NYC Chef Arrested for Allegedly Drug Leader Role

A well-known chef in Staten Island was arrested this week for his role in allegedly being the head of a drug ring.

The New York Post reported that police arrested Ettore Mazzei for being in charge of a large drug ring and also exploiting addicts into “servitude.” Police raided both his home and two businesses that he owns on Staten Island — a construction company as well as the restaurant Chez Vous Caterers.

According to Michael McMahon, the district attorney in Staten Island, the criminal activities that Mazzei carried out were quite extensive, and they involved extortion and dealing drugs, as well as committing fraud against some government programs.

In a statement, McMahon commented:

“Like a modern-day Fagin, the character from Dickens’ Great Expectations, Mazzei preyed on vulnerable people who suffered from addiction illness and oppressed them into servitude in his catering business, for housing and ultimately, for drug dealing.”

Police carried out an undercover operation that started in March of 2023 and lasted for 14 months. During the operation, Mazzei, 61, and some co-defendants sold large amounts of suboxone, cocaine and heroin to police officers who were undercover at the time.

There were roughly 20 individuals who were implicated by the operation, but Mazzei was the “primary orchestrator” of everything, according to police. Other people who are included in the operation, according to documents from the RIchmond County Supreme Court, are Gary Pulice, Melissa Mazzei and Rudy Santana.


They also say that his properties and businesses have been the scene where violent crimes have taken place, including an armed home break-in and shootings.

The Post reported that Mazzei’s alleged drug trade was linked to various overdose deaths in the New York City borough, which makes the allegations against him even more severe.

As McMahon said:

“The breadth of his criminal activity is truly mind-boggling. Mazzei built a labyrinth of crime including drug dealing, extortion and fraud against numerous government programs including COVID-19 aid, housing support, food stamps and other financial assistance. He is a successful businessman for sure — a crooked, evil businessman.”

The charges and allegations against Mazzei are ironic, considering that the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce has recognized him in 2022 for his efforts in the community and participating in various anti-drug initiatives.

The Post reported that, according to Mazzei’s online bio, in addition to Chez Vous Caterers, he also founded the Shandelee Lake Inn, Construction & Design Co. and Dock Street Bar & Grill.

Now, Mazzei is facing significant charges that include grand larceny and criminal sale of a controlled substance. He’s being held on $3 million cash bail and a $5 million bond.

In a statement, Edward A. Caban, NYPD commissioner, said:

“The defendants’ alleged actions plagued neighborhoods in Staten Island by littering narcotics that led to overdose deaths and endangered countless more New Yorkers.

“These allegations are particularly galling given that the driving force behind this illicit drug operation — a local landlord, chef and entrepreneur — was recently recognized as a pillar of the community by the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce.”