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For Immediate Release:
For Further Information:
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May 14, 2010

Office of The Attorney General
- Paula T. Dow, Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
- Stephen J. Taylor, Director

Media Inquiries-
Peter Aseltine
609-292-4791
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609-292-4925

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Attorney General Dow Announces Indictment of Lucchese Crime Family Hierarchy, Including Two New York Bosses, New Jersey Leaders and 30 Other Members & Associates
Alleged Top NJ Capos Ralph V. Perna and Nicodemo Scarfo Jr. Charged

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TRENTON - Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced the indictment today of two ruling members of the New York-based Lucchese crime family and 32 other members and associates, including alleged current and former top New Jersey capos Ralph V. Perna and Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., on first-degree charges of racketeering, conspiracy and money laundering.

The state grand jury indictment stems from Operation Heat, an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice that uncovered an international criminal gambling enterprise that transacted billions of dollars in wagers, primarily on sporting events, and relied on extortion and violence to collect debts. The indictment also charges a former New Jersey corrections officer and a high-ranking member of the Nine Trey Gangsters set of the Bloods in an alleged alliance with the Lucchese crime family to smuggle drugs and pre-paid cell phones into East Jersey State Prison.

According to Director Taylor, the indictment charges two members of the three-man ruling panel of the Lucchese crime family, Joseph DiNapoli, 74, of Scarsdale, N.Y., and Matthew Madonna, 74, of Seldon, N.Y. The indictment also charges Ralph V. Perna, 64, of East Hanover, and Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., 44, of Ventnor. Perna allegedly became top capo of the New Jersey faction of the family when Scarfo was deposed in 2007.

“The Lucchese crime family allegedly employed sophisticated measures such as electronic record-keeping and offshore wire rooms designed to thwart detection of their illegal gambling activities by law enforcement,” said Attorney General Dow. “I’m proud to say that their innovations did not stop our investigators from infiltrating their criminal enterprise and obtaining the evidence needed to indict their alleged top leaders in both New York and New Jersey.”

“The Division of Criminal Justice will continue to fulfill its decades-old mission of fighting organized crime, whether it takes the form of traditional organized crime or street gangs,” said Director Taylor. “We will remain vigilant and aggressive on both fronts. In this case, those fronts allegedly overlapped in a troubling alliance between members of the Lucchese crime family and the Bloods gang to smuggle contraband into a state prison.”

A warrant has been issued for Scarfo’s arrest. Most of the defendants were initially charged and arrested in Operation Heat in December 2007. However, Scarfo and two other men were charged today for the first time in the ongoing investigation. The other two men are Frank Cetta, 71, of Las Vegas, Nevada, who allegedly ran the gambling operation’s Costa Rican wire room, and Gary P. Medure, 56, of New York, N.Y., a close associate of DiNapoli who allegedly managed gambling “packages,” groups of bettors who regularly gambled through the operation.

Three other men named in the indictment were arrested after the initial arrests but prior to today’s indictment. They are Michael A. Maffucci, 24, of Cedar Grove, N.J., Charles J. Bologna, 57, of Port Chester, N.Y., and Robert V. DeCrescenzo, 35, of Port Chester, N.Y. Each of them allegedly managed or assisted in the management of gambling packages.

Each of the first-degree charges of racketeering, conspiracy and money laundering carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in state prison. In addition to those charges DiNapoli, Madonna and Perna were charged with being leaders of organized crime, a second-degree offense.

Most of the defendants - including DiNapoli, Madonna, Perna, Scarfo, Cetta, Medure, Maffucci, Bologna and DeCrescenzo - were also charged with promoting gambling and possession of gambling records, both third-degree offenses.

Supervising Deputy Attorney General Mark Eliades, Chief of the Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, and Deputy Attorney General Christopher Romanyshyn presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice. Lt. Christopher Donohue and Detective Patrick Sole of the Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau were lead investigators for this case, and Detective Noelle Holl was the principal investigator in the financial portion of the case.

It is alleged that DiNapoli and Madonna controlled the crime family’s gambling operations and other criminal activities from New York. Both Perna and Scarfo are alleged to have overseen the Lucchese crime family’s operations in New Jersey.

Also indicted were Perna’s three sons, Joseph M. Perna, 40, of Wyckoff, John G. Perna, 32, of West Caldwell, and Ralph M. Perna, 38, of West Caldwell. The sons, led by Joseph, allegedly managed day-to-day gambling operations under their father’s oversight. Two other men who were indicted, Michael A. Cetta, 43, of Wyckoff, and Martin Tacetta, 59, of East Hanover, the former New Jersey underboss for the family, allegedly exercised their own management control over family gambling operations. Tacetta is currently serving a life sentence in state prison as a result of a Division of Criminal Justice prosecution in the 1990s. Michael Cetta, who is Frank Cetta’s son, has close ties to the Lucchese family through marriage.

Joseph Perna, John Perna, Michael Cetta and three other defendants are charged with extortion and aggravated assault, both second-degree offenses, in connection with alleged threats and attempts to use violence against individuals who owed money or tried to take business away from the gambling operation.

