When sentenced, DiZenzo faces up to 20 years in prison.
DiZenzo is pal of retired New Rochelle Police Detective Vincent “Scumbag Vinnie” Mirabile owner of the notorious Cousins Cigar store in New Rochelle. DiZenzo was a regular at Mirabile’s cigar store.
In 2017, DiZenzo made threatening comments to this reporter after accurately describing Cousins as a hangout for “gangsters and wannabes”. Soon after a person believed to be DiZenzo came onto Cox’s property in the middle of the night on May 26-27, 2017, and used what appears to have been a blow torch to melt a hole in the side of a tire on a vehicle owned by Cox’s wife. Police sources told Talk of the Sound DiZenzo was arrested previously for a similar act, but the case was sealed. A stick jammed into the hole later caused the tire to blow out while Cox’s wife was driving their daughter to a playdate.
Cousins has been for years home to a known after-hours gambling operation, illegal “fundraising” events, operating as a restaurant and serving alcohol without a license and more but is believed to be a protected operation. Mirabile is a retired New Rochelle Police Detective. He is related through marriage to New Rochelle Council Member Louis Trangucci. He has a close connection to New Rochelle PBA President Christopher Greco. His most ardent defenders include VFW Commander Peter Parente who is Trangucci’s brother-in-law.
Seth D. DuCharme, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the guilty pleas.
“With these guilty pleas, a dozen members and associates of the Gambino crime family are held accountable for committing a litany of crimes in the construction industry that enriched the Mafia at the expense of the American taxpayer, construction companies harmed by their pernicious presence and the U.S. government,” stated Acting United States Attorney DuCharme. “The defendants will now have to pay the consequences for their corrupt activities.” Mr. DuCharme expressed his grateful appreciation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office, the Internal Revenue Service- Criminal Investigation, the New York City Police Department and the Department of Labor for their exemplary work on the case. Mr. DuCharme also thanked the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, the United States Probation Departments for the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York and the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor for their assistance during the investigation.
Throughout the past week in federal court in Brooklyn, 11 members and associates of the Gambino organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra pleaded guilty to multiple crimes, including racketeering conspiracy, fraud, obstruction of justice and related offenses for criminal activities throughout the New York metropolitan area committed as part of the illicit activities of the Gambino family. One additional defendant pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return. The proceedings were held before United States Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann.
Today, Andrew Campos, a captain in the Gambino organized crime family, and Vincent Fiore, a Gambino family soldier, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, variously admitting their participation in predicate acts of wire fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice offenses.
Previously, Richard Martino, a Gambino family soldier, and Frank Tarul, a Gambino crime family associate, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruction justice; Mark Kocaj, Benito DiZenzo and Carlos Cobos, Sr., Gambino family associates, pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy; James Ciaccia and George Campos, Gambino family soldiers, and Renato Barca, Jr. and Michael Tarul, Gambino family associates, pleaded guilty to making false statements in connection with their fraudulently obtaining safety cards from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”). John Simonlacaj, a former managing director of a construction company, pleaded guilty to submitting a false tax return.
In 2005, Andrew Campos and Martino were convicted in the Eastern District of New York for their role in a massive scheme to defraud users of adult entertainment services. Martino was ultimately sentenced to 108 months’ imprisonment and ordered by the court to pay $9.1 million in forfeiture. After his release from prison, Martino, together with Frank Tarul and others, concealed Martino’s substantial wealth and income, falsely reporting that Martino had limited assets and worked for Tarul’s flooring company in order to avoid him paying the more than $300,000 forfeiture balance owed. In reality, as revealed by court-authorized wiretaps, Martino operated multiple companies that earned millions of dollars, including construction work, investments in pizzerias and other business ventures.
Court papers (in 2005) suggest that a deal, whereby companies which later turned out to be mafia-linked, placed advertisements in Mr Desmond’s top-shelf magazines in Britain went so badly wrong that a “soldier” from the Gambino crime family flew to London to issue a warning to Mr Desmond…the mafia emissary, Richard Martino, 45, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud in a scam which is claimed to have netted the mafia $650m (£350m). He also admitted to conspiring to extort money from Mr Desmond and Northern and Shell. Martino has been linked in court with the Gambino gang, formerly headed by the late John Gotti, who reputedly said of Martino: “I like Ricci the kid … I like guys who do more than kill.” Martino is alleged to have been inducted into the Gambino family in 1990 and served in the “crew” of Salvatore LoCascio, whose father was convicted of racketeering with Gotti in 1992.
The taxpayer-subsidized 11-story Creston Apartments in The Bronx is among the latest entries in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s signature push to build or preserve 300,000 affordable apartments.
