Essex DA Blodgett, AG Coakley, Massachusetts State Police Announce Arrests and Indictments of 31 Individuals in Connection with Widespread Criminal Enterprise in Eastern Massachusetts
What started late last year as an investigation into a local bookmaker and loan shark, Joseph Giallanella (aka Jason Peters), age 62, of North Andover, ballooned into a sweeping organized crime investigation across eastern Massachusetts. "Over time, it was evident that a network of individuals was engaged in criminal activity in multiple jurisdictions. For this reason, we sought the assistance of the Office of the Attorney General," District Attorney Blodgett said. "This criminal enterprise went well beyond the original gaming and loan sharking we were targeting. These individuals not only perpetrated threats of violence and vicious attacks in order to collect gaming debts but also engaged in extensive drug trafficking. Bringing these individuals to justice has been a long and pain-staking process which I am confident will continue through to successful prosecutions and convictions."
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"Today's indictments are the culmination of a nearly year-long investigation that involved both traditional and state-of-the-art investigative techniques and uncovered a wide variety of criminal activity perpetrated by this organization," AG Coakley said. "Portions of this particular organization operated for decades, and the collaboration between our office, Essex District Attorney Blodgett's office, and the Massachusetts State Police was imperative in amassing the evidence necessary to dismantle this criminal enterprise."
Added Colonel Marian J. McGovern, superintendent of the State Police: "This case is testimony to two things. First, there are still organized criminal enterprises in this state that engage in activities such as bookmaking and extortion. But it is also important to note that these defendants are alleged to have committed extremely violent acts as well. Violence and organized crime have always gone hand-in-hand. The Massachusetts State Police is committed to working with our partners in the Attorney General's Office and District Attorney's Office to bring these defendants to justice."
The suspected leader of the criminal network, Mark Rossetti, age 51, of East Boston, was indicted yesterday by a Statewide Grand Jury in connection with organizing this criminal network involved in extortion, drug trafficking, robberies, assaults and other crimes. (Rossetti was arrested with three others earlier this year on related charges of trafficking heroin and conspiracy to violate the drug laws.)
Rossetti and his co-conspirators were involved in the trafficking of drugs, extortionate activity, money laundering, loan sharking (criminal usury), armed home invasion, kidnapping, armed robbery, illegal possession of loaded firearms, the illegal possession of a pipe bomb, assault and battery, witness intimidation, bookmaking (unlawful gaming), conspiracy, and perjury, among other crimes.
Authorities allege that Giallanella employed Wendell Bradford as an "enforcer" who would collect money from gamblers who fell behind on their debts. In many cases investigators discovered that violence was used, sometimes in front of the victim's family, in order to collect the debts. Rossetti also used Darin Bufalino to forcefully collect a debt. Authorities believe that Bufalino was Rossetti's right-hand man.
During the course of the investigation, authorities also discovered a marijuana trafficking network operating in Essex, Middlesex and Suffolk counties. Investigators believe that Mark Weddleton, along with charged co- conspirators Gerald Sarro, Edward Harris, Augustus LaFace, Robert Regnetta, Michele Grieco, Kenneth DeFeo, Gerard Cioffi and Vincent Ciano, imported, bought and sold large amounts of marijuana, which was then distributed throughout the area. Most of the marijuana was stored at Sarro's mother's home near a school in East Boston.
A statewide Grand Jury sitting in Suffolk County has been hearing evidence for three months. As of yesterday morning, this Grand Jury has received testimony on 27 days from 60 witnesses. This grand jury has handed down a total of 103 indictments against 31 people on charges ranging from gaming, narcotics trafficking, violence, theft, extortion, witness intimidation and perjury.
Throughout the course of this investigation, authorities executed 30 search warrants on several locations and seized $1.3 million in cash associated with illegal gaming and loan sharking, $120,000 in drug money, over a kilo of heroin, 200 pounds of marijuana, 9 scales, a heroin press, a police scanner, two bullet proof vests, a pipe bomb, a replica Uzi machine gun, a rifle, a loaded handgun and five motor vehicles.
The case is being prosecuted by Essex First Assistant District Attorney (and Special Assistant Attorney General) John Dawley, Assistant Attorney General Dean Mazzone, Chief of AG Coakley's Enterprise and Major Crimes Division, and Assistant Attorney General Patrick Hanley, also of AG Coakley's Enterprise and Major Crimes Division. It was investigated by the Special Services Section of the Massachusetts State Police, the Essex District Attorney's Office and Massachusetts State Police detectives assigned to the Essex District Attorney's Office, with assistance from various local police departments.