A reputed boss of the Gambino organized crime family and 13 other people were arrested on Tuesday on an array of charges, including what prosecutors called new criminal territory for the mob: sex trafficking of a minor.
Papers filed in federal court in Manhattan allege that Gambino soldiers and associates recruited prostitutes at strip clubs, including a 15-year-old, and advertised their services on the Internet.
Prosecutors said the mobsters drove the prostitutes to appointments in Manhattan, Staten Island, Brooklyn and New Jersey, splitting their earnings with them. The defendants also "made the young women available for sex to the players at the regular high-stakes poker games" hosted by the family, the court papers said.
At a news conference, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara called the sex trafficking ring both a "new low" and an apparent "first for the mob."
An indictment also charged Daniel Marino, an alleged member of the Gambino ruling panel, with ordering a hit from prison on his own nephew because the nephew was cooperating with the FBI. Gunmen lured the victim to a Staten Island nightspot in 1998, where they shot him three times in the face and back.
Marino, 69, was charged in a second murder of a gangland rival in 1989, extorting construction firms and running an illegal gambling operation. The income "sustained Marino's own lavish lifestyle," the court papers said.
The case marked the latest in a series indictments and prosecutions that have crippled the Gambino family since notorious boss John Gotti, the so-called Dapper Don, was sentenced to life in prison in 1992. He died in 2002.
Federal authorities said Tuesday that though the Gambinos now maintain a lower profile, they still are 200 strong and are always exploring new ways to stay in business.
"It's still about making money," said George Venizelos, head of the New York FBI office.
Marino was detained after pleading not guilty on Tuesday. Afterward, his lawyer, Charles Carnesi, said his client had just been released Monday from a New York hospital, where he had been since Friday.
"It could be heart-related, stroke-related," Carnesi said. Otherwise, the lawyer added, "He's in remarkably good health."
Associated Press Writer Larry Neumeister contributed to this report.
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