Photo Courtesy of FBI
By Michael V. Cusenza
An associate of both the Bonanno and Gambino organized crime families who once landed on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s ten most wanted fugitives list has been sentenced six years’ imprisonment for possessing nine firearms, including three automatic assault rifles and a silencer, federal prosecutors announced on Tuesday.
Paul Ragusa, 48, possessed the firearms while serving a custodial sentence at a residential re-entry facility in connection with three prior felony convictions. Ragusa pleaded guilty to the firearms charge in October 2018.
According to charging documents, between July and October 2017, Ragusa met with a cooperating witness whom he knew through their prior affiliation with the Giannini Crew, a criminal enterprise based in Ridgewood responsible for numerous violent crimes in the 1990s. During recorded conversations with the witness, Ragusa agreed to commit a murder-for-hire. Ragusa stated that he did not need a gun, because he would stick an “ice pick” through the victim’s head.
On Oct. 25, 2017, the witness asked Ragusa if he knew anyone who could transport firearms. Ragusa responded, “Yeah, me! I’ll do it!” On Nov. 2, 2017, Ragusa met an undercover FBI agent who drove him to a warehouse in Nassau County where Ragusa packed nine firearms, including two AK-47 assault rifles and one M16 rifle, into a large bag. Ragusa and the agent drove to a parking lot in Queens, where Ragusa loaded the firearms into a waiting undercover FBI vehicle. Ragusa was paid $2,000 in cash. Unbeknownst to Ragusa, the firearms were the property of the FBI and had been rendered inoperable.
Ragusa was indicted more than two decades ago for his exploits as boss of the Giannini Crew. After roughly five months on the lam—and the top perch of the aforementioned ignominious top ten list—he surrendered to FBI officials on Jan. 30, 1998.