Friday, November 17, 2017

Salvatore "Toto" Riina, Notorious Mafia #BossofBosses Has Died

Mafia “boss of bosses” Salvatore “Toto” Riina died early Friday in a hospital while serving multiple life sentences as the mastermind of a bloody strategy to assassinate Italian prosecutors and law enforcement officers trying to bring down the Cosa NostraBoss of Bosses Salvatore Riina, Italian media reported. He was 87.

Riina died hours after Italy’s justice minister had allowed the crime boss’ his family members bedside visits Thursday, which was his birthday, after he had been placed in a medically induced coma at a hospital in Parma. Italian media said his health had deteriorated after two recent surgeries.

News of the death was carried by the ANSA news agency, RAI state TV and all major newspaper websites. The Justice Ministry was not able to confirm the news immediately, and the prison would not take calls.

Riina, one of Sicily's most notorious Mafia bosses, was serving 26 life sentences for murder convictions as a powerful Cosa Nostra boss. He was captured in Palermo, Sicily's capital, in 1993 and imprisoned under a law that requires strict security for top mobsters, including being detained in isolated sections of prisons with limited time outside their cells.

Prosecutors accused Riina, who ruthlessly directed the mob's criminal empire during 23 years in hiding, of masterminding a strategy, carried out over several years, to assassinate Italian prosecutors, police officials and others who were going after the Cosa Nostra, when he allegedly held the helm as the so-called boss of bosses.

The bloodbath campaign ultimately backfired, however, and led to his capture.

Riina was born in the mountain town of Corleone in central Sicily. The town's name was borrowed for the main character in the “Godfather” novels by Mario Puzo, written years before Riina rose in the Mafia ranks.

Investigators believe that Riina, the son of a Corleone farmer, jockeyed his way to the top of the Mafia by pitting rivals against each other, and then standing out of the way of the bloodshed that felled one boss after the other in the 1970s.

He went into hiding in 1969 after being ordered by the state to leave Sicily after he had finished serving a five-year prison sentence for Mafia association. During his decades on the lam, the only picture authorities had of the fugitive was more than 30 years old.

More than one Mafia defector had said that Riina had come and gone as he pleased during the years as Italy's top fugitive. Riina was handed his first life sentence in 1987 after being tried in absentia on murder and drug trafficking charges.

For decades, Riina seemed to mock law enforcement as he reigned from underground over the mob's drug trafficking network and ordered the deaths of top anti-Mafia fighters.

But after bombs killed Italy's two leading anti-Mafia magistrates, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, two months apart in 1992, the state stepped up its crackdown on Sicily's Mafiosi.

Anti-Mafia investigators worked with turncoats to zero in on the “capo dei capi,” locating Riina and blocking his car on a Palermo thoroughfare on Jan. 15, 1993.

Riina steadfastly refused to collaborate with law enforcement after his capture.

The archbishop of Monreale, which includes Corleone, said Friday that Riina's death “ends the delusion of the Cosa Nostra boss of bosses' omnipotence.”

“But the Mafia has not been defeated, and therefore we should not let down our guards,” Archbishop Michele Pennisi said in an email to the Associated Press.

Pennisi said he had no information on whether family members intended to transfer Riina's body to Corleone, but he said that a public funeral would not be allowed since Riina was a “public sinner.”

“If the family members ask, a private prayer in the cemetery will be considered,” he added.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Born to the Mob: The True-Life Story of the Only Man to Work for All Five of New York's Mafia Families

Frankie Saggio reminisces about the era of true wise guys like his Uncle Philly -a contemporary of Al Capone. After all, it was Frankie's uncle who "taught him the value of a dollar and how to steal it from someone else." Uncle Philly was from a day when being in a mafia family meant being bound by blood and honor, not like modern day families whose only concern is money.

For Frankie, the only way to avoid the modern mob treachery is to avoid getting involved with any single mob family, working "freelance" for all five. Frankie can do this because he is one of the biggest earners in the business, pulling down millions and kicking a share upstairs to the bosses. Though he fights the decision, Frankie is tied by blood to the Bonanno family, Uncle Philly's family, and current home to Philly's murderer. Soon after joining the Bonannos, Frankie narrowly escapes an assassination attempt and is busted for a major scam. With little choice, and even less loyalty to the Bonannos, Frankie turns himself over to the Feds on the one condition that he will tell the feds everything, but will not squeal on his own relatives.

