A domineering mobster’s efforts to track his girlfriend with a GPS device led authorities to uncover an array of criminal schemes that included an attempt to fix a college basketball game, federal prosecutors said Thursday.
The stunning turn of events was revealed as 20 people — including 11 reputed members and associates of the Colombo crime family — were busted on charges including racketeering, loansharking and extortion.
Reputed Colombo capo Joseph Amato, 60, allegedly bought the electronic tracker to keep tabs on his then-girlfriend, identified only as “Jane Doe,” by secretly attaching it to her car.
Amato stalked the woman between Jan. 1, 2015, and Oct. 21, 2016, during which time he had to “regularly and covertly retrieve the device, charge it and then re-position it on Jane Doe’s car,” according to papers filed in Brooklyn federal court.
The controlling capo also allegedly sent the woman intimidating emails about his influence and power on Staten Island, including one that said, “This is my island. Not yours. I have the eyes all over.”
In another, Amato — who in 1995 was convicted in the shooting of a 15-year-old witness to an attempted rubout during the third Colombo family civil war — allegedly boasted that “I’m called a MAN’S MAN!!!”
“Anyone could end up in jail. I don’t wish it on anyone[.] Especially weak men. Who could never deal with it. I thrived there and anywhere I go,” court papers say he wrote.
The woman eventually discovered the GPS tracker, which then somehow wound up attached to the oil pan of an MTA bus, “likely to thwart Amato’s stalking efforts,” court papers say.
A mechanic found the device in November 2016 during a routine maintenance inspection at the MTA bus depot on Staten Island, leading the feds to launch an investigation, according to the Brooklyn US Attorney’s Office.
Wiretaps on the phones of Amato, his son Joseph Amato Jr. and reputed Colombo soldier Thomas Scorcia resulted in “thousands of intercepted phone calls and text messages,” court papers say.
The eavesdropping allegedly caught Amato Jr., 26, talking on a cellphone with Benjamin Bifalco, 25, about Bifalco’s plan to “pay thousands of dollars to multiple members” of an unidentified team to lose an NCCA Division 1 basketball game by more than the point spread.
But Bifalco apparently couldn’t pull off the December 2018 scam, with court papers saying that Amato Jr. sent two text messages to Scorcia, 52, shortly before the opening tip.
“Ok I wouldn’t trust the game I was telling u about” and “I’m not touching it personally,” Amato Jr. allegedly wrote.
In court papers, prosecutors said that “was good advice given that the favored team did not cover the spread and the bets would not have been winning ones.”
The defendants — who include reputed Colombo soldiers Daniel “The Wig” Capaldo and Vincent “Vinny Linen” Scura, and reputed associate Anthony “Bugz” Silvestro — were being arraigned Thursday afternoon.
This article was originally posted here