Massive Mafia Takedown Uncovers Teen Prostitution Ring

Federal Prosecutors unsealed an indictment against 14 Gambino crime associates Tuesday. Many of the charges were typical mob fare: murder, extortion, loansharking, and drug trafficking.

One charge, however, surprised even mafia investigators. According to authorities, associates were charged with sex trafficking of a minor.

The Mafia in general, and the Gambino Crime Family in particular, have long been considered to follow an unwritten code forbidding the victimization of children. In this case, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara says the code was broken with an interstate prostitution ring that focused on teenage hookers.

"The women were all under 20 years old. One was 15," Bharara said.

FBI Special Agent-in-Charge George Venizelos said the sex trafficking charge illustrates "this is not the Gambino family of John Gotti." For modern mobsters, he went on to say, " no crime seemed too depraved to be exploited if it was a money-maker, including the sexual exploitation of a 15-year-old."

Danny Marino, 79, of Dyker Heights Brooklyn, was the biggest kingpin to fall in the U.S. Attorney's indictment. Prosecutors say for two decades he's been behind dozens of extortion, gambling, and loansharking schemes. He's also accused of ordering the execution-style murder of his own nephew, Frank Hydell, after Hydell was suspected of cooperating with the FBI in 1997.

"When Daniel Marino was faced with that choice between his own family and the Gambino family, he chose the Gambino family," said Bharara.

Marino reportedly ordered the hit on his nephew from a prison cell where the Mafia captain was serving time for a different hit he put out on another Government cooperator.

Marino is also accused of murdering Thomas Spinelli, another mob snitch who was set to testify against the Gambino crime family in April of 1989.

Also accused in the expansive charges are wiseguys, Onofrio Modica and Thomas Orefice. Modica is accused of murdering James DiGuglielmo over a drug dispute ,and accidentally killing an innocent bystander, Richard Sbarra, who was hit by a stray bullet. That double murder unfolded in August of 1987. Seven years later, Modica threatened a juror in the 1992 trial of John F. Gotti, according to the FBI.

Orefice is accused of spearheading the teenage sex trafficking, illegal poker games, and various extortion plots.

All three men face life in prison. They were awaiting bail decisions by a Federal Magistrate as of Tuesday afternoon.

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