Ronald Trucchio

Published on Monday, December 9, 2002

Related Material:  1 2

Following indictment, also see:
USA v. Ronald Trucchio, (11th Cir. 2007) Appeal
Docket Number: 03-60267
Parts: 05-14830


Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, joined by Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, today announced the indictment of 17 individuals -- including reputed Gambino crime family captain Ronald Trucchio and his son, Alphonse Trucchio, a reputed Gambino soldier -- on charges of operating a $30 million a year Queens-based illegal sports betting gambling enterprise controlled by organized crime.

The 36-count Enterprise Corruption indictment charges that the father-and-son gambling ring operated out of two Ozone Park locations and handled wagers –- some as high as $15,000 -- on college and professional basketball and football and on professional baseball and hockey.

District Attorney Brown said, “It is charged that the Trucchio gambling enterprise is controlled by the Gambino organized crime family and that it accepted illegal sports wagers of over $600,000 each week and handled over $30 million in gambling action a year. These huge profits from illegal sports betting and other forms of gambling are the oil which lubricates organized crime’s powerful engine of corruption and greed and which drives its other more insidious activities such as labor racketeering, drug trafficking, auto theft and loan sharking.”

Police Commissioner Kelly said, “These arrests stand as another example of our persistent and painstaking efforts to rid New York City of organized crime. Trucchio and his cohorts made millions of dollars through an illegal sports gambling ring, and now they will pay the price in prison. Our officers in this multi-agency operation performed their jobs with the highest standard of excellence and I commend them for their efforts.”

District Attorney Brown said that early this morning detectives assigned to the New York City Police Department’s Organized Crime Investigation Division and Asset Forfeiture Unit arrested the Trucchios and many of their co-defendants on the charges which include Enterprise Corruption – a violation of New York State’s Organized Crime Control Act – conspiracy, promoting gambling and possession of gambling records. In addition, Ronald Trucchio has been charged with failing to file New York State tax returns for the years 1999, 2000 and 2001 with intent to evade payment of taxes. The defendants face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

District Attorney Brown said that the investigation leading to today’s arrests began in April 2002 based upon information developed by detectives of the New York City Police Department’s Organized Crime Investigations Division.

According to the District Attorney, the indictment charges that Ronald Trucchio, 51, of 135-43 120th Street in South Ozone Park was the operation’s leader with ultimate control over the criminal enterprise and that his son, Alphonse Trucchio, 25, of 156-04 79th Street in Howard Beach was the operation’s bookmaker and head of operations who oversaw all aspects of the operation including supervision of the operation’s alleged controller, Anthony Moscatiello, 32, of 106-65 97th Street in Ozone Park. It is charged that Moscatiello conducted the operation’s day-to-day business, maintaining bettors’ account information and providing that information to Alphonse Trucchio.

The indictment also charges that defendants Clifford Friess, Eugene Gallo, Richard Detke, George Karyotakis, Thomas Caputo, Kevin Murphy, Vincent Palmieri, Russell Garbarino, Salvatore Aiello and Thomas Occhipinti were “runners” in the operation who provided bettors with telephone numbers and access codes for the operation’s two wirerooms and who met weekly with bettors to settle their accounts.

The indictment further charges that defendants Francis Roccaforte, Anthony Russo, Carmine Cascone and Michael Grillo were clerks in the operation who answered phones at the wirerooms, recorded wagers called in by bettors and recorded those wagers on tally sheets for Moscatiello, the controller, who then transcribed the wagers onto a controller sheet.

Three of the largest wagers allegedly placed by bettors during the investigation include:
-$15,000 on November 10, 2002 on the Washington Redskins football team in a game played on that day.
-$11,000 on November 4, 2002 on the Miami Dolphins football team on a game played on that day.
-$1,500 on November 10, 2002 on the Green Bay Packers football team in a game played on that day.

The indictment charges that at various times during the investigation the Trucchio Organization operated two separate wirerooms in a third-floor apartment at 89-07 North Conduit Avenue and in the basement of an attached, one-family house at 149-29 122nd Street, both in Ozone Park.

District Attorney Brown said that in addition to the criminal prosecutions his office has filed a civil lawsuit seeking a judgement for $6.5 million in proceeds of the illicit organized crime criminal enterprise.

It is alleged in the civil action that Trucchio asserted in a February 28, 2001 loan application submitted to American General Finance, Inc. at 66-37 Grand Avenue in Maspeth, Queens that for 13 years he had worked as general manager of Aldo’s Restaurant and earned a salary of $70,000 in 2001. The restaurant was originally located at 76-17 101st Avenue and is now located at 137-03 Cross Bay Boulevard in Ozone Park.

The investigation was conducted by Detective Louis Wirth of the NYPD Asset Forfeiture Unit under the supervision of Lieutenant Steven Dato and Detective William Dwyer of NYPD Organized Crime Investigation Division under the supervision Lieutenant Brian Vertworth. District Attorney Brown expressed his appreciation to Investigator Paul Polito of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance and Detective John Carillo of the Analysis and Intelligence Division of the NYPD Organized Crime Investigation Division for their assistance in the investigation.

