Genovese Crime Family Captain Indicted for Murder, Racketeering
by Jim Kouri
An indictment was unsealed Friday morning in Brooklyn federal court charging Michael Coppola, a captain in the Genovese organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra, with racketeering and racketeering conspiracy.
The predicate acts include the 1977 murder of Giovanni Larducci, also known as "John Lardiere," "Coca Cola," and "Johnny Cokes," extortion and conspiracy to extort members of International Longshoremen's Association ("ILA") Local 1235, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit identification document fraud.
The defendant was arraigned Friday afternoon before United States District Judge John Gleeson, at the US Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York.
The charges were announced by Benton J. Campbell, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Anne Milgram, Attorney General for the State of New Jersey, Mark J. Mershon, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Division, and Daniel R. Petrole, Deputy Inspector General, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General.
As alleged in the indictment and a detention memorandum filed by the government, Coppola approached Larducci on Easter Sunday, April 10, 1977, and attempted to shoot him with a firearm, which jammed. Larducci stated, "What are you going to do now, tough guy?" At that point, Coppola responded by drawing a second revolver from his ankle holster and shooting Larducci, killing him.
Coppola allegedly fled in 1996 after being served with an investigative summons by the State of New Jersey in connection with its investigation of the murder of Larducci and remained a fugitive until his capture by the FBI on March 9, 2007; the purpose of the summons was to require him to provide a DNA sample.
The fugitive investigation revealed that Coppola was living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in an apartment owned by a Genovese family associate, and that he traveled between New York and San Francisco using false identification documents. Among items seized in his New York apartment at the time of his arrest was a book titled, "The Methods of Attacking Scientific Evidence."
Coppola is also charged in a three-decade conspiracy to extort ILA Local 1235, a union that represents port workers in New Jersey. According to the government's detention memorandum, the suspect was intercepted in a telephone conversation admitting organized crime's control over the leadership of Local 1235 since the 1970s. During the same call, the son of Local 1235's then-president informed Coppola that tribute payments to the Genovese family had recently "almost doubled."
"The corrupt influence of organized crime on labor unions undermines their legitimacy and deprives hard-working union members of honest elections and the full pay and benefits they deserve," stated United States Attorney Campbell. "The passage of time will not deter us and our colleagues in law enforcement from employing all available resources to eliminate the scourge of the mob."
New Jersey Attorney General Milgram stated, "This indictment is another example of the commitment of the New Jersey Attorney General's Office and the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice to pursue and prosecute members of organized crime, and especially those who murder on its behalf. We are particularly grateful for our partnership in this case with the federal government in meeting that commitment."
FBI Assistance Director-in-Charge Mershon stated, "The FBI's on-going commitment to policing organized crime includes not only reining in present-day criminal conduct but also working relentlessly to bring mobsters to justice for years-old crimes. These charges against Michael Coppola show that there's no expiration date on our determination to achieve justice."
DOL/OIG Deputy Inspector General Petrole stated, "This indictment reflects the ongoing efforts of my office to investigate organized crime's corruption of the International Longshoremen's Association. The alleged actions of this individual resulted in several charges, including the conspiracy to extort property of union members. We will continue to work with other law enforcement agencies to prevent the insidious influence of organized crime over unions."
If convicted, Coppola faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The government's case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Taryn A. Merkl, John Buretta, and Jack Dennehy.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.