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Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Vincent Artuso was a "made member" of the Gambino family and directed a Palm Beach-based Mafia crew that included his own son

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U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks imposed the sentence on Vincent Artuso, 64, following his conviction in October on 41 fraud and racketeering charges involving a lengthy scam against ADT Security Services Inc. The scheme involved several crooked real estate deals that cost ADT, which is part of Tyco International Ltd., at least $11 million and possibly much more, prosecutors said."It was a large-scale, complex, multimillion-dollar scheme," said Assistant U.S. Attorney William T. Shockley. "They were getting a big payday every year. It was like an annuity."Captain of the Gambino crime family's South Florida operations, who prosecutors say has been linked to an infamous hit that led to John Gotti's rise to power, was sentenced Tuesday to nine years in federal prison in a major real estate fraud case.
Artuso was a "made member" of the Gambino family and directed a Palm Beach-based Mafia crew that included his own son, Shockley said. The prosecutor cited FBI affidavits and other evidence indicating that Artuso was present on Dec. 16, 1985 when former Gambino boss Paul Castellano was gunned down in front of a Manhattan steakhouse — allegedly on Gotti's orders.Shockley said Artuso was never prosecuted for the killing but had used a known penchant for violence as a form of intimidation to keep subordinates in line."That's just the way the mob works," the prosecutor said. "He's behind the scenes, calling the shots."The dapper Gotti, known as the "Teflon Don" for his ability to avoid criminal convictions, was finally convicted in 1992 of racketeering and murder charges and died in prison a decade later.At the Miami sentencing hearing, defense attorneys sought to minimize the Mafia references, arguing there was little direct testimony during a three-week trial linking Artuso and the others to the Gambinos. They claimed prosecutors used rumors and legends against the men."This wasn't an organized crime family as the government would have you believe," said Allen Kaiser, attorney for co-defendant Philip Forgione, who was awaiting sentencing.The four men and a former ADT employee were convicted of defrauding the security company through real-estate deals in which the Gambino crew bought ADT office buildings far below market value, then leased them back to the company at inflated prices. ADT paid the men millions of dollars in excess lease payments over a five-year period, trial testimony showed.Prosecutors are seeking forfeiture of more than $20 million from the defendants, while defense attorneys say the amount should be about $9.5 million. Middlebrooks said he would decide the exact amount later.

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