Friday, November 16, 2007
The history then proceeds as its title suggests, to a riveting overview of crime in Chicago, chock-full of images documenting notorious gangsters and gruesome gangland wars.
Al Capone, John Torrio, Earl "Hymie" Weiss, George "Bugs" Moran, and a host of others are all here. Replete with insightful captions and penetrating chapter introductions by historian John Russick, these photos offer a unique view into Chicago and its nefarious past.
Bulger has been on the run for years, and possible sightings of him have been reported worldwide, most recently in Italy. AMW will reveal exclusive new information about the fugitive from some of the people who knew him best. In their first-ever television interviews, the convicted mob figure who gave Bulger his start in organized crime and Bulger’s former longtime girlfriend offer new insights and information about Bulger that viewers can use to help authorities finally track down this dangerous man. The story will also feature photos of Whitey Bulger that have never before been broadcast.
The episode will also include AMW’s investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, one of the world’s most closely watched missing-child cases. Recently, John Walsh met with Madeleine McCann’s parents to discuss their daughter’s disappearance. AMW correspondent John Turchin continues to cover the story from the tiny beach town of Praia da Luz, Portugal, where the girl vanished. Turchin analyzes the crime scene and breaks down possible scenarios of what may have happened to Madeleine—in an investigation that brings him face-to-face with the first official suspect in the case.
Since March 2006, the ring took in $22 million in bets on college and professional football and basketball in the poker room of the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, said New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram.
The off-the-books exchanges of cash and casino chips were unraveled only when an informant told authorities what to look for using the casino's eye-in-the-sky surveillance cameras, Milgram said.
The suspected ringleader of the operation, Andrew Micali, 32, of Ventnor City, New Jersey, is an associate of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, mob boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, according to a New Jersey law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the criminal complaints do not mention any reputed mob ties. Micali was charged with promoting gambling, money laundering and loan-sharking.
Three associates of Micali also were arrested. Vincent Procopio, 41, of Brigantine, New Jersey, was charged with promoting gambling. Anthony Nicodemo, 36, and Michael Lancellotti, both of Philadelphia, were charged with conspiracy to promote gambling.
"They sought to escape detection by enlisting casino employees in their crimes," Milgram said. "I'm pleased to say they greatly underestimated our vigilance and determination to keep organized crime out of Atlantic City casinos."
Twenty-three people in all are charged, and authorities were seeking five on Wednesday. Most were charged with promoting gambling or money laundering.
Unlike Las Vegas, Nevada, Atlantic City has no legal sports book.
Authorities said the Borgata cooperated with the investigation and let investigators use casino surveillance video. Borgata spokesman Rob Stillwell said the ring involved "rogue employees." No one was arrested on the casino floor, and the integrity of the casino's operations was never compromised, he said. The casino employees charged included poker room supervisors, dealers and a bartender.
The state Casino Control Commission was expected to punish the casino workers, commission spokesman Daniel Heneghan said.
The four men with alleged mob ties, along with Borgata supervisor Joseph Wishnick, 42, of Brigantine, were taken into custody Wednesday. Bail was set at $100,000 for Micali and $50,000 for the others. Wishnick was in custody Wednesday at the Atlantic County Jail. It was not immediately clear whether the others had posted bail or were waiting to be processed at the jail. None could be reached for comment by The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The state Attorney General's Office said lawyers had not come forward for any of the 23 suspects.
If the charges are proven, the case would be among the most serious mob incursions into the Atlantic City casino industry since the first casino opened in 1978.
Milgram said authorities followed the money in the case from the casino to so-called "wire rooms" in Philadelphia. The wire rooms were used to tally the bets and calculate winnings and payouts for the ring.
The ring was publicized mainly by word of mouth among illegal gamblers, who were advised whom to see in the poker room to place their bets.
Authorities said the ring engaged in "massive money laundering" facilitated by casino employees who would not record certain exchanges of cash and gambling chips. This is a common method of money laundering at casinos called "chip washing," Milgram said.
"It involves taking cash, turning it into chips, 'washing' the chips by betting and then turning them in, and taking cash out," she said.
Losing bettors were forced to take out loans from the ring at more than 50 percent interest to cover their losses, authorities said.
