‘Sopranos’-Inspired Organized Crime Family Rocked By Arrests

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Authorities arrested 10 members of an organized crime syndicate believed to be the real-life inspiration behind the hit HBO drama 'The Sopranos.'
Authorities arrested 10 members of an organized crime syndicate believed to be the real-life inspiration behind the hit HBO drama ‘The Sopranos.’

Federal investigators announced the arrests of 10 members of a purported organized crime family on allegations of drug dealing, prostitution and attempted murder.

Charles Stango, 71, Frank Nigro, 72, and Paul Colella, 68, were arrested this week over an alleged plot to murder a rival gang member.

The men are said to be connected to the DeCavalcante family — a group that some believe serves as the real-life inspiration behind the hit HBO show “The Sopranos.” The family is said to operate under the New York-based Gambino crime syndicate.

Prosecutors allege Stango — said to be a high-ranking member of the DeCalvante family — asked Nigro, the family’s consigliere, for permission to murder a rival gang member last year. Authorities claim Stango told an undercover FBI agent that the gang member — whose identity was not disclosed in court documents — had insulted a member of the crime family and had been acting “out of control.”

Stango and his son, Anthony Stango, were also said to be working on plans to open a nightclub in New Jersey that would operate as a “front” for a high-end escort and prostitution service. According to investigators, both men were audio-recorded on numerous occasions discussing their plans during drug transactions with an undercover police officer.

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Three other associates — identified as James Heeney, 35, Rosario Pali, 35, and Luigi Oliveri, 41 — were arrested on drug-related charges. Heaney and Pali were accused of selling cocaine to undercover officers in exchange for cash and counterfeit goods, while Oliveri was accused of purchasing cases of untaxed cigarettes over a four-month period in 2013.

Nine of the 10 family members and associates lived in New Jersey. Prosecutors said their arrests were a clear indication that organized crime continues in the Garden State.

“Though its ranks have been thinned by countless convictions and its own internal bloodletting, traditional organized crime remains a real problem,” U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said in a statement. “As today’s complaint shows, members and associates of a long-standing organized crime family continue to ply their illegal trade, selling dangerous drugs and illegal cigarettes, promoting prostitution and threatening to settle internal scores with violence and death.”

Some of the suspects were arraigned in federal court on Thursday. Charles Stango, a resident of Nevada, was arraigned in Las Vegas.

Matthew Keys is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.

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