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14 alleged members of Gambino crime family charged

By Jamie Guzzardo, CNN
  • Boss of Gambino crime family, other members arrested, U.S. attorney says
  • Daniel Marino, who U.S. attorney says is group's boss, charged with murder
  • One of Marino's charges connected to '89 killing of man who testified about mafia
  • Some defendants accused of operating prostitution business with girls as young as 15

(CNN) -- Fourteen alleged members of the Gambino crime family have been indicted on charges including murder, racketeering, prostitution of minors and trying to locate and intimidate a sequestered jury, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Manhattan, New York, said Tuesday.

"Today, the Gambino family has lost one of its leaders, and many of its rising stars have now fallen," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said. "We will continue to work with our partners at the FBI to eradicate the mafia and to keep organized crime from victimizing the businesses and the people of this city."

Twelve people, including Daniel Marino, named by the U.S. attorney as the current boss of the Gambino crime family, were arrested Tuesday morning. One was arrested last week, and another was at large Tuesday afternoon, Bharara's office said.

Marino has been charged with murder in various cases, including the 1989 killing of Thomas Spinelli, a member of the family who testified before a federal grand jury about the mafia's members and activities.

The other defendants, who authorities say include some high-ranking members of the Gambino crime family, also have serious charges brought against them.

Onofrio Modica is charged with jury tampering, which stems from 1992, when then-boss John J. Gotti was on trial on federal racketeering and murder charges. According to the U.S. attorney, Modica and other members of the Gambino family tried to locate the anonymous, sequestered jurors sitting on the trial. Modica was able to penetrate security measures and locate the hotel where the jury was sequestered, but the plan was called off after Gotti decided that the jury would not convict him, authorities allege.

Video: Gambino family faces charges

The U.S. attorney alleges several of the defendants also operated a prostitution business from 2008 to 2009, where young women and girls as young as 15 allegedly were recruited to be prostitutes and advertised on websites such as Craigslist. According to Bharara, the defendants drove the women to their appointments and kept approximately half the money paid to them. The women allegedly were made available for sex to gamblers at weekly high-stakes poker games that authorities say were run by the defendants.

Read how rare it is for women and children to be involved

A press release from Bharara's office detailed the other charges against the defendants, including extortion; assault; trafficking of narcotics, such as cocaine, OxyContin and marijuana; wire fraud, which includes the alleged defrauding of several high-end New York restaurants by inflating invoice costs; loansharking; and gambling.

"This case shows that it's still about making money illegally, by whatever means," FBI Special Agent-in-Charge George Venizelos said. "No crime seemed too depraved to be exploited if it was a money-maker, including the sexual exploitation of a 15-year-old."

According to the U.S. attorney's office, the fourteen defendants are Marino, Modica, Thomas Orefice, Dominick DiFiore, Anthony Manzella, Michael Scotto, Michael Scarpaci, Thomas Scarpaci, David Eisler, Salvatore Borgia, Steve Maiurro, Keith Dellitalia, Suzanne Porcelli and Anthony Vecchione.

Maiurro remains at large. The 13 defendants all entered not guilty pleas on Tuesday, according to the U.S. attorney's office, and they are expected to appear Wednesday before a federal judge who has been appointed to the case.