Assistant District Attorneys Peri A. Kadanoff and Daniel I. Schlachet of the District Attorney Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau assisted in the investigation under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Gerard A. Brave, Chief, and Marc P. Resnick, Deputy Chief. Assistant District Attorney David S. Zadnoff of the Civil Enforcement Bureau is handling the civil recovery action under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Anthony M. Communiello, Chief, and Oscar W. Ruiz, Deputy Chief. Both the criminal prosecution and the civil litigation are under the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Peter A. Crusco and Assistant District Attorney Linda M. Cantoni, Counsel to the Investigations Division.

It should be noted that an indictment is merely an accusation and that defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

USA v. Ronald Trucchio, (11th Cir. 2007) Appeal following indictment
Docket Number: 03-60267
Parts: 05-14830






No. 05-14830 January 30, 2007



D. C. Docket No. 03-60267-CR-KAM





a.k.a. Ronnie One Arm,


Appeal from the United States District Court

for the Southern District of Florida

(January 30, 2007)

Before TJOFLAT, HULL and BOWMAN,* Circuit Judges. PER CURIAM: Ronald J. Trucchio appeals his conviction following a jury trial for conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"), 18U.S.C. § 1962(c), in violation of 18U.S.C. § 1962(d). After review and oral argument, we affirm.

I. BACKGROUND On December 2, 2003, a federal grand jury indicted Trucchio and nine codefendants, charging that the defendants had participated in a racketeering conspiracy from 1986 to the date of the indictment. The indictment1 alleged that Trucchio was a "captain" in the Gambino Crime Family associated with a criminal "crew" operating in Florida and New York called the Young Guns, formerly the Liberty Posse. The indictment further charged that Trucchio supervised the criminal activities of the Young Guns, demanded and received cash payments as tribute, and instructed the gang on the distribution of proceeds. According to the indictment and the evidence at trial, the principal purpose of the Young Guns was to generate money for its members and associates from criminal activity in such a way as to avoid detection by law enforcement agents.

1 The federal grand jury returned a third superseding indictment on July 20, 2004, which changed the end date of the conspiracy to July 20, 2004. For the sake of simplicity, we refer to the third superseding indictment as "the indictment." Trucchio alone proceeded to trial after all his codefendants pled guilty. At trial, the government presented the testimony of Trucchio's former criminal associates and a federal agent investigating the Gambino Crime Family.

For example, Michael Ciaccio, a member of a New York-based criminal crew associated with Trucchio, testified that Trucchio was a "made" member of the Gambino Crime Family who accepted tribute payments derived from the Young Guns' drug sales and other criminal activities. According to Ciaccio, Trucchio grew concerned with the Young Guns' escalating violence in South Florida in 1997 and directed Ciaccio to monitor their activities and identify potential witnesses against them. Ciaccio noted that many Young Guns members had been incarcerated and stated that the gang "had broken up" in 1997. Ciaccio also testified, however, that the remaining members who were not incarcerated were like a "minor league team" that continued to perpetrate minor crimes.

Joseph Kondrotos, a member of the Young Guns, testified that Trucchio was a captain in the Gambino Crime Family. He corroborated Ciaccio's testimony that Young Guns leaders regularly paid tribute to Trucchio and described the robberies, assaults, and murders perpetrated by the Young Guns in Florida.

According to Kondrotos, Young Guns members discussed potential witnesses against them while residing in the Federal Detention Center in 2004. Kondrotos testified that Young Guns leaders discussed killing prosecutors, a potential witness residing in the Federal Detention Center, and the witness's mother.

Frank Scarabino, an associate of the DeCavalcante Crime Family of New Jersey, provided a general description of the structure of organized crime families and testified that Trucchio was a captain in the Gambino Crime Family.

Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI") Special Agent George Gabriel testified as an expert on the Gambino Crime Family. Agent Gabriel described the structure of the American Mafia and stated that Trucchio was at least an acting captain in the Gambino Crime Family. Agent Gabriel's knowledge was gleaned from informants' statements, cooperating witnesses, and surveillance.

At the close of the government's case, Trucchio moved for a judgment of acquittal. After the district court denied this motion, Trucchio called one witness on his behalf and failed to renew his motion at the close of all the evidence.

After three days of deliberation, the jury found Trucchio guilty of RICO conspiracy under 18U.S.C. § 1962(d) for his involvement with the Young Guns.

The district court sentenced Trucchio to 240 months' imprisonment, three years of supervised release, and a $25,000 fine. This appeal followed. II. DISCUSSION On appeal, Trucchio raises these assignments of error: (1) the prosecution was time-barred because the indictment was filed six years after the Young Guns had broken up, outside RICO's five-year statute of limitations; (2) the government presented insufficient evidence that Trucchio participated in a RICO conspiracy in violation of § 1962(d) because, inter alia, he did not direct or manage the Young Guns; (3) the district court erred in admitting certain FBI expert testimony, including testimony about the structure of organized crime families and Trucchio's status as a captain in the Gambino Crime Family; and (4) the district court breached its duty to inquire sua sponte whether Trucchio's counsel had an actual conflict of interest, requiring us to remand for an evidentiary hearing.

