FBI mob raid targets four boro murders

FBI mob raid targets four boro murders
A suspect sits handcuffed in Brooklyn after FBI agents arrested about 100 alleged members of the five organized crime families. (AP Photo/APTN, Pool)
By Joe anuta and howard koplowitz

Federal agents arrested nearly 100 suspected mobsters last week in the largest organized crime bust in FBI history and among the cases are four murders that occurred in Queens over the last 30 years.

The 91 men taken into custody in a pre-dawn raid are allegedly members and associates of La Costa Nostra, an organized crime syndicate which includes the Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Luchese families.

At least 24 of the 91 suspects live in Queens, including reputed Gambino higher-up Bartolomeo “Bobby” Vernace, suspected Gambino captains Louis Mastrangelo and Alphonse Truccio and alleged acting Colombo captain, Anthony Russo, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

“Our goal is to eradicate these folks as menaces to this nation,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said at a news conference in Manhattan after the arrests.

Vernace was charged in connection with a 1981 double murder in a Woodhaven bar, the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District said.

According to federal court documents, on April 11, 1981, an associate of the Gambino crime family was at Shamrock Bar, at 86-09 Jamaica Ave., when a dispute over a spilled drink arose between the man and the two owners of the bar, John D’Agnese and Richard Godkin.

The associate then left the bar and returned a short time later with Vernace and another man, the document said.

D’Agnese was shot and died from a single gunshot to the face, while Godkin was killed by a gun fired point-blank at his chest, according to the court papers.

A witness is expected to testify that Vernace was one of the shooters, the document said.

Vernace was previously acquitted on charges involving the murders in a state court case in 2002. He is also accused of racketeering, federal prosecutors contend, and he allegedly ran gambling operations out of cafés located around the borough from the early 1990s to about 2002, the documents said.

In one case, Vernace allegedly ran an illegal gambling operation out of a café on the corner of Cooper and Myrtle avenues in Glendale from January 1993 to December 2002, according to another document. The operation consisted of running electronic gambling machines, it said.

Todd Lacabra, an associate of the Gambino family, was also charged with a murder in the borough, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

According to police, Marty Bosshart was shot once in the head at about 9:30 p.m. Jan. 2, 2002, at Lahn Street and 155th Avenue in South Ozone Park.

Bosshart was allegedly involved in narcotics trafficking and other crimes with the Gambino crime family, according to a statement from the Justice Department.

In early 2001, Bosshart proposed to cut out a higher-ranking member of the Gambino family out of the lucrative trafficking operation, Justice said. In response, Lacabra and others allegedly plotted and then carried out the murder of Bosshart, the department said.

Lacabra and others allegedly lured Bosshart into a car, and then shot him once in the back of the head before dumping his body on the side of the intersection, according to a news release issued by the Justice Department.

Anthony Russo, an alleged acting captain of the Colombo crime family, was indicted in the 1993 murder of Ozone Park resident and Colombo underboss Joseph Scopo, who was killed as he got out of the passenger seat of a car parked in front of his home.

According to a detention memo filed by prosecutors arguing Russo should be denied bail, Scopo was killed in connection with an internal Colombo family war.

During the war, the family was split into two factions, the memo said, with one group loyal to Victor “Vic” Orena and another allied with Carmine “The Snake” Persico.

At the time of his murder, Scopo was affiliated with the Orena faction and was the final casualty of the Colombo family war, the detention memo said.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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