For a contractor federal prosecutors say is a front for the mob, it was just another job.
CWC Contracting Co. counts Creston Apartments as one of a dozen big projects featured on its website, listing it as a “newly constructed building in the Mount Hope neighborhood.” According to Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Richard Donohue, CWC is controlled by the Gambino crime family.
The project created 114 units set aside for low- and moderate-income tenants and was built by developer Schur Management with general contractor MacQuesten Companies. CWC was brought in as a carpentry subcontractor.
MacQuesten Companies, based in Pelham, NY is run by Rella Fogliano. Senior Executive Joe Apicella, married to News12 reporter Tara Rosenblum and for many years represented Capelli Enterprises, developer of Trump Plaza in New Rochelle. Apicella is Vice Chairperson of the Westchester Democratic Party and a member of the New Rochelle Business Improvement District Board.
MacQuesten was the developer of Heritage Homes in partnership with the New Rochelle Muncipal Housing Authority. Mauro Zonzini had a hand in the Heritage Homes project.
In his 2018 State of the City address New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson announced New Rochelle’s City Hall would move in 2021 from its current location on North Avenue to a mixed-use tower at 45 Harrison Street to be built by MacQuesten Development in a $110 million project that was supposed to break ground in 2018. It is 2021 and no work has begun on the project.
An RXR Realty project in Yonkers is one of several ensnared in the alleged kickback and bribery scheme that led to the indictment of an HFZ Capital Group executive last year, according to court documents reviewed by The Real Deal.
A project manager for Larkin Plaza, developed by RXR and Yonkers-based Rising Development, accepted bribes in the form of free construction materials for a jiu-jitsu gym in White Plains that the manager is “associated with,” according to a Dec. 5 letter from federal prosecutors to U.S. Magistrate Judge Ramon Reyes Jr.
The December letter details phone conversations between an alleged soldier and an alleged associate of the Gambino crime family — Vincent Fiore and Benito DiZenzo, respectively — who are accused of bribing various companies in exchange for contracts and other perks for their carpentry firm, CWC Contracting. In one call intercepted by the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York on Feb. 27, 2019, Fiore appeared to be upset about the cost of the materials sent to the jiu-jitsu gym, according to the letter. Fiore allegedly instructed DiZenzo to document the materials sent to the gym “on a separate spreadsheet, not on the computer.”
“I need you to write down every fuckin’ piece of material that we sent over there and I need to know the man hours that are over there,” he said, according to the letter. “Not on Procore [i.e., software used in the construction industry], but on the side. Alright?”
According to the letter, DiZenzo replied that he “put on Procore that they were working at Larkin.” Fiore allegedly indicated that the Larkin project manager signed off on CWC’s change orders, which prosecutors claim was one of the ways that the construction company inflated costs on its various projects.
RXR is the designated Master Developer for Downtown New Rochelle.
On December 15, 2014, RXR, in collaboration with it’s joint venture partner, Renaissance Downtowns, was officially named “Master Developer” of Downtown New Rochelle, tasked with helping to revitalize this historic area, the largest and most significant economic development initiative in the city’s history. Pursuant to the agreement reached between the city and the partnership, RXR worked with the city and the community to fund the creation of, and work to develop, a revitalization plan for the downtown area.
According to court filings and facts presented during the guilty plea proceedings, Andrew Campos and members of his crew carried out fraudulent schemes to infiltrate the construction industry and earn millions of dollars in criminal proceeds, in part through their operation of a carpentry company, CWC Contracting Corp. (“CWC”). Campos, Fiore and Cobos, among others, defrauded the U.S. government by paying CWC employees millions of dollars in cash without making the required payroll tax withholdings and payments. Further, Campos, Fiore and others laundered money, causing checks to be made from CWC, purportedly for work performed in connection with CWC construction projects where, in fact, no services were performed. The proceeds of these scheme were used to, among other things, construct Andrew Campos’s residence. Further, when Fiore became aware of the government’s investigation, he tried to obstruct it by asking another person to lie about his and Campos’s misconduct.
Between June 2018 and June 2019, CWC paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks to employees of a real estate development company (described in the indictment as “Construction Company #1”), including John Simonlacaj, the company’s former Managing Director of Development.
Feds say that 50-year-old HFZ managing director John Simonlacaj let the mob skim hundreds of thousands of dollars from the company’s High Line development, the XI, and other Manhattan projects.
