A federal indictment unsealed Monday charges Michael Coppola, 62, alleged lieutenant in the Genovese Crime Family, with racketeering and racketeering conspiracy offenses including a 1977 murder, extortion and wire fraud, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York.
Federal prosecutors say Coppola (left) approached 68-year-old Giovanni "Johnny Cokes" Larducci (also known as John Lardiere) outside the Red Bull Inn motel on Route 22 in Bridgewater, NJ, on Easter Sunday, April 10, 1977. Coppola allegedly attempted to shoot Larducci with a firearm, but the weapon jammed. Believing he had escaped an assassination attempt, Larducci asked Coppola, "What are you going to do now, tough guy?"
Coppola allegedly drew a revolver from an ankle holster and shot Larducci to death. Larducci was reportedly a Genovese lieutenant serving under boss Gerardo Catena. Larducci is believed to have been involved in loansharking and was suspected of involvement in the 1971 disappearance of Teamsters Local 945 President Michael A. Ardis, according to a story published on Mycentraljersey.com.
As Coppola, also known as Michael Rizzo and Mikey Cigars, became a leading suspect in the Larducci killing in 1996, he fled, the press release said. His story was featured on the America's Most Wanted television program. Coppola was captured by the FBI on March 9, 2007. Authorities had learned he was staying with an alleged Genovese Crime Family associate on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
New Jersey state prosecutors passed on the murder case against Coppola when DNA evidence came back with an inconclusive result, according to a story by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News.
The indictment accuses Coppola of involvement in a conspiracy to extort payments from International Longshoremen's Association Local 1235. That extortion allegedly went on for a period of three decades. The Daily News reports that Coppola is also a suspect in the 2005 killing of Genovese Crime Family lieutenant Lawrence Ricci (right).
Prosecutors plan to introduce evidence obtained through a 1980 wiretap of the home of the late Paul Castellano, boss of the Gambino Crime Family.
- Thomas Hunt
- Editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer. Publisher of American Mafia history website mafiahistory.us. Moderator of Mafia-related online forums. 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.