The Division of Criminal Justice has seized or restrained millions of dollars in assets of the defendants alleged to be subject to forfeiture as criminal proceeds, including seven homes, 16 bank accounts, 15 vehicles, over $200,000 in cash, and numerous watches and items of jewelry. The indictment alleges that Joseph M. Perna and his wife, Roseanna Perna, 36, obtained approximately $900,000 in mortgage funds through fraudulent loan applications. The indictment further charges various tax offenses against the couple, as well as Ralph M. Perna, Michael Cetta and Vita Cetta, 41, of Wyckoff.

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, during a 15-month period.

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. Those indicted 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, Michael Cetta, Tacetta and Medure, who in turn made “tribute” payments to the New York bosses, including DiNapoli and Madonna. It is charged that collection operations at times took the form of threats or acts of violence.

The gambling operation received and processed the wagers using password-protected 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, 36, of Neptune, and a former corrections officer at East Jersey State Prison in Woodbridge, Michael T. Bruinton, 46, of Ringoes. Spears was at East Jersey State Prison at the time of the alleged conduct. Also indicted were Spears’ brother, Dwayne E. Spears, 30, of Neptune, and Kristen A. Gilliam, 27, of Farmingdale. Another defendant, Francine Hightower, 52, of Tinton Falls, pleaded guilty on Feb. 21, 2008, to conspiring to launder money.

It is charged that Edwin Spears, an admitted “five-star general” in the Nine Trey Gangsters set of the Bloods, 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 allegedly 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, 65, of Glen Ridge, is charged with supplying drugs for the smuggling scheme.

In addition to the first-degree charges of racketeering, conspiracy and money laundering, Bruinton, Edwin Spears, Dwayne Spears, Gilliam, Joseph Perna, Michael Cetta and Juliano are charged for the alleged smuggling operation with conspiracy (2nd degree), official misconduct (2nd degree), bribery (2nd degree), and unlawful possession of a cell phone in prison (3rd degree).

As Operation Heat proceeded it yielded evidence that was pursued by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in an investigation that culminated on Oct. 1, 2009 with the indictment of 29 defendants, including DiNapoli, Madonna and other Lucchese crime family members, alleged to have run a criminal enterprise that bribed city building inspectors, among other crimes.

Attorney General Dow credited Lt. Christopher Donohue and Detective Patrick Sole, who were lead investigators for this case, former Acting Supervising State Investigator James Sweeney, Detectives Audrey Young, Ho Chul Shin, Brian Bruton, Mario Estrada, Richard DaSilva, Noelle Holl and John Delesio of the Division of Criminal Justice, and Auditor Thaedra Chebra of the Division of Taxation’s Office of Criminal Investigation. She credited Chief of Detectives Paul Morris for directing the investigation. She thanked the many other investigators from the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau who provided assistance.

Attorney General Dow credited Supervising Deputy Attorney General Mark Eliades, Deputy Attorney General Christopher Romanyshyn and Deputy Attorney General Lauren Scarpa-Yfantis. She credited the New Jersey State Police Intelligence Section for their assistance in the investigation. She also thanked Detective Andrew Varga of the New York City Police Department and members of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office who provided assistance.

First-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in state prison and a $200,000 fine. First-degree money laundering carries an enhanced fine of up to $500,000. Second-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison and a $150,000 fine. Third-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of five years in state prison and a fine of up to $35,000 for promoting gambling or $15,000 for other third-degree crimes. Fourth-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The charges filed against the defendants are merely accusations and they are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Linda R. Feinberg in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Morris County.

In addition to the defendants already named in this press release, the indictment also charges:

  1. John V. Mangrella, 67, of Clifton;
  2. Alfonso “Tic” Cataldo, 68, of Florham Park;
  3. Antonio “Curly” Russo, 73, of Bloomingdale;
  4. Elliot Porco, 47, of Bronx, N.Y.;
  5. Gianni Iacovo, 34, of Elmwood Park;
  6. James Furfaro Jr., 30, of Parsippany;
  7. John N. Turi, 31, of Clifton;
  8. Michael T. Ramuno III, 36, of Philadelphia;
  9. Robert A. Romano, 31, of Brick;
  10. Ron Scrips, 46, of Staten Island, N.Y.;
  11. Shpetim “Tim” Hani, 33, of North Haledon;
  12. Blerim Ibraimi, 29, of Hawthorne; and
  13. George Maiorano, 65, of Belleville.

