A federal judge yesterday sentenced Vincent "Fatz" Caruso, 27, of Lynn to nearly 21 years in prison for running a violent ring that bought a special pill-making machine to churn out hundreds of thousands of fentanyl pills that he and his runners sold as Percocets across the North Shore.
Caruso's sentencing came one day after another federal judge sentenced his mother, Laurie, 52, to 9 years in federal prison for her role in her son's organization.
Both had pleaded guilty earlier in the year.
The younger Caruso pleaded guilty on March 15 to one count of conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl, cocaine, marijuana and other controlled substances; one count of conspiracy to possess firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery (Hobbs Act robbery); and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Mom pleaded guilty on Feb. 28 to one count of conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute fentanyl and other controlled substances.
A third major player, Ernest "Yo Pesci" Johnson, has pleaded guilty to ring-related charges as well. He is scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 13.
In a sentencing memorandum, federal prosecutors summed up the Fatz gang:
For more than three years, the Defendant was the leader of a drug trafficking operation ("DTO") that flooded the area North of Boston with hundreds of thousands of pressed fentanyl pills. To arm his DTO, the Defendant accumulated an arsenal that included numerous handguns, an AR-15 rifle, and a fully automatic handgun. The Defendant also orchestrated multiple armed robberies, as well as a shooting where the fully automatic handgun was used to spray dozens of rounds at a porch full of people. These violent incidents unfolded while the Defendant was on pretrial release for multiple pending state drug and gun cases. All the while, the Defendant bragged on social media in videos showcasing his collection of weapons, jewelry, and the vast quantities of pills he was selling.
The memo details both how the gang pressed their fake percocet pills and blasted enemies with automatic weapons (they were terrible shots, at least). Fatz managed to isolate himself from many of the crimes by having others carry out his whims, still, even as he was under investigation, he kept getting arrested - and sometimes would go on social media to make fun of the police who grabbed him. He also accumulated large amounts of stuff, such as expensive watches, much of which he stored in his grandparents' home.
The typical accoutrements of the drug trade, such as automobiles, chains, stacks of cash, and watches, were not enough for the Defendant. His acquisitions veered into the unexpected, with ATVs and dirt bikes. There was so much money, the Defendant apparently ran out of things to buy and brag about. He resorted to throwing cash in the air in nightclubs. He also gambled extensively. Records from The Brook casino in New Hampshire showed that the DTO wagered over $400,000 in cash over a roughly three-month period, losing about over $20,000 in total. These $2,000 to $5,000 dollars parlay-style bets were being placed nearly every other day in Nicole BENTON's name by Laurie CARUSO, BENTON, JOHNSON.
In his sentencing recommendation, Caruso's lawyer asked for leniency, saying that while, yes, his client pleaded guilty to running a violent drug ring, he was the product of a broken home and has ADHD, yet despite all that he still managed to be a loving father to his two young sons and so should be sentenced to no more than 15 years.
Notwithstanding his conduct in this matter, he is a loving and caring family man that put his family first.
The three ringleaders, plus a fourth person, involved as a courier, were rounded up as part of a joint state/federal operation dubbed Operation Street Sweepah: Guns and Butter. A related investigation, dubbed Operation Street Sweepah: Kings of Belaire, nabbed a pair of chamgagne-swilling, drug- and gun-dealing lovebirds, also on the North Shore.