Simonlacaj’s cousin Mark “Chippy” Kocaj and alleged members of the Gambino family operated the Mount Vernon carpentry firm CWC Contracting and gave HFZ employees hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks and bribes between June 2018 and this past June to get on the inside track with the firm, according to prosecutors. This included providing free labor and materials for renovations at Simonlacaj’s home in Scarsdale, court papers say.CWC paid the bribes in the form of hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of free labor and materials used for renovations on Simonlacaj’s residence, which Simonlacaj failed to report as taxable income and which Kocaj had fraudulently paid for by billing them to a CWC project for Construction Company #1. Kocaj was recorded stating the work “should have been pro bono” because Construction Company #1 “does 50 million a year in business.” DiZenzo and Fiore performed tens of thousands of dollars of work at a gym for the benefit of an employee of another real estate development company (described in the indictment as “Construction Company #2”), which they agreed would be fraudulently paid for by billing the work to an unrelated project for Construction Company #2.
Finally, Barca, George Campos, Ciaccia and Michael Tarul, along with others, fraudulently procured safety cards from the United States Department of Labor indicating the completion of certain OSHA training courses when, in fact, the courses were not completed.
When sentenced, Andrew Campos, Cobos, DiZenzo, Fiore, Kocaj, Martino and Frank Tarul each face up to 20 years in prison. Barca, George Campos, Ciaccia and Michael Tarul each face up to 5 years in prison. Simonlacaj faces up to 3 years in prison.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime & Gangs Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Keith D. Edelman and Kayla C. Bensing are in charge of the prosecution, assisted by EDNY Special Agent Erik Nesbitt. Assistant United States Attorney Claire S. Kedeshian of the Office’s Civil Division is handling forfeiture matters.
RENATO BARCA, JR. (also known as “Ronny”) Age: 33 Bronx, New York
ANDREW CAMPOS Age: 51 Scarsdale, New York
GEORGE CAMPOS Age: 73 Peekskill, New York
JAMES CIACCIA Age: 52 Bronx, New York
CARLOS COBOS, SR. Age: 57 Brentwood, New York
BENITO DIZENZO (also known as “Benny”) Age: 54 New Rochelle, New York
Age: 58 Briarcliff, New York
MARK KOCAJ (also known as “Chippy”)
Age: 50 Tuckahoe, New York
Age: 61 Rye, New York
JOHN SIMONLACAJ (also known as “John Si” and “Smiley”)
Age: 51 Scarsdale, New York
FRANK TARUL (also known as “Bones”)
Age: 46 Bronx, New York
MICHAEL TARUL (also known as “Perkins”)
Age: 44 Bronx, New York
The Indictment was sealed on December 4, 2019, so at the time of DiZenzo’s arrest the details of the indictment were not made public beyond a press release from the United States Department of Justice Eastern District. The Indictment was subsequently unsealed and a copy obtained by Talk of the Sound.
Not released was a transcript of hundreds of hours of audio recordings obtained through wiretaps and consensual recordings (meaning some people involved in the criminal conspiracy wore a wire or allowed their phone calls to be recorded).
The indictment which would become Docket # 1:19-cr-00575-FB in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York begins by explaining the Gambino Crime Family, DiZenzo’s role in it and a narrative describing the various schemes, most of which but not all involved Benito DiZenzo.
Andrew Campos of Scarsdale, is a Captain in the Gambino Crime Family. Benito DiZenzo, an Associate, is a member of Campos’ Crew.
## The Criminal Schemes
The defendants and their co-conspirators committed a variety of crimes — including schemes to defraud, bribe and extort — that served to enrich themselves and other members and associates of the Gambino crime family. Through those crimes, defendants corrupted the construction industry by among other things paying bribes to obtain work and other benefits, defrauding the government by failing to pay millions of dollars in taxes and endangering the public by fraudulently procuring required safety certification. The defendants and their co-conspirators also took steps to conceal their activities from law enforcement, including through the use of nominee owners check-cashing businesses, fraudulent and inflated requests for payment and false financial records. Certain defendants and co-conspirators also engaged in obstructive conduct, including the destruction of records and the creation of fraudulent documents.
## CWC-Related Schemes
Since approximately December 2013, the defendant Andrew Campos was the principal of CWC Construction Corp. and its affiliates, including Eastern Interiors LLC
CWC was a company that performed carpentry work at various construction projects in the New York City metropolitan area.
DiZenzo was a superintendent for various CWC projects.
## Honest Services Wire Fraud Schemes
Between approximately June 2018 and June 2019, the defendants Andrew Campos, Benito DiZenzo, Vincent Fiore and Mark Kocaj together with others, engaged in a series of wirefraud schemes by, among other things, paying and agreeing to pay bribes and kickbacks to multiple employees of construction companies in exchange for their support of CWC, including awarding contracts to CWC, securing payments to WC and assisting in the approval of “change orders,” which were necessary when work was added or deleted from the original scope of work in a contract. These bribes and kickbacks were made in cash and through in-kind benefits in the form of, among other things, free labor and construction materials.
