April 27, 2020 — Springfield (MA.) mob enforcer Richie (The Postman) Valentini is appealing his 2017 federal extortion conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court. Valentini, 55, got out of prison late last year after serving 20 months for shaking down a Western Massachusetts tow-truck company owner for $20,000. Attorneys for the tall, thick-necked Valentini claim he never received a dime from the Springfield mob crew’s 2013 extortion of Craig (C.J.) Morel, owner of C.J.’s Towing Unlimited, and therefore should get his guilty verdict from three years ago thrown off the books.
Seth Kretzer, an appellate attorney from Texas, filed a brief seeking consideration for Valentino’s case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington D.C. earlier this month, according to MassLive crime reporter Stephanie Barry’s article Saturday on Valentini’s most recent legal battle. The court will meet about the case on May 15, per the docket. He was convicted at a December 2017 trial. The jury took less than three hours to return with a guilty verdict.
C.J. Morel, 55, recorded 16 conversations with Springfield mobsters for the FBI, but only one featured Valentini’s voice. On that recording made in October 2013, Valentini is heard offering to bring Morel Cristal champagne if he agrees to pay the mob for its help in keeping a municipal contract. Springfield mafia figure Ralphie Santaniello slapped Morel at the meeting held on Morel’s property and threatened to “bury him,” if he didn’t fork over what Santaniello decided was $50,000 in back street tax.
The 52-year old Santaniello pleaded guilty in the case and is slated for release next month after almost four years behind bars. Morel owed slain Springfield mob boss Adolfo (Big Al) Bruno 50 large in tribute cash when Bruno was assassinated on November 24, 2003 leaving a Sunday night card game. Morel was greasing Bruno with envelopes of cash through much of the late 1990s and early 2000s in exchange for political protection and first crack at sweetheart contracts from the city. He never paid the outstanding tab to Big Al’s successors and Santaniello decided to try to collect a decade later. Santaniello eventually recovered $20,000 in cash provided to Morel by the FBI.
Valentini once worked for the U.S. Post Office and has been tied to the Springfield mob crew for years, usually listed on charts as a collector for gambling and juice-loan rackets. The Springfield mob is a satellite branch of New York’s Genovese crime family.
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