New Colombo Indictment Adds Racketeering Charge
NEW YORK (AP) _ The eldest son of the late reputed mob boss Joseph Colombo has been indicted on racketeering charges just before his lawyers - and lawyers for a score of co-defendants - were to report to a federal judge on plea bargain negotiations.
Defense and prosecution lawyers were to tell U.S. District Judge Henry Bramwell on Tuesday about any progress in negotiating guilty pleas for Anthony Colombo, two of his brothers and 19 other defendants in a massive racketeering case.
All were named last year in a 71-count indictment charging members of the alleged Colombo organized crime family with numerous criminal activities including murder, rape, robbery and drug trafficking.
All but Anthony Colombo, 41, of Blooming Grove, the eldest of the Colombo brothers, were charged with racketeering conspiracy for allegedly plotting to operate a Colombo crew ″through a pattern of racketeering activity.″
That pattern included a 10-year catalogue of crimes ranging from mail fraud and extortion to arson and hijacking, according to the indictment.
Anthony Colombo also was accused of directing a crew that robbed a dozen homes on Long Island and upstate New York, often while posing as police. In one robbery, an elderly man was beaten to death. A woman was raped and tortured during another robbery, according to prosecutors.
Although he allegedly ran the crew, Anthony Colombo was not charged with racketeering conspiracy, although a grand jury investigation was continuing.
Late last week, however, the grand jury indicted the eldest Colombo brother for racketeering conspiracy and indicted all 22 defendants for actual racketeering activities.
Michael A. Guadagno, assistant attorney-in-charge of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime Strike Force, would not comment on what effect the new indictment would have on plea negotiations.
Bramwell has ordered lawyers for both sides not to discuss the case with reporters.
Under the new indictment, all 22 defendants now face maximum 20-year sentences for both racketeering and conspiracy, if convicted.
Anthony Colombo also faces up to life in prison if convicted of running a continuing criminal enterprise, one of four narcotics counts charged against him in last year’s indictment.
The superseding indictment comes one month after Anthony Colombo’s lawyer, Barry Slotnick, lost a two-year legal battle t avoid testifying before the grand jury investigating his client.
On April 7, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a federal appeals court’s order that Slotnick tell a grand jury about fees Colombo paid him to represent other members of an alleged drug ring which prosecutors maintain was headed by the eldest Colombo brother.
The day after the high court’s decision, Slotnick, withdrew as trial attorney, as did his partner, Bruce Cutler, who represents Joseph Colombo Jr., 39, of New Windsor.
Slotnick told Bramwell that he had learned one of the Colombos’ co- defendants, Alphonse Merolla, 46, of Washingtonville, would be a government witness at the trial.
Because Cutler had once represented Merolla, Slotnick said, ″It would be a conflict of interest for us to represent the Colombos.″
Prosecutors would not comment on whether Merolla was a government witness, but his name was not included on a the superseding indictment.
In addition to Anthony and Joseph Colombo, their brother, Vincent, 34, of Washingtonville, also was charged in the indictment.
Joseph Colombo Sr., reputed head of the crime family that bore his name, was shot in the head June 28, 1971, and lingered in a coma seven years before dying.