FBI digs for bodies at New York farms tied to Gambino crime family

Search comes after federal prosecutors in Brooklyn announced the arrests of 10 alleged members and associates of the Gambino crime family under a sprawling RICO Act indictment

Rachel Sharp
Thursday 16 November 2023 17:12 GMT
Gambino Crime Crackdown

Two upstate New York properties connected to the notorious Gambino crime family are now being searched for human remains – days after 10 alleged mob members and associates were busted in a sweeping RICO indictment.

Multiple law enforcement agencies including the FBI were seen on Tuesday and Wednesday carrying out searches and using heavy machinery to dig up the land at multi-acre horse farms on Hampton Road in Goshen and five miles away on Hamptonburgh Road in Campbell Hall, both in Orange County.

Sources close to the investigation told local outlet News 12 that authorities are looking for bodies that may be buried on the properties as part of an ongoing investigation into the Gambino family.

The sources said that no human remains had been found so far but the search is set to continue on Thursday.

It is not clear whose body or bodies investigators are hoping to find or what may have led them to the properties in Orange County. The Independent has reached out to the FBI for further information.

Both farms used to be owned by an individual named as Giovanni DiLorenzo, according to Orange County online property records obtained by News12.

The Campbell Hall farm is now owned by Viviane DiLorenzo while the Goshen farm is now owned by GDLI LLC. Both owners are registered to the same address in West Islip.

A 66-year-old man named Salvatore DiLorenzo, of Oceanside, was among the 10 alleged Gambino family “made men” and associates arrested last week.

Local residents told CBS New York that they had noticed unusual things happening at all hours around the Campbell Hall property.

One of the farms where FBI and NYPD officials are searching for bodies
One of the farms where FBI and NYPD officials are searching for bodies (News12)

“People meet at weird hours of the day at the end of the driveway. Strange noises and bright lights inside the barn at night,” Mary Nally said.

The search comes after federal prosecutors in Brooklyn announced on 8 November the arrests of 10 members and associates of the Gambino crime family under a sprawling RICO Act indictment.

The defendants were hit with a string of charges including racketeering conspiracy, extortion, witness retaliation, fraud and embezzlement, and union-related crimes, following an international operation alongside Italian authorities.

An additional seven defendants were charged in Italy – one of whom is still at large.

The 21-page indictment, unsealed by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, names the defendants as:

  • Joseph “Joe Brooklyn” Lanni, 52, of Staten Island
  • Diego “Danny” Tantillo, 48, of Freehold, New Jersey
  • Robert Brooke, 55, of New York, New York
  • Salvatore DiLorenzo, 66, of Oceanside, New York
  • Angelo “Fifi” Gradilone, 57, of Staten Island
  • Kyle “Twin” Johnson, 46, of the Bronx
  • James “Jimmy” LaForte, 46, of New York
  • Vincent “Vinny Slick” Minsquero, 36, of Staten Island
  • Vito “Vi” Rappa, 46, of East Brunswick, New Jersey
  • Franceso “Uncle Ciccio” Vicari, 46, of Elmont, New York

According to the indictment, the made men and mob associates spent years trying to take over New York’s garbage hauling and demolition industries, extorting victims using violent means and deadly threats.

Hammer attacks, homes set on fire and threats to ax a victim in two are among the more chilling details alleged.

“As alleged, for years, the defendants committed violent extortions, assaults, arson, witness retaliation and other crimes in an attempt to dominate the New York carting and demolition industries,” said United States Attorney Breon Peace in a statement.

“Today’s arrests reflect the commitment of this Office and our law enforcement partners, both here and abroad, to keep our communities safe by the complete dismantling of organized crime.”

According to the indictment, Mr Lanni, also known as “Joe Brooklyn” and “Mommino,” is an alleged captain in the Gambino organised crime family.

Mr Tantillo, Mr LaForte and Mr Gradilone are allegedly “soldiers” with the former two becoming “made” men in October 2019.

Due to his rank as a made man and capo, the three soldiers allegedly “kicked up” hundreds of thousands of dollars to Mr Lanni.

Gambino crime family associates allegedly setting John Doe’s front steps ablaze
Gambino crime family associates allegedly setting John Doe’s front steps ablaze (USAO)

Financial records cited in the indictment outline that the soldiers provided more than $1.5m in purported “loans” to companies owned by Mr Lanni. Yet, these loans were actually allegedly proceeds earned through criminal activities.

Meanwhile, prosecutors say Mr Brooke, Mr DiLorenzo, Mr Johnson, and Mr Minsquero are Gambino associates, Mr Rappa is a member of the Sicilian Mafia and a Gambino associate, and Mr Vicari is both an associate of the Sicilian Mafia and the Gambino family.

