SALEM — A 64-year-old North Andover man who was the "overall boss" of a "highly disciplined and organized" loan shark and bookmaking enterprise will spend the next two to four years in state prison.
Joseph Giallanella, of 134 Candlestick Road, who would strong-arm his debtors using threats and violence, was also sentenced to two years' probation following his release from prison, according to the sentence yesterday by Judge Maynard Kirpalani.
"He was at the top of the pyramid with many agents working for him. ... He set the limits. He was the overall boss," said First Assistant District Attorney John Dawley. "He had a significant amount of money on the street."
Dawley asked Kirpalani to sentence to Giallanella to five to seven years in state prison.
"This was an old-school operation back to the days when bookies ruled every neighborhood," Dawley said.
Giallanella used the alias Jason Peters for 30 years, according to court papers.
On Jan. 18, Giallanella pleaded guilty to managing a gaming enterprise, using a telephone for gaming, criminal usury, two counts of conspiracy and two counts of accessory after the fact of larceny. Yesterday, wearing a gray sweatsuit and white sneakers, Giallanella returned to Superior Court for his sentencing.
Flanked by his defense attorneys, Michael Callanan and Anthony Manieri, Giallanella declined comment when Kirpalani asked him if he wanted to address the court.
A court officer then handcuffed him.
In 2009, it was a complaint against Giallanella that triggered a yearlong investigation and connected the local man to the criminal network of Boston mobster Mark Rossetti. In October 2010, prosecutors handed down a slate of 103 indictments against 31 people. Charges included drug trafficking, extortion, gaming, loan sharking, home invasion, kidnapping and illegal possession of firearms.
Of the 31 charged, nearly 20 defendants have already been found guilty in Essex, Middleton, Suffolk and Plymouth counties, according to statement issued yesterday by District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett's office.
Detectives tapped his cellphone, listening in for months as Giallanella and his "enforcer," Wendell Bradford, collected outstanding debts, according to court papers. The duo had extortion victims all over the state who they "stalked, threatened, coerced, harassed and in one instance, beat for money," according to court documents.
Dawley, in court yesterday, said one of Giallanella's victims was a Wakefield corporation that was robbed of near $1.8 million by an employee who owed him money.
"While people choose to associate with and do business with the defendant at their own peril, society is nevertheless harmed when those people in turn steal substantial amounts of money from legitimate businesses to cover their own gaming losses," Dawley said.
At the time of his arrest, police said they'd seized $1.5 million from Giallanella during the course of the investigation.
Giallanella faces additional charges, including assault and battery, attempted extortion, and intimidation of a witness, in Middlesex County.
On Jan. 22, Rossetti, 53, of East Boston, was sentenced to 12 years in state prison after he pleaded guilty to trafficking heroin. Rossetti was already serving seven to nine years in state prison on a felony breaking-and-entering charge, according to published reports.