Two men from Western Massachusetts, who were associates of the Genovese La Cosa Nostra crime family, have pleaded guilty to extortion-related charges.
The U.S. Attorney's office told Western Mass News that 61-year-old Francesco Depergola of Springfield pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by threats or violence, one count of interference with commerce by threats or violence, and one count of making an extortionate extension of credit.
In addition, 52-year-old Gerald Daniele of Longmeadow pleaded guilty to one count of using extortionate means to collect an extension of credit.
The U.S. Attorney's office explained that, according to admissions made in plea agreements, Depergola, Daniele, and co-defendants Ralph Santaniello, John Calabrese, and Richard Valentini were associates of the Genovese La Cosa Nostra (LCN) crime family and "engaged in various criminal activities in Springfield, Mass., including loansharking and extortion from legitimate and illegitimate businesses, such as illegal gambling businesses and the collection of unlawful debts."
"Depergola and Daniele admitted that they used violence, exploited their relationship with LCN, and implied threats of murder and physical violence to instill fear in their victims," the U.S. Attorney's office added in a statement.
Depergola also admitted that he, Santaniello, Calabrese, and Valentini tried to extort money from a Springfield businessman in 2013.
Prosecutors said that Santaniello assaulted the businessman and threatened to cut off his head and bury his body if he didn't comply. That businessman than paid Santaniello, Calabrese, Depergola and Valentini $20,000 over four months to protect himself and the business.
The U.S. Attorney's office noted that Daniele admitted that he extended two extortionate and usurious loans to someone and then, with Santaniello and Calabrese, threatened that person if he didn't make loan payments.
Sentencing for Depergola and Daniele is scheduled for March 9, 2018.
Santaniello and Calabrese have already pleaded guilty to extortion-related crimes. Sentencing for both are scheduled in January 2018.
Valentini has pleaded not guilty, with his trial scheduled to begin next week.
Copyright 2017 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.