Diego Tantillo, 48, and Angelo Gradilone, 57, appeared in Brooklyn Federal Court on Tuesday dressed in khaki prison clothing for their bail appeal.
The two men were arraigned on racketeering charges on November 8 and were denied bond over fears they could flee the country, threaten witnesses and use facilities of the crime syndicate to help with intimidation.
But Judge Frederic Block said he would release Tantillo, from Freehold, New Jersey, and Gradilone, from Staten Island, on Wednesday, in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.
He did not agree they posed a flight risk and said this generation of mafia members are not as violent as those in the past.
Tantillo and Gradilone were among 10 alleged mafia operatives arrested earlier this month, in a coordinated US-Italian operation. Six suspected mafia members were arrested in Italy.
The lengthy documents contain evidence that shows when the men were ‘made’ into the Gambino family. One image shows Tantillo being inducted into the family on October 17, 2019, standing with Gradilone (pictured)
Diego Tantillo and Angelo Gradilone’s meeting was photographed by detectives (above)
The men appeared before Judge Frederic Block in a Brooklyn courthouse on Tuesday
At the time of their arrest, Breon Peace, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said they were ruthless and violent.
‘As alleged, for years, the defendants committed violent extortions, assaults, arson, witness retaliation and other crimes in an attempt to dominate the New York carting and demolition industries,’ said Peace.
‘Today’s arrests reflect the commitment of this Office and our law enforcement partners, both here and abroad, to keep our communities safe by the complete dismantling of organized crime.’
Yet on Tuesday, Judge Block questioned prosecutor Andrew Roddin on why Tantillo and Gradilone should not be released on bail like the five other men accused of being part of the Gambino crime family.
‘This thing doesn’t ring a bell with me,’ he said. ‘Posing significant conditions, they are not going anywhere.
‘I don’t see a risk of flight certainly that can’t be cured by bail conditions.’
He pointed to the fact that those accused of murder are sometimes granted bail.
‘In the past we have let murderers go with bail,’ Judge Block said.
‘In this case there were no murders. The younger generation of mafiosos aren’t killing anyone.’
Roddin, the prosecutor, argued that they should be kept in jail.
‘I think the violence is to consider and the nature of the charges,’ he said.
‘It is a serious culmination of criminal history and a possession of weapons.
‘There are numerous violent extortion attempts included in the indictment.’
But the judge said: ‘Even if you have a very heavy case, it doesn’t mean it’s lights out.’
Gradilone’s defense attorney Michael Schneider said: ‘What this boils down to is when the government throws mafia around that’s the end of the argument.
‘We’re not here to provide trial arguments. We haven’t been handed discovery.’
Judge Block questioned the prosecution as to why stringent bail conditions were not enough.
‘What do you want to do – short of shoot them?’ he asked
‘I am not giving them gold stars but they are presumed to be at liberty.
‘They’re going to be a lot of things, a couple of million dollars at risk.’
The judge ruled that he would release the pair on bail in time for Thanksgiving.
‘I will let them out but I have to make sure we have stringent bail conditions,’ said Block.
‘We all have human aspects. I am very direct and I don’t see any risk of flight and a proper bail package can ease concern about wealth.’
Tantillo’s defense attorney Andrew Weinstein asked for bail to be set at $1 million for the defendants.
The defense attorneys and prosecution are set to agree on a list of bail conditions on Wednesday, before Tantillo and Gradilone are released.
Tantillo and Gradilone’s families were both in court for the appeal and remained calm when the judge said he would release them ahead of Thanksgiving.
They gathered outside the courtroom and celebrated the ruling with hugs and warm embraces.
The Gambino men, from Manhattan, Staten Island, the Bronx, New Jersey, and Long Island, have allegedly been wreaking havoc in New York for the past 27 years.
The infamous Italian-American crime syndicate made up one of the ‘Five Families’ known for their racketeering, gambling and loansharking. The 10 defendants now variously face maximum sentences between 20 and 180 years’ imprisonment.
Among the defendants charged on November 8 were alleged US-based Sicilian Mafia members Vito Rappa, 46, and Francesco Vicari, 46 – who is known as ‘Uncle Ciccio.’
