Four residents of Franklin Square were among 10 Colombo organized crime family members and associates charged with committing labor racketeering, extortion, money laundering, loansharking, fraud, drug trafficking and other crimes on behalf of the crime organization in a federal indictment unsealed Tuesday.
The charges stem from multiple, long-running efforts allegedly orchestrated by the crime family to take control of a Queens labor union and its affiliated health care benefit program, or health fund, which provides medical benefits to union members, according to a statement released by the Department of Justice. In addition, the indictment charged crime family members with conspiracy to commit fraud related to workplace safety requirements. One member of the Bonanno organized crime family, one of the four Franklin Square residents, was also charged.
The boss, underboss, and consigliere, the top-ranking members of the Colombo crime family, were indicted on racketeering charges. The four Franklin Square residents charged in the indictment are cousins Vincent Ricciardo, 75, and Domenick Ricciardo, 56, as well as John Ragano, 59, and Erin Thompkins, 53.
Thirteen of the 14 charged in the indictment were arrested earlier today and are scheduled to be arraigned today via videoconference before United States Magistrate Judge Taryn A. Merkl at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn. Vincent Ricciardo, alleged captain of the Colombo crime family, was arrested in North Carolina and will be arraigned in federal court in Charlotte.
“Today’s charges describe a long-standing, ruthless pattern by the administration of the Colombo crime family, its captains, members and associates, of conspiring to exert control over the management of a labor union,” said Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, the acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, according to the statement. “The indictment of 14 defendants, including members of the Columbo crime family on labor racketeering, extortion and money laundering charges should send a clear and concise message that these types of crimes will never be tolerated by law enforcement,” said Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder.
According to the statement, Vincent Ricciardo, who is commonly referred to by associates as “Vinny Unions,” was charged with using extortionate means, such as direct threats of physical, bodily harm, to control the management of the unnamed labor union and steer it to make decisions advantageous for the Colombo crime family.
According to the indictment, both Ricciardos have collected a share of the salary of a top-ranking labor union official since 2001 by threatening to harm him and his family. Beginning in late 2019, at the direction of the leadership of the crime family, the Ricciardos allegedly began to force the senior official and others at the labor union’s affiliated health fund to make decisions that benefitted the crime family, such as choosing vendors associated with the crime family for contracts. The Ricciardos and associates sought to divert over $10,000 per month from the health fund’s assets to the administration of the Colombo organization.
Thompkins of Franklin Square and various members of the crime organization allegedly laundered money from health fund contracts and payments through third parties and eventually to the members at the top of the crime family. By re-bidding health fund vendor contracts to individuals and companies affiliated with another associate charged in the indictment. Additionally, kickbacks were paid to the Colombo organization and intermediaries were used to keep the payments hidden.
Ragano, of the Bonanno crime family, was charged with loansharking, fraud and drug trafficking offenses as well as issuing fraudulent workplace safety training certifications. According to the indictment, Ragano, known as “Bazoo” and “Maniac,” claimed to operate two workplace safety schools in New York that he said provided Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training courses and certifications, along with various New York City certifications, to construction workers.
According to the indictment, Ragano and Domenick Ricciardo sent paperwork with falsified records to the Department of Labor and other government agencies that purported to show that hundreds of workers had completed required safety courses when they had not. Many of those charged used Ragano’s “schools” to conduct meetings involving mafia members as well as to store illegal drugs and fireworks.
Ragano and Vincent Ricciardo were also charged with loansharking for collecting loans totaling $250,000 by extorting an unnamed individual. In addition, Ricciardo and Ragano were charged with conspiracy to distribute large shipments of marijuana in vehicles from New York to Florida.
The 14 individuals charged, including the four Franklin Square residents, have not been convicted. They face up to 20 years in prison.
“These soldiers, consiglieres, under bosses, and bosses are obviously not students of history, and don't seem to comprehend that we're going to catch them,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael J. Driscoll. Regardless of how many times they fill the void we create in their ranks, (we) are positioned to take them out again, and again.”