Genovese Family Associate Johnny Pizza Porcello Charged With Illegal Gambling, Loan Sharking

Reputed Genovese crime family associate John (Johnny Pizza) Porcello, who the pizza trade press once described as a "tough-sounding, but actually-nice-guy," was indicted this week in Brooklyn Federal court for running an illegal sports betting ring and overseeing a loan sharking racket.

Mafia Takedown Day Bust
Photo of Mafia Takedown Day bust in January 2011.

Porcello and codefendant Ronald Seebeck, 56, both of Westchester County, allegedly together profited from a loansharking operation that ran from September 2016 through August 2021, as per Federal prosecutors. The duo also ran a sports gambling ring from 2020 through 2021 that produced more than $2,000 in daily profits. (We're basing this on a New York Post report by Ben Feuerherd.)

Porcello of Yonkers and Seebeck of Tuckahoe both pleaded not guilty at their arraignments in Brooklyn Federal court and were released on bond, a US Attorney’s Office spokesperson said.

If convicted, they face up to 20 years in prison on the loan sharking charge and five years for the gambling ring.

Porcello, 59, whose nickname stems from a Bronx pizzeria he once owned, was among the 120-something wiseguys and associates arrested by the Feds in January 2011's Mafia Takedown DayGang Land News described him as an associate of Bonanno associate Neil Messina, who in 2014 was sentenced to 18 years in Federal prison for his role in a botched 1992 home invasion that resulted in the murder of Joseph Pistone (not Donnie Brasco, the former undercover FBI agent, another guy—yes, it is indeed a small world) and the death of his pet German shepherd. Pistone was killed after two Messina accomplices broke into his house in search of cash that they believed was hidden somewhere on the premises. Messina, 59, said he was "only" the getaway drive. He wasn't expecting such a severe sentence based on his plea agreement. The reason he was hit so hard: The judge "believed a 10-year sentence approved by the government was too light, considering there was also compelling proof that Messina had ordered the fatal shooting of another man in 1989." Messina is currently at Allenwood Low Federal Correctional Institution with a slated release date of June 17, 2028.

We got Porcello’s  nice-guy description from a Vice report, but the actual pizza trade report (via PMQ Pizza Magazine) apparently is no longer available online. (We would love to see it if anyone out there happens to have a copy...)

In 2011, when FBI agents arrested Porcello, he was found to be carrying $4,000 in walkaround money. He was one of 13 reputed Genovese family wiseguys and associates nabbed in the roundup.

Ultimately, that case ended with Johnny Pizza copping to one loan sharking conspiracy count and being sentenced to 13 months in prison and served a forfeiture order of $18,000.

In 2008, Seebeck, a former postal police captain, was fined $10,000 for joining a mobbed-up gambling ring at the Terminal Produce Cooperative Market and Hunts Point Cooperative Market, both in the Bronx. 

Seebeck had managed uniformed postal cops in the Postal Inspection Service’s Newark offices before getting booted in 2007.

Prosecutors said Seebeck’s role in the gambling ring included working side-by-side with a Genovese associate handling sports bets. 

Eleven were indicted in Manhattan in November 2006 in connection with that ring, including (former) produce wholesaler and reputed Genovese associate John Caggiano of the Bronx.

Bonanno associate Neil Messina, who gets out in 2028.

Mafia Takedown Day was supposedly the largest American Mafia-related bust in history and involved members and associates of seven organized crime families: the New England LCN family, all five New York-based families, and the New Jersey-based DeCavalcante family. Those involved (127 in total) were charged with Federal crimes in 16 indictments returned in four judicial districts, according to then-Attorney General Eric Holder. The charges related to a wide range of alleged illegal activity, including murder, murder conspiracy, loansharking, arson, narcotics trafficking, extortion, robbery, illegal gambling and labor racketeering, in some cases occurring over decades. The indictments charged leaders of these criminal enterprises, as well as mid-level managers, numerous soldiers and associates, and others alleged to be corrupt union officials.

After 2011's Mafia Takedown Day, the next-largest bust probably would be 2016's East Coast LCN Enterprise case, which involved 46 defendants.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York unveiled the indictment, which depicted a seemingly immense, sprawling collaboration involving four of New York's Five Families: the Gambino, Genovese, Luchese, and Bonanno families -- and Philadelphia. But thanks in no small part to garden variety FBI incompetence and some gamesmanship by turncoat John (J.R.) Rubeo Jr., formerly a controversial guest on the Johnny & Gene Show podcast, the case turned out to be significantly smaller than it was originally made out to be. The various indictments included charges related to loansharking, illegal gambling, credit card and health care fraud, and firearms trafficking. 

This was the "compound cream" case....for those who recall....