crimesider

Dozens of alleged mobsters nabbed by feds in East Coast sweep

Last Updated Aug 4, 2016 3:20 PM EDT

NEW YORK -- More than 40 alleged mobsters were charged Friday in a broad-based organized crime bust, according to the FBI.

The FBI says members of reputed mafia crime families, including the Genovese, Gambino, Luchese and Bonanno families, were arrested in New York and Florida. The suspects allegedly operated as a part of a massive East Coast syndicate known as the "East Coast Enterprise."

The families allegedly formed an unusual alliance and joined forces or conducted overlapping business, CBS New York reported. Members reportedly used coded language to arrange meetings at highway rest areas and restaurants.

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The FBI says members of reputed mafia crime families, including the Genovese, Gambino, Luchese and Bonanno families, were arrested in New York and Florida.

CBS / Christine Cornell

Federal prosecutors say members operated along the East Coast including in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Florida and were involved with firearms trafficking, extortion, illegal gambling, health care fraud, credit card fraud, assault and other offenses.

An indictment in Manhattan federal court said the criminal activities were mostly based in New York.

The suspects included reputed old-school mobsters in New York and Philadelphia. 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.

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."

The indictment lays out a organizational structure made famous through generations of mafia movies and high-profile criminal trials: each "family" was organized into "crews" or "regimes" of suspected mob members, each with a leader known as a "caporegime," "capo," "captain" or "skipper." Each crew member or "soldier" allegedly carried out criminal activities for the enterprise and received protection from their "capo."

The highest-ranking members of the family were dubbed "the administration," the indictment says -- the head of the family, or "boss," would be assisted by an "underboss" or "consigliere."

A local focus of the investigation was an apparent gambling operation known as the Yonkers Club where poker and dice tournaments were held, reports CBS New York. 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.

The enterprise allegedly sought to gain power, cash and territory through intimidation, violence, and threats of physical and financial harm. In some cases, the indictment alleges, suspected members assaulted or destroyed the property of people they thought jeopardized the enterprise's activities.

The indictment charges 46 people. By 10 a.m., some 41 of those charged were in custody, according to CBS New York.

In an unrelated local drug takedown, the grandson of notorious mob boss John Gotti is accused of selling oxycodone and other prescription pills along with six others in an alleged distribution ring. Police say 500 Oxycodone pills were discovered in the home where the notorious mobster -- nicknamed "Teflon Don" -- once lived.

The younger Gotti, 23, was arrested Thursday.