Local racketeer dies in federal prison

Staff report


Bernard Altshuler, a well-known local racketeer who had been serving a life sentence in federal prison without parole eligibility, died Dec. 25 in a prison medical facility, a U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokesman said.

Altshuler died at age 79 in the U.S. Medical Center for Prisoners in Springfield, Mo., according to Chris Burke, a BOP spokesman, who declined to discuss the cause of death or Altshuler’s medical conditions.

Altshuler, of Liberty, was serving time after he was convicted in a federal jury trial in Cleveland in March 1999 of racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering and illegal gambling.

In the same trial, the jury also convicted Jeff Riddle, then 39, and Lavance Turnage, then 27, both of Youngstown, of the same charges. Riddle and Turnage also received life sentences.

Within the racketeering charge were three racketeering acts: the June 3, 1996, murder of Ernie Biondillo Jr.; the conspiracy to try to kill then-Mahoning County Prosecutor-elect Paul J. Gains on Dec. 24, 1996; and illegal gambling.

To convict the defendants of racketeering, the jury had to find each man guilty of at least two of the three acts.

The jury rendered its verdict after 13 hours of deliberations at the end of a six-day trial at which one defense witness and 18 prosecution witnesses testified, including mob boss Lenny Strollo of Canfield.

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