In their search Wednesday, authorities seized more than $40,000 worth of cash and Borgata chips from a safe deposit box Micali maintained at the casino. The state also obtained a court warrant freezing Micali's bank account with more than $200,000 in it.
Fear of organized crime led New Jersey to institute tight controls when legal gambling began, but regulations have been loosened over the years.
The anxieties were expressed in a now-famous speech by then-Gov. Brendan T. Byrne when he signed the law authorizing casinos on June 2, 1977: "I've said it before and I will repeat it again to organized crime: Keep your filthy hands off Atlantic City. Keep the hell out of our state!"
This is the second high-profile sports betting charge in New Jersey in the past two years. In 2006, a state trooper, NHL hockey coach Rick Tocchet and a third man were charged with running a sports gambling ring. All later pleaded guilty.
Thanks to CNN
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Then things started unraveling for Marguerite (Peggy) Cutolo when defense lawyers suggested her husband was still alive and that she had stashed away up to $2.7 million in loanshark profits.
"I'm not lying," a visibly upset Cutolo said in Federal Court in Central Islip, L.I. "I've been distressed and depressed for eight years because I don't know where my husband was. My husband would have never run away."
She left witness protection to testify against (Allie Boy) Persico and former underboss John (Jackie) DeRoss, who are charged with her husband's murder - and whose first trial ended in a mistrial. Prosecutors say the gangsters orchestrated the murder because they believed Wild Bill was trying to take over the Colombo family.
Under questioning from prosecutors, Peggy Cutolo insisted her husband kept nothing from her. On the day he vanished, she said, "I knew he was meeting Allie Boy."
She said Cutolo's meeting with Persico in Bay Ridge on May 26, 1999, was unusual because on Wednesdays he usually visited his union office in Manhattan, got his weekly haircut at Bruno's in Bensonhurst, and dined with his crew at the Friendly Bocce Club in Brooklyn.
Cutolo was DeRoss' best man at his wedding. After he disappeared, DeRoss was more concerned about finding the piles of cash Cutolo stashed in their Staten Island mansion than finding her husband, the widow testified.
Peggy Cutolo admitted she hid $1.65 million in an air conditioning vent and moved it when the AC went on the fritz and the repairman - DeRoss' nephew - came to fix it. She said she took the money with her when she went into witness protection in February 2001. "My husband told me, 'If anything happened to me, you give them nothing,'" she testified.
When DeRoss' lawyer, Robert LaRusso, produced ledgers indicating Cutolo had $2.7 million at the time of his disappearance, the flustered widow explained her husband kept two sets of books - one for Colombo money, one for his money. "I just know what I counted," she said.
Asked what happened to the cash, Peggy Cutolo said, "The government let me have the money. I had to take care of the kids."
Thanks to John Marzulli and Corky Siemaszko
GOMORRAH: A Personal Journey Into the Violent International Empire of Naples’ Organized Crime System
Roberto Saviano, a young Italian journalist, counts the cost in “Gomorrah,” his savage indictment of the Neapolitan crime organization known as the Camorra. Although less well known than the Mafia, its Sicilian counterpart, the Camorra has held the economy of southern Italy in a tight grip for more than a century. With time it has adapted and modernized, spreading from Naples to outlying towns, while adding financial services and real estate to its expanding portfolio.
“Never in the economy of a region has there been such a widespread, crushing presence of criminality as in Campania in the last 10 years,” Mr. Saviano writes.
The garment sweatshops of Secondigliano, a small town on the outskirts of Naples, provide Mr. Saviano with a case study. Day and night, highly skilled workers turn out low-cost counterfeits that compare favorably in quality with the originals from the big fashion houses. The factories are bankrolled by the Camorra, which lends money at low rates. Factory workers get their mortgages through the Camorra. Once completed, the clothes often find their way to boutiques owned by the Camorra all over Europe, many in Camorra-owned shopping malls.
The Camorra has come a long way since the days of cigarette smuggling. But despite the corporate face, it relies on age-old techniques of intimidation and violence, which Mr. Saviano describes in gruesome detail. When Cammoristi want to send a message, they do a thorough job. Enforcers make their point with one victim by sawing his head off with a metal grinder and blowing it up. The notorious Pasquale Barra, better known as the Animal, set new standards some years back when he ripped a target’s heart out with his bare hands and then bit into it.
Mr. Saviano, whose hometown, Casal di Principe, lies in the heart