Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Two Associates of La Cosa Nostra Plead Guilty to Extortion-Related Charges

BOSTON – Two associates of the Genovese La Cosa Nostra (LCN) crime family pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Worcester to extortion-related charges.

Francesco Depergola, 61, of Springfield, Mass., and Gerald Daniele, 52, of Longmeadow, Mass., each pleaded guilty to federal charges related to extortion.  Depergola pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by threats or violence and one count of interference with commerce by threats or violence.  Depergola also pleaded guilty to charges brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York of making an extortionate extension of credit. Daniele pleaded guilty to one count of using extortionate means to collect an extension of credit. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman scheduled their sentencings for March 9, 2018.

According to admissions in their plea agreements, Depergola, Daniele and co-defendants Ralph Santaniello, John Calabrese, and Richard Valentini were associates of the New York-based Genovese LCN crime family and engaged in various criminal activities in Springfield, Mass., including loansharking and extortion from legitimate and illegitimate businesses, such as illegal gambling businesses and the collection of unlawful debts. Depergola and Daniele admitted that they used violence, exploited their relationship with LCN, and implied threats of murder and physical violence to instill fear in their victims.

In addition, Depergola also admitted that in 2013, he, Santaniello, Calabrese, and Valentini attempted to extort money from a Springfield businessman.  Santaniello assaulted the businessman and threatened to cut off his head and bury his body if he did not comply. Over a period of four months, the businessman paid $20,000 to Santaniello, Calabrese, Depergola and Valentini to protect himself and his business.

Daniele further admitted that during a six-month period in 2015, he extended two extortionate and usurious loans to an individual, and then, along with Santaniello and Calabrese, threatened the individual if he did not make payments on the loans.

Santaniello and Calabrese previously pleaded guilty to extortion-related crimes. Their sentencings are scheduled respectively for Jan. 29, 2018, and Jan. 30, 2018.  Valentini pleaded not guilty. His trial is scheduled to start Dec. 11, 2017.

Each charge provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, five years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 and forfeiture.  Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Acting U.S. Attorney William D. Weinreb; Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni; and Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin O’Regan, Chief of Weinreb’s Springfield Branch Office; Trial Attorney Marianne Shelvey of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section; and Katherine Wagner of Weinreb’s Springfield Branch Office are prosecuting the case.

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations.  The remaining defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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