Former acting Lucchese family boss Matthew Madonna and two associates, Christopher Londonio, 46, and Terrence Caldwell, were sentenced to life in prison on Monday. They were found guilty of murdering Michael Meldish, a gang member who refused to help them collect business ‘debts’.
On November 15, 2013, Madonna, 84, ordered a hit on Meldish who was the leader of a notoriously ruthless and violent group called the Purple Gang, a bunch of drug dealers and hitmen working in the Bronx and Upper Manhatten during the 1970s and 80s.
Londonio was easily able to set up an ambush to kill Meldish as the two were friends. Caldwell shot Meldish in the head while he was sitting in his car on a residential street in the Throgs Neck area of the Bronx. Caldwell immediately fled the scene in a car driven by Londonio.
A statement from Andy Strauss, acting US Attorney for the Southern District of New York reads:
“Matty Madonna, Christopher Londonio, and Terrence Caldwell – respectively, the Acting Boss, a soldier, and an associate of the Lucchese Family – were responsible for the execution-style murder of Michael Meldish seven years ago. Madonna ordered it, Londonio set it up, and Caldwell pulled the trigger. Now all three have been sentenced to serve the rest of their lives in federal prison”.
White Plains Federal Judge Cathy Seibel said about Madonna, “This defendant was the acting head of a murderous organization that terrorized its community. He profited from that. He led that. He knew perfectly well what the members of the enterprise were up to and that the money flowing up to him was not lawfully obtained. This would be a heinous offense even if nobody died. But somebody did die. And this defendant agreed that should happen.”
The judge also expressed regret that the Mafia is still romanticized in popular culture.
One of the five families of La Cosa Nostra, the Lucchese family story reaches back decades starting with their involvement with Harlem street gangs during the 1920s. At the Havana conference in 1951, they were recognized as one of New York City’s “five families”, and the “Commission” was established to oversee the running of the mafia in America.
Madonna took over leadership of the family in 2009. By this time it had expanded its territory beyond the Bronx and Harlem and its clothing and trucking industries. These days, the family is known in New York more for racketeering and illegal gambling.