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Bloodcurdling threat caught on tape


March 3, 2010

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Federal authorities say they've locked up a Bonanno crime family associate from Huguenot who was caught on tape threatening to "put a hole" in a man who couldn't pay off his loansharking debt.

James Malpeso, 39, was arrested by FBI agents at his home on Stecher Street yesterday, as part of an ongoing investigation of organized crime. An FBI spokesman said authorities also executed a search warrant at his house.

Malpeso stands accused of loaning a man about $200,000 in March 2004, at the rate of about 5 percent interest a week, or 260 percent per year.

The two would meet at a variety of locations -- the Staten Island Mall, on Travis Avenue, on Victory Boulevard and on Huguenot Avenue -- so the man could pay him back, federal court documents allege.

Over the years, though, the man fell behind on payments, leading Malpeso to leave threatening voicemails, contact the man's wife and demand to see the man's tax forms, authorities allege.

On Feb. 15, the man wore a recording device and got into Malpeso's Cadillac Escalade. During that 90-minute sit-down, Malpeso pulled a black handgun out of the car's center console, pointed it at the man and pressed it against his knee and chest, court papers allege.

"Here's what's gonna happen. Either I'm going to put a [expletive] hole with this cannon in you somewhere or you come up with the [expletive] money," Malpeso said, according to court papers. "I'm [expletive] fed up, calling you, threatening you, calling your wife."

Video surveillance by the FBI briefly caught Malpeso holding a gun, court papers allege.

The man also discussed the ways he'd try to pay off the debt, mentioning that he'd be getting a tax refund and some money from a relative.

At one point, Malpeso had the man call another party who federal authorities believe shared responsibility for repaying the loan.

When the man asked how much he owed, Malpeso said $110,000, then became suspicious at the question.

"You don't got a wire on, do you?" Malpeso asked, according to court papers.

"No, a wire?" the man responded.

"So why you asking what you owe?"

"Because I wanna try to pay this down."

Malpeso is expected to be arraigned today in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.

His lawyer, VINCENT ROMANO, did not return a message seeking comment.

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