Joseph Todaro Sr. and Joseph Todaro Jr. have been named as the suspected leaders of a 45-member Buffalo Mafia family in an unusual FBI document recently made public in a gambling case.
The Todaro family controls "a variety of criminal activities, including labor racketeering, bookmaking, loansharking and narcotics trafficking," according to an affidavit by a special agent in the Buffalo FBI office.
"Various other investigative sources of the FBI, New York State Police and Buffalo Police Department have confirmed this information as to criminal activity," according to the statement by Special Agent Dean Naum.
Naum is described in the document as a veteran agent with expertise in gambling and organized-crime investigations. His 53-page statement, now part of the public record in a State Supreme Court gambling case, is unusual because it names suspected leaders of the Mafia -- referred to by the FBI as La Cosa Nostra -- and supplies some detail about their alleged activities.
The Naum statement says Joseph Todaro Jr., 43, of Amherst, is now running the local arm of La Cosa Nostra because his father, who is 65 and who splits his time between his Tonawanda home and Florida, is in "semi-retirement."
Todaro's reputed crime family includes about 45 "made men" of La Cosa Nostra, according to Naum.
A "made man" is described in the document as someone accepted for official membership in the Mafia.
While the Todaros could not be reached to comment, an attorney who has represented them said the FBI has never proved its allegations about organized crime in the Buffalo area.
"Anybody can make statements. Where is the proof? They just keep making statements without any proof," said the attorney, Harold J. Boreanaz.
"Either the government is pretty inept or they (the Todaros) just aren't doing it."
According to Naum's statement, Laborers Local 210 official Leonard F. Falzone is running a local loansharking operation for "the Todaro crime family." Victor and Daniel Sansanese, two other Local 210 officials who are brothers, are accused of controlling bookmaking for the Todaros.
Falzone and the Sansaneses could not be reached to comment.
Naum's statement was filed in State Supreme Court last year as police sought permission to wiretap two telephones used by Vincent Spano, a bookmaking suspect. After reading Naum's statement and affidavits from other investigators, Justice Frederick M. Marshall approved the eavesdropping warrant May 13, 1988. The Naum statement was unsealed several months ago.
Spano, 36, and 14 other suspects were subsequently indicted in October and are facing gambling charges in connection with "Operation BUGAS," a yearlong investigation conducted by the FBI, the Erie County district attorney's office, the U.S. attorney's office, the State Police, Buffalo police and other law enforcement agencies.
Spano, manager of the Washington Square bar at 295 Washington St., is identified in Naum's statement as the leader of the gambling ring. But the ring, according to Naum, answers to Joseph Todaro Jr.
Spano and his attorney, Patrick H. Baker, could not be reached to comment.
Naum attributes his information to an unnamed confidential source, or informant, referred to in court papers as CS-1.
"Spano has also informed CS-1 that he is himself a subordinate in the criminal enterprise headed by Joseph Todaro Jr.," Naum said.
"Spano has specifically told CS-1 that he answers to Joseph Todaro Jr. and that Todaro has authority over his illegal bookmaking activity. Spano has further informed CS-1 that he himself is in 'proposed' status as an official member in La Cosa Nostra."
"A member of this organization, or made man, confers special respect, status, income and benefits accompanied by an added responsibility of loyalty and secrecy to the overall group," according to Naum.
The statement contends that Falzone, 54, administrator of Local 210's pension fund, runs a loansharking operation for the Todaro organization.
Last month, The Buffalo News reported that a union-owned car driven by Falzone was bugged with an FBI listening device for six months in 1988.
The FBI has tried to link the Todaros and Falzone to mob activities for a long time, but detailed allegations have rarely been documented in court papers.
Although the Todaros, the Sansaneses and Falzone have not been charged in the BUGAS case, FBI spokesmen said the agency would stand by Naum's statement.
"That's the information that we have through our investigations, and we'll stand by it," Special Agent Paul Moskal said. "That is our perception of organized crime in Western New York. We feel very strongly about it."
Moskal added that the BUGAS investigation is continuing and that it may result in other arrests of area mob leaders.
"Traditionally, La Cosa Nostra is a very secretive organization. The people at the upper echelons insulate themselves, while the street soldiers do the work," Moskal said. "Because of the pyramid structure of organized crime, it is very difficult to prove direct contact, but we have a number of ongoing investigations which are targeting the La Cosa Nostra operations in this area."
Boreanaz was critical of the FBI for naming the Todaros as area mob leaders.
"It is very upsetting to this family, totally disruptive of their efforts to live a good, decent life," he said.
Attorney John W. Condon Jr., who also has represented the Todaros, said he would not comment until he reads Naum's affidavit.
According to F. Ron Webb, a special agent who heads the organized-crime section of the Buffalo FBI, the government carries no vendetta against anyone else named in the Naum statement.
"It is true that the Todaros have never been convicted of felonies, but we will prove what we've been saying in court," Webb said.
"The affidavit reflects our view of the organized-crime situation in this area."
Webb described the Todaro family as a "very strong crime family," heavily involved in gambling and loansharking operations.
"The money from gambling and loansharking are the glue that holds the mob together," Webb said. "They are the biggest revenue producers for the mob."
The funds are then used in other criminal activities and eventually to infiltrate the legitimate business community, he said.