2011-01-20 / Front Page

Putnam Man Part of Massive FBI Sting

Staff Reports

A Putnam man was part of the massive and unprecedented FBI roundup of 127 suspected mobsters throughout the tri-state area Thursday morning. The Courier has learned, Peter Pace Jr., of Caroline Drive in Patterson, was arrested by local and Federal authorities.

Crime seems to be becoming a less attractive career choice in Putnam. In December former Republican state senator and county executive-elect Vincent Leibell pleaded guilty to two federal charges of corruption. Additionally, the longtime highway superintendants of Patterson and Putnam Valley face allegations of misconduct.

Pace, who like the highway superintendants is innocent until proven guilty, faces a total of five charges. He is one of four names mentioned in a federal indictment that accuses him of racketeering, extortion, and conspiracy. Most suspects arrested Thursday have ties to New York’s five crime families—Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, and Luchese. The Courier obtained a copy of the indictment, which alleges that Pace is part of the Genovese crime family.

“At various times, the defendants were associates within the Genovese crime family,” reads the indictment. Reportedly, associates have sworn life allegiances to the crime family, on penalty of death; they are also never to reveal the crime family’s existence and to follow all orders issued by the crime family boss, “including swearing to commit murder if the boss directed it.”

In the mafia hierarchy, associates are part of the crime family crew but they are not “made” members. They commit crimes under the protection and direction of the organization and remit a share of their illegal proceeds to a superior.

In the indictment, Pace, Dominic Caramanica, Glenn Mazzella and Daniel Cilenti, also known as “Uncle Danny,” allegedly conspired to steal property by extortion and instilled fear of physical injury or damage to the property of two anonymous vendors, who are listed in the indictment as “John Doe #1” and “John Doe #2.”

Approximately two dozen names of those arrested have been released by the FBI. Some of them have nicknames reminiscent of characters from the days of Capone. Aliases include JoJo, Roc, Vinny Carwash, Meatball, Burger, Mush, Hootie, Johnny Bandana, and Jello. The FBI considers these arrests “the largest nationally coordinated organized crime takedown in the Bureau’s history.”

The prosecution is being led by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who was also in charge of the prosecution that led to the downfall of Leibell last month when he pleaded guilty to tax evasion and obstruction of justice.

Also today, the FBI announced that Joseph Watts, a longtime associate of the Gambino crime family pleaded guilty this morning to a two-count Superseding Information that charged him with participating in murder and assault conspiracies.
“Today’s operation marks the largest mob round-up in FBI history,” Assistant Director-in-Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk said in a statement. “Well over 700 law enforcement officers from the FBI … along with about 200 local, state, and other federal law enforcement officers … effected the arrests.” Fedarcyk added that the cases relied on electronic surveillance and that dozens of court-authorized wiretaps were to thank.

Notably, the prosecutions evidence against Leibell was obtained similarly in video and audio recordings during his attempted cover-up.  On a sidewalk in Carmel last June, Leibell had advised an attorney, who was wearing a wire, to fabricate reasons for withdrawing large sums of cash that were really transferred to Leibell.

“[The arrests are] another step towards our goal of cutting La Cosa Nostra off at its knees,” Bharara said in a statement. “According to the charges, the defendants stopped at nothing—including murder, extortion, and intimidation—to protect their criminal enterprise and multi-million-dollar profits. Together with our partners at the FBI and the NYPD, we will do everything within our power to rid this city of the scourge that is the mafia.”

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‘No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.’ ~Hal Borland