Ralph "Little Ralphie" Scopo I (1929 - March 1993) was a New York mobster with the Colombo crime family who became a powerful labor racketeer. He was the father of Colombo mobsters Joseph Scopo and Ralph Scopo Jr., and the grandfather of Joseph Scopo Jr. and Ralph Scopo III.
As president and business manager of the Cement and Concrete Workers District Council, Scopo controlled three chapters in New York City of the Laborers' International Union of North America. These locals included thousands of laborers who worked on big constructions projects in the New York area. Scopo used his position to extort money from cement contractors in New York in return for big contracts and labor peace. These payments went to four New York Cosa Nostra families in an arrangement called the "Concrete Club."
The Concrete Club allocated contracts for high-rise building projects over $2 million in New York City to certain concrete contractors, guaranteeing them profitable winning bids for projects. In return, the contractors gave 2% of their project payments to Scopo, who disbursed them to the Club. Although Scopo was only a low-ranking soldier, his membership in the Concrete Club allowed him more influence than some capos in the Colombo crime family. Eventually, Scopo became consigliere for the Colombo crime family.
The Cosa Nostra's control over the cement companies was ultimately backed up by violence. In a recorded conversation with contractor James Costigan, Scopo explained how the Concrete Club "protected" contractors:
Scopo: If I tell you stories about Contractors that you know, that's supposed to get hurt, that I protected... Costigan: Why would any, they get hurt? Scopo: Well, we...for doin' what their not supposed to be doin'
In another recording in April,1984, Scopo tells an associate that the Gambino crime family had murdered their own soldier Roy DeMeo because they feared DeMeo might become a government witness and testify against them.
In 1980, the FBI initiated Operation Genus against all five of the New York Cosa Nostra families, an effort that would result in the infamous Mafia Commission trial. As part of this investigation, agents placed a remote listening device in Scopo's car.
In February 1985, Scopo and other high-ranking Cosa Nostra leaders were indicted on federal racketeering charges. Scopo was specifically charged with extorting $326,000 from a concrete supplier. As a result of the indictment, Scopo was forced to resign from the District Council. Along with the other defendants, Scopo pleaded not guilty in what would become known as the Mafia Commission Trial. On November 14, 1985, the trial was interrupted when Scopo complained of chest pains and was transported to a local hospital. However, he was able to return to the trial the next day.
On November 18, 1986, Scopo was convicted in the Commission Trial of racketeering for carrying out the orders of the Mafia Commission. On January 13, 1987, Scopo received a $240,000 fine and 100 years in prison. Two months later, on March 21, 1987, the remaining leadership of the Concrete Workers District Council resigned, to be replaced by a court-appointed trustee. After Scopo's conviction, his son Joseph became the new capo for his father's crew and later family underboss. On July 17, 1987, Scopo was convicted of federal extortion charges in the Colombo Trial (which was separate from the Commission Trial).
In March 1993, Ralph Scopo Sr. died of natural causes while serving his sentences in a federal penitentiary. On October 22, 1993, son Joseph Scopo was murdered by loyalists of Colombo crime family boss Carmine Persico.