Four Other Cohorts Plead To Crimes
A Howard Beach man was among five reputed members of the Gambino crime family who pled guilty in federal court last week to crimes including racketeering, narcotics trafficking, assault and extortion, authorities said.
Federal prosecutors noted that Todd LaBarca also pled guilty to conspiring to commit the January 2002 murder of Martin Bosshart, which was part of a turf war over control of a Gambino family marijuana trafficking operation.
LaBarca and four others-identified by the FBI as Vincenzo Frogiero, John Brancaccio, Christopher Reynolds and Sean Dunn-were initially charged in January 2011 as part of a nationwide takedown of moembers and associates of organized crime.
Frogiero, LaBarca, Brancaccio and Reynolds entered guilty pleas last Thursday, Apr. 26, before U.S. District Court Judge Richard M. Berman, while Dunn pled guilty last Monday, Apr. 23, before the same judge. Sentencing is scheduled to take place in July and each faces between 10 years and life in prison.
“For more than a decade, the vicious murder of Martin Bosshart in a mafia turf battle went unsolved,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara last Thursday. “With today’s guilty plea of Todd LaBarca, one of the responsible parties will be held to account. The laundry list of illegal conduct to which LaBarca and these four other defendants pled serves as a reminder of the scourge that is organized crime and that our efforts to root it out will continue unabated.”
According to the indictment, the informations, and other documents filed in the case, as well as statements made during the plea proceedings, Frogiero was a soldier and LaBarca was an associate in a crew run by Gambino family captain Louis Mastrangelo. Soldiers are members who have been formally initiated, or “made,” and associates are non-initiated individuals who commit crimes with and for the Gambino family. Brancaccio, Reynolds and Dunn were associates in a crew run by Gambino family captain Alphonse Trucchio.
From the late 1990s through 2002, LaBarca and other Gambino family members and associates, including Michael Roccaforte, imported hundreds of kilograms of high-potency marijuana from Canada into the New York City area. The marijuana trafficking operation yielded millions of dollars in profits for the Gambino family.
In 2001, Bosshart, who was involved in narcotics trafficking and other crimes with various members of Trucchio’s crew, began making efforts to exclude Roccaforte from the marijuana importation operation. In an effort to prevent Bosshart from taking over for Roccaforte and from moving in on the marijuana importation business, LaBarca plotted with other Gambino family members and associates to murder Bosshart.
On the night of Jan. 2, 2002, LaBarca and others lured Bosshart to an isolated location in Queens. There, another Gambino family associate shot Bosshart in the back of the head at point-blank range, killing him. Bosshart’s body was recovered at the scene, and LaBarca’s guilty plea in this case is the first conviction of any individual in connection with Bosshart’s murder.
LaBarca, Brancaccio, Reynolds and Dunn pled guilty to narcotics trafficking offenses. From the late 1980s through 2010, Trucchio and others oversaw the Gambino family’s large-scale narcotics distribution operations, which were primarily located in Queens.
Numerous drug suppliers, wholesalers, and street dealers operated under the authority and protection of the Gambino family in exchange for paying the family a portion of their profits. Over the years, the named defendants and others distributed hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and marijuana, and thousands of ecstasy and vicodin pills, all of which generated millions of dollars in illegal proceeds for the Gambino family.
During a search of Brancaccio home, federal agents seized quantities of cocaine and marijuana, as well as a shotgun, a handgun, a bulletproof vest, and a machete.
LaBarca, Brancaccio, Reynolds also pled guilty for their roles in extorting payments from various businesses’ owners and individuals based in New York City through the use of violence and threats. In one instance, LaBarca, Brancaccio and others threatened a small business owner with guns and threats of death in an effort to extort tens of thousands of dollars.
Frogiero, LaBarca, Brancaccio, Reynolds and Dunn also pled guilty to various gambling offenses, including running Internet-based sports betting, or “bookmaking,” operations, various regular, high-stakes card games, and operating video poker machines.
Fourteen defendants previously pled guilty in connection with the case: Gambino family captains Trucchio and Mastrangelo; Gambino family soldiers Roccaforte and Anthony Moscatiello; and Gambino family associates Christopher Colon, Salvatore Tortorici, Frank Bellantoni, Michael Kuhtenia, Salvatore Accardi, Keith Croce, Frank Roccaforte, Michael Russo, Robert Napolitano, and Anthino Russo.
Charges are pending against the remaining three defendants charged in the indictment: Gambino family consigliere Joseph Corozzo, Gambino family ruling panel member Bartolomeo Vernace, and Gambino family associate Robert Bucholz. These defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Five defendants who were associates of the Gambino crime family and charged as part of last year’s takedown in a separate indictment have also pled guilty.
Bharara praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service. He also noted that the investigation is continuing.
The case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elie Honig, Daniel Chung, and Natalie Lamarque are in charge of the prosecution.