A New York man is accused of trying to fix college basketball games with an alleged Colombo family mobster after investigators say the pair were caught scheming together on a wire-tap.
Benjamin Bifalco, 25, was one of 20 charged in a racketeering, extortion, and loansharking bust after investigators say he discussed rigging results by paying players with Joseph Amato Jr., the son of an alleged Colombo captain.
A federal probe targeting members of the Colombos, one of New York’s five Italian crime families, saw a number of men, including alleged captain Joseph Amato, arrested on Thursday.
Feds say Bifalco first asked Amato Jr. if he should ‘talk about this on the phone’, NBC reports.
Amato Jr. is said to have answered: ‘I mean, why not?’ ‘You talk about everything else on the f***ing phone, and you’re an idiot.’
In follow up calls Bifalco spoke of ‘offering to pay thousands of dollars to multiple members of a basketball team so that they would intentionally lose by a lot’, investigators say.
Two firearms, two stun guns, a canister of purported tear gas and thousands of dollars were recovered during searches of residences of Amato and Scorcia, investigators say
One Item said to have been seized from Thomas Scorcia’s vehicle in June 2019. Benjamin Bifalco was one of 20 charged in a racketeering, extortion, and loansharking bust Thursday
John Franzese, left, arrives at federal court in the Brooklyn Borough of New York in 2010
Court papers allege he then tried to convince Amato Jr. to put money on the unspecified game.
THE COLOMBO FAMILY AND THEIR TIES TO ORGANIZED CRIME
The Colombos are one of New York’s five Italian crime families.
They are the youngest on the infamous mob groups.
Boss Carmine Persico ‘the Snake’ died seven months ago at a North Carolina hospital near the federal prison where he was serving a 100-year sentence on charges of murder and racketeering.
John ‘Sonny’ Franzese, 102, a reputed underboss for the Colombo crime family was 100 years old, the oldest prisoner in the federal penal system, when he was released in June 2017.
He was once a regular at the Copacabana nightclub, where he could be seen with singers Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr.
The Gambinos were the most powerful of the five families of the New York City mafia and worth an estimated $500 million a year.
But, according to court documents, Amato Jr. wrote to fellow alleged Colombo family member, Thomas Scorcia, to say he would ‘not touch the game’.
He is said to have written: ‘Ok I wouldn’t trust the game I was telling u about…I’m not touching it personally.’
Federal prosecutors say that was ‘good advice given that the favored team did not cover the spread and the bets would not have been winning ones’.
Federal prosecutors say 11 members of the Colombo crime family were arrested Thursday. Nine others were also charged with crimes including racketeering and extortion across Staten Island since 2014.
Among those charged was alleged Colombo captain Joseph Amato, alleged family members Daniel Capaldo, Vincent Scura and Thomas Scorcia and associate Anthony Silvestro.
Those charged are aged 21 to 60 years old and live in New Jersey or New York.
The investigation began after a GPS tracking device Amato is said to have used to follow his then girlfriend’s movements ended up on a bus.
When she is said to have discovered the tracking device she is said to have placed it on the bus and the government began to intercept communications between the accused.
Court documents detail how Amato Jr. and his mob beat a man who confronted him for insulting a woman in a bar, NBC New York reports.
He is said to have asked the man: ‘Do you know who my father is?’
One of the items allegedly seized from Joseph Amato’s home in May 2017. A federal probe targeting members of the Colombos, one of New York’s five Italian crime families, saw a number of men, including alleged captain Joseph Amato, arrested on Thursday
One of the items allegedly seized from Joseph Amato’s home in May 2017. Federal prosecutors say 11 members of the Colombo crime family were arrested Thursday. Nine others were also charged with crimes including racketeering and extortion across Staten Island since 2014
Federal prosecutors say: ‘The following day, the individual was lured to a location where Amato, Amato Jr. and other members of Amato’s crew brutally beat the victim, leaving him bloodied and in need of staples in his scalp.
‘On other occasions, court-authorized intercepts captured Scorcia boasting, “I told the guy sit in the car, and the kid had the tears”.
‘Silvestro advising Scorcia, “[Y]ou send him a smack. If he raises his hand back to you, we beat the bricks off him, that’s it” and following the commission of one of the charged crimes of violence, Amato Jr. described the crime and the victim’s reaction, “[W]e abused him so bad. Yo I had, bro, me and Pap (Silvestro), bro, had him shaking bro. He was in tears, he was crying”.
Two firearms, two stun guns, a canister of purported tear gas and thousands of dollars in U.S. currency were recovered during court-authorized searches of residences of Amato and Scorcia, investigators say.
‘The mafia is not the criminal threat it once was, but we remain vigilant and will vigorously investigate and prosecute members and associates who engage in violence and extortion to intimidate victims and enrich themselves and their crime family,’ stated United States Attorney Donoghue.