Born to the Mob: The True-Life Story of the Only Man to Work for All Five of New York's Mafia Families.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

4 Years Ago, Whitey Bulger Sentenced to 2 Life Terms + 5 Years, for 11 Murders #OnThisDay

In Boston, MA, crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger was sentenced to two life terms plus five years imprisonment for 11 murders and other racketeering charges, on this day, in 2013.

Whitey Bulger: America's Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him to Justice.

Monday, November 13, 2017

6th Member Of “Manche Boy Mafia” Sentenced To Federal Prison

U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew sentenced Demeko Wells (22, Tampa) to four years and nine months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft. He pleaded guilty on July 19, 2017.

According to court documents and statements made in court, from at least January 2015 through November 2016, Wells and others affiliated with the “Manche Boy Mafia” or “MBM” organization conspired to commit credit card fraud and identity theft in the Tampa Bay area. Investigators learned that these individuals had purchased stolen credit and debit card account numbers online from various websites, some of which used bitcoins as their currency. The conspirators purchased or stole reloadable gift cards and used a machine to emboss the stolen account numbers and their own names onto the front of these altered gift cards, thereby generating counterfeit credit cards. The conspirators then used these counterfeit cards at various retailers around the Tampa Bay area to purchase gift cards and electronics, which they either kept or sold for cash.

Investigators determined that these individuals had engaged in hundreds of successful transactions with counterfeit credit cards, and had possessed and used thousands of stolen account numbers from individuals across the United States. In total, Wells was held responsible for more than $350,000 in intended or attempted purchases with counterfeit credit cards and stolen account information.

Wells’s co-defendant, Maurice Lewis, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and aggravated identity theft and was sentenced on October 17, 2017, to 61 months in prison.

In a related case, fellow MBM members, Brandon Lewis and Terrance Cobb, were each sentenced to 5 years and 1 month in federal prison; Dontae Williams was sentenced to 5 years and 10 months in federal prison; and Davon Smith was sentenced to 5 years and 5 months in federal prison - all for engaging in a conspiracy to commit credit card fraud, credit card fraud, and identity theft.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Genovese La Cosa Nostra Crime Family Associates Plead Guilty to Extortion

Two associates of the Genovese La Cosa Nostra (LCN) crime family pleaded guilty in federal court to extortion-related charges.

Ralph Santaniello, 50, and Giovanni Calabrese, 54, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by threats or violence; one count of interference with commerce by threats or violence – aiding and abetting; one count of conspiracy to use extortionate means to collect extensions of credit; and one count of using extortionate means to collect extensions of credit – aiding and abetting.

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman scheduled sentencing for Jan. 29 for Mr. Santaniello and Jan. 30 for Mr. Calabrese.

The men were arrested and charged in August 2016 along with three other associates, Gerald Daniele, Francesco Depergola and Richard Valentini.

Mr. Santaniello and Mr. Calabrese, along with their alleged co-defendants, were associates of the New York-based Genovese LCN crime family and engaged in various criminal activities in Springfield, including loansharking and extortion from legitimate and illegitimate businesses, such as illegal gambling businesses and the collection of unlawful debts.

The defendants allegedly used violence, exploited their relationship with LCN, and implied threats of murder and physical violence to instill fear in their victims.

In 2013, Mr. Santaniello, Mr. Calabrese, Mr. Depergola and Mr. Valentini allegedly attempted to extort money from a Springfield businessman. Mr. Santaniello assaulted the businessman and threatened to cut off his head and bury his body if he did not comply. Over a period of four months, the businessman paid $20,000 to Mr. Santaniello, Mr. Calabrese, Mr. Depergola and Mr. Valentini to protect himself and his business.

In addition, during a six-month period in 2015, it is alleged that Mr. Daniele extended two extortionate and usurious loans to an individual, and then, along with Mr. Santaniello and Mr. Calabrese, threatened the individual if he did not make payments on the loans.