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Alleged NYC mob figure arrested near Charlotte, charged with violent extortion of union

An alleged captain of a notorious New York crime family was arrested in Waxhaw on Tuesday, part of a federal crackdown of what court documents describe as the longtime Mafia extortion of an East Coast labor union.

Vincent “Vinnie Unions” Ricciardo, identified as a captain in the Colombo crime family, appeared in federal court in Charlotte on Tuesday morning. He will be transferred to the custody of federal officials in New York, where the case will be prosecuted.

In all, 14 purported Mafia figures were named in a 19-count indictment issued from the federal courts in the Eastern District of New York, including Colombo crime boss Andrew “Mush” Russo, 87, and most of his top lieutenants.

Jacquelyn Kasulis, acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said the defendants’ crimes are part of “a long-standing, ruthless pattern” to raid the union’s coffers.

The charges include racketeering, loansharking, Hobbs Act extortion, money laundering, drug trafficking and conspiracy to steal and embezzle health care benefit funds, among other allegations.

“Everything we allege in this investigation proves history does indeed repeat itself. The underbelly of the crime families in New York City is alive and well,” said Michael Driscoll, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office.

“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.”

Most of the arrests were in New York and New Jersey.

Ricciardo, paradoxically, was picked up by the FBI in Waxhaw, a bucolic, gentrifying community of 10,000 some 30 miles southeast of Charlotte, where he was living with family. The Department of Justice lists him as a resident of Franklin Square, N.Y.

Court documents portray the 75-year-old as a violent enforcer in the mob’s efforts to extort an unnamed labor union dating back 20 years.

The crime family used threats of bodily harm to siphon off a portion of the salary of one union executive, federal prosecutors say. Since 2019, according to the indictment, the defendants strong-armed the union to use vendors associated with the Colombo family while ordering a union executive identified as John Doe #1 to divert $10,000 a month from the union’s health fund.

In a June 21 recorded phone call, Ricciardo threatened to kill Doe if he did not meet the crime family’s demands, according to court documents.

“I’ll put him in the ground right in front of his wife and kids, right in front of his f—–g house,” Ricciardo said, according to prosecutors. “You laugh all you want, pal, I’m not afraid to go to jail. Let me tell you something: To prove a point? I would f—–g shoot him right in front of his wife and kids.”

The other defendants also named in the indictment are:

Joseph Bellantoni, 39 of Massapequa, N.Y.

Benjamin “Benji” Castellazzo, 83, of Manahawkin, N.J, an alleged “under boss” of the Colombo family.

Thomas Costa, 52, of West Islip, N.Y., described in the indictment as a Colombo “associate.”

Ralph Dimatteo, 66, of Merrick, N.Y., the alleged “consiglieri” or counselor for the family, who remained at large on Tuesday.

Richard Ferrara, 59, of Brooklyn, identified in the indictment as a captain and soldier in the family.

John Glover, 62, of Queens, N.Y.

Vincent Martino, 43, of Medford, N.Y.

Theodore “Teddy” Persico Jr., 58, of Brooklyn, an alleged captain and soldier

John Ragano, 59, of Franklin Square, N.Y., an alleged family soldier

Domenick Ricciardo, 56, of Franklin Square, an alleged mob associate.

Erin Thompkins, 53, of Franklin Square.

Michael Uvino, 56, of Garden City, New York, an acting captain and soldier.

Michael Gordon has been the Observer’s legal affairs writer since 2013. He has been an editor and reporter at the paper since 1992, occasionally writing about schools, religion, politics and sports. He spent two summers as “Bikin Mike,” filing stories as he pedaled across the Carolinas.

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