## Construction Company #1
Between approximately June 20118 and June 2019 the defendants ANDREW CAMPOS, BENITE DIZENZO, MARK KOCAJ and VINCENT FIORE together with other others paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks to multiple Construction Company #1 employees including the defendant JOHN SIMONLACAJ in exchange for, among other things, assistance in awarding contracts to CWC, approving CWC change orders and securing payment to CWC. For example, CWC paid bribes and kickbacks to SIMONLACAJ in the form of among other things free labor and material used to perform extensive renovations at SIMONLACAJ’s residence in Scarsdale, New York.
## Construction Company #2
Between approximately December 2018 and June 2019 the defendants VINCENT FIORE and BENITO DIZENZO together with others, paid bribes and kickbacks to employees of a construction development company (Construction Company #2) the identity of which is known to the Grand Jury, which served as among other things, the developer of a project in Yonkers, New York on which CWC worked. For example, during this period, the defendants VINCENT FIORE and BENITO DIZENZO provided free labor and materials at a location in White Plains, New York which became a business associated with an employee of Construction Company #2 in exchange for, among other things, the employee’s assistance in approving change orders.
## Other Construction Companies
In addition to the illicit payments to employees of Construction Company # 1, Construction Company #2 and Construction Company #3 the defendants and their co-conspirators also paid bribe and kickbacks to employees of other construction companies through among other things in-kind benefits such as free labor and materials at the employees homes in exchange for among other things the employee’s assistance in approving change orders.
## OSHA False Statements Scheme
Certain defendants conspired to make false statements to the United States Department of Labor (the “DOL”) in connection with its administration of its Occupational Safety and Health Act (“OSHA”) Outreach Training Program (“OTP”) to fraudulently procure cards indicating their completion of required construction training courses. OSHA OTP training instructors were required among other things to file OTP training reports with the DOL after each training session that certified among other things the individuals who attended each class.
Between approximately January 2018 and May 2019 the defendants REATO BARCA JR., ANDREW CAMPOS GEORGE CAMPOS, JAMES CIACCIA, BENITO DIZENZO, VINCENT FIORE, MARK KOCAJ and MICHAEL TARUL together with others fraudulently acquired OSHA OTP cards by agreeing with an OTP instructor (the Instructor) to falsely report to the DOL that they had completed certain OTP courses.These defendants also falsely certified to a training company that certain CWC supervisors had completed required OSHA OTP courses and additional training to obtain site supervisor training cards which were required by New York City Law.
DiZenzo was charged under an indictment with Counts 1, 10, 16 and 18: racketeering conspiracy, false statement conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy.
## Count One: Racketeering
DiZenzo was named on this count for Wire Fraud and his role in the Construction Company #1 scheme and for Wire Fraud and his role in the Construction Company #2 scheme.
## Count Ten
DiZenzo was named on this count for Conspiracy to Make False Statements in the OSHA False Statements Scheme.
## Count Sixteen
DiZenzo was named on this count for Wire Fraud Conspiracy for his role in the Construction Company #1 scheme.
## Count Eighteen
DiZenzo was named on this count for Wire Fraud Conspiracy for his role in the Construction Company #2 scheme.
## How did DiZenzo post $500,000 Bail?
At the arraignment on December 5, 2019, in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Ramon E. Reyes, Jr. DiZenzo posted $500,000 bail by signing a bond guaranteed by
two properties a property he co-owns in upstate New York.
EDITOR’S NOTE: DiZenzo and his lawyer claim that despite a published Federal transcript to the contrary, DiZenzo sput up only the property he co-owns at 711 Old Plank Road in Greenville, NY as surety on a $500,000 bond. He acknowledged family members signed a surety but did not pledge any property towards the bond. Given that his family members were not involved in pledging their property Talk of the Sound has removed the paragraph that made reference to those family members by name.
The property, co-owned by DiZenzo and Rosano Pippo, is undeveloped property located on Old Plank Road in Greenville, NY.
DiZenzo has “a rather substantial criminal history of contempt violations, not showing up to court,” according to the U.S. Attorney prosecuting the case, something denied by DiZenzo.
DiZenzo pleaded guilty to Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree in 2005, according to the prosecutor
Dizenzo’s told the Court he primarily stays at the upstate location (Greenville, NY); he spends weekends fixing up the Greenville property, living out of a camper.
## $500,000 Bond Conditions
– No passport or travel documents
– Electronic monitoring
– No work in the construction industry, except as approved by Pretrial Services.