Ten Luchese Mobsters Rounded Up Tonight in Big Loansharking Bust: "Operation The Vig Is Up"

Ten members of the Luchese crime family in the Bronx and Westchester County were arrested by the New York Attorney General's Office tonight (March 27) on charges stemming from a gambling-loan sharking operation that had nearly 50 "clients."

McKiernan’s Lawton Street Tavern in New Rochelle, N.Y.
Clients dropped off cash at McKiernan’s Lawton Street Tavern in New Rochelle, N.Y.


The investigation was dubbed "Operation The Vig Is Up."

Loanshark victims were required to make weekly, high interest “vig” payments, either by directly paying individual defendants, or by dropping off cash payments at two businesses: McKiernan's Lawton Street Tavern or smoke shop The Glass Room. Both storefronts are located in New Rochelle, New York.







Dominick Capelli, a "made member" of the Luchese family, allegedly ran the loan-sharking operation.

Investigators used wiretaps, search warrants, undercover police officers, and hidden cameras to build up enough evidence and identify more than 47 distinct loan-sharking victims, who were charged exorbitant weekly loan rates averaging more than 200 percent per year.

Ten were arrested and charged with first-degree usury and first-degree promoting gambling:
Dominick Capelli, 61, of New Rochelle
Robert Wagner, 59, of New Rochelle
Frank McKiernan, 53, of New Rochelle
Anthony Martino, 76, of Port Chester
Richard Caccavale, 59, of Yorktown
Jessica Bismark, 32, of New Rochelle
Robert Wagner Jr., 33, of New Rochelle
Michael Wagner, 63, of the Bronx
Steve Murray, 49, of Bethel, Conn.
Seth Trustman, 36, of the Bronx


In addition to Capelli, 61, other defendants — or “non-made” crew members — include New Rochelle residents Robert Wagner, Frank McKiernan, Jessica Bismark, and Robert Wagner Jr.

Bronx residents Seth Trustman and Michael Wagner, as well as Anthony Martino of Port Chester, N.Y.; Steve Murray of Bethel, Conn.; and Richard Caccavale of Yorktown Heights, N.Y. were also listed as defendants.

A related indictment charged Michael Lepore and Vincent Tardibuono, both of New Rochelle, with running an online bookmaking operation via website ezplay2001.com, which generated over $1.5 million in annual wagers.

The Enterprise Corruption charge alone carries a maximum penalty of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison.

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced the arrests and indictment.

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.

“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,” said Schneiderman. “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.”

As part of the long-term investigation, investigators utilized wiretaps, covert surveillance cameras, a car bug, undercover police officers, and hidden cameras. Additional evidence came as a result of search warrants executed at defendant Robert Wagner’s home in New Rochelle and at McKiernan’s Lawton Street Tavern in New Rochelle.

In total, investigators identified over 47 distinct loan sharking victims, many with multiple loans, who were preyed on by the defendants. Loan sharking victims were allegedly required to make weekly, high interest “vig” payments, either by directly paying individual defendants, or by dropping off cash payments at two New Rochelle businesses: McKiernan’s Lawton Street Tavern and The Glass Room, a smoke shop. 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.

Additionally, defendants Capelli, Wagner, and Frank 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 wagers.

The Enterprise Corruption charge alone carries a maximum penalty of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison.

Two related indictments were also filed in conjunction with this investigation. A separate bookmaking indictment charged Michael Lepore, 61, of New Rochelle, NY, and Vincent Tardibuono, 41, also of New Rochelle, NY, with running an online bookmaking operation via website ezplay2001.com, which generated over $1.5 million in annual wagers.

Additionally, a related narcotics-based indictment filed by the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office and prosecuted by OAG OCTF Assistant Deputy Attorney General Thomas Luzio, charged Lucien Cappello, 38, of New Rochelle, NY with Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Second Degree, a Class A-II felony, as well as six counts of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree and seven counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree. If convicted, Cappello faces ten years in state prison and five years of post-release supervision.

Attorney General Schneiderman thanks Westchester County District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr. and his office for their assistance and support.

Westchester County District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr. said, “This investigation and successful take down 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. We commend the work of all involved and will continue to work together to fight organized crime here in Westchester.”

Acting New Rochelle Police Commissioner Joseph F. Schaller said, “I want to commend members of the New Rochelle Police Department’s Special Investigation’s Unit, members of the New York State Attorney General’s Office and members of the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office for their hard work and dedicated efforts in helping to root out illegal gambling and loan-sharking in the City of New Rochelle.”

The investigation was directed by OCTF Investigators John Mullen and Kyle Vitale-O’Sullivan, Supervising Investigator Bradford Miller, and Deputy Chief Investigator Christopher Vasta, under the supervision of Chief Dominick Zarrella; and New Rochelle Detective Dwayne Jones, under the supervision Lieutenant Brian Fagan.

The case is being prosecuted by OCTF Assistant Deputy Attorney General Paige Wallace, under the supervision of OCTF Deputy Bureau Chief Diego Hernandez. Deputy Attorney General Peri Alyse Kadanoff runs the Organized Crime Task Force and Margaret Garnett is the Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice.




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