Three Down, Two to Go in Springfield Mafia Crew Case

The Department of Justice's Office of Public Affairs issued an announcement of yesterday's sentencing proceedings of two alleged members of the Genovese crime family's Springfield Crew on extortion-related charges.

Salvatore Giovanni Cufari, aka "Big Nose Sam" Cufari. First recognized boss of a Mafia entity in Springfield. He was born January 31, 1901 in Bianco Nuovo (now called "Bianco"), Reggio Calabria, in Italy.

In Worcester, Massachusetts, federal court, Ralph Santaniello, 50, and Giovanni Calabrese, 54, both of Longmeadow, Massachusetts, were sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman to serve 60 months (or 5 years) in prison and 36 months (or 3 years) in prison, respectively.

After prison, they are to serve two years of supervised release.

In August 2016, five were arrested: Santaniello, Calabrese, Gerald Daniele, 52, of Longmeadow; Francesco Depergola, 62, of Springfield, Massachusetts; and Richard Valentini, 51, of East Longmeadow, Massachusetts.

Last November, Santaniello and Calabrese each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by threats or violence; one count of interference with commerce by threats or violence – aiding and abetting; one count of conspiracy to use extortionate means to collect extensions of credit; and one count of using extortionate means to collect extensions of credit – aiding and abetting.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling for the District of Massachusetts, Special Agent in Charge Harold H. Shaw of the FBI Boston Field Division, Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni and Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, made the announcement.

According to documents and evidence presented in court, Santaniello, Calabrese, and their co-defendants, were associates of the New York-based Genovese LCN crime family and engaged in various criminal activities in Springfield, Massachusetts, including loansharking and extortion from legitimate and illegitimate businesses, such as illegal gambling businesses and the collection of unlawful debts.

The defendants used violence, exploited their role as members of Cosa Nostra, and implied threats of murder and physical violence to instill fear in their victims.

In 2013, Santaniello, Calabrese, Depergola, and Valentini attempted to extort money from Springfield tow company owner Craig J. "C.J." Morel.

Santaniello assaulted the businessman, and Santaniello and Calabrese threatened to cut off the man’s head and bury his body if he did not comply. Over a period of two months, the businessman paid $20,000 to Santaniello, Calabrese, Depergola and Valentini to protect himself and his business.

In addition, during a six-month period in 2015, Daniele extended two extortionate and usurious loans to an individual, and then, along with Santaniello and Calabrese, threatened the individual if he did not make payments on the loans.

In March 2018, Daniele was sentenced to two years in prison.

In December 2017, Depergola pleaded guilty and Valentini was convicted by a federal jury; they are both scheduled to be sentenced on May 11.