Ten members and associates of the notorious organized crime family that inspired "The Sopranos" were arrested today and charged in various plots to commit murder, distribute drugs, smuggle untaxed cigarettes, and run a prostitution business.
Federal authorities previously have called the DeCavalcante organization one of La Cosa Nostra's most ruthless families. It operates in North Jersey under the Gambino family, one of the five major crime families based in New York, according to the FBI.
Since 2012, an undercover agent has posed as a DeCavalcante associate, operating a "crew" that paid tribute monies to mob capo Charles "Beeps" Stango, according to court papers.
Shortly before Christmas last year, Stango met with the undercover agent in Las Vegas to discuss killing a "made member" of the family known as "the Pet." The meeting was surreptitiously recorded. "The Pet," who was not otherwise named in the federal complaint, had disrespected an acting boss of the DeCavalcante clan called "the Horse" at a social gathering.
Stango, 71, told the undercover agent that "the Pet" was "out of control" and he "had to meet death or you gotta maim him or you just gotta put him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life or somebody's gotta get a f------ jar of acid and throw it in his f------ face ...," according to court records.
Later, Stango allegedly told the agent that it would be his job to carry out the hit or recruit someone outside of Elizabeth, N.J. to do it on his behalf.
In a colorfully cold conversation caught by FBI microphones, Stango told the undercover agent he might consider throwing "a couple of pineapples" (or plastic explosives) in "the Pet's" business in Elizabeth, or that "you stick up the joint and you put 12 [bullets] in his nuts."
On Feb. 1, the undercover agent met with Stango again in Nevada to talk about the plan to kill "the Pet" and agreed to pay $25,000 to two members of an outlaw motorcycle gang. Stango assured the undercover agent that other members of the DeCavalcante were onboard with the planned assassination, according to a court affidavit.
Stango, still in Nevada, placed a call on Feb. 8 to Toms River to talk about the plan with Frank Nigro and Paul Colella. Over the next month, through March 9, Stango continued to stew with hatred for "the Pet" as he rallied other family members with a series of expletive-laden calls, according to court records.
As Charles Stango orchestrated the alleged murder plot, his son Andrew, aka "Whitey," was allegedly cooking up business plans. "Whitey," who the FBI said had been recorded distributing large amounts of cocaine with another undercover law enforcement officer, was looking to diversify.
In Toms River, "Whitey" Stango met with Mario Galli and two women on Feb. 10 to talk about opening a high-end escort service that would target white-collar businessmen and professionals in the area, according to court records. The son sought advice from the father, who suggested "Whitey" open a night club in a warehouse to serve as a front for the prostitution operation. The business never got off the ground.
In a statement this morning, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced the investigation had delivered a severe blow to the DeCavalcante family.
"As today's complaint shows, members and associates of a long-standing organized-crime family continue to ply their illegal trade, selling dangerous drugs and illegal cigarettes, promoting prostitution, and threatening to settle internal scores with violence and death."
Charged today in their roles to kill "the Pet," were Charles Stango, of Henderson, Nevada; Frank Nigro, 72, and Paul Colella, 68, of Toms River. Charles Stango was also charged along with his son Anthony, 33, of Brick with consipring to distribute cocaine and run a prostitution business. Charged with cocaine distribution were John Capozzi, 34, of Union; Mario Galli, 23, of Toms River and Nicholas Degidio, 37, of Union.
Authorities also arrested three members of a separate "crew" of the crime family: James Heeney, 35, of Elizabeth and Rosario Pali, 35, of Linden were charged with conspiring to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine. Luigi Oliveri, 41, of Elizabeth, was charged with possession of contraband cigarettes.
The defendants arrested in New Jersey were scheduled to appear in federal court this afternoon in Newark. Charles Stango is to appear in federal court in Nevada later today.
David Chase, creator of "The Sopranos," has said that he drew inspiration for the show partly from the DeCavalcante organization.