Thursday, January 18, 2018

Minestrone for the Mobster's Soul: Life Lessons from the Movie Mafia

14 Life Lessons gathered from growing up on the west Side of Chicago in the 60's and 70's, utilizing Mob and Mafia movies. This is a self-help book for mob wannabes who can gather valuable insights into applying concepts such as loyalty, honor, respect and the law of omerta into their daily lives. Each chapter features a story followed by a lesson influenced by movie characters from our favorite films like THE GODFATHER, GOODFELLAS, CASINO, BRONX TALE, etc. Two cousins grow up fast as the they become "associates" of "the Outfit" in Chicago and learn what it takes to survive in this environment. The book concludes with a list of the top 100 mob movies of all time, complete with reviews.

Minestrone for the Mobster's Soul: Life Lessons from the Movie Mafia.

Indictments Announced against 10 Mafia Suspects from the Bonanno, Genovese and Luchese Crime Families

Federal authorities indicted ten suspected members of the Sicilian mafia with extortion, loansharking, wire and mail fraud, narcotics distribution, and conspiracy to commit murder on behalf of the Cosa Nostra.

After several raids in the New York city area—including one at the “Xcess Gentlemen’s Club” on Staten Island—nine of the ten accused mobsters were taken into custody. Eight of the men worked for the Bonanno family, while the other two are members of the Genovese and Luchese crime families, respectively.

All of the suspects have been charged with racketeering conspiracy, according to a news release from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Each man faces up to 20 years in prison per charge.

Joseph Cammarano Jr., one of the accused, is also known as “Joe C” and is the Acting Boss of the Bonanno Family, according to US federal agents.

Cammarano reportedly took over as leader of the Bonanno family in 2015, when the group was still rebuilding itself after a series of federal round-ups which took place in the early 2000s, according to The New York Daily News.

The 58-year-old Brooklyn native has pleaded “not guilty” to all charges.

Albert Armetta, known as “Al Muscles”, faces an indictment for assaulting a victim on Halloween night in 2015 “for the purpose of gaining entrance” to the Bonanno crime family.

Two other indictments include a gun-running operation and a scheme to defraud FEMA of US$ 80,000 in Superstorm Sandy recovery money, according to CBS New York.

Among the others charged are George “Grumpy” Tropiano, Eugene “Boobsie” Castelle and John “Porky” Zancocchio, captain and “Consigliere” of the Bonanno Family.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Steve Bannon Group Promoted Document Alleging @RealDonaldTrump Had Mafia Connections

Before Donald Trump and Steve Bannon were enemies, they were allies. And not long before that, Bannon was part of an effort to sink Trump's presidential hopes -- even if Trump didn't know it.

A conservative watchdog group led by Bannon tried to discredit Trump in the early stages of the 2016 Republican presidential primary by shopping a document alleging that Trump had ties to mobsters, according to conservative sources and a copy of the document reviewed by CNN.

The anti-Trump opposition research was the work of author Peter Schweizer for the Government Accountability Institute, which he cofounded with Bannon in 2012. It described years of alleged business connections between Trump companies and organized crime figures, allegations that have circulated among Trump detractors for years.

The New York Times reported on the document on Friday.

The GAI is backed by the Mercer family, one of the largest benefactors for Trump's campaign. Rebekah Mercer, the daughter of hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, is listed as the group's chairwoman on its website. But in 2015, when the document was produced, the Mercers were backing the campaign of one of Trump's rivals, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and Bannon had not yet joined the Trump campaign.

In early 2016, at the height of the Republican primary fight, Cruz cited possible mob ties as one reason for Trump to release his taxes. Cruz and his campaign cited published news accounts at the time as the basis for making the charge.

The document offers a glimpse at behind-the-scenes efforts by conservatives to derail Trump's presidential bid. The document is similar to opposition research produced for both Republicans and Democrats targeting Trump. The best known of those is one produced by the Washington firm Fusion GPS alleging ties between Trump and Russians, which now has helped spawn a broad investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

"We research political figures from all political parties and our basic premise is follow the money. That's what guides our research approach," Schweizer told CNN.

A source familiar with GAI's work said the group conducted research on all Republican and Democratic candidates running in the 2016 election. Bannon and the Mercers were not involved in the "day to day machinations of the research," but the source said they were aware of the effort to drill down on candidates and share some of that research with news organizations.

