NJ Luchese Capo, Sons Get 8-, 10-Year Sentences

Ralph M. Perna, the Luchese crime family's top capo in the Garden State and two of his sons were slammed with nearly a decade in prison each
From left: Ralph Perna and sons,  Joseph Perna, John Perna
Ralph Perna, the Luchese crime family's top capo in the Garden State and two of his sons were slammed with nearly a decade in prison each. Meanwhile, one of the North Jersey Luchese crew's leaders was sentenced to about half the amount of time in prison.

Matthew "Matty" Madonna, considered a close associate of the family's street boss, Bronx-based Stevie Crea, was a suspect in the the last Mafia hit (clarification: last in this case, meaning until the next one).

This past Thursday Ralph Perna, 69, of East Hanover, was given eight years in state prison; John G. Perna, 38, of West Caldwell,  and Joseph M. Perna, 46, of Wyckoff., were given 10 years apiece in state prison. 

The sentences follow to the letter the recommendations issued last October by New Jersey's Attorney General.

The mobsters were among six key members of the Luchese family's North Jersey franchise. Except for one defendant (Matthew "Matty" Madonna), all pleaded guilty in June of last year to racketeering charges resulting from Operation Heat, which focused on the crew's illegal gambling enterprise that utilized extortion and violence. The operation netted the crime family billions, according to investigators.

Madonna, 80, of Seldon, N.Y., a member of the crime family's ruling panel, was sentenced on Sept. 30, to five years in state prison.

The Luchese family's former New Jersey underboss, Martin Taccetta, 64, of East Hanover, N.J., was sentenced on Sept. 30 to eight years in state prison. He's alreadyt serving life, plus 10 years.

John Mangrella, 73, of Clifton, N.J., another senior member of the crime family, was sentenced on Oct. 29 to eight years in state prison.

According to authorities, the defendants were initially charged and arrested in Operation Heat in December 2007. The investigation uncovered an international criminal enterprise that transacted an estimated $2.2 billion in wagers, primarily on sporting events, during a 15-month period.

The gambling operation utilized simple password-protected websites and a Costa Rican-based wire room.

The enterprise involved hundreds -- or thousands -- of gamblers, including one high-roller who bet upwards of $2 million in two months. The Pernas and Taccetta pocketed illicit proceeds of the enterprise kicking up "tribute payments" to the family's ruling panel members, including Madonna, and allegedly Joseph DiNapoli, 80, of Scarsdale, N.Y. DiNapoli's charges are still pending.

The investigation also uncovered a prison smuggling scheme that involved a former New Jersey corrections officer and a high-ranking member of the Bloods-affiliated Nine Trey Gangsters. The street gang had entered into an alliance with the Luchese crime family to smuggle drugs and prepaid cellphones into East Jersey State Prison.

The alliance allegedly extended beyond smuggling, possibly to the gambling enterprise, according to reports. It seemed to also include a more general component. For example, Joseph Perna sought assistance from a high-ranking member of the Nine Trey Gangsters to stop a Bloods associate from extorting a man with ties to the Luchese family.

The charges are pending against several other defendants charged in smuggling scheme, authorities stated.