Colombo crime boss arrested as feds take down one of famed five families in fraud, corruption raid

Reputed street boss of the Colombo crime family Andrew 'Mush' Russo, 85, was arrested in an early-morning raid Tuesday over fraud and corruption

Reputed street boss of the Colombo crime family Andrew 'Mush' Russo, 85, was arrested in an early-morning raid Tuesday over fraud and corruption

Reputed street boss of the Colombo crime family Andrew ‘Mush’ Russo, 85, was arrested in an early-morning raid Tuesday over fraud and corruption

The reputed boss of the Colombo crime family and his top henchman were among 12 alleged mobsters arrested in an early-morning raid Tuesday over fraud and corruption, federal officials said. 

Andrew Russo, 85, and his underboss, Benjamin Castellazzo, were scooped up with seven other members of the Colombo crime family – the youngest of five families said to control organized crime in New York City, a U.S. attorney spokesperson said. 

The feds also arrested a soldier for the Bonanno family, another of the five families, as well as two other unidentified men, the spokesperson also revealed. 

The alleged wiseguys were cuffed on charges connected to healthcare fraud and union-related corruption, NBC News 4 reported

They are expected to be taken to federal court in Brooklyn and will appear before a judge later Tuesday on the healthcare fraud counts. 

Feds expect to arrest a 13th suspect who remains at large, officials said. 

Carmine Persico, former boss of the Colombo Crime Family, and Russo's cousin, died in 2019

Carmine Persico, former boss of the Colombo Crime Family, and Russo's cousin, died in 2019

Carmine Persico, former boss of the Colombo Crime Family, and Russo’s cousin, died in 2019

Russo, known as ‘Mush,’ is a cousin of former Colombo family boss Carmine Persico, and first rose to prominence in the family when he was promoted to acting underboss in 1973. 

Russo was sentenced to 14 years in state prison in November 1986, until his release in July 1994, under special parole conditions. 

After his release, Russo was named street boss, while Persico’s son, Alphonse ‘Allie Boy’ Persico, served as acting boss.

During his reign, he brought the then-warring Colombos back from the brink after a devastating civil war, but was arrested again in 1996 by the FBI, who slapped him with racketeering charges, claiming he illegally controlled and oversaw Long Island’s garbage hauling industry. 

In August 1999, Russo was convicted of jury tampering and sentenced to 57 months in jail, compounded by 123 months for both parole violation and his involvement in the racketeering case.

In 2010, at 76 years old, Russo again took over the family as street boss after his parole expired, succeeding the incarcerated Ralph DeLeo. 

In 2013, he was sentenced to another 33 months in prison.

Carmine Persico, nicknamed the Snake, died in 2019. 

Who were the Colombo crime family?

The Colombo Crime Family is the youngest of the big five families which run the organized mafia in New York.

It was initially recognized as the Profaci Crime Family, with Joe Profaci leading the family following the assassinations of Giuseppe “Joe The Boss” Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano.

Profaci ruled the family until the 1950s when internal feuds led to three conflicts.

The first was led by Joe Gallo, but this revolt died down after Gallo was arrested and Profaci died from cancer.

The family remained divided until the 1960s when Joseph Colombo assumed control, however, after he was shot in 1971 following Gallo’s release from prison, a second family war broke out.

Colombo loyalists under the command of Perisco defeated the Gallos and exiled them to the Genovese family.

A third internal family war eventually broke out in the 1990s when acting boss Victor Orena tried to seize power while Perisco was in prison.

The family was divided in two, and ended after two years when Orena was imprisoned. 

Perisco continued to lead the family until his death behind bars in 2019. 

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