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Bonanno family indicted in NYC mob crackdown

Posted By CAROLINE LEE, UPI.com   |   July 10, 2013 at 11:11 AM   |   Comments

July 10 (UPI) -- Nine reported members of the Bonanno crime family were indicted Tuesday for "old-school" mob charges including union control, loan sharking and extortion.

The indictment accuses two of the defendants of helping Nicholas Bernhard win a 2010 election. Bernhard became president of Local 917 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a Long Island union with 1,900 members after the other defendants, Vito Badamo and Anthony Santoro, "explicitly promoted" his election.

Bernhard has since resigned from his position after being accused of involvement with the Bonannos.

"Many mistakenly believe that the mob has disappeared entirely except if you watch HBO," said Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance, referring to "The Sopranos."

"But we know in fact this is not the case. Times have changed since Jimmy Hoffa disappeared, but organized crime still exerts a corrupting influence in our city."

Not all the charges are mob cliches, however. Prosecutors say the crime family ran a multi-million-dollar online sports betting site in Costa Rica. A few of the Bonannos were recorded planning the sale of hundreds of thousands of erectile dysfunction pills at $5 per pill.

Seven of the accused men were arraigned at State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

Several of the men commented about the wives and mothers of news photographers on the way into the courtroom. Once inside, the tattooed men laughed and elbowed each other and smiled at family members that came to see the trial.

Each of the seven pleaded not guilty, but Justice Melissa Jackson ordered three of the men to be held without bail. Jackson set bail for the others, the highest being for Bernhard -- $500,000.

Search warrants from 2012 show police seized 10 pounds of marijuana and seven firearms at the home of Nicholas Santora, known as "Nicky Mouth." Lawyers for the defendants said that they had been aware of the investigation, as each of their houses was searched.

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