People probably wonder why state and federal law enforcement agencies spend so much time and resources to put away a few men. There are, after all, cartels, sex traffickers, Russians, Albanians, Chinese and the big one: Islamic terrorists on the streets of New York.
The Cosa Nostra is like no other group. The Bonanno family is the cockroach of the underworld. Law enforcement thinks they got rid of them, yet they come out of the woodwork again and again.
They lost their namesake boss Joe Bonanno when he went power hungry and caused a war. Then he wrote a book. They had a rough time when the family broke into factions and part of the Sicilian crew did their own thing. Then came Donnie Brasco, a jewel thief who became part of their crew. They even drew in the legendary boss of Tampa, Santo Trafficante, and the boss of Milwaukee, Frank Balistrieri.
One of the guys who had interactions with Donnie Brasco was Nicky Santoro. Nicky Santoro has been an associate, a soldier, a capo and even an acting underboss. Nicky has lived in that world his whole life.
On May 10, 2016 Nicky Santoro won a small victory in a Manhattan courtroom. Nicky, Vito Badamo, Ernst Aiello and Anthony Santoro had been on trial for the last two months. They faced charges including Enterprise Corruption which is the state's version of RICO.
They took part in bookmaking, loan sharking, and get this: selling Viagra. They infiltrated Teamsters Local 917.
The jurors heard over 450 intercepted phone calls and heard from cooperating informants. The problem? Not much action. No murders, just talk. The Bonannos just won another trial when the Feds took on Vincent Asaro. They charged Vincent with the Lufthansa Heist at JFK that was immortalized in the film Goodfellas and a murder with Jimmy Burke. The problem is they were decades old cases.
Nicky and his crew had a Costa Rican internet based sports book that brought in millions. Nicky was heard on tape telling Vito Badamo that he had to know everything he was doing in the street. That no card games could happen without him.
The state may try again or maybe they will settle for a plea if they will take one.
When I was in Brooklyn we met Nicky Santoro at BaMonte’s in Brooklyn. He was selling knock off NFL Jerseys and he gave me one. I did record that day. I saw a guy close with Craig Marino (Colombo soldier) and John Baudanza (Lucchese soldier) in the place meeting with some guys. Jerry Degerolamo is there and he asked me not to say anything. Jerry would later go down with Craig and John in a stock fraud case. I hear both of those guys are out in a halfway house.
The people who were handling me at this time toyed with the idea of trying to sell Nicky and the Bonannos a warehouse full of knockoff software. They decided to go with Teddy Persico instead because he was a loose cannon.
Nicky's boss was Joe Massino, who had changed the Bonanno family name to the Massino family after Joe Bonanno’s book disgraced the name. Joe would later go with Team America and become the first boss to flip. Nicky is still living the life. I wonder if he is happy?