Roslyn Heights man charged with money laundering, drug trafficking as acting head of Bonanno crime family

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A Roslyn Heights man was among four men charged Wednesday with drug trafficking, loansharking and firearm offenses in connection with the Bonanno organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra.

U.S. Attorney’s office of Eastern New York said Damiano Zummo, 44, is one of two voices in a secretly recorded induction ceremony for the Bonanno crime family in November 2015 in Canada.

Zummo is accused of running a cocaine trafficking conspiracy with co-defendant Salvatore Russo, 45, of Bellmore, allegedly selling nearly a kilogram of cocaine for $38,000 in a Manhattan gelato shop on Sept. 14 with as well as laundering approximately $250,000 with business checks issued to a fictitious consulting company that purported to bill the company for consulting services, according to the release, and Zummo took a fee of approximately 10 percent for each money laundering transaction.

“Today’s arrests send a powerful message that this Office and our law enforcement partners here and abroad are committed to dismantling organized crime groups wherever they are located — whether local or international in scope,” Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget Rohde said in the release. “The recording of a secret induction ceremony is an extraordinary achievement for law enforcement and deals a significant blow to La Cosa Nostra.”

Paul Semplice, 54, and Paul Ragusa, 46, both of Brooklyn, were also charged Wednesday in relation to the case, according to the release. Semplice, an alleged member of the Gambino crime family, is charged with conducting a loansharking scheme in which he and others extended extortionate loans with interest rates of up to 54 percent each year, generating thousands of dollars every week.

Ragusa, an alleged associate of both the Bonanno and Gambino crime families, is charged with being a felon in possession of nine firearms, including three automatic assault rifles and one silencer.

Zummo was quoted in the transcript of a recording released by the U.S. Attorney’s office to Blank Slate Media welcoming new members into the Bonanno family.

“The reason why we’re here is from this day forward, you’re gonna be an official member of the Bonanno family,” Zummo said in the transcript.  “…this guy, this guy, this guy, everybody approved it, so from this day forward, you’re a member of the Bonanno family. Congratulations.”

“You only answer to the Bonanno family,” Zummo said at the end of the transcription to a cooperating witness who’s name has been withheld.

According to the witness, Zummo had been the acting captain of the Bonanno crime family for “several months.”

All four defendants pleaded not guilty at arraignment Thursday according to U.S. Attorney’s office public information officer John Marzulli.

Zummo, represented by Todd Greenberg, was detained and is due back in court next week.

Russo, represented by Stanley Kopilow, was released on $500,000 bond secured by real property. Ragusa and Semplice, represented by Michael Brown and Allen Frankel respectively, were held on a permanent order of detention.

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