Matthew Madonna (November 2, 1935 Selden, New York) is a capo in the Lucchese crime family who was heavily involved in narcotics trafficking and bribery of government officials. In the 1991 film Out for Justice, the antagonist character "Richie Madano" played by William Forsythe was allegedly based on Madonna.
In 1959, while serving a sentence at the Green Haven Correctional Facility in Upstate New York, Madonna became acquainted with Nicky Barnes, a young drug dealer from Harlem. After their release from prison, Madonna started supplying large quantities of heroin to Barnes. Madonna would drop off a car with a trunk full of heroin at a Manhattan parking lot. Barnes would pick up the heroin later and exchange it for cash. A few days later, Madonna would return to pick up the car with the cash. Madonna and Barnes continued this arrangement until 1975, when Madonna was arrested for drug trafficking. On December 21, 1976, Madonna was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison.
In December 1981, while still in prison, Madonna received a summons to testify before a grand jury about narcotics activity in the New York area. In two appearances before the grand jury, Madonna refused to testify, even after being granted immunity from self-incrimination. The judge finally held Madonna in contempt of court. Madonna received an extra 528 days added to his sentence.
Release and promotion
In 1995, after serving 20 years in prison, Madonna was released from Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary. Around 1998, Madonna was inducted into the Lucchese crime family as a reward for his silence and to assist his return to earning money for the family. Shortly thereafter, Madonna became a capo. Madonna was sent to prison again, but released in September 2003.
After the convictions of family leaders Steven Crea, Louis Daidone, Dominic Truscello and the cooperation of former acting boss Joseph DeFede, the Luccheses established a three-man ruling panel to govern the family. Madonna, along with Aniello Migliore and Joseph DiNapoli headed the panel. After the release of Crea from prison, the panel was disbanded in 2012 so that Crea could become boss of the Lucchese crime family.
On December 18, 2007, New Jersey law enforcement indicted and arrested Madonna and 32 other members and associates of the Lucchese family. In a year-long investigation titled "Operation Heat" law enforcement agencies uncovered a $2.2 billion dollar illegal gambling, money laundering and racketeering ring. The scheme involved collecting bets from of gamblers on basketball, football, greyhound races and the lottery. The mob collected bets over the Internet and by phone from a location in Costa Rica. Along with Madonna ruling panel member Joseph DiNapoli and top New Jersey Faction capos Ralph V. Perna and Nicodemo Scarfo, Jr. were indicted.
In 2008, the Village Voice reported that Madonna was an employee of Big Geyser, Inc, New York's largest distributor of healthy and cutting-edge beverages. It was speculated that this was a "no show" position for Madonna.
On October 1, 2009 Madonna was indicted along with Joseph DiNapoli and 27 others in a large racketeering scheme. The indictment stated that Madonna was a key player in a vast operation that grossed approximately $400 million from illegal gambling, loansharking, gun trafficking and extortion. A second part of the indictment charged that Madonna and other Lucchese mobsters ran a bribery scheme among New York City building inspectors. On June 28, 2010, Madonna and the other defendants pleaded not guilty to all charges. Madonna was granted bail while the trial was delayed.
On June 17, 2015, Madonna agreed to pleading guilty to the 2007 indictment. In exchange he faced up to five years in prison. He also pleaded guilty to the 2009 case in exchange for a prison sentence of up to one to three years. He served both sentences concurrently. Before his release date, Madonna and 18 others were charged on May 31, 2017 with a wide range of racketeering activities, including the murder of Michael Meldish.
On November 15, 2019, Madonna, Crea, Christopher Londonio and Terrence Caldwell were convicted in White Plains federal court of executing the murder of Michael Meldish. It is believed that Madonna became displeased with Meldish, a longtime organized crime associate when he refused to collect on debts owed to Madonna, allegedly in excess of $100,000. In response to Meldish's refusal to collect, he was then odered to be killed by Madonna, who passed the order to Crea, who then passed the order to Londonio and Caldwell. On July 27, 2020 he was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the Meldish murder, conspiracy to commit racketeering, and other felonies. Londonio and Caldwell also received life sentences.