Six men from Palm Beach County were charged with racketeering in a case that involved five organized crime families.
These six men, Joseph Merlino, the alleged leader of the Philadelphia mob along with Pasquale Kapolongo and Frank Trapani as well as Carmine Gallo and Craig Bagon, were all arrested and made their appearance in federal court in West Palm Beach, Florida on Thursday morning.
Prosecutors with the United States Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York filed the indictment against defendants for extortion and loan sharking, gambling at casinos, sports gambling, fraud, credit card fraud, and health care fraud. According to the Department of Justice defendants collaborated to engage in “a multitude of criminal activities along the East Coast of America between Springfield, Massachusetts and Southern Florida.”
Merlino, 54, owns a Boca Raton residence and a restaurant. He has been convicted of murder in the past but has also served 12 years for racketeering. He was held without bail until Tuesday’s hearing.
Capolongo, who is 67 years old, lives in West Palm Beach while Gallo, 38 year-old, lives in Delray Beach. Trapani, Bagon, and Serkin all live in Boca Raton.
Two other indicted persons were also arrested in Springfield, Mass.; two others were already held in federal custody for other charges. One was being held on state charges while the other one will be transferred to federal custody. The other indicted are being presented to federal court in New York.
Agents recovered three handguns and a shotgun from the suspects during the arrests. They also found gambling paraphernalia, more than $30,000 cash, and three handguns.
Diego Rodriguez, the head of FBI’s New York branch, stated that the indictment reads “like an old-school Mafia novel” and includes threats to ‘whack someone’, illegal gambling, extortion, arson, and threats to ‘whack’ someone.
According to the Department of Justice Merlino was accused of supervising and controlling other members of the organization along with Pasquale “Patsy” Parrello, and Eugene “Rooster” O’Nofrio. Merlino was also accused in a scheme to control and supervise doctors who wrote excessively expensive prescriptions for a compound cream medication.
Merlino was ordered held by a magistrate without bail. Prosecutors argued against Merlino’s release by stating that he was “recorded supervising several individuals and questioning whether certain associates are ‘rats’.”
According to the Justice Department, Capolongo was also known as Patsy C., Mustache Pat, Fish and conspired to extort money. Parrello was persuaded to intervene for Capolongo when the bookmaker refused to pay Capolongo.
According to the Department of Justice Parrello instructed others to intimidate Parrello. “You get (fellow defendant Israel), Buddy (Torres), and let Buddy go there to choke (the bookmaker), choke Buddy. I want Buddy choke him, choke him and actually choke the (expletive). Then, tell him, “Listen, Buddy, next time I’m not stopping choking… I’m going to kill you.”
Parrello, 72-year-old, has been identified as a long-standing member of Genovese crime families in New York. He is also accused of ordering the 2011 beatingdown of a panhandler, and in retaliation for the stabbing of one of his crew members.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.