SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Five alleged organized crime figures will remain in jail, at least until early next week, as they await trial on extortion-related charges.
Ralph Santaniello, Frank Depergola, Giovanni “Johnny” Calabrese, Richard Valentini, and Gerald Daniele, all alleged members or associates of the Genovese Crime Family, were arrested last week as part of an organized crime sweep up and down the East Coast. They have been at U.S. District Court in Springfield for the past two days for a hearing on whether they should be granted bail.
On Friday, the judge said that he will issue an order for each defendant next week, likely on Monday or Tuesday.
Santaniello and Calabrese are accused of threatening the owner of a towing company (Victim #1) in order to collect $50,000 in payments. At one point, Santaniello allegedly threatened to cut off Victim 1’s head and bury him on his own property. Depergola and Valentini were also allegedly involved in the supposed shakedown.
Daniele allegedly threatened another man (Victim #2) at his workplace in order to collect a $3,700 gambling debt.
In a third part of the indictment, Depergola and Santaniello are alleged to have given a $30,000 street loan to Victim #3 with a 78% interest rate, because of the approval of a capo in the Geneovese Crime Family. A meeting in Chicopee took place between the capo, Depergola, and Santaniello, which was videotaped.
Prosecutors made their case to hold the defendants on Thursday afternoon, so now Friday was the defense’s turn. Lawyers spent part of the morning attacking the credibility of the victims in the case. A lawyer for Daniele says that Victim #2 is a recovering drug addict and criminal, and an FBI agent cannot even recall how many times the victim has been arrested.
An attorney for Santaniello said that Victim #1 is a disgraced former Springfield police officer, who was fired in 2002 for insurance fraud.