The Lucchese group is the smallest of the
five New York LCN families, with 100 members
and 200 associates. Its principal base of operation in
New York City is the Bronx and Brooklyn but the
family also has a strong faction in northern New
Since its inception in the 1930's, the group has been primarily involved in the illegal distribution of narcotics. This activity has provided a lucra- tive income that has been invested in both legitimate and illegitimate enterprises over the years. Although involvement in narcotics continues today, the group's current emphasis is more on the financ- ing of major narcotics shipments rather than on distribution.
In addition to narcotics, the family's criminal activities include hijacking, gambling, loan-sharking, illegal landfills, pornography and other fraudulent activities in New York City, Northern New Jersey, Florida and California. The family has also been successful in infiltrating legitimate industries in the region, particularly the construction, solid waste, garment and trucking industries.
The family's current boss is Victor Amuso of the Howard Beach section of Queens. His underboss is Anthony Casso of Brooklyn. Amuso and Casso assumed leadership of the group as a result of the indictment and recent convictions of the entire former New York hierarchy of the family. Those affected included boss Anthony "Ducks" Corallo, underboss Salvatore "Sonny" Santoro, consigliere Christopher "Tick" Furnari and significant soldier Salvatore Avellino Jr. All were convicted on charges of violating federal antitrust laws involving the Long Island garbage carting industry. Corallo was also convicted, along with the bosses of the four other New York LCN families, for participation in mob operations and being a member of the LCN's ruling "Commission."
Amuso and Casso have legal problems of their own. Both were indicted in May, 1990, on federal charges including mail fraud and labor law violations.
The powerful northern New Jersey faction of the group, headed by Michael Taccetta of Florham Park, has also experienced its share of pressure from law enforcement. In addition, there has been dissension among the leadership. The faction had long been under the control of Anthony "Tumac" Accetturo of Newark and Taccetta had been his protege. However, Accetturo fled New Jersey for Florida in the early 1970's to avoid a subpoena to testify before the SCI. Taccetta took over for Accetturo but remained his subordinate until sometime in 1987. That year, a 21-month federal narcotics and racketeering trial began against Accetturo, Taccetta and 17 of their operatives. During the trial, Accetturo and Taccetta's once close relationship, which had cooled over the years, deteriorated into a power struggle that culminated in a murder contract being put on Accetturo's life. A major cause of that animosity was resentment over the emergence of Anthony Accetturo Jr. as a soldier and rising star in the family, along with his refusal to show the traditional deference and respect Taccetta felt was due him. Young Accetturo, who also lives in Florida, attended his father's trial and has been observed by law enforcement agencies at high level meetings of organized crime figures there and in New Jersey.
After the trial ended in acquittals for all the defendants, Accetturo returned to Florida and remained out of sight for months. Eventually, he was traced to North Carolina, where he was taken into custody in 1988 for his refusal to honor a New Jersey state grand jury subpoena to testify regarding labor racketeering and other state offenses. On September'19,1989, he was returned to New Jersey and was jailed for contempt of the state grand jury. However, because of the contract on his life, he was placed in protective custody. Accetturo has since pleaded guilty to income tax evasion in Florida but was acquitted of race-fixing charges there.
In October, 1989, young Accetturo and three other Florida residents were charged in Tampa by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement with extortion of a Florida businessman. Accetturo was convicted. The charges related to Accetturo Jr.'s loan of $40,000 to an individual for a period of 45 days with interest of $20,000 and a $1,000 penalty for each day the loan was late. His current criminal activities are similar to those his father engaged in when he was younger.
Although Michael Taccetta has apparently won the battle for leadership of the faction, he will be unable to run the family as a free man for the immediate future. Taccetta is serving a five-year term in federal prison in Minnesota after pleading guilty to weapons and tax evasion charges. He is expected to be released no later than July, 1992.
While Taccetta is incarcerated, his brother Martin has been entrusted to run the faction's day-to-day operations. But Martin has his own legal problems. He and three other men are under indictment in California for fraud in a scheme involving the pornography industry. The three-year investigation into organized crime's infiltration of the $1 billion pornography industry revealed that two years ago, Martin Taccetta set up Ollinor Video Products, Inc. in Los Angeles to buy video equipment on credit. He allegedly sold the equipment to pornography dealers but kept the proceeds, defaulting on payments to suppliers. Declaring $1.4 million in debts, Ollinor went out of business, leaving its creditors holding an empty bag. Also charged in the fraud scheme were Barry Gottheimer of East Hanover, New Jersey, and two California men, Chull Wool Kim, the president of Ollinor Video, and Walter Vigil, a salesman for the firm.
Martin Tacetta and others were also indicted in 1989 by a state grand jury, after a lengthy investigation by the Fraud Division of the State Insurance Department, for conspiracy to defraud the Joint Underwriters Association of more than $400,000 in phony auto insurance claims.
Despite recent legal setbacks, the New Jer- sey operations and investments of the Lucchese/Corallo/Amuso group continue to flourish. For example, caporegime Peter J. Chiodo Jr. of Oak Ridge has taken over the activities of jailed consigliere Christopher Furnari. In addition, he serves as vice president of Hidden Hills Construction Company, a residential construction company in Oak Ridge involved in the building of single family homes in the $300,000-to-$500,000 price range. Businesses such as this are considered lucrative to the LCN, not only because they are directly profitable but also because they can be used as vehicles to perpetrate major financial scams. Chiodo's business acumen may be the reason he has been looked upon favorably by family leaders in recent years.
Another potential source of money for the family is a large construction concern affiliated with the Taccetta faction, Yacenda Enterprises Corporation, owned and operated by James G. Yacenda of East Hanover, and his brother Charles Yacenda of Chester. According to law enforcement officials, the Yacendas act as fronts for the Taccetta group in construction, commercial and financial fraud and in the restaurant and liquor business.
Another Lucchese operative who has recently run afoul of law enforcement is Michael Perna of Belleville, who was charged in a recent state grand jury indictment with conspiracy. His codefendants include northern New Jersey members of the Bruno/Scarfo family.
As previously mentioned, the Lucchese/Corallo/Amuso group's illegal activity has been predominantly narcotics trafficking. And although it is considered a small LCN group, it has expanded its operations to include lucrative illegal gambling and loansharking enterprises in northern New Jersey as well as astute investments in legitimate industries. It is unlikely that Michael Taccetta's incar- ceration will have a serious impact on the group's growth since his prison term is not lengthy and he faces no pending charges when he is released.