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End of an Era: Lucchese Underboss Gets Life in Prison

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Jeffrey Zalesny | AdobeStock

“Wonder Boy” Steven Crea was a fixture of Westchester organized crime.

Late last month, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced that Steven L. Crea, the underboss of the Lucchese crime family, has been sentenced to life in prison. The second-in-command was sentenced alongside Matthew Madonna, the head of the Lucchese Crime Family — one of the “Five Families” of the Mafia in New York City — for the 2013 murder of Michael Meldish and additional charges of racketeering, extortion, and other crimes.

Crea and Madonna mark the final members of the Lucchese investigation to be sentenced. According to the Southern District Attorney’s Office, other members involved in the murder of Michael Meldish include residents from both Yonkers and New Rochelle, as well as Briarcliff and Elmsford. As members of the Five Families moved up the river, their businesses came as well, begging the question: What other parts of Westchester have ties with the Mafia?


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Crea’s FBI mugshot

Steven “Wonder Boy” Crea – a Yonkers resident – helped shepherd the Lucchese family in making millions of dollars from crimes committed by family members and associates throughout New York City, Westchester, Long Island, New Jersey, and elsewhere. Crea operated as the head of the Lucchese Family’s labor and construction racketeering operations. His sentence is the final of the largest organized crimes cases in history, which has some eerie associations with Westchester County.

The local affairs of the Lucchese Family were largely tied with the Tanglewood Boys – a gang that operated from the Tanglewood Shopping Center in Yonkers, who often served as a recruitment gang for the Lucchese Family. The Tanglewood Boys, in association with the Luccheses, orchestrated multiple operations in Yonkers, including “The Yonkers Club” — an illegal gambling ring — loansharking and extortion of local businesses, construction, and murder.

Previous reports additionally suggest that Crea fought with official Yonkers waterfront developer Melvin Weintraub on property control as the city began an $11.5 million dollar redevelopment project in 1983 that still stands today. In New Rochelle, McKiernan’s Lawton Street Tavern and The Glass Room (a smoke shop) were used as covers where loan-shark victims made weekly payments to the Lucchese Family.

The seemingly quaint suburbs of Westchester County are no stranger to organized crime.


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