As reputed boss of the Genovese crime family, Matty “the Horse” Ianniello was in the crime business. But now at age 86 and headed for federal prison, his main order of business will be survival, even with an abbreviated sentence. On Thursday, September 14, the ailing mobster, his wooden cane hanging on a chair beside him, entered a plea of guilty to one count of racketeering in the court of U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis in Manhattan. Free on bail for now, Ianniello, a resident of Long Island, faces a prison sentence of one-and-a-half to two years, plus forfeiture of up to $1 million to the government. Without the plea bargain, he could have gotten as many as 20 years in prison.
Ianniello, a longtime Genovese capo, rose to the top of the family food chain in 1997 following multiple racketeering and conspiracy convictions of longtime boss Vincent “the Chin” Gigante, the latter’s “Oddfather” routine no longer so convincing. Ianniello was knee-deep in labor corruption, particularly with a Queens, N.Y. bus drivers union, Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union. Among the union leadership’s offenses were the extortion of $100,000 in cash payments nearly a decade ago from a medical center that rented space from the local, and the collection of regular payments from the center after that. Last July, federal agents and New York City police arrested Ianniello and 19 other alleged family members and associates on extortion, loan sharking and other charges. Ianniello, prosecutors say, infiltrated the union, having received steady payments from one activity or another since 1990, and tried to thwart a federal grand jury probe.
The Genovese crime family, meanwhile, is going through a leadership crisis, weakened over the past two years by a series of indictments and convictions. Bosses put out of commission include Dominick Cirillo, Liberio “Barney” Bellomo, and one of Vincent Gigante’s brothers, Mario. Reportedly in line for the top job is current underboss Venero “Benny Eggs” Mangano, set for release from federal prison this November. His criminal record aside, don’t count on him having a long career as godfather – at 85, he’s only a year younger than Ianniello. (Associated Press, 9/14/06; other sources).