New York State Criminal Cases – Friday, September 17, 2021

Last edited on Friday, September 17, 2021, at 9:15 AM.

Welcome to The Blanch Law Firm’s weekly digest of New New York Criminal Cases. Our goal is to keep the public informed as to recent events in federal courts around the country. 

As always, unless otherwise disclosed, none of the defendants mentioned in these summaries are clients of our firm.

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Friday, September 17, 2021

I. 14 Indicted, Including Many from the Colombo Crime Family

On September 14, 2021, in a Brooklyn federal court, a 19-count indictment was unsealed charging 14 defendants, including many key members and associates of the Colombo crime family of La Cosa Nostra, as well as a member of the Bonanno organized crime family, with various offenses including labor racketeering involving multiple predicate acts of extortion conspiracy, attempted extortion and extortion, extortionate collection of credit conspiracy, extortionate collection of credit and money laundering conspiracy.

The charges in the indictment against the Colombo crime family members relate to multiple schemes in a long-running effort by the crime family to infiltrate and take control of a Queens-based labor union (the “Labor Union”) and its affiliated health care benefit program (the “Health Fund”) that provides medical benefits, including dental, optical and pharmacy benefits, to the members of the Labor Union, and to a conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with workplace safety certifications. 

Among those charged with racketeering are Andrew “Mush” Russo, the acknowledged boss of the Colombo crime family, Benjamin “Benji” Castellazzo, the underboss, and Ralph DiMatteo, the consigliere.  Alleged Colombo crime family captains Theodore Persico, Jr., Richard Ferrara, and Vincent Ricciardo have also been charged with racketeering, along with soldier Michael Uvino and associates Thomas Costa and Domenick Ricciardo.  In addition, alleged Bonanno family soldier John Ragano is charged with loansharking, fraud, and drug trafficking offenses.


II. Three Employees of a Long Island IT Company Plead Guilty to Criminal Copyright Infringement

On September 15, 2021, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, announced that Michael Calabria, Joseph Keegan and Casey Silver had pleaded guilty in Central Islip federal court. The charges in the indictment were for criminal copyright infringement.  Calabria and Keegan were principals of Melville, NY-based Constructure Technologies, LLC (Constructure), and Silver was a Constructure employee.  

The charge relates to the defendants’ installing unlicensed versions of software by using “cracking” programs or “key generators,” which allowed Constructure employees to activate copies of the software without paying for a license and obtaining a key.

Besides the guilty pleas, Constructure itself is charged with a felony violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and they have agreed to pay a $60,000 fine as part of a deferred prosecution agreement that Constructure has entered into with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. The relevant portion of the DMCA prohibits the criminal circumvention of copyright protection systems, including encryption systems.


III. Two Arrested For Operating Narcotics Delivery Service Responsible For Three Overdose Deaths

On September 16, 2021, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that Jose Luis Tejada Aybar, a/k/a Tejada, and Allen Alexis Abisada Guzman, were charged in criminal complaints unsealed in Manhattan federal court with narcotics conspiracy resulting in the deaths of Marsha Clarke of the Bronx, New York, and Martin Banks and Edward Lynch of Yonkers, New York.  Tejada was arrested that day and was presented sometime later, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ona T. Wang in Manhattan.   Abisada was arrested the same day and was presented Sept. 17 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman in Miami.

As alleged in the Complaints, from at least January 2018 to at least in or about February 2020, Tejada and Abisada operated a narcotics delivery service (the “Cab Louie Delivery Service”) in the New York City area.  On or about September 19, 2019, Abisada, working for the Cab Louie Delivery Service, delivered cocaine to Clarke, Banks, and Lynch.  Within two days, the cocaine delivered by the Cab Louie Delivery Service, which was tainted with fentanyl, caused the overdose deaths of Clarke, Banks, and Lynch, as well as the hospitalization of Clarke’s husband. Soon thereafter, Tejada saved on his phone a news article reporting the overdose deaths of Banks and Lynch.


IV. Brooklyn Gang Member Indicted for Multiple Shootings and Firearms Offenses

On September 16, 2021, the Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, along with several prominent federal and state law enforcement officials, announced that a nine-count superseding indictment had just been filed in Brooklyn federal court, charging Darrius Sutton, a/k/a “Blizz Meecho,” with violent crimes in aid of racketeering, as well as for attempted murder and related firearms offenses.  Sutton has been in federal custody since his arrest in July 2020 on charges of being a felon in possession of ammunition. Sutton will be arraigned on the superseding indictment at a date that has not yet been determined. 

According to the indictment, it is alleged that, on August 11, 2019, Sutton attended a party at a rental hall located at 2529 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.  Surveillance video and other evidence established that shortly after Sutton left the party, he confronted a member of a rival gang who was also leaving the party.  Sutton demanded to know if the victim was a member of the rival gang; Sutton began shooting and pursuing the intended victim as the victim attempted to flee.  In addition to striking his intended victim in the forearms and groin, Sutton’s gunfire also wounded an innocent bystander in the leg.


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