Francesco Vicari, 46 – who is known as ‘Uncle Ciccio’ – is pictured in a detention memo cheering with a bottle of champagne after he successfully got a victim to make a payment of $4,000 in one of the crime family’s alleged violent extortion plots. Vicari was arrested on November 8
The Gambino 10: Full list of charges
- Joseph Lanni – Racketeering Conspiracy (Count One)
- Diego Tantillo – Racketeering Conspiracy (Count One), Hobbs Act Extortion and Conspiracy (Counts Two and Three), Hobbs Act Extortion and Conspiracy (Counts Four and Five), Theft from Employee Benefit Plan (Count Six), Hobbs Act extortion and conspiracy (Counts Seven and Eight) , Embezzlement from Employee Benefit Plans (Count Nine) Wire Fraud Conspiracy (Count Twelve) Theft from Employee Benefit Plan (Count Thirteen) Conspiracy to Commit Theft from Employee Benefit Plan (Count Fourteen)
- Robert Brooke – Hobbs Act extortion and conspiracy (Counts Seven and Eight)
- Salvatore DiLorenzo – Racketeering Conspiracy (Count One) Wire Fraud Conspiracy (Count Twelve) Theft from Employee Benefit Plan (Count Thirteen)
- Angelo Gradilone – Racketeering Conspiracy (Count One) Theft from Employee Benefit Plan (Count Six)
- Kyle Johnson – Racketeering Conspiracy (Count One) Hobbs Act Extortion and Conspiracy (Counts Two and Three) Hobbs Act Extortion and Conspiracy (Counts Four and Five) Conspiracy to Commit Theft from Employee Benefit (Count Fourteen)
- James LaForte – Racketeering Conspiracy (Count One) Hobbs Act Extortion and Conspiracy (Counts Ten and Eleven) Witness Retaliation (Count Fifteen) Felon in Possession of a Firearm (Count Sixteen)
- Vincent Minsquero – Racketeering Conspiracy (Count One) Witness Retaliation (Count Fifteen)
- Vito Rappa – Racketeering Conspiracy (Count One) Hobbs Act Extortion and Conspiracy (Counts Two and Three) Theft from Employee Benefit Plan (Count Thirteen)
- Frank Vicari – Racketeering Conspiracy (Count One) Hobbs Act Extortion and Conspiracy (Counts Two and Three)
Vincent Minsquero, 36, known as ‘Vinny Slick’; Kyle Johnson, 46, known as ‘Twin’; and the alleged captain of the Gambino crime ring – 52-year-old Joseph Lanni – were also charged with the slew of federal crimes.
Lanni is known by nicknames ‘Joe Brooklyn’ and ‘Mommino.’
The four others were Tantillo, James LaForte, Salvatore DiLorenzo, and Robert Brooke.
James Smith, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the FBI, said on November 8 as the arrests were announced: ‘These defendants learned the hard way that the FBI is united with our law enforcement locally and internationally in our efforts to eradicate the insidious organized crime threat.
‘Those arrested are alleged to have taken part in a racketeering conspiracy in an attempt to control the carting and demolition industries in the city.
‘The FBI will continue to lead the fight against organized crime and ensure that individuals willing to cross the line face punishment in the criminal justice system.’
NYPD Commissioner Edward A. Caban also vowed to take down members of any organized crime group, wherever they operate.
He said: ‘Today’s arrests should serve as a warning to others who believe they can operate in plain sight with apparent impunity – the NYPD and our law enforcement partners exist to shatter that notion.
‘And we will continue to take down members of traditional organized crime wherever they may operate.’
The stoop of John Doe 1’s home up in flames on September 22, 2020. The victim was allegedly threatened, extorted, and physically intimidated by members of the family
A metal bat discovered during a police raid, which was allegedly used to threaten John Doe 1. Tantillo allegedly told the victim that the bat was ‘for him’
Video footage from a gas station across the street from Roxy’s Bar and Grille shows Lanni and Minsquero —minutes after threatening to burn down a New Jersey restaurant— purchasing a red gas container
After one of the John Doe’s associates was attacked with a hammer and sent to hospital with serious injuries, Johnson texted Tantillo three thumbs up emojis for his ‘work today’
Lanni and Minsquero are seen with a red gas container, walking to a pump, just 20 minutes after threatening to set fire to a New Jersey restaurant in September 2023
According to the federal indictment, Tantillo, Rappa, Vicari and Johnson ‘engaged in a violent extortion conspiracy relating to the demand and receipt of money from John Doe 1, who operated a carting business in the New York City area.’
