Federal authorities in New York unsealed racketeering indictments against 13 people today and raided a home in West Orange as part of a crackdown on the Genovese crime family.
The men, including three from New Jersey, are charged with a variety of crimes including drug dealing, extortion and loan sharking. The defendants include reputed ex-acting Genovese boss Danny "The Lion" Leo and Anthony Palumbo, who allegedly directs the family's New Jersey operation, according to the office of Lev L. Dassin, acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.AP Photo/Seth WenigAnthony Palumbo, center, is escorted by authorities from the Federal Building in New York today
Authorities say the men preyed on small businesses, including the owners of a Jersey City bartending school, by granting high-interest loans. If they could not afford payments, the men threatened violence, authorities said.
Four of the defendants, including Leo, are already in federal custody. Three others surrendered to a federal magistrate judge in Manhattan. And six of the men were arrested this morning at their homes, including Palumbo, 59, of Manhattan; Rocco Petrozza, 49, of Pompton Lakes; Patsy Aversa, 67, of Wood-Ridge; and Joseph Petullo, 30, of Fairfield.
FBI agents also raided the West Orange house of Andy Gerardo, an alleged longtime member and consigliere, or adviser, to the Genovese family. Authorities charge the men used his house, near Essex Fells Country Club, as part of their criminal operation.
Gerardo, who splits his time between New Jersey and Florida, denied his house was used for illegal activity. The 78-year-old said did not even know the defendants, except for Palumbo, who is his nephew.
"I never heard of them," said Gerardo, who is not charged in the two indictments.