NEW YORK (AP) — Nearly four dozen suspects, including reputed old-school mobsters in New York and Philadelphia, were arrested on Thursday in a massive case charging them with crimes ranging from extortion to illegal gambling.
An indictment filed by federal prosecutors in Manhattan accused the defendants of also being involved in loansharking, casino-style gambling, sports gambling, credit card fraud and health care fraud. It said they formed a syndicate operating in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Florida.
Among those charged were Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, the reputed boss of a Philadelphia crime family. Also named in the indictment was Pasquale "Patsy" Parrello, identified as a longtime member of the Genovese organized crime family in New York City.
One count accuses the 72-year-old Parrello of ordering a beatdown of a panhandler he believed was harassing customers outside his Bronx restaurant, telling a cohort to "break his ... knees." The panhandler was "located and assaulted with glass jars, sharp objects and steel-tipped boots, causing bodily harm," the court papers say.
Diego Rodriguez, head of the FBI's New York office, said in a statement that the indictment "reads like an old school Mafia novel, where extortion, illegal gambling, arson and threats to 'whack' someone are carried out along with some modern-day crimes of credit card skimming."