After careful review of the record, as well as the arguments of both parties presented in their briefs and at oral argument, we conclude that all of Trucchio's claims lack merit. Only his third and fourth claims warrant further discussion.

As to the FBI expert testimony, Trucchio contends that Agent Gabriel's testimony based on informants' statements was admitted in violation of the Confrontation Clause. Even assuming arguendo that Agent Gabriel's testimony constituted inadmissible testimonial hearsay under Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36, 124 S. Ct. 1354 (2004), the admission of this testimony was harmless error.2 Agent Gabriel's testimony was merely cumulative of other testimony presented at trial­Scarabino also testified about the structure of organized crime families, and Scarabino and Kondrotos testified that Trucchio was a captain in the Gambino Crime Family. Moreover, because the RICO conspiracy charges stemmed from Trucchio's involvement with the Young Guns, Agent Gabriel's testimony about Trucchio's ties to the Gambino Crime Family concerned issues collateral to the offense conduct. Given the cumulative nature of Agent Gabriel's testimony and the strength of the government's other evidence linking Trucchio to the Young Guns, the admission of Agent Gabriel's testimony was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. See United States v. Mills, 138 F.3d 928, 939-41 (11th Cir. 1998) (finding that a Confrontation Clause error was harmless in light of the prosecution's strong case and the cumulative nature of the challenged testimony).

Trucchio's contention that the district court had a duty to inquire into a potential conflict of interest involving his trial counsel is also meritless. During Trucchio's trial, Ciaccio testified that Joseph Corozzo, Sr., the father of Trucchio's trial counsel, was involved with the Gambino Crime Family. Trucchio's counsel, Joseph Corozzo, Jr., asked the district court to clarify that the witness was speaking about counsel's father and not counsel himself. Ciaccio clarified that he was discussing counsel's father. Although other witnesses mentioned Corozzo, Sr., there was no other reference to his relationship to Trucchio's counsel.

Even if no party raises a conflict of interest issue at trial, the trial judge has a duty to inquire into a potential conflict sua sponte if it is "sufficiently apparent" at the time of trial. See Wood v. Georgia, 450 U.S. 261, 272, 101 S. Ct. 1097, 1104 (1981). In the record in this appeal, Trucchio has made no showing that his counsel had a conflict of interest or that any potential conflict of interest was "sufficiently apparent" in order to trigger a duty to inquire by the district court.3 While the record in Wood "strongly suggest[ed]" a potential conflict arising from the trial counsel's inconsistent interests, nothing in this record indicates that Corozzo, Jr. had any inconsistent interests that should have been apparent to the trial judge. Id. at 273, 101 S. Ct. at 1104. The identity of trial counsel's father by itself did not make a potential conflict "sufficiently apparent" to impose upon the trial judge a duty to investigate it sua sponte. Furthermore, nothing in the record presented in this direct appeal justifies a remand for an evidentiary hearing.

For the foregoing reasons, we affirm Trucchio's conviction.


* Honorable Pasco M. Bowman II, United States Circuit Judge for the Eighth Circuit, sitting by designation.

2 The denial of a defendant's Confrontation Clause rights is reviewed for harmless error. See United States v. Ndiaye, 434 F.3d 1270, 1286 (11th Cir.), cert. denied, Diaw v. United States,U.S., 127 S. Ct. 128 (2006).

3 In this appeal, Trucchio has made no claim of ineffective assistance of counsel; instead, Trucchio's claim is that the district court had a duty to inquire sua sponte about a potential conflict of interest. As we have previously stated, "[e]xcept in the rare instance when the record is sufficiently developed, we will not address claims for ineffective assistance of counsel on direct appeal." United States v. Verbitskaya, 406 F.3d 1324, 1337 (11th Cir. 2005), cert. denied,U.S., 126 S. Ct. 1095 (2006); see also Massaro v. United States, 538 U.S. 500, 504, 123 S. Ct. 1690, 1694 (2003) ("[I]n most cases a motion brought under [28U.S.C.] § 2255 is preferable to direct appeal for deciding claims of ineffective assistance.").

This document cites
U.S. Supreme Court - Wood v. Georgia, 450 U.S. 261 (1981)
U.S. Supreme Court - Massaro v. United States, 538 U.S. 500 (2003)
U.S. Supreme Court - Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004)
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit - Medicare & Medicaid Guide P 46,209, 49 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. 237, 11 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. C 1197 United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, Cross-Appellant, v. Margie B. Mills, Defendant-Appellant, Robert Jack Mills, Defendant-Appellant, Cross-Appellee., 138 F.3d 928 (11th Cir. 1998)
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit - United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Vika Verbitskaya, A.K.A. Victoria Verbitsky A.K.A. Vika Rounick A.K.A. Victoria Pakuk, Alexander Verbitsky, Defendants-Appellants., 406 F.3d 1324 (11th Cir. 2005)

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