Five alleged Mafia members arrested, charged in Brooklyn

Story highlights

  • They face charges of racketeering, extortion, illegal gambling and drug distribution
  • Those arrested included the alleged acting boss of the family, authorities say
  • The Bonanno clan is one of "five families" of organized crime in the U.S.
Five alleged members of the infamous Bonanno crime family were arrested in New York on Friday and charged with racketeering, extortion, illegal gambling and drug distribution, officials said.
"Members of organized crime continue to exploit their victims the old-fashioned way -- through violence, threats, and intimidation," said U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch in Brooklyn.
Two of the defendants, Anthony Graziano and Nicholas Santora, had recently been released from prison.
"Learning nothing from their incarceration, two of the defendants allegedly sought to regain their money and influence on the street while still under federal supervision," Lynch said. "But because they learned nothing, they find themselves back in custody again."
Janice Fedarcyk, the top FBI official in New York, said the charges "confirm that La Cosa Nostra families continue to engage in the bedrock money-making activities like extortion and loansharking, and are not shy about resorting to violence," referring to the American Mafia by its Italian name.
The Bonanno clan is one of the "five families" of organized crime that has largely dominated New York since it was first established around 1900. Despite a war with other clans in the 1920s and a civil war in the family in the 1960s, Bonanno family boss Joseph Bonanno survived. He died in 2002 at the age of 97.
Law enforcement officials say the Bonanno family is now a mere shell of its once-powerful underworld presence. In the past decade, more than 175 members and associates have been prosecuted, including at least 10 Bonanno family bosses, acting bosses and "administration members."
Among those charged Friday was Vincent Badalamenti, who authorities say was the acting boss of the family -- the top alleged member of the clan who had not yet been jailed.
The other Bonanno defendants were identified as Vito Balsamo and Anthony Calabrese.
Federal prosecutors said they also arrested one member of the Gambino organized crime family Friday. James LaForte was charged with loansharking.