Friday, May 9, 2008

FBI busts alleged racketeers in New Jersey

Federal law enforcement agents today took the wraps off an indictment charging nearly two dozen New Jersey men with racketeering, according to a press release by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey.

Ten of those charged with being made members or associates of the Gambino and Lucchese Crime Families were arrested this morning. Among those arrested, according to the press release, was Andrew Merola, 41, of East Hanover. Merola was identified as the lead defendant in the case. He is alleged to be the supervisor of the Gambino Crime Family's crew in New Jersey.

Also arrested was Ralph Cicalese, 55, of Roseland, alleged to be Merola's "right-hand man" with responsibility for gambling rackets. The indictment also named Martin Tacetta, 56, of East Hanover, as a racket partner of Merola. Tacetta is alleged to be a member of the Lucchese Family.

A total of 23 people were charged in the indictment, which was dated last Friday but kept sealed until this morning's arrests. The defendants are: Merola, Cicalese, Tacetta, Charles Muccigrosso, Kyle Ragusa, John Tizio, Gennaro Forte, Justin Cerrato, Charles Russo, Vincent Derogatis, Eric Maione, Christopher Doscher, Anthony Marra, Edward Deak, Michael Urgola, Joseph Manzella, John Cataldo, Jonathan Lanza, Paul Lanza, Joseph Schepisi, India Fugate and Vincent Fichera. An indictment is a formal accusation, but it is not evidence of guilt. Every defendant is presumed innocent.

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Editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer. Publisher of American Mafia history website mafiahistory.us. Moderator of Mafia-related Google+ community and Yahoo discussion group. Author of Wrongly Executed? Coauthor of Deep Water: Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia and DiCarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime. Contributor of American Mafia history to Australian-published Mafia: The Necessary Reference to Organized Crime. Writer/co-writer of crime history articles for Informer, On the Spot Journal, Cigar City Magazine, Tampa Mafia Magazine.