The indictment charges the defendants as follows:

Count 1 - Racketeering - First Degree
All Defendants

Count 2 - Leader of Organized Crime - Second Degree
Joseph DiNapoli and Matthew Madonna

Count 3 - Leader of Organized Crime - Second Degree
Ralph V. Perna

Count 4 - Conspiracy - Second Degree
Joseph DiNapoli, Matthew Madonna, Ralph V. Perna, Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., Joseph M. Perna, Michael Cetta, Frank Cetta, John G. Perna, Ralph M. Perna, John Mangrella, Gary Medure, Elliot Porco, Martin Taccetta, Antonio Russo, Alfonso Cataldo, Michael Ramuno III, Ronald Scripps, Gianni Iacovo, Robert Decrescenzo, Charles Bologna, James Furfaro, Robert Romano, John Turi, Michael Maffucci, George Maiorano, Blerim Ibriami, Shpetim Hani, Vita Cetta and Rosanna Perna

Count 5 - Promoting Gambling - Third Degree
Joseph DiNapoli, Matthew Madonna, Ralph V. Perna, Nicodemo Scarfo, Jr., Joseph M. Perna, Michael Cetta, Frank Cetta, John G. Perna, Ralph M. Perna, John Mangrella, Gary Medure, Elliot Porco, Martin Taccetta, Antonio Russo, Alfonso Cataldo, Michael Ramuno III, Ronald Scripps, Gianni Iacovo, Robert Decrescenzo, Charles Bologna, James Furfaro, Robert Romano, John Turi, Michael Maffucci, George Maiorano, Blerim Ibriami, Shpetim Hani, Vita Cetta and Rosanna Perna

Count 6 - Possession of Gambling Records - Third Degree
Joseph DiNapoli, Matthew Madonna, Ralph V. Perna, Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., Joseph M. Perna, Michael Cetta, Frank Cetta, John G. Perna, Ralph M. Perna, John Mangrella, Gary Medure, Elliot Porco, Martin Taccetta, Antonio Russo, Alfonso Cataldo, Michael Ramuno III, Ronald Scripps, Gianni Iacovo, Robert Decrescenzo, Charles Bologna, James Furfaro, Robert Romano, John Turi, Michael Maffucci, George Maiorano, Blerim Ibriami, Shpetim Hani, Vita Cetta and Rosanna Perna

Count 7 - Attempted Theft by Extortion - Second Degree
Joseph M. Perna, John G. Perna, Michael Cetta, Gianni Iacovo, James Furfaro and Robert Romano

Count 8 - Aggravated Assault - Second Degree
Joseph M. Perna, John G. Perna, Michael Cetta, Gianni Iacovo, James Furfaro and Robert Romano

Count 9 - Possession of a Weapon for Unlawful Purpose - Third Degree
John G. Perna and Robert Romano

Count 10 - Theft by Deception - Second Degree
Joseph M. Perna

Count 11 - Falsifying Records - Fourth Degree
Joseph M. Perna

Count 12 - Theft by Deception - Second Degree
Joseph M. Perna and Rosanna Perna

Count 13 - Falsifying Records - Fourth Degree
18 months / $ 10,000
Joseph M. Perna and Rosanna Perna

Count 14 - Failure to File Tax Return - Third Degree
Joseph M. Perna and Rosanna Perna

Count 15 - Failure to Pay Gross Income Tax - Third Degree
Joseph M. Perna and Rosanna Perna

Count 16 - Failure to Pay Gross Income Tax - Third Degree
Ralph M. Perna

Count 17 - Failure to File Tax Return - Third Degree
Michael Cetta and Vita Cetta

Count 18 - Failure to Pay Gross Income Tax - Third Degree
Michael Cetta and Vita Cetta

Count 19 - Conspiracy - Second Degree
Joseph M. Perna, Michael Cetta, Edwin Spears, Samuel A. Juliano, Michael Bruinton, Dwayne Spears and Kristen Gilliam

Count 20 - Official Misconduct - Second Degree
Joseph M. Perna, Michael Cetta, Edwin Spears, Samuel A. Juliano, Michael Bruinton, Dwayne Spears and Kristen Gilliam

Count 21 - Bribery - Second Degree
Joseph M. Perna, Michael Cetta, Edwin Spears, Samuel A. Juliano, Michael Bruinton, Dwayne Spears and Kristen Gilliam

Count 22 - Unlawful Possession of Certain Electronic Devices in Prisons - Third Degree
Joseph M. Perna, Michael Cetta, Edwin Spears, Samuel A. Juliano, Michael Bruinton, Dwayne Spears and Kristen Gilliam

Count 23 - Possession of Oxycodone with Intent to Distribute - Second Degree
Samuel A. Juliano

Count 24 - Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute - Second Degree
Samuel A. Juliano

Count 25 - Possession of Cocaine and Oxycodone - Third Degree
Samuel A. Juliano

Count 26 - Certain Persons Not To Have Weapons - Second Degree
Samuel A. Juliano

Count 27 - Unlawful Possession of a Weapon - Third Degree
Samuel A. Juliano

Count 28 - Unlawful Possession of a Weapon - Third Degree
Samuel A. Juliano

Count 29 - Prohibited Weapon - Third Degree
Samuel A. Juliano

Count 30 - Possession of Weapons During Commission of Certain Crimes - Second Degree
Samuel A. Juliano

Count 31 - Prohibited Weapon - Fourth Degree
Samuel A. Juliano

Count 32 - Prohibited Weapon - Fourth Degree
Samuel A. Juliano

Count 33 - Conspiracy - First Degree
All Defendants

Count 34 - Money Laundering - First Degree
All Defendants

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