Seven men from Westchester County and one from Fairfield County are among 10 alleged members of the Lucchese Crime Family facing criminal charges for their involvement in the “largest loan sharking operation ever investigated by the New York Attorney General’s Office.”
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the arrests and indictment of 10 alleged members of the Lucchese Family on charges related to the alleged operation of a “lucrative loan sharking and gambling activities” following a long-term investigation.
Schneiderman said that during “Operation The Vig Is Up” involved “the alleged loan sharking and bookmaking activities of alleged Lucchese ‘made member’ Dominick Capelli and alleged Lucchese ‘Associates’ or ‘non-made’ crew members in Westchester and the Bronx.” He noted that the loan sharking operation is the largest such operation ever investigated by the New York Attorney General, with “usurious interest payouts exceeding a million dollars just during the approximately one-year investigation.”
Among those facing charges that include enterprise corruption, promoting gambling and first-degree include:
- New Rochelle resident Dominick Capelli, 61;
- New Rochelle resident Robert Wagner, 59;
- New Rochelle resident Frank McKiernan, 53;
- New Rochelle resident Jessica Bismark, 32;
- New Rochelle resident Robert Wagner, Jr., 33;
- Yorktown Heights resident Richard Caccavale, 59;
- Port Chester resident Anthony Martino, 76;
- Bethel, Conn. resident Steve Murray, 49; and
- Bronx resident Michael Wagner, 63;
- Bronx resident Seth Trustman, 36.
According to Schneiderman, during the investigation, law enforcement officials made use of wiretaps, covert surveillance cameras, a car bug, undercover police officers, and hidden cameras. Additional evidence was also obtained as a result of search warrants that were executed at Wagner’s home in New Rochelle and McKiernan’s Lawton Street Tavern.
In all, Schneiderman said that investigators found nearly 50 loan-sharking victims, many with multiple loans, who were “preyed on by the defendants,” who made their victims make weekly high interest “vig” payments, by dropping off cash payments to McKiernan’s Tavern and The Glass Room in New Rochelle.
“Victims were allegedly charged exorbitant weekly loan rates averaging over 200 percent per year, effectively creating a high-cost debt trap for all individuals taking out such loans,” Schneiderman noted.
“This investigation and successful takedown of this organized crime loan sharking operation was the culmination of a collaborative effort among the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force, the New Rochelle Police, and our office,” Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino, Jr. said in a statement.
Each of the 10 men charged will face up to 25 years in prison for the enterprise corruption charges. Additionally, Capelli, Wagner, and McKiernan are alleged to have run an illegal bookmaking operation, utilizing the gambling website bxbets.com to generate over a half a million dollars in annual wages.
“As we allege, this brazen ring of criminals preyed on New Yorkers – using a gambling operation to funnel victims into their loan sharking operation, and then saddling them with usurious loan payments,” Schneiderman stated. “My office will continue to work with our partners in law enforcement to root out organized crime and prosecute these criminals to the fullest extent of the law.”
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