Six Members of New York’s Genovese Mafia Family Arrested on Illegal Gambling, Extortion Charges

  • Prosecutors say the individuals ran illegal gambling rings and loan sharked victims
  • The six people are linked to the Genovese crime family, an affiliate of La Cosa Nostra
  • The six individuals were brought in on charges from 2011-2022
  • FBI calls La Cosa Nostra “one of the foremost organized criminal threats to American society”
  • The accused could all face up to 20 years in prison
Stereotypical 1930's gangster
Six members of a New York crime family were arrested on various charges including illegal gambling. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Illegal gambling and loan sharking

Six members of an infamous New York crime mafia group were charged with racketeering in relation to illegal gambling and extortion in a Manhattan court Tuesday. 

linked to the Italian-American Genovese crime family

The individuals were linked to the Italian-American Genovese crime family, one of the “five families” dominating crime in New York. Prosecutors accused the defendants of illegal gambling and loansharking by attaching patrons to insurmountable piles of debt. 

Among the arrested were Nicholas Calisi and Ralph Balsamo, “captains” in the family, and “soldiers” Michael Messina and John Campanella. “Associates” Michael Poli and Thomas Poli filled out the remainder of the group.

A major mafia gambling bust

The Genovese crime family has been active since the 1890s and primarily operates in New York City. The group took the name “Luciano crime family” before being renamed after Vito Genovese, the boss from 1957 to 1969. The Genovese is regarded as the most powerful crime family in America.

Court officials referred to the group as the “Genovese Organized Crime Family,” an affiliate of La Cosa Nostra (LCN), which has multiple families. The most prominent American families are the Gambino, Lucchese, Colombo, and the Bonanno groups, all of which have a long history of crime in the U.S.

The recent arrests were a major victory for prosecutors in New York looking to exterminate the mob’s influence.

“From extortion to illegal gambling, the Mafia continues to find ways to prey on others to fill its coffers,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. “Our office and our law enforcement partners remain committed to putting organized crime out of business.”

The six mobsters were alleged to have partaken in a racketeering enterprise affecting interstate and foreign commerce from 2011-2022. They are also accused of accruing income through extortion, including lines of credit, operating illegal gaming, and other crimes.

kept victims and citizens in fear”

Furthermore, the indictment said the individuals “kept victims and citizens in fear” by parading under the title of the “mafia.” It continues that the accused both threatened and caused financial and physical harm to multiple parties. 

The six Genovese members would target “persons who engaged in activity that jeopardized the power and criminal activities of the enterprise, the power of the leaders of the enterprise and the status of its members and the flow of criminal proceeds to members and associates of the enterprise,” per the indictment.

Impact of the arrests

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) calls La Cosa Nostra “one of the foremost organized criminal threats to American society.” As a result, members and associates can often be hard for law enforcement to track down.

conducted meetings surreptitiously, typically using coded language when speaking on telephones”

The indictment against the six members of the Genovese says the individuals “conducted meetings surreptitiously, typically using coded language when speaking on telephones, and avoiding discussing LCN activities in locations they suspected to be monitored by law enforcement surveillance.”

“Soldier” Messina was previously arrested and presented to the court on April 12. “Captain” Basalmo, “soldier” Campanella and the Poli “associates” were arrested on Tuesday and faced U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert W. Lehrburger in a Manhattan federal court. “Captain” Calisi was detained in Boca Raton, Florida, and was taken to court in the Southern District of Florida. 

This is the second recent arrest for LCN-linked criminals, building on a recent development in Italy during which prosecutors made dozens of arrests and can now indict up to 71 members.

The case has been given to U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl. The six suspected criminals could all face up to 20 years in prison if convicted on their charges.