Together, since at least 2017, the mobsters allegedly ran a racketeering enterprise trying to rule over the carting and demolition industry in New York.

Specifically, the mob allegedly extorted money from an unidentified garbage business and unidentified demolition company.

This was carried out through “actual and threatened violence, stealing and embezzling from union employee benefit plans and conspiring to rig bids for lucrative demolition jobs”, prosecutors allege.

Court documents, seen by The Independent, reveal a number of chilling and violent encounters where the mobsters allegedly attacked – or threatened violence – against those they were extorting.

One of these victims was the owner of a garbage company.

Named only as John Doe 1, the indictment alleges that the suspects extorted money from him between at least 2017 and March 2021.

During this period, Mr Tantillo, Mr Johnson, Mr Rappa and Mr Vicari allegedly threatened John Doe 1 with violence to ensure he complied with the monthly payments.

This included one instance where – while John Doe 1 was making a $1,000 payment to him – Mr Tantillo allegedly threatened the garbage haulage company owner with a metal baseball bat, telling him the bat “was for him”.

The bat was later seized in a search of Mr Tantille’s vehicle, prosecutors said.

A photograph of Tantillo and Gradilone together the day of their apparent induction ceremony into the Gambino crime family
A photograph of Tantillo and Gradilone together the day of their apparent induction ceremony into the Gambino crime family (DOJ)

In another violent incident in September 2020 – when John Doe 1 tried to stop the payments – the mobsters allegedly lit the steps of John Doe 1’s home on fire.

His wife and children were inside the home at the time.

One month later, the accused mobsters then allegedly broke into his business and let out the tyres on his hauling trucks.

Two weeks after that, prosecutors allege that a close business associate of John Doe 1 was violently attacked with a hammer.

This victim, who also happened to be an employee of the demolition company being extorted by the mob, ended up in hospital with his injuries.

Minutes after the attack, Mr Johnson texted Mr Tantillo three thumbs-up emojis, the court documents state.

In a tapped phone call, Mr Rappa was heard allegedly boasting to Mr Tantillo that Mr Vicari had “acted like the ‘Last of the Samurai’”, picking up a knife and telling John Doe 1’s associate to threaten to cut John Doe 1 in half to force him to keep up with his payments.

“Get this axe and you make him – two,” he allegedly said.

After these incidents, the payments, unsurprisingly, came pouring back in.

Mr Vicari celebrated with a photo toasting a small bottle of champagne, prosecutors said.

According to the indictment, Mr Tantillo, Mr Johnson and Mr Brooke were meanwhile also extorting three individuals – known as John Does 2, 3 and 4 – who owned the demolition company dubbed “Demolition Company 1”.

When the owners failed to pay the alleged mobsters a $40,000 payment, Mr Brooke allegedly violently attacked one of the men on a street corner in midtown Manhattan.

Francesco Vicari and nine others were arrested on multiple charges as members or associates of the Gambino crime family
Francesco Vicari and nine others were arrested on multiple charges as members or associates of the Gambino crime family (USAO)

The victim was punched repeatedly in the face, leaving him bloody and with a black eye.

Throughout the investigation, prosecutors said it emerged that Mr Tantillo had been fired from the company back in 2019 due to his ties to organised crime.

In another violent incident in February 2021, prosecutors allege that Mr LaForte and Mr Minsquero confronted a man known only as “John Doe 6” at Sei Less restaurant in Manhattan and accused him of being a “rat” and giving information to law enforcement.

The accused mobsters then allegedly smashed a bottle in John Doe 6’s face and flipped over the table.

And, in September 2023, “captain” Mr Lanni together with Mr Minsquero allegedly threatened to burn down a restaurant in Toms River, New Jersey.

Surveillance footage captured Mr Lanni buying a gas can and trying to fill it at a gas station just minutes later.

Other allegations laid out in the indictment include a scheme to steal and embezzle from unions and employee benefit plans and a bid-rigging conspiracy for lucrative demolition jobs.

Finally, after a multi-year investigation by federal prosecutors in East New York, the FBI and Italian authorities – which included multiple wiretaps, search warrants, witness statements and police surveillance – a grand jury returned a sixteen-count indictment against the 10 men in Brooklyn on 2 November 2023.

The accused Gambino family members were then arrested and charged under the RICO Act.

Now, the 10 defendants are facing between 20 and 180 years in federal prison on the charges – in what marks one of the biggest takedowns in recent history of the Five Families of New York.

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