Genovese Family's Springfield Crew Holdout Found Guilty

Richard Valentini, 52, of East Longmeadow, Mass., the one member of the Genovese crime family's notorious Springfield crew who flatly refused a plea agreement, wanted very much to go to trial and prove his innocence, as noted earlier this month.

Richard Valentini, Genovese Springfield Crew Member
Each of the charges Valentini was convicted of carries up to 20 years in prison. 

Well, he got part of his wish. He went to trial. However, the jury this past Monday didn't go for his version of events. Instead, they found him guilty of one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce and one count of interference with commerce by threat or violence.

Valentini was one of five reputed members of the Genovese crime family's "Springfield Crew" who were arrested in August as part of the "East Coast LCN Enterprise" case that alleges wide-ranging Mafia-related activity in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Florida (and New Jersey, supposedly).

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Hillman scheduled Valentini to be sentenced March 12. Each of the charges he was convicted of carries up to 20 years in prison. His sentence would also incorporate five years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine, among additional restitution.

According to the evidence presented at trial, Valentini and co-defendants, Francisco “Frank” Depergola, Ralph Santaniello, and Giovani “Johnny Cal” Calabrese, associates of the New York-based Genovese crime family, had engaged in various criminal activities in Springfield, Massachusetts, including extortion from legitimate businesses.

Prosecutors established that Valentini and his co-defendants used violence, exploited their relationship with the Genovese crime family, and implied threats of murder and physical violence to instill fear in their victims.

The evidence established that in 2013, Valentini, Depergola, Santaniello, and Calabrese attempted to extort money from a Springfield businessman. Santaniello and Calabrese assaulted the businessman and threatened to cut off his head and bury his body if he did not comply. Prosecutors established that over a period of seven weeks, the businessman paid $20,000 to Valentini, Santaniello, Calabrese, and Depergola to protect himself and his business.

Santaniello, Calabrese, and Depergola previously pleaded guilty; their sentencings are scheduled for Jan. 29, 2018, Jan. 30, 2018, and March 9, 2018, respectively.

As of November 28, only Valentini faced trial in this case. Valentini's attorney Jared Olanoff had been filing a "flurry of motions" to get a change of venue before the jury trial commenced on Dec. 11 as scheduled.

Olanoff argued that his client was unfairly portrayed as a mobster who squeezed Morel for $20,000 in "tribute." Valentini was only a bystander who happened to be present for "a single meeting" during which his co-defendants demanded Morel pay them what they alleged was their due.

What has fueled the perception of Valentini as a mobster, the lawyer has argued, are the "26 stories in The Republican and on chronicling the case" since Valentini's August 2016 arrest. It's chiefly because of the widespread reportage that Olanoff is seeking to move the trial to Worcester. So says the defense attorney.

"The media coverage has been so prevalent and frequent that it will prevent (Valentini) from receiving a fair and impartial trial in the Western Division," Olanoff wrote in a motion, as Barry reported.

Murder of Big Al changes everything.....

He was the last holdout of a Genovese crew arrested last August as part of a multi-crime family racketeering indictment in which the Feds invented the not-so-immortal cognomen, “East Coast LCN Enterprise," which never in a million years did we think would need to be described as an artificial handle law enforcement inserted in the indictment to describe the ring. (The alleged members of the ring, obviously, didn't refer to themselves as the East Coast LCN Enterprise. Did anyone not know that?)

Running Springfield for Genovese Crime Family
Santaniello allegedly was running the Springfield Crew for the Genovese crime family reportedly with the backing of his father, Amedeo Santaniello, a longtime Springfield mobster and a former confidante of Genovese boss Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno, now deceased

Santaniello allegedly was running the Springfield Crew for the Genovese crime family.

Also backing the younger Santaniello is longtime area tough guy Albert Calvanese, a convicted loan shark who, like Santaniello, the father, is not charged in the "East Coast LCN Syndicate" case.