Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Inside the Last Great Mafia Empire

Inside the Last Great Mafia Empire (Cosa Nostra News: The Cicale Files).

Dominick Cicale was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. From a young age he was closely associated with the Genovese crime family, considered the most powerful Mafia group in America. Fate intervened. In 1999 Cicale forged a tight alliance with Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, then an up-and-coming member of the Bronx faction of the Bonanno crime family. Under Basciano's tutelage, Dominick rode the fast track: he was inducted into the American Cosa Nostra and swiftly rose from soldier to capo, amassing great wealth and power. Cicale befriended and associated with numerous high-ranking figures within all of New York's Five Families as he plotted and schemed in a treacherous world where each day could be his last.

This installment views startling details surrounding the brutal gangland murder of Gerlando "George from Canada" Sciascia and its resulting impact on relations between the Bonanno family in New York and its Montreal -based "outpost" established by the Mafia Commission in 1931. The cast of characters further includes high-ranking Mafiosi such as Joseph Massino (The Last Don), Salvatore "Sal the Iron Worker" Montagna, Vito Rizzuto, Vinny Gorgeous (a nickname never used in his presence) and Cicale himself.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Learn from @TheSharkDaymond #PowerofBroke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage

The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage.

Daymond John has been practicing the power of broke ever since he started selling his home-sewn t-shirts on the streets of Queens. With no funding and a $40 budget, Daymond had to come up with out-of-the box ways to promote his products. Luckily, desperation breeds innovation, and so he hatched an idea for a creative campaign that eventually launched the FUBU brand into a $6 billion dollar global phenomenon.  But it might not have happened if he hadn’t started out broke - with nothing but a heart full of hope and a ferocious drive to succeed by any means possible.

Here, the FUBU founder and star of ABC’s Shark Tank shows that, far from being a liability, broke can actually be your greatest competitive advantage as an entrepreneur. Why?  Because starting a business from broke forces you to think more creatively.  It forces you to use your resources more efficiently. It forces you to connect with your customers more authentically, and market your ideas more imaginatively. It forces you to be true to yourself, stay laser focused on your goals, and come up with those innovative solutions required to make a meaningful mark.

Drawing his own experiences as an entrepreneur and branding consultant, peeks behind-the scenes from the set of Shark Tank, and stories of dozens of other entrepreneurs who have hustled their way to wealth, John shows how we can all leverage the power of broke to phenomenal success. You’ll meet:

  • Steve Aoki, the electronic dance music (EDM) deejay who managed to parlay a series of $100 gigs into becoming a global superstar who has redefined the music industry 
  • Gigi Butler, a cleaning lady from Nashville who built cupcake empire on the back of a family  recipe, her maxed out credit cards, and a heaping dose of faith 
  • 11-year old Shark Tank guest Mo Bridges who stitched together a winning clothing line with just his grandma’s sewing machine, a stash of loose fabric, and his unique sartorial flair

When your back is up against the wall, your bank account is empty, and creativity and passion are the only resources you can afford, success is your only option.  Here you’ll learn how to tap into that Power of Broke to scrape, hustle, and dream your way to the top.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

How Joseph Charles Massino become Known as #TheLastDon

Born on Jan. 10, 1943 in New York City, Joseph Charles Massino is a former member of the Italian Mafia who was the boss of the Bonanno crime family from 1991 to 2004. During his 13 years running the crime syndicate, the powerful Massino was known as “The Last Don,” as he was the only New York mob leader at the time not in prison. However, he is perhaps best known as the first boss of one of the notorious five Mafia families to turn state’s evidence and cooperate with the government in prosecuting other Mafiosi. The ex-mobster entered the Witness Protection Program after his 2013 release from prison and his whereabouts are unknown.

One of three boys raised in Maspeth, Massino claimed he was a juvenile delinquent by age 12 and he was a high school dropout at age 15. He married Josephine Vitale in 1960, and soon began supporting his wife and three daughters through a life of crime, with brother-in-law Salvatore as one of his earliest associates.

