They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker

Feds Bust Mob Scheme To Recruit Russian Strippers, Set Up Sham Marriages


Seven of the defendants are charged with extorting "protection" payments from the owners and operators of four strip clubs in Queens and Long Island. Their protection plan allegedly involved resolving disputes among strip clubs over which dancers would work at which club. Sixteen defendants are charged with helping the women fraudulently obtain summer work and travel visas by sending them false job offers for waitressing and other positions (visa rules prohibit employment in the adult entertainment industry).

Nineteen of the defendants are charged with harboring and helping the women come to the U.S. illegally. The feds say they ran advertisements in Russian newspapers and online in their quest to recruit exotic dancers. Five of the defendants are charged with marriage fraud conspiracy for allegedly setting up fake marriages to get the women legal status.

A rundown of the charges, from a Justice Department press release:

Gambino organized crime family members and associates Alphonse Trucchio; William Pazienza Sr.; Christopher Colon; and Richard Gutkowski; and Bonanno organized crime family members and associates Anthony Frascone; Paul Casella; and Lawrence Zaino are charged with racketeering and extortion crimes related to their control of several strip clubs located in Queens and Long Island, N.Y., at which the women worked. These seven defendants and 13 others - Aleksandr Kravets, Thomas Devitt III, Gerald Monfort, Yong Wang, Boris Yusupov, Vitaliy Mindyuk, Zhanna Kuznetsova, Elena Turubanova, Natalia Ivanova, Christine Gunning, Jeffrey Rinchey, Oscar Zeledon and Alexander Beleson - are also charged with several other crimes related to the scheme, including visa fraud, marriage fraud and transporting, harbouring and inducing the entry of illegal aliens

Back in January, authorities arrested an 83-year-old mobster allegedly involved in a similar strip club extortion scheme.