During the late-1980s, boss Vittorio Amuso appointed Crea captain of his own Bronx-based crew, which was primarily involved in labor rackets, such as influencing Carpenters Local 608, and extorting New York City contractors through this influence. In 1993, while Amuso was in prison and after Anthony Casso's imprisonment and subsequent failed attempt to cooperate with federal investigators, Crea was appointed underboss of the family. During this time period, Crea became very powerful within the family and was moving the family's power base away from the Brooklyn crews and back toward the Manhattan/Bronx crews, which had historically controlled the Lucchese crime family. As a result of Crea's growing stature, sometime in the very early 1990s, several Amuso/Casso loyalists, including George Zapolla and Frank "Spaghetti Man" Gioia, Jr. hatched a plot to kill Crea. They planned to lure Crea to a sitdown and have him murdered on the spot, but, the plot fell through after the remaining powers under the Amuso/Casso regime were indicted and imprisoned, which included Zapolla, Gioia, Frank "Frankie Bones" Papagni, Richie Pagliarulo, and George "Georgie Neck" Conte.
During the mid-1990s, Crea served as the head of the "Lucchese Construction Group", which also included captains Dominic Truscello, head of the Prince Street Crew, and Joseph Tangorra, leader a Brooklyn-based crew. The mobsters brokered the bribe payments and the "mob tax" payments and settled disputes that arose over who would dominate a particular construction site. Also, the men were placed on construction company payrolls so they would have a salary to report to the IRS.
In 1998, after acting boss Joseph Defede was indicted on labor racketeering and extortion charges relating to the Lucchese crime family's influence over the garment district, Crea was named the family's new acting boss. On September 6, 2000, Crea as well as the other members of the Lucchese Construction Group were indicted by the New York County District Attorney's Office for enterprise corruption, labor racketeering, extortion, bid-rigging, and other schemes which the D.A. alleged systematically siphoned millions of dollars from both public and private construction projects. Specifically, Crea used associates Michael Forde, the President of Carpenters Local 608 and the head of the NYC District Council of Carpenters, and Martin Deveraux, a business agent with Local 608, to extort building contractors who wished to receive rights to no-bid jobs or reduce the number of union carpenters on their payrolls. Crea pleaded guilty to lesser state charges and was released in 2006. Captains Dominic Truscello and Joseph Tangorra, as well as soldiers Joseph Datello, Philip DeSimone, Anthony "Razor" Pezzullo, Joseph Truncale, and Arthur Zambardi, and associates Andrew Reynolds, Giuseppe Palmieri and his brother Alessandro, were all sentenced to prison time as well. Tangorra has since suffered a nervous breakdown while facing three separate indictments, and eventually took a 16-year prison sentence deal. Forde and Deveraux were originally convicted of the racketeering charges, but a Manhattan judge threw out the conviction after he learned of the apparent anti-Irish sentiment expressed by several members of the jury. Both men maintain their high-paying union positions.
In 2006, the Lucchese crime family is allegedly headed by official boss Vittorio Amuso, but day-to-day operations are headed by a panel which includes longtime wiseguys Aniello Migliore, Matthew Madonna, and Joseph DiNapoli. There is speculation that Crea is primed to take control of the Luccheses upon expiration of his parole restrictions, which include avoiding meeting with members of organized crime or union officials.