Bonanno Family Members Arrested

Nine members of the Bonanno family, one of New York’s five organized crime families, have been arrested, according to The New York Times.

Out of the nine men charged, seven were arrested on Tuesday morning.  All defendants were charged with enterprise corruption, which is the state version of the federal charge of racketeering. The alleged illicit activities include extortion, loan-sharking, union control, gambling and trading prescription drugs. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years.

The FBI has been more successful lately in breaking up organized crime families. This has led people to “mistakenly believe that the mob has disappeared entirely,” said Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. at a news conference.

According to prosecutors, the suspects ran a multimillion-dollar online sports betting operation in Costa Rica, and some members were making plans to sell a huge number of pills to treat erectile dysfunction.

The indictment accuses two defendants, Vito Badamo and Anthony Santoro, of helping a third defendant, Nicholas Bernhard, win a 2010 election to become president of Local 917 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Local 917 is a 1,900-member labor union that represents truck drivers, parking lot attendants and gas station workers on Long Island. Members of the union borrowed money and made bets in the defendant’s loan-sharking and gambling operations.

Bernhard resigned from his position in 2012.

Another defendant, Nicholas Santora, was charged with second-degree grand larceny, usury, and the sale of drugs and weapons. Santora is currently serving a 20-month prison sentence for a federal extortion conviction he received last year.

The seven men arraigned pleaded not guilty. Three defendants were held without bail and the highest bail among the other defendants was set at $500,000.