N.J. authorities indict 34 in Lucchese crime family bust from ‘Operation Heat’

TRENTON – Thirty-four members and associates of the Lucchese crime family were indicted on charges of racketeering and other offenses, New Jersey authorities announced today.

The indictment is a continuation of Operation Heat, a year-long investigation that culminated in several arrests targeting a $2.2 billion underground gambling operation in 2007.

“The Lucchese crime family allegedly employed sophisticated measures such as electronic record-keeping and offshore wire rooms designed to thwart detection of their illegal gambling activities by law enforcement,” Attorney General Paula Dow said.

Named in the indictment are the current and former leaders of the crime family’s New Jersey faction: Ralph Perna, 64, of East Hanover, and Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., 44, of Ventnor. Two New York leaders are also included: Joseph DiNapoli, 74, of Scarsdale, N.Y., and Matthew Madonna, 74, of Seldon, N.Y.

Although many of the people charged in the indictment announced today have previously faced charges, Scarfo is being named today for the first time. Authorities said a warrant was issued for his arrest.

The 34-count indictment includes charges of weapons possession, failure to pay taxes, attempted theft by extortion, bribery, money laundering and conspiracy.

Authorities said the investigation revealed connections between the Lucchese crime family and the Bloods gang. The indictment said Edwin Spears, 36, of Neptune, a high-ranking member of the Nine Trey Gangsters set, worked with former corrections officer Michael Bruinton, 46, of Ringoes to smuggle drugs and cell phones into East Jersey State Prison in Woodbridge.