The operation reportedly began when Joseph Orlando, alleged Gambino soldier, approached a family associate, believing him to have connections to corrupt government officials. Orlando allegedly sought to pass a bribe through the associate to an immigration official in order to acquire legal residence status for his girlfiend. The associate was unable to deliver, was allegedly threatened and contacted the FBI for protection. Through the associate's cooperation, the Bureau arranged for Orlando to meet with an undercover agent, posing as a corrupt official.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, "Orlando told other members and associates of the Gambino family of the cooperating witness’s purported contact with corrupt government officials; this in turn led other defendants to contact the cooperating witness in attempts to further other criminal schemes."
Those schemes reportedly included the smuggling of gold bars into the U.S. from the Philippines and the release of a reputed Sicilian Mafia associate from U.S. federal detention.
FBI Assistant Director-in-charge Mark J. Mershon seemed especially pleased at the arrest of George DeCicco (right), 77, reputed captain in the Gambino Family. Mershon designated DeCicco the "Cal Ripken" of the American mob.
"George DeCicco has operated continuously for so long that his arrest today is like the end of Cal Ripken’s consecutive-game streak," said Mershon. "The difference is that Ripken’s streak ended when he voluntarily took himself out of the lineup."
A story by Stefanie Cohen in today's New York Post called DeCicco, "the last of the Gotti gang." The story noted that DeCicco was the only member of Gotti's inner circle who had never been busted.
(Several DeCiccos have held important positions with the Gambino family since John Gotti's reign. Frank DeCicco, brother of George, allegedly lured Gambino boss Paul Castellano to his death in 1985 and served as Gotti's underboss until he was blown up by a remote controlled bomb outside of a Brooklyn social club in 1986. Joseph "Joe Butter" DeCicco, another brother, reputedly served the family as an associate for many years.)
Officials noted that the undercover operation revealed the close working relationship between American and Sicilian Mafiosi.
The 13 individuals arrested were:
Joseph "Joey Boy" Orlando, DOB March 19, 1949
George DeCicco, DOB March 20, 1929
Robert DeCicco (George's son), DOB July 27, 1950
James Avalone, DOB Aug. 3, 1943
Jerry DeGerolamo, DOB April 1, 1971
Steven "Rigatoni" Famiglietta, DOB Feb. 14, 1962
Michael Fichera, DOB Sept. 14, 1962
Richard Juliano, DOB March 26, 1940
Richard J. Juliano, DOB Jan. 15, 1975
Francesco Nania, DOB Jan. 19, 1967
Vito Rappa, DOB Oct. 15, 1967
Kurt Ricci, DOB Sept. 15, 1965
Joseph "Joey Zack" Zuccarello, DOB April 24, 1954
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