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Ten New York City criminal family members have been charged in connection with an alleged plot to take over a construction union in a scheme that prosecutors say , had all the major attributes of TV shows like The Sopranos.
Prosecutors said members of Colombo’s criminal family pressured the union to direct health scheme affairs to their associates as part of a two-decade conspiracy.
Arrests following allegations of racketeering and extortion included Andrew “Mush” Russo, the 87-year-old boss of the Colombo crime family, who is the youngest of the Five Families criminal group in New York City.
Prosecutors alleged that members of the crime family demanded at least $ 10,000 a month in bribes and threatened to kill a union official if he did not comply, telling an associate during a recorded phone call in June: “I’m going to put him down right in front of his wife and kids.”
Acting US lawyer Jacquelyn Kasulis said the charges “describe a ruthless and long-standing model” of Colombo’s criminal family heads and their subordinates to exercise control over the union, which has not been identified in indictment or by prosecutors.
Four other people have also been charged, including a soldier from Bonanno’s crime family accused of tampering with government work safety certifications for hundreds of construction workers.
Several defendants have been charged with other crimes, including loan sharking and conspiracy to distribute large quantities of cannabis.
Most of the defendants were arrested in New York and New Jersey on Tuesday and brought to justice by video conference before U.S. trial judge Taryn Merkl in federal court in Brooklyn.
An accused was arrested in North Carolina and was to be brought to justice there. Another is still at large, prosecutors said.
Russo appeared during his video arraignment from a hospital bed, with an FBI agent by his side. He pleaded not guilty because the medical equipment periodically sounded.
The Colombo boss was rushed to hospital after his arrest for a medical evaluation amid concerns over his age and injuries he suffered in a car crash about three weeks ago.