Monday, September 26, 2016

Hidden Power: The Strategic Logic of Organized Crime

Hidden Power: The Strategic Logic of Organized Crime.

What should we make of the outsized role organized crime plays in conflict and crisis,Hidden Power: The Strategic Logic of Organized Crime from drug wars in Mexico to human smuggling in North Africa, from the struggle in Crimea to scandals in Kabul? How can we deal with the convergence of politics and crime in so-called 'mafia states' such as Guinea-Bissau, North Korea or, as some argue, Russia?

Drawing on unpublished government documents and mafia memoirs, James Cockayne discovers the strategic logic of organized crime, hidden in a century of forgotten political--criminal collaboration in New York, Sicily and the Caribbean. He reveals states and mafias competing - and collaborating -- in a competition for governmental power. He discovers mafias influencing elections, changing constitutions, organizing domestic insurgencies and transnational terrorism, negotiating peace deals, and forming governmental joint ventures with ruling groups. And he sees mafias working with the US government to spy on American citizens, catch Nazis, try to assassinate Fidel Castro, invade and govern Sicily, and playing unappreciated roles in the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Police Corruption and Cover-ups Surround "The Brotherhood - The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdered for the Mafia"

In 1994, an underboss of the Lucchese crime family, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, flipped. He was in federal custody, facing numerous murder and racketeering counts, when he informed FBI agents that, in return for a "pad" of $4,000 a month, two New York City Police Department detectives had regularly slipped him confidential information from police and FBI organized-crime files: names and addresses of confidential informants (who were then knocked off), tipoffs on raids and phone taps, and advance warnings of arrests.

For almost a decade, Casso said that the two detectives, Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito, conducted secret investigations for the Lucchese family. Eventually, Casso claimed, he hired the detectives as hit men. They used their badges to put unsuspecting gangland targets at ease, killed them and collected payoffs of up to $100,000.

What makes "Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdered for the Mafia" even more alarming is the criminal negligence of law-enforcement officials, who showed little interest in bringing Caracappa and Eppolito to justice. "The Brotherhoods" chronicles years of egregious police corruption and the stupefying bureaucratic indifference that allowed it to flourish. It was not until 11 years after Casso first fingered the two cops that they were finally arrested.

After receiving life sentences, the two had their convictions thrown out by a judge who ruled that the statute of limitations had expired. At the time of their arrest, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent said, "It's been a long time coming." Well, it's still not over. The book closes with the government's appeal of the ruling.

Investigative journalist Guy Lawson teamed up for this book with William Oldham, a retired NYPD detective who spearheaded the police corruption investigation as an investigator for the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn. Oldham brings an insider's insight and analysis to this absorbing book, which serves as a cautionary tale to all police departments. Because the NYPD brass did not assiduously follow up on the signs of corruption, the job of every cop in the department became more difficult.

Eppolito and Caracappa were longtime best friends and former partners as young detectives in south Brooklyn. Thin, quiet and with a preference for dark suits, Caracappa was called "the Prince of Darkness" by other detectives. He was also one of the department's top detectives, a go-to guy in the elite Major Case Squad, which investigated high-profile, difficult cases. Caracappa had "written the book on organized crime murders in New York," the authors explain. "If a wise guy was killed in Queens or the Bronx and the homicide detective who caught the case wanted to know how his victim fit in the Mafia, he would look in Caracappa's book for connections."

Eppolito, on the other hand, was "fat, loud, foul-mouthed ... with a thick mustache and a taste for gold chains. ... He was a conspicuous cop - he dressed like a wise guy." He also wrote a memoir called "Mafia Cop: The Story of an Honest Cop Whose Family Was the Mob." Given his family's connections with organized crime, it is remarkable that NYPD screeners let Eppolito onto the force. His grandfather - "Diamond Louie" - and his father - "Fat the Gangster" - were members of the Gambino crime family.

Eppolito served as his father's bagman when he was a boy, handing cash to local cops so they wouldn't break up Fat the Gangster's dice and poker games. At his father's funeral - where the FBI took surveillance photos of the numerous organized-crime figures in attendance - Eppolito was slipped notes by wise guys.

After killing time at a no-work job set up by a Gambino relative, Eppolito decided to join the NYPD. To Eppolito's way of thinking, he was simply exchanging one brotherhood for another.

Eppolito retired before his memoir was published; Caracappa didn't. He was still on the force, and in the author's note for "Mafia Cop," Eppolito calls him "my closest and dearest friend." When Oldham came across a copy of Eppolito's memoir in the early 1990s, he was assigned to the Major Case Squad along with Caracappa. Oldham was stunned that Caracappa, who had access to the department's most sensitive intelligence, would be best friends with a dubious character like Eppolito. That was Oldham's first clue that the Mafia might have made inroads into the NYPD.

When Casso told federal authorities about Caracappa and Eppolito's criminality, Oldham assumed investigations would be launched. When the detectives later retired to Las Vegas and bought homes in a luxury development across the street from each other, Oldham was outraged. The crooked cops had skated. Oldham decided to investigate the case himself - first as an NYPD detective and later from the U.S. attorney's office.

In 2004, Oldham's situation improved, as the book relates: "Finally ... a small group of detectives and investigators came together to work on the investigation. Oldham called them 'the cadre.' ... They were all determined to see that justice was done. All of the voluminous information Oldham had gathered over the years was examined anew. More evidence was uncovered. Compelling connections between 'the cops' and long-forgotten murders were unearthed. Even with the accumulated facts, Oldham knew the case needed someone inside the conspiracy ... to take the disparate strands of the case and pull them together. He needed a storyteller."

