Two area men charged with escort plan

Published Oct. 15, 1998|Updated Sept. 14, 2005

Two Hillsborough County men linked to New York's Gambino crime family appeared in federal court in Las Vegas this week on charges they were trying to muscle into Las Vegas' escort-service industry, according to the FBI.

Vincent "Vinnie Aspirins" Congiusti, a 48-year-old Valrico resident, and Anton "Angel of Mercy" Nelsen, a Brandon resident said to be in his mid-40s, were among six men arrested in connection with an attempt to take over Las Vegas' outcall industry, according to the FBI and federal prosecutors in Las Vegas.

The two Hillsborough men were described by a federal prosecutor as muscle men. Congiusti earned his nickname for his ability to make headaches disappear, an FBI agent said.

Escort services are legal in Las Vegas. But law enforcement agencies describe them as fronts for various crimes, including prostitution, which is legal elsewhere in Nevada but not in Clark County.

The Hillsborough men and three other suspects were arrested Friday in Las Vegas after undercover FBI agents decided attempts to intimidate three escort service operators were about to get violent, according to FBI Special Agent Aurelio Flores.

In New York, agents arrested Mario Stefano, also known as Mario Pugliese, who is said to be a soldier in the Gambino family, the FBI agent said. All six men face charges of extortion, conspiracy and interstate travel in aid of racketeering.

An FBI affidavit quotes an informant claiming that some members of the police department and the district attorney's office were cooperating with outcall services.

Public records showed Congiusti's address to be 2612 Ridgetop Way, in Valrico. A truck with the words "Rescue Plumbing," Congiusti's company, was parked in front. A woman who answered the door declined comment.

Nelsen's address is listed in public records as 720 Herlong Court in Brandon. A message left on Nelsen's telephone was not immediately returned.

_ Times staff writer Larry Dougherty and Times researcher Jerry Nagle contributed to this report, which includes information from the Associated Press and the Las Vegas Review-Journal.