John Doe 1 was threatened ‘with a bat, setting fire to the steps to John Doe 1’s residence, attempting to damage John Doe 1’s carting trucks, and violently assaulting an associate of John Doe 1.’
Images included in the document show the metal bat discovered during a police raid – and the stoop of the victim’s home up in flames on September 22, 2020.
One of John Doe 1’s business associates was then attacked with a hammer – sending him to the hospital on October 29, 2020. After he was assaulted, Kyle Johnson texted Tantillo three thumbs up emojis for his ‘work today.’
The indictment states that Tantillo and Vicari were captured on ‘judicially-authorized wiretaps discussing threats they made to John Doe 1 and John Doe 1’s father- in-law.’
Rappa stated that Vicari ‘acted like the ‘Last of the Samurai,’ when he picked up a knife and directed John Doe 1’s father-in-law to threaten to cut John Doe 1 in half in order to get him to make extortionate payments, according to the documents.
When the victim finally made a payment of $4,000 to Vicari, he and Rappa met and sent Tantillo a photo of Vicari raising a small champagne bottle, cheering in a toast.
The image is included in the indictment pages.
The documents also contain evidence that shows when the men were ‘made’ into the Gambino family.
One image shows Tantillo being inducted into the family on October 17, 2019, standing with Gradilone.
The unsealed document also claimed that Tantillo, Brooke and Johnson engaged in two separate violent extortion schemes of a demolition company and its owners, known as John Does 2–4.
Their motivation was over purported debts owed to Tantillo, and to a company operated by Tantillo and Brooke, called Specialized Concrete Cutting Corp. They demanded $40,000 from the owners – who did not cough up.
In response, Brooke then violently attacked John Doe 2 on a street corner in Midtown Manhattan, leaving him bloodied with a black eye, the document alleges.
Alongside these charges, some of the men are also accused of thieving and embezzling employee benefit plans, including health insurance and pay checks, when they did little or no work for the companies.
Tantillo is accused of obtaining no-show and low-show jobs for Rappa, Gradilone and Johnson. The document alleges: ‘Through the no-show jobs, Gradilone and Rappa received health care benefits, paid for by unions, to which they were not entitled, in addition to receiving paychecks for work they did not perform.’
The alleged mobsters also intimidated people they believed ‘ratted’ on them to police, which resulted in physical altercations inside swanky New York City restaurants.
In a dramatic scene from February 2021 described in the indictment, LaForte and Minsquero assaulted John Doe 6 while Gambino captain Joseph Lanni sat nearby.
That evening, John Doe 6, his girlfriend, and their friends went to Asian restaurant Sei Less, on West 38th Street in Manhattan, where specialty cocktails cost $20.
As the group was waiting to pay their bill, LaForte and Minsquero approached their table, called John Doe 6 a ‘rat,’ and hit him in the face with a bottle – before flipping their table over.
Drinks were sent flying and glass was shattered everywhere, witnesses said.
In another incident on September 1, 2023, Lanni and Minsquero caused a disturbance at Roxy’s Bar and Grille, a restaurant in Toms River, New Jersey.
The duo got into an argument with another patron that led the restaurant’s staff to ask them to leave – and as they were escorted out, Minsquero damaged a painting and punched a wall, and Lanni told the owner he would ‘burn this place down with you in it.’
Less than 20 minutes later, video footage from a gas station across the street showed Lanni and Minsquero purchasing a red gas container, walking to a pump, and trying briefly to fill the container with gas.
Lanni was eventually dissuaded by Minsquero and a gas station attendant.
Police were called to the restaurant, but four hours after the scene, the owner and his wife went to get in their car to go home for the night, around midnight.
The owner got into the driver’s seat of a car, while his spouse stood outside the vehicle talking with the owner through the open driver’s side window.
As they were chatting, a man got into the front passenger door of the car, punched the owner in the head, put a knife to his neck, and threatened to kill him.
The spouse ran to help, but was punched and knocked to the ground by a second man.
Both perpetrators then beat the spouse while she was on the ground. The man with the knife slashed the owner’s tires wand pointed the knife at the spouse, before leaving on foot, the documents allege.
The family, led by Salvatore D’Aquila in the early 1900s, made millions of dollars by carrying out extortion, money laundering and fraud.
Frank Cali was the last known leader of the group, and was killed in 2019.
It remains unclear who leads the syndicate at this time.