Oldham found him in "Downtown" Burt Kaplan, a colorful Jewish gangster who was one of the most notorious dealers in stolen goods in New York. It was Kaplan who first made contact with the two detectives; it was Kaplan who set them up with organized-crime figures, and it was Kaplan who ultimately turned on them and testified in court.

Of course, it shouldn't have taken until 2005 to convict Caracappa and Eppolito. Shortly after teaming up in the 1970s, they accumulated numerous Internal Affairs complaints, including cash stolen from arrestees and money missing from a homicide scene. When the nephew of crime boss Carlo Gambino was busted for attempting to set up a major heroin deal with an FBI undercover agent, agents searching the house discovered a confidential NYPD Intelligence Divisions file. The FBI ran the documents for fingerprints, and they matched Eppolito's.

"Eppolito had a long, contorted explanation for how his fingerprints had magically appeared on a police department intelligence document found in a Gambino's house," Oldham recalled. "I wasn't buying it."

After the two cops retired, Oldham continued to try and bring them down. He told his NYPD supervisor about the trail he'd followed and the evidence he had collected. "He didn't want to hear about it. He said the words slowly, carefully enunciating them. 'I do not want to hear about that case ever again. Understand?'" Oldham recalled. "Catching Caracappa and Eppolito would ... hurt the whole department. Certain people think cops go bad every day. This would just confirm it."

"The Brotherhoods" is the anti-"Sopranos." Instead of yarns about colorful mobsters who believe in family, honor and omert ... , the book provides a glimpse of the New Millennium Mafia: arrested mobsters who start singing as soon as the cuffs are on, and crime bosses who let the families of loyal soldiers doing time live in penury. The book is long and dense, and it would have benefited from the perspective and insight of other detectives in "the cadre." On the other hand, readers will find this an important and well-told story.

Thanks to Miles Corwin

The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdered for the Mafia

Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdered for the Mafia.

Reviewed by:

Miles Corwin

Solana Pyne

Monday, September 19, 2016

Ahmad Khan Rahami Wanted by FBI for Questioning in Connection with New York Explosion

AHMAD KHAN RAHAMI

AHMAD KHAN RAHAMI

DETAILS: The FBI is asking for assistance in locating Ahmad Khan Rahami. Rahami is wanted for questioning in connection with an explosion that occur red on September 17, 2016, at approximately 8:30 p.m. in the vicinity of 135 W est 23rd Street, New York, New York. Rahami is a 28-year-old United States citizen of Afghan descent born on January 23, 1988, in Afghanistan. His last known address was in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He is about 5’ 6” tall and weighs approximately 200 pounds. Rahami has brown hair, brown eyes, and brown facial hair.

SHOULD BE CONSIDERED ARMED AND DANGEROUS: If you have any information concerning this case, please contact the FBI's Toll-Free Tipline at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225\5324), your local FBI office, or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Victoria Gotti's Long Island mansion and Her Sons Auto Parts Store Raided by Feds

Victoria Gotti, daughter of Gambino Family crime boss John Gotti and star of reality TV show 'Growing Up Gotti,' had her home raided by federal agents Wednesday.Her sprawling mansion in Old Westbury, Long Island, was visited by IRS agents executing a search warrant obtained from Brooklyn US Attorney’s office.

At the same time, just after dawn, the Queens auto parts store run by her sons was also raided, dnainfo reported.

This Family of Mine: What It Was Like Growing Up Gotti.

The reason why Gotti's mansion - featured heavily in the show - and the parts shop, located on Liberty Avenue near Sutphin Boulevard in Jamaica, were raided isn't yet known.

The parts shop used to belong to Gotti's ex-husband, Carmine Agnello.But he gave it up after serving nine years in prison on racketeering charges, separating from Victoria and moving to Cleveland.

The shop is now run by their three sons, Carmine, John and Frank Gotti Agnello.

All three sons, and their mom, were featured in 'Growing Up Gotti,' which ran from 2004-2007 on A&E.As well as her TV appearances, Victoria Gotti also wrote a series of thriller novels in the 2000s.

Victoria Gotti dumped Agnello 12 years ago after he was exposed for cheating on her with his Queens secretary - and was also convicted of racketeering.

Gotti: Rise and Fall.

John Gotti shot to fame in the late 1980s when he was given the nickname 'The Teflon Don' because of his ability to beat various rap sheets.He was also known as the 'Dapper Don' because he always appeared immaculately dressed in expensive suits in public.

Gotti became head of the Gambino family - one of five families which traditionally dominated the Mob in New York - in 1985 after ordering a hit on his boss, Paul 'Big Paul' Castellano. Castellano and his chauffeur were gunned down outside Sparks steakhouse in midtown Manhattan. Gotti apparently watched the hit go down from a car parked across the street.

Gotti was never brought to book for the Castellano murder and was acquitted of other crimes in two separate trials, both of which were surrounded by rumors of jury tampering and intimidation.

Eventually in 1992 Gotti was convicted under the new RICO laws - designed to target mafia bosses - and jailed for life without possibility of parole for racketeering and murder.

James Fox, director of the FBI in New York FBI, gloated: 'The Teflon is gone. The don is covered with Velcro, and all the charges stuck.'

Shadow of My Father.

Gotti continued to run the Gambino family from prison until his death in 2002 and was succeeded as boss by his son, John 'Junior' Gotti, who claims to have since quit organized crime. 

In August John J Gotti, 23-year-old son of Victoria's brother Peter, was charged with selling prescription drugs, including oxycodone.

And that same month it emerged that a biopic - 'The Life and Death of John Gotti' was in production, with real-life couple John Travolta and Kelly Preston as the senior Gotti and his wife.

Thanks to James Wilkinson and Chris Summers.


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