By the late 1960s, the future Don was running a truck hijacking crew as an associate of the Bonanno family. He fenced his stolen goods and ran numbers from a lunch wagon which he used as a front for his illicit business. In 1975, Massino participated in a mob murder with brother-in-law Salvatore and future Gambino family head John Gotti. Two years after “making his bones” by killing for the mob, the Maspeth native became a made member of the Bonanno family. Joe Massino was on his way to the top of a criminal empire.

Following the 1979 murder of acting family boss Carmine Galante at a Brooklyn restaurant, Massino began jockeying for power with other Bonanno capos. Ever cunning and ready to use violence to serve his ends, he eliminated several key rivals in 1981. One capo who allegedly fell before The Last Don’s ambition was Dominick “Sonny Black” Napolitano, who allowed undercover FBI agent Joe Pistone to infiltrate his crew under the name Donnie Brasco. Upon hearing about the unprecedented breach of mob security, Massino said of the disgraced capo: “I have to give him a receipt for the Donnie Brasco situation.”

The mobster’s climb to the top would not be without pitfalls, however. In 1987, when some believe he was already the underboss, Massino and Bonanno family head Philip Rastelli were sent to federal prison on labor racketeering charges. Following Rastelli’s death in 1991, Joe Massino was named boss of the Bonanno family while still incarcerated.

Under his leadership, the Bonanno crime syndicate regained the prestige it lost following the FBI undercover operation, and by 2000, with many other Mafia leaders in prison, Massino was considered the most powerful don in the nation. His time at the top would prove short lived. In 2004, The Last Don was indicted for murder and racketeering based on the testimony of other made mobsters, including underboss and brother-in-law Salvatore Vitale. Facing the death penalty if found guilty, Massino agreed to turn against his former associates and testify as a government witness. Although initially sentenced to life in prison, in 2013 he was resentenced to time served.

A Joe Massino quote: “There are three sides to every story. Mine, yours and the truth.”

Thanks to Greater Astoria Historical Society.

Milwaukee Man Who Planned Mass Shooting is Arrested and Charged with Possession of Machineguns

Acting United States Attorney Gregory J. Haanstad and Special Agent in Charge Robert J. Shields of the FBI’s Milwaukee Division announced today that Milwaukee resident Samy Mohamed Hamzeh, 23, has been charged with possessing machineguns and a silencer.

According to the criminal complaint, Hamzeh had been under investigation since September 2015.  The investigation revealed that, in October 2015, Hamzeh planned to travel to Jordan, enter the West Bank, and conduct an attack on Israeli soldiers and citizens living in the West Bank.  Hamzeh later abandoned those plans and began to focus on conducting an attack in the United States.

According to the criminal complaint, Hamzeh has engaged in extensive conversations with two confidential sources (referred to here as CS-1 and CS-2).  Those conversations, which were in Arabic, were monitored, recorded, and translated by the FBI beginning in October 2015.

During those recorded conversations, Hamzeh explained that he wanted to commit a domestic act of violence and, earlier this month, he settled on a Masonic temple in Milwaukee as his target.

On January 19, 2016, Hamzeh, CS-1 and CS-2 took a guided tour of the Masonic temple, during which they learned meeting schedules and where people would be located during meetings.  In a recorded conversation after they left the temple, Hamzeh, discussed his plans with CS-1 and CS-2.  In that conversation, Hamzeh reaffirmed his intention to commit an armed attack on the temple and discussed in further detail how they would carry out the attack.

Hamzeh said that they would need two machineguns so that they each would have one (Hamzeh indicated that one CS already had a machinegun), and also said that they would need three silencers:


  • “We want two machineguns, you now have one, so we want two more, and we need three silencers, that’s it.Find out how much all together these will cost, and then we will march.”
  • “We want two, like the machinegun you have. . . . And we need silencers. . . . Three, yes three silencers, and that’s it.”
  • “. . . each one has a weapon, each one has a silencer gun, the operation will be one hundred percent successful.I am telling you, to go without silencer gun, you will be exposed from the beginning.”


