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Wyckoff Son Of NJ Crime Boss Gets Prison Along With Dad, Brother

(l. to r.): Joseph Perna, Ralph V. Perna, John Perna
(l. to r.): Joseph Perna, Ralph V. Perna, John Perna Photo Credit: COURTESY: NJ Attorney General

WYCKOFF, N.J. -- The Wyckoff son of an organized crime family captain was sent to state prison Thursday along with his father and brother.

Joseph Perna, 46, was sentenced to 10 years, as was John Perna, 38, of West Caldwell.

Their father, Ralph V. Perna, 69, of East Hanover received an eight-year sentence from a judge in Morristown.

All three were arrested during Operation Heat, an investigation by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice that uncovered an international criminal gambling enterprise that authorities said handled billions of dollars in wagers -- primarily on sporting events -- and relied on extortion and violence to collect debts.

The Pernas pleaded guilty to racketeering charges along with three fellow members of the Lucchese crime family -- John Mangrella, 73, of Clifton, who was sentenced to eight years in October; Matthew Madonna, 80, of Seldon, N.Y., who got five years in September; and Martin Taccetta, 64, of East Hanover, who got eight years in September.

Taccetta already was serving a life sentence plus 10 years from a previous prosecution in the 1990s.

Operation Heat exposed an operation that took in an estimated $2.2 billion in wagers over a 15-month period and "underscored the fact that traditional organized crime remains a corrosive presence in New Jersey,” acting state Attorney General John J. Hoffman said.

"The gambling operation received and processed the wagers using password-protected websites and a Costa Rican 'wire room' where bets were recorded and results tallied," Hoffman said. "Records showed that one high-rolling gambler wagered more than $2 million in a two-month period.

The investigation also uncovered a scheme in which a former New Jersey corrections officer and a high-ranking member of the Nine Trey Gangsters set of the Bloods street gang worked with the Luccheses to smuggle drugs and pre-paid cell phones into East Jersey State Prison.

Assistant Attorney General Romanyshyn and former Assistant Attorney General Mark Eliades presented the case to the state grand jury. Deputy Chief of Detectives Christopher Donohue and Detective Patrick Sole of the Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau were lead detectives.

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