Three Lucchese family mobsters get life for 2013 murder of Purple Gang leader Michael Meldish
The judge pointed out how the Mafia is romanticized in pop culture, despite being a crime syndicate comparable to MS-13
Following the grisly 2013 murder of notorious gangster Michael Meldish, a former acting Lucchese crime boss, a hired gunman, and another mobster were all jailed for life on Monday. As reported by the New York Daily News, 84-year-old family boss Matthew Madonna ordered the November 15, 2013 hit on Meldish, who was the leader of the infamous Purple Gang. An ambush was set up by gangster Christopher Londonio, a pal of Meldish's, in a quiet residential street in the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx, where mob associate Terrence Caldwell shot Meldish in the head and fled the scene in a car driven by Londonio.
According to the report, the beef "stemmed from Meldish’s failure to collect money that Madonna had lent."
“This defendant was the acting head of a murderous organization that terrorized its community. He profited from that. He led that. He knew perfectly well what the members of the enterprise were up to and that the money flowing up to him was not lawfully obtained,” White Plains Federal Judge Cathy Seibel said of Madonna. “This would be a heinous offense even if nobody died. But somebody did die. And this defendant agreed that should happen."
The judge pointed out how the Mafia continues to be romanticized in pop culture, despite being a crime syndicate comparable to MS-13. “I think people forget that being the boss of an organized crime family is a very bad thing to be," Seibel said.
Nonetheless, Madonna maintains he is innocent. “I had absolutely nothing to do with the tragic death of Michael Meldish,” he said. As reported by the Daily News, the judge indicated that Londonio was considering pleading guilty in order to avoid a life sentence. However, he took a step back after learning that other mobsters didn't approve. Seibel added that Londonio, who declined to address the court before being sentenced, had “a very misplaced sense of loyalty” to the Lucchese family.
Michael Meldish once had total control over the drug trade in the Bronx and Harlem, and was known to do hit jobs for the Lucchese, Bonnano, and Genovese crime families. Michael's brother and partner in crime Joseph Meldish is believed to be responsible for as many as 70 contract murders. Law enforcement officers celebrated the death of Meldish at the time, describing him a "stone-cold killer" who had purportedly carried out at least 10 killings at the behest of the Mafia in the 1970s and 1980s. “Michael was a stone-cold killer. We couldn’t get any witnesses. They had the people so terrified they just wouldn’t cooperate,” Joseph Coffey, former commanding officer of the NYPD's organized crime homicide task force, said at the time of his death.
Coffey, who joined the NYPD after working on rackets investigations for the Manhattan district attorney, said the Meldish brothers "were targets of ours." “They were the lowest of the low," he continued. “They were running a protection racket on bars and restaurants - they’d come in and shoot the place up. Just ruthless scumbags."
"It should have happened a long time ago," he added at the time. "I call it vermin killing vermin — poetic justice."