A reputed organized crime family associate and a Brooklyn dentist were indicted last week for allegedly extorting $200,000 through a three-year shakedown of a Queens businessman.
The indictment also charges that the two suspects threatened to kill him or harm his family and ruin his business if he did not pay the “protection” money. The money totaled as much as $5,000 a month.
Gabriel Ariola, 51, a dentist, of Bensonhurst in Brooklyn and Joseph DeCicco, 80, a reputed crime associate, of Staten Island, are charged in a 12-count indictment with grand larceny in the second degree and conspiracy in the fourth degree. DeCicco is additionally charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree.
Both men were arraigned in Kew Gardens Supreme Court last week and await September 20th court dates. Ariola posted a $75,000 bail, but DeCicco did not post his $200,000 bail and remains behind bars.
In addition, the indictment charges that the two men forced the victim to lease cars for them and to buy health insurance for Ariola and his family.
Both men face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
DeCicco and Ariola also allegedly met the victim at his office in Queens and DeCicco demanded that the victim stash a loaded .32 caliber semi-automatic pistol and threatened harm if he did not do so. The victim hid the gun and later turned it over to detectives.
In May, the victim sought the help of authorities because he could no longer afford to make payments to DeCicco and Ariola. Detectives then proceeded to record conversations between the three men, which reportedly revealed death threats toward the victim and threats to ruin his business if he did not continue to make payments.
Four meetings between May 8th and June 26th were under surveillance by detectives from the District Attorney’s Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau. A total of $5,200 was paid to DeCicco and Ariola using money supplied by the Queens District Attorney’s office. The meetings were also audio recorded.
DeCicco is the brother of Gambino crime family captain George DeCicco and also goes by the nickname “Butter.” He already had a rap sheet before this most recent arrest, including stints in state and federal prisons for extortion, loan sharking and parole violation, state law enforcement sources said.
“The alleged scheme was fueled by fear and greed and the threats of physical injury to the victim were all too real,” said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.