updated 6/30/2006 6:55:37 PM ET 2006-06-30T22:55:37

The alleged head of the Genovese crime family’s South Florida ring and six others were arrested and charged with extortion, robbery, money laundering and other acts of racketeering spanning more than a decade, prosecutors said Friday.

Renaldi “Ray” Ruggiero, whom federal prosecutors identified as a Genovese capo, or captain, appeared in federal court in Fort Lauderdale on Friday along with his co-defendants.

The arrests are the latest blow to New York’s most powerful Mafia family. The family’s reputed acting boss, Liborio S. “Barney” Bellomo, and 31 others were arrested in February in New York on charges including murder.

Men like Ruggiero “may not be the muscle,” Miami U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta said, but “they’re just as liable.”

Orders to pay $1.5 million
The indictment covered alleged illegal enterprises from 1994 to the present, with a few specific examples. In one instance in 2003, Ruggiero allegedly gave approval to family associate Joseph Dennis Colasacco to extort a man identified as “Victim-1.”

Prosecutors allege the victim was lured to Genovese associate Francis J. O’Donnell’s office, where a gun was held to his head and he was ordered to pay $1.5 million.

Ruggiero allegedly feigned innocence when confronted by the victim and promised to intercede, but prosecutors say he had agreed to split the money with other defendants.

The group is also accused of laundering money through as many as six companies.

If convicted under the racketeering charges, Ruggiero could face up to 120 years in prison and fines of up to $1.75 million. Convictions would result in slightly lower maximum sentences for the other defendants: Family associates Colasacco, O'Donnell, Charles Steinberg, Mitchell Weissman and Clement Santoro, and Genovese “soldier” Albert “Chinky” Facchiano.

Prosecutors said the men do not yet have attorneys.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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