NYPD Busts $15 Million Pot Ring Based in Little Italy


The owner of a bakery in Little Italy and about two dozen others with alleged ties to the Mafia were arrested this week for running a $15 million pot, prescription pill, and gambling ring across the country.

The ringleaders of the scheme, Richard Sinde, 51 — who is currently serving prison time upstate for crimes associated with the Bonanno family — and John Kelly, 52, supervised the cannabis-running conspiracy, coordinating the collection, distribution, and shipment to sellers, prosecutors say.

According to investigators, an apartment in the same building as one of the two locations for Parisi Bakery, at 290 Elizabeth Street (which is technically in “Noho,” or “Nolita,” if you’ve spent too much time on Streeteasy), acted as a way station for the drugs.

Frank Parisi, 60, is charged with possessing over ten pounds of marijuana as well as plastic bags, mason jars, and pot-packaging materials found in the apartment. Parisi, along with co-defendants Frank Galesi, 50, Carl Muraco, 52, and Stephen Gallo, 64, was also charged in a separate indictment for running an illegal gambling website generating over a million dollars in revenue, according to records connected to bets placed through the site.

Officials say they seized over six hundred pounds of marijuana, some six hundred oxycodone pills, and eleven handguns as part of the operation.

According to the indictment, between February 2014 and November 2015, medical-grade marijuana grown in California was shipped to New York City through the United States Postal Service. Distributors would pick up from UPS stores throughout the city to repackage and resell the reefer, netting more than $350,000 a month over the 21-month period.

As part of the prescription drug operation, prosecutors allege that the defendants had illicitly acquired oxycodone pills, which they then sold to individual buyers, including undercover NYPD detectives, netting them at least $18,000 in profit. The NYPD had been investigating the ring for two years.

A reputed member of the Gambino crime family and two associates of the Colombo crime family are among those indicted, the Daily News reports, but the Manhattan D.A.’s office would not confirm these alleged Mob affiliations.

A person who answered a phone call at Parisi Bakery told us that the location is still open for business.