A GOP operative provided CNN a copy of the anti-Trump document. Two sources confirmed that GAI shopped copies of the document to donors for Trump rivals during the GOP primary.

"We did not and would not share that with any candidates," the source familiar with GAI's work said. "There would be no sharing with candidates, with political operatives or anybody of that category."

Bannon declined to comment.

Bannon, Schweizer and the Mercers went on to curry favor with Trump when he became the GOP nominee and, later, the President.

Trump brought on Bannon as CEO of his presidential campaign in August 2016. But Bannon's subsequent West Wing tenure as Trump's chief political strategist was brief. He was fired in August 2017, but remained in contact with the President. Their friendship hit rocky times last week with the publication of comments by Bannon in Michael Wolff's book disparaging Trump and his family.

The President issued a blistering statement against his former political guru, saying Bannon has "lost his mind," and later slapped him with the nickname "Sloppy Steve" via Twitter.

Bannon said Sunday he regretted not responding sooner to comments attributed to him in Wolff's book that were critical of Donald Trump Jr.

It's not clear whether Trump knew of Bannon's and the Mercers' ties to the document aimed at discrediting him when they became his allies in 2016. However, the Mercers' prior support for Cruz was widely known.

Trump regularly cited some of Schweizer's other work on the campaign trail, notably that on Hillary Clinton and alleging corruption. He touted Schweizer's 2015 anti-Clinton book "Clinton Cash", which made use of research by GAI, and urged an investigation of allegations of corruption involving the Clinton Foundation.

The book's allegations formed at least part of the basis for some FBI field offices to open preliminary inquiries into the Clinton Foundation. Those investigations stalled in 2016 amid the election. But CNN reported Friday that the inquiries have been given new life and are now led by the FBI office in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Thanks to Sara Murray, Evan Perez and Jeremy Diamond.

Monday, January 08, 2018

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, is a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement. Since its publication in 2010, the book has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for more than a year; been dubbed the “secular bible of a new social movement” by numerous commentators, including Cornel West; and has led to consciousness-raising efforts in universities, churches, community centers, re-entry centers, and prisons nationwide. The New Jim Crow tells a truth our nation has been reluctant to face.

As the United States celebrates its “triumph over race” with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of black men in major urban areas are under correctional control or saddled with criminal records for life. Jim Crow laws were wiped off the books decades ago, but today an extraordinary percentage of the African American community is warehoused in prisons or trapped in a parallel social universe, denied basic civil and human rights—including the right to vote; the right to serve on juries; and the right to be free of legal discrimination in employment, housing, access to education and public benefits. Today, it is no longer socially permissible to use race explicitly as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. Yet as civil-rights-lawyer-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander demonstrates, it is perfectly legal to discriminate against convicted criminals in nearly all the ways in which it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once labeled a felon, even for a minor drug crime, the old forms of discrimination are suddenly legal again. In her words, “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”

Alexander shows that, by targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, challenges the civil rights community—and all of us—to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Thomas Anzalone, Alleged Gambino Crime Family Associate, Denied Bail by Judge

One of seven people charged by federal authorities with racketeering conspiracy and other illegal activities associated with organized crime on Long Island was denied bail in federal court.

Thomas Anzalone, 44, from Queens, an alleged associate of the Gambino crime family, was remanded back into custody after U.S. District Court Judge Sandra Feuerstein rejected a bail package offered by his attorney Jesse Siegel, of Manhattan.

Family and friends agreed to put up their homes and property to ensure he’d return to court, said Siegel, who also proposed that Anzalone wear an ankle bracelet as part of home confinement. But prosecutors argued the violent nature of his crimes as a loan shark, along with the discovery of a cache of weapons at his home made him dangerous.

“I have to say I can’t imagine any conditions that would protect the community,” Feuerstein said.

Authorities found rifles and a revolver inside Anzalone’s home Dec. 12, a discovery that they said will lead to an escalation of charges. That prompted Feuerstein to conclude that “the risk of flight becomes more of a possibility.”

Anzalone’s family as well as his attorney declined to comment.

Anzalone was one of seven alleged members and associates of the Gambino and Bonanno crime families arrested Dec. 12. Federal prosecutors said they ran gambling, loan sharking, drugs and other operations from January 2014 to December 2017.

Thanks to Mark Morales.