Ralph Santaniello was arrested back in August along with four other alleged members of a mafia crew in Springfield controlled by the Genovese crime family.
Their arrest was part of a federal organized crime sweep that targeted nearly 40 alleged members and associates of what the feds have called the East Coast LCN Enterprise. The case alleges wide-ranging mafia activity in multiple states including New York, Florida, and Massachusetts by members of four families of the New York mafia and Philadelphia mafia. According to prosecutors, the 49-year-old Santaniello was the leader of the Genovese family’s Springfield crew backed by local mob elders.
All five members of the alleged mafia crew which included Giovanni “Johnny Cal” Calabrese, Gerald Daniele, Francesco “Frank” Depergola, and Richard Valentini pleaded not guilty. All of them were granted bail except for Santaniello who is facing charges of loansharking, extortion, and illegal gambling. A magistrate judge ruled that Santaniello should be held without bail pending trial because he appeared to be a leader of the Springfield faction of the Genovese family and that he exhibited a casual brutality toward a victim. He and Calabrese were captured on surveillance threatening to decapitate the owner of the towing company in an effort to get him to make a $50,000 extortion payment. A second bail hearing was scheduled to take place on November 18 was indefinitely postponed according to a Mass.Live report.
Santaniello has been stranded in a Brooklyn prison since September because he also faces RICO conspiracy charges along with Depergola in federal court in Manhattan. Those charges stem from an extortionate loan of $30,000 made to an unnamed witness by the two mobsters at the behest of New York-based Genovese captain Eugene “Rooster” O’Nofrio. The problem was the unnamed witness appears to be an undercover FBI agent who was posing as a mobster. He was transferred to the Brooklyn prison for a routine arraignment but still hasn’t been returned to Massachusetts to settle his business there. The magistrate judge questioned marshals and lawyers in August hoping to ensure the defendant wouldn’t be stranded in the prison system although that now seems to have been ineffective.
There has not been any indication as to the exact reason for the delay in the defendant’s transfer and defense attorney Daniel D. Kelly called the delay “inexplicable.” Kelly is arguing that prosecutors have overstated the defendant’s role in organized crime and that his pretrial release can be handled safely. Kelly said “He is not alleged to have a membership in the LCN or Cosa Nostra but rather was noted as an associate,” in a motion challenging Santaniello’s continued pretrial detention. He noted the August testimony of FBI agent Robert Zanolli who stated in court that both Santaniello and Depergola were ready to become made members of the mafia but the Genovese family had shut down membership. Zanilli was quoted as saying “Currently the books are closed with the Genovese crime family. Therefore no one is being made.”
A motion filed by the feds to keep the defendants behind bars until trial stated that he effectively played the role of a classic mobster in his ability to threaten violence.