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Kent Man Charged In Racketeering, Drug, Money Laundering Case

Several Westchester and Putnam county men, who authorities say are members or associates of the New Roc Hells Angels, are facing charges in connection with a racketeering, drug and money-laundering case.
Several Westchester and Putnam county men, who authorities say are members or associates of the New Roc Hells Angels, are facing charges in connection with a racketeering, drug and money-laundering case. Photo Credit: File

Several Westchester and Putnam men were among half a dozen members or associates of the Hells Angels rounded up in a racketeering, drug, and money laundering case this week, federal authorities say.

According to Joon H. Kim, acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, those men were: Joseph Kaplan, 30, of Valhalla; John "Uncle" Calvacchio, 53, of Kent; Jeff Amato, 50, of Mamaroneck; and Gary Paganelli, 47, of Cortlandt Manor.

They were arrested Thursday and presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith C. McCarthy.

Helping Kim announce the unsealing of the indictment was William F. Sweeney Jr., assistant director-in-charge of the FBI’s New York Division.

Also taken into custody were: Michael Piccione, 33, of Arieta, Calif.; and Thomas Schmidt, 52, of Staten Island.

Schmidt, the former vice president of the New Roc Hells Angels, was charged with participating in a racketeering conspiracy, Kim said.

If convicted, Schmidt could get 10 years to life in prison for racketeering, 20 years for the assault in aid of racketeering; in connection with an attack on a rival gang member; 10 years to life for narcotics conspiracy, and 20 years for money laundering.

Piccione was charged with narcotics and money laundering conspiracy. He faces 10 years to life in prison if convicted of the drugs charge and 20 years in prison on the money laundering charge, Kim said.

According to the indictment, the men were attached to the New Roc Hells Angels, a gang that authorities are accusing of selling cocaine, oxycodone, and marijuana, and of having violent conflicts with anyone they felt was encroaching on their turf.

One of those alleged encounters, Kim said, happened in 2012 when a member of a rival gang, the Diablos, was beaten on the head with a hammer at a restaurant in Poughkeepsie and while other diners looked on in horror.

The beating was payback for the Diablos’s perceived encroachment on Angels’ territory, and to send a message to rival gangs, Kim said.

Kim said the New Roc Hells Angels’ alleged criminal activities “wreaked havoc on the streets of Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess counties" from 2008 to at least August 2014.

According to court papers, those activities included: drug trafficking, extortion, money laundering, contraband cigarettes, prostitution, and altered motor vehicle parts.

According to the indictment, Kaplan faces two counts of assault in aid of racketeering activity in connection with the 2012 attack. If convicted, he could face a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Calvacchio, Amato, and Paganelli were all charged with three counts of participating in a narcotics conspiracy, in connection with the sale of cocaine, oxycodone, and marijuana.

The maximum Calvacchio, Amato, and Paganelli could get is life behind bars. The minimum mandatory sentence they might get if convicted is 10 years.

Paganelli, charged with five counts of possessing with intent to distribute, and distributing, cocaine, could get a 20-year sentence if convicted.

Amato also faces 20 years in prison if convicted on six counts of possessing with intent to distribute, and distributing, methamphetamine.

The case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant United States Attorney John P. Collins Jr. is in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty, the acting U.S. Attorney said.

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