In the first lawsuit of its kind, the federal government filed a civil racketeering complaint yesterday against New York's Bonanno crime family and asked the court to seize mob-owned businesses, including three New Jersey hotels, a Brooklyn taxi service, two New York cafes and a Queens cake shop.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, also seeks $1 million in damages and would bar specific members of the Bonanno family and members of Teamsters Local 814 with two or more criminal convictions from engaging in future business with one another.
It also would bar the Bonanno family from "making" -- formally initiating and swearing in -- new members.
"This lawsuit will cripple the Bonanno family," said Andrew J. Maloney, U.S. attorney for New York's eastern district, at a news conference, "and we're not stopping there." The complaint said the Bonanno family "remains one of the most influential and violent crime families in the United States."
Maloney said, "We have identified the Bonanno family's top hierarchy, those members immediately responsible for conducting the activities which make organized crime such a powerful and destructive force today. By attacking those members' financial holdings and business activities, our goal is to reach the very fabric of this organized crime family."
Maloney said earlier prosecutions have hurt the Bonanno family by putting individual members in jail. "This lawsuit will deprive the Bonanno family of its very means and ends of operation, its money . . . .
"Nothing frightens a mobster more, not the FBI, not federal prosecutors or the police department," Maloney said, comparing the civil case with the Internal Revenue Service's "impersonal, computerized, merciless, tireless machinery. This is comparable. They haven't seen the likes of this before."
The 70-page complaint, which follows a lengthy probe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, outlines 196 acts of racketeering by the Bonanno family, including murder, gambling, narcotics trafficking, loansharking and labor racketeering. The complaint names Philip (Rusty) Rastelli, the convicted labor racketeer identified as the "boss" of the Bonanno family, and 12 other Bonanno family members, including the underboss; the consigliere, or in-house lawyer, and four capos, or lieutenants. It also names three union officials including Teamsters Local 814 President Ignatius Bracco.
The complaint said the board of Local 814 is under control of the Bonanno family and asks the court to replace the local union's executive board with a trustee, pending trial. Leaders of the local were among 10 people convicted last October with Rastelli on charges of racketeering in New York's moving and storage industry.
The suit also asks the court to prevent current officials of the local from holding any position in the union or from using union funds.
Maloney said Rastelli and his associates have run the local for their profit, extorting millions of dollars from businesses in return for labor peace.
In asking the court to order the forfeiture of the Bonanno family businesses, Maloney said, "these hotels and the taxi company were created with money from illegal operations."