LAWFUEL – US Attorney Announcements – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Alice Fisher, Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office, and Betty N. Stewart, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, announced that defendant Renaldi “Ray” Ruggiero, of Palm Beach Gardens, pled guilty today in the United States District Court in Fort Lauderdale, to conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influence Corrupt Organization (RICO) statute, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1962(d). Sentencing is scheduled for April 27, 2007 at 1:30 p.m. before U.S. District Court Judge James I. Cohn. The maximum sentence is twenty (20) years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.
Ruggiero had been charged in a June 2006 Indictment with six other Broward men with racketeering conspiracy and other crimes related to the Genovese Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra. Also charged where defendants Albert “Chinky” Facchiano, Joseph Dennis Colasacco, Mitchell Weissman, Francis J. O’Donnell, Clement Santoro, and Charles Steinberg. Co-defendants Colasacco, Steinberg, Weissman, and O’Donnell previously pled guilty to one count of RICO conspiracy and are scheduled to be sentenced on March 30, 2007. Santoro is scheduled to proceed to trial on February 26, 2007, and defendant Facchiano has filed a motion to transfer a seprate case from the Southern District of New York to the Southern District of Florida for resolution with the Florida case.
In the written proffer filed with the court, Ruggiero admitted that from approximately 1994 to the date of the Indictment, he was a soldier and later a captain in the Genovese Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra, in charge of its South Florida operations. In this capacity, Ruggiero supervised and directed the activities of LCN members and associates in South Florida, including authorizing acts of violence, such as beatings, to intimidate persons whom he believed were interfering with LCN criminal activities and to acquire and maintain interests in various legitimate business entities.
Ruggiero also admitted that he conspired with others to engage in a pattern of racketeering activity that included extortion, robbery, money laundering, making of extortionate extensions of credit, collection of extensions of credit by extortionate means, travel in aid of racketeering, possession of stolen property, and bank fraud. In one example, Ruggiero admitted that in October 2003, he approved co-defendant Francis J. O’Donnell’s and Joseph Dennis Colasacco’s plan to lure an individual to O’Donnell’s office, located at 9600 W. Sample Road, Coral Springs, Florida, to assault the individual and extort money from him. When the individual arrived at O’Donnell’s office, co-defendant Clement Santoro, who came from New York at the request of Ruggiero and Colasacco, put a gun to the victim’s head, pushed him to the couch, and demanded $1.5 million from the victim. While the individual was being assaulted, co-defendant Mitchell Weissman, who was hiding in an adjacent office, called Colasacco on his cellular telephone so that Colasacco could hear the assault. Subsequently, defendant Ruggiero received payment, in the form of checks and money orders, from the victim in payment of this extortionate demand.
The proffer also recounts another act of violence that occurred in early2002, when co-defendant Charles Steinberg agreed to assist members of an organized crime family in the robbery of a bookmaker whom they believed would be in possession of as much as $300,000 at the time of the robbery. Prior to assisting in the robbery, Steinberg received approval to participate from defendant Ruggiero. Steinberg was to be paid $10,000 to assist in the robbery.
Ruggiero also admitted that in May 2003, Ruggiero and co-defendants Colasacco, O’Donnell, and Weissman laundered approximately $280,000 of what they believed to be drug proceeds from an undercover detective through companies owned by defendant O’Donnell or one of his employees.
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, and United States Postal Service assigned to this case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey N. Kaplan and Trial Attorney Cynthia Stone from the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section of the United States Department of Justice.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.