April 28, 2014

Colombo Family Soldier Sentenced to 50 Years in Prison

Earlier today, Dino Saracino, a soldier in the Colombo organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (the “Colombo family”), was sentenced to 50 years in prison at the United States Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York. In May 2012, a jury convicted Saracino of racketeering conspiracy spanning nearly two decades, including two murder conspiracies, the extortionate extension and collection of credit, and witness tampering as predicate racketeering acts. The jury also convicted Saracino of conspiring to make extortionate extensions of credit, witness tampering, and obstructing an official proceeding. (Saracino’s co-defendant, Colombo Family street boss Thomas Gioeli, was also convicted at trial of racketeering conspiracy, including three murder conspiracies. On March 19, 2014, Gioeli was sentenced to 224 months in prison.)

The sentence was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and George Venizelos, Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), New York Field Office.

United States Attorney Lynch stated, “Dino Saracino was a member of one of the most lethal and feared crews of criminals in La Cosa Nostra. His ruthless adherence to the mafia’s code of violence may have earned him a position as a soldier in the Colombo family, but today’s sentence ensures that he will pay for his crimes with years in prison.” Ms. Lynch praised the FBI and the New York City Police Department for their partnership in the government’s investigation and prosecution and also thanked the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, the New York County District Attorney’s Office, and the Nassau County Police Department for their assistance.

The evidence at trial established Saracino’s involvement in a racketeering conspiracy that spanned from 1991 through 2008. The jury found that between 1991 and 1993, Saracino—as part of a faction of the Colombo family that was loyal to jailed boss Carmine Persico—conspired to kill members of a faction loyal to then acting family boss Victor Orena. The two factions were engaged in a bloody struggle, known as the Colombo Family War, for control of the criminal enterprise. The jury also found that Saracino plotted to kill Michael Burnside, who Saracino and others believed was responsible for Saracino’s brother’s death in 1998. In addition, the jury found that Saracino violently attempted to collect a loanshark debt owed by an individual known as “Peter Risk,” conspired to extend extortionate credit himself, and attempted to obstruct the government’s investigation into his activities and the other members of his criminal crew in 2008 through witness tampering, all as part of the racketeering conspiracy. The jury further convicted Saracino of substantive counts of conspiring to make extortionate extensions of credit, preventing testimony, withholding testimony and records from the grand jury, and obstructing an official proceeding, specifically, the grand jury’s investigation of Saracino and his crew.

Today’s sentencing signifies the culmination of a lengthy investigation and prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI. Since Saracino’s arrest with Colombo family street boss Thomas Gioeli and others in June 2008, over 70 members and associates of the Colombo family, including its leadership, have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted.

The sentencing proceeding was held before the Honorable Brian M. Cogan, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of New York. During the sentencing proceeding, Judge Cogan found that, in addition to the crimes found proved by the trial jury, the government had proved by clear and convincing evidence that Saracino had participated in the 1995 murder of Richard Greaves, a Colombo family associate; the 1997 murder of New York City Police Officer Ralph Dols; and the 1999 murder of Colombo Family underboss William “Wild Bill” Cutolo.

The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Elizabeth A. Geddes, James D. Gatta and Cristina M. Posa.

Dino Saracino
Age 41