Gambino associate arrested in alleged scrap scam in Ohio

AP News
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Posted: Jul 15, 2015 5:31 PM
Gambino associate arrested in alleged scrap scam in Ohio

CLEVELAND (AP) — A reputed member of the Gambino crime family who was once married to John Gotti's daughter was arrested Wednesday over a $3 million scam involving stolen cars and scrap metal, authorities said.

Carmine "The Bull" Agnello, 55, was arrested at a scrap yard he's been operating in southeast Cleveland after his release from federal prison in 2008. Police said Agnello would buy stolen cars, fill them with sand to add weight and would sell the compacted vehicles to an unidentified metal processing company. Agnello is accused of bribing employees at the processing company to ignore the extra weight that increased the price paid for the compacted vehicles.

Cleveland police Deputy Chief Ed Tomba said at a news conference on Wednesday that Agnello married a woman from the Cleveland area after prison and lives in the village of Bentleyville, about 20 miles southeast of Cleveland. The investigation into Agnello's activities began after Cleveland police noticed a spike in auto thefts and realized that many of the vehicles weren't being recovered as usual, Tomba said.

Detectives conducted searches at three Cleveland scrap yards and Agnello's upscale home, seizing $45,000 in cash and guns, authorities said. Because he's a convicted felon, Agnello is not allowed to own firearms.

Agnello is expected to be charged with theft, money laundering, conspiracy, drugging animals before competition, cruelty to animals and corrupting sports, according to a news release. Tomba said at the news conference that Agnello is accused of injecting race horses with drugs but would not provide further details.

No attorney information for Agnello was immediately available.

A detective from the New York Police Department's organized crime division assisted Cleveland police with the 18-month investigation. Tomba and others said traditional organized crime lost its foothold in Cleveland years ago.

Agnello was married 17 years to Victoria Gotti, who gained fame as the star of the reality television show "Growing Up Gotti." The show featured Gotti and her three sons with Agnello. The couple divorced in 2002, months after Agnello pleaded guilty to racketeering and conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service. He received nine years in prison and was ordered to pay $11 million in restitution. The charges were related to the scrap business in Queens, New York.

Agnello is now married to the daughter of Mourad "Moose" Topalian, whom he met while serving time with Topalian at a federal prison outside Youngstown. Topalian pleaded guilty in May 2000 to possession of explosives and a machine gun and was sentenced to 37 months in prison. Authorities accused Topalian of being a member of an Armenian terrorist group.