. Roseanna Perna, 34, Wyckoff. First-degree money laundering.

Top


arrowCourt Ordered Liens Against Real Property
arrowComplaint Summonses
arrowDefendants & Charges

    1. 3119 Glasgow Ave., Joseph Perna, Toms River, N.J.
    2. 243 Eastview Terrace, Joseph & Rosanna Perna, Wyckoff, N.J.
    3. 38-40 Tillinghast St., Vita Cetta, Newark, N.J.
    4. 3411 Lisbon Ave., Michael Cetta, Toms River, N.J.
    5. 476 James Way, Michael & Vita Cetta, Wyckoff, N.J.
    6. 11 Knoll Terrace, Ralph & Andrea Perna, West Caldwell, N.J.
    7. 3 Donna Drive, AnnaMarie & Ralph Perna, East Hanover, N.J.

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