Hamzeh also explained to CS1 and CS2 that, when they executed the attack at the temple, one of the three of them would have to stay at the main door while the others went upstairs to kill the people who would be meeting there:


  • “one of us will stay at the door at the entrance and lock the door down, he will be at the main door down, two will get to the lift up, they will enter the room, and spray everyone in the room.The one who is standing downstairs will spray anyone he finds.We will shoot them, kill them and get out.We will walk and walk, after a while, we will be covered as if it is cold, and we’ll take the covers off and dump them in a corner and keep on walking, as if nothing happened, as if everything is normal.But one has to stand on the door, because if no one stood at the door, people will be going in and out, if people came in from outside and found out what is going on, everything is busted.”
  • “As long as the one on the door understands he has bigger responsibility than the others.For your information, he has to take care of everyone around him, the comers and the one that wants to go, he has to annihilate everyone, there is no one left, I mean when we go into a room, we will be killing everyone, that’s it, this is our duty, as for the one at the door, he must have 20/20 eye vision and always alert for all the traffic around him.”
  • “I am telling you, as I was saying, all three of us get in together, one will go, to the one that is staying at the reception . . . . If she was alone, it is okay, if there were two of them, shoot both of them, do not let the blood show, shoot her from the bottom, two or three shots in her stomach and let her sit on the chair and push her to the front, as if she is sleeping, did you understand?Then stay downstairs, the other two will take the lift to the third floor, go directly to the room, open the door, shoot everyone, move fast even avoiding the lift and take the stairs running down. . . . Using the stairs, the third one on the door will notice us coming down, we will go out together.No one sees anything and no one knows anything.We leave, as if there is nothing, no running, no panic, just regular walking.We’ll get three head covers with three holes in them. . . . we’ll get in all three of us together, the minute we get in, we shoot whoever is in front of us, and all have to be eliminated.One stays down and two will go up quickly.
  • “And we will eliminate everyone.”


Hamzeh also explained what his objectives were in committing the attack:


  • “I am telling you, if this hit is executed, it will be known all over the world. . . . Sure, all over the world, all the Mujahedeen will be talking and they will be proud of us. . . such operations will increase in America, when they hear about it.The people will be scared and the operations will increase, and there will be problems all over, because more than one problem took place, and this will be the third problem, this will lead to people clashing with each other.This way we will be igniting it.I mean we are marching at the front of the war.”
  • “They are all Masonic; they are playing with the world like a game, man, and we are like asses, we don’t know what is going on, these are the ones who are fighting, these are the ones that needs to be killed, not the Shi’iat, because these are the ones who are against us, these are the ones who are making living for us like hell.”
  • “Thirty is excellent.If I got out, after killing thirty people, I will be happy 100%. . . . 100% happy, because these 30 will terrify the world.”


Hamzeh made plans to purchase machineguns and silencers from two individuals who, unbeknownst to Hamzeh, were undercover FBI agents.  He met with them, along with CS-1 and CS-2, on January 25, 2016.  The undercover agents displayed the weapons and a silencer to Hamzeh, told him that the weapons were capable of automatic fire, and explained to him the functioning of the selector switch that allowed the weapons to fire automatically.  Hamzeh agreed to a price and paid it to the undercover agents, who then handed Hamzeh a bag containing two automatic weapons and a silencer.  Hamzeh carried the bag to the vehicle in which he had traveled to the meeting, and he placed the bag in the trunk of the vehicle.  He then was arrested and has been charged with illegally possessing machineguns.

Acting United States Attorney Gregory J. Haanstad said, “Samy Mohamed Hamzeh devised a detailed plan to commit a mass shooting intended to kill dozens of people.  He also said that he wanted this mass shooting to be ‘known the world over’ and to ‘ignite’ broader clashes.  It is difficult to calculate the injury and loss of life that was prevented by concerned citizens coming forward and by the tireless efforts of the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force.”

Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Robert J. Shields said “The arrest of Samy Mohamed Hamzeh is the result of a well-coordinated undercover law enforcement action, at no time was the public’s safety placed in jeopardy.  I would like to commend the efforts of the Joint Terrorism Task Force which includes our local and state law enforcement partners in thwarting an attack that could have resulted in significant injury and /or loss of life.”

Monday, January 25, 2016

Rita Crundwell Assets up for Sale

The U.S. Marshals are auctioning approximately 376 lots, many horse-related, once belonging to Rita Crundwell, the former comptroller of Dixon, Illinois, who was convicted of fraud in 2012 for stealing $53.7 million from the city over two decades. These are items that did not sell in two separate auctions held at the end of 2015, and opening bids have been lowered.

Rita Crundwell Assets up for Sale


The current online auction runs through Feb. 2 at www.txauction.com. Items for sale include jewelry, show and riding clothing, nine horse-show belt-buckle awards, cowboy boots, horse equipment, a Viking stainless steel grill, household items, artworks and a Yamaha scooter.

“Following the sale of these items we anticipate another restitution payment will be issued to the city of Dixon,” said Chief Inspector Jason Wojdylo with the U.S. Marshals Service Asset Forfeiture Division. “This may be the final opportunity to purchase property from this case.”

The two auctions held in late 2015 yielded $118,832, and a sealed bid auction for Crundwell’s large collection of trophies brought in $5,560.

Crundwell, 63, was one of the leading breeders of quarter horses in the U.S. She was sentenced to more than 19 years in federal prison in 2013 and is serving her sentence at Waseca Federal Correctional Institute in Minnesota.

Arrest Made after Drug Deal Gone Bad Ends in Murder #LoneStarFugitiveTaskForce

Joshua Eric Williams, 21, was arrested by members of the United States Marshals Service Lone Star Fugitive Task Force (LSFTF) in San Antonio, TX. An arrest warrant was issued pursuant to an investigation by the Converse Police Department (CPD), where it is alleged that Williams committed Capital Murder.

On December 23, 2015, members of the LSFTF initiated an investigation in locating and apprehending Williams. Through investigative efforts and extensive surveillance, task force officers located Williams hiding out in an apartment complex located in the 2500 block of Babcock Road, on the northwest side of San Antonio. Task force officers observed Williams walking through the parking lot of the apartment complex, identified themselves, made contact, and took him into custody without incident.

On December 1, 2015, Williams allegedly shot and killed a man in the parking lot of an apartment complex located in the 300 block of Converse Center Street, in Converse, TX. Reports stated that Williams and the victim were allegedly involved in a drug deal gone bad that resulted in Williams shooting, killing, and robbing the victim. Williams fled the scene in a getaway vehicle and subsequently struck another vehicle as he exited the apartment complex. After a thorough investigation by CPD Homicide detectives, a warrant was issued for Williams’ arrest. Williams remained a fugitive on the run until he was arrested.

Robert R. Almonte, United States Marshal for the Western District of Texas, stated, “Williams was on the run for quite some time, but our task force officers didn’t give up on the hunt, nor did they let him catch his breath. It was only a matter of time before our task force officers locked in on his location and affected the arrest.”

Reputed La Cosa Nostra Member Sentenced in #OperationExcalibur Criminal Case

An alleged member of the New England Family of La Cosa Nostra was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Boston for conspiring to traffic over 40 kilograms of marijuana from July 2013 to February 2014.

Louis L. DiNunzio, 29, of Medford, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Patti B. Saris to 18 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $10,000.  In September 2015, DiNunzio pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute marijuana.

In 2013, law enforcement initiated a long-term investigation, known as Operation Excalibur, into drug-trafficking, illegal gambling, extortion, and other criminal activity by the members and associates of the New England Family of La Cosa Nostra (NELCN).  DiNunzio allegedly was a member of the NELCN and is the son of former NELCN Boss Anthony DiNunzio, who is currently in federal prison for RICO conspiracy.  As part of the conspiracy, DiNunzio and others purchased large quantities of marijuana and shipped them via UPS under fictitious names to Massachusetts.

Earlier this month, two other alleged NELCN associates involved in the conspiracy were sentenced.  Joseph Spagnuolo-Kazonis, 30, of Boston, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $10,000.  John Woodman, 43, of Braintree, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison, and ordered to pay a fine of $4,000 and to forfeit $5,000.

In additional cases arising from this investigation, Anthony Spagnolo, 67, and Pryce Quintina, 75, both of Revere, pleaded guilty in December 2015 to conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce by extortion and will be sentenced in March 2016.  On Jan. 13, 2016, John Evans, 68, of Middleborough, and Joseph Petrucelli, 24, of Winthrop, pleaded guilty to conducting an illegal gambling business and will be sentenced in April 2016.

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