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‘I’ll put him in the ground right in front of his wife and kids’: Mafia crime boss arrested in Charlotte, authorities say

Vincent “Vinny Unions” Ricciardo, 75, was arrested and will be arraigned before United States Magistrate Judge David C. Keesler in federal court in Charlotte.
Vincent “Vinny Unions” Ricciardo, 75, was arrested and will be arraigned before United States...
Vincent “Vinny Unions” Ricciardo, 75, was arrested and will be arraigned before United States Magistrate Judge David C. Keesler in federal court in Charlotte.(Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 9:12 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2021 at 8:12 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A 75-year-old mafia boss was arrested in Charlotte and charged with multiple crimes including racketeering as several other members of the Colombo crime family were arrested in New York and New Jersey Tuesday, authorities said.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Vincent “Vinny Unions” Ricciardo, 75, was arrested and will be arraigned before United States Magistrate Judge David C. Keesler in federal court in Charlotte.

In federal court in Brooklyn, a 19-count indictment was unsealed charging 14 defendants, including 10 alleged members and associates of the Colombo crime family of La Cosa Nostra and a member of the Bonanno organized crime family, with various offenses including labor racketeering involving multiple predicate acts of extortion conspiracy, attempted extortion and extortion, extortionate collection of credit conspiracy, extortionate collection of credit and money laundering conspiracy, prosecutors said.

Court documents say the charges in the indictment against the Colombo crime family members relate to multiple charged schemes in a long-running effort by the crime family to infiltrate and take control of a Queens-based labor union (the “Labor Union”) and its affiliated health care benefit program (the “Health Fund”) that provides medical benefits, including dental, optical and pharmacy benefits, to the members of the Labor Union, and to a conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with workplace safety certifications, officials with the U.S. Department of Justice said.

According to the indictment and court documents, the defendants and their co-conspirators committed a variety of crimes – including extortion, loansharking, fraud and drug trafficking – on behalf of the Colombo organized crime family.

Prosecutors said that among those charged with racketeering are Andrew “Mush” Russo, the boss of the Colombo crime family, Benjamin “Benji” Castellazzo, the underboss, and Ralph DiMatteo, the consigliere. Alleged Colombo crime family captains Theodore Persico, Jr., Richard Ferrara and Vincent Ricciardo are charged with racketeering, along with soldier Michael Uvino and associates Thomas Costa and Domenick Ricciardo. In addition, alleged Bonanno family soldier John Ragano is charged with loansharking, fraud and drug trafficking offenses.

The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, the defendants each face up to 20 years’ imprisonment.

The court documents say the Colombo crime family’s administration, including Russo, Castellazzo and Dimatteo, as well captains Persico, Ferrara and Vincent Ricciardo, used extortionate means, including direct threats of bodily harm, to control the management of the Labor Union and caused it to make decisions that benefitted the Colombo crime family.

Since approximately 2001, court documents say Colombo captain Vincent Ricciardo and his cousin, associate Domenick Ricciardo, have collected a portion of the salary of a senior official in the Labor Union (“John Doe #1”) by threatening to harm John Doe #1 and his family.

Court documents say at the direction of the Colombo crime family’s leadership, beginning in late 2019, the defendants broadened the extortion effort to force John Doe #1 and others at the Labor Union and its affiliated Health Fund to make decisions that benefitted the Colombo crime family, including by forcing them to select vendors for contracts who were associated with the Colombo crime family.

The indictment says the defendants sought to divert more than $10,000 per month from the Health Fund’s assets to the administration of the Colombo crime family.

Court officials provided information on a June 21, 2021 incident, where in a consensually recorded conversation, Vincent Ricciardo threatened to kill John Doe #1 if he did not comply with Vincent Ricciardo’s demands.

The indictment says he explained that John Doe #1 knows, “I’ll put him in the ground right in front of his wife and kids, right in front of his f-----g house, you laugh all you want pal, I’m not afraid to go to jail, let me tell you something, to prove a point? I would f-----g shoot him right in front of his wife and kids, call the police, f--k it, let me go, how long you think I’m gonna last anyway?”

Vincent Ricciardo, Uvino, Ragano and Costa are also charged with loansharking. As alleged, these defendants participated in extending and collecting on extortionate loans totaling $250,000 to an individual identified as “John Doe #2.”

Court documents say the defendants charged and collected a weekly 1.5% interest rate that did not reduce the principal owed and divided the proceeds between themselves.

Further, Vincent Ricciardo, Ragano, Costa, Glover and Vincent Martino were charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana by transporting large shipments of marijuana in vehicles from New York to Florida, according to prosecutors.

Vincent Ricciardo and Costa were also charged, as previously convicted felons, with possessing and transporting ammunition, and Persico, who is currently on federal supervised release following his release for a prior racketeering conviction, was charged with lying to federal court officers about his dealings with other Colombo crime family members, the release from the U.S. Department of Justice stated.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section. Assistant United States Attorneys James P. McDonald and Devon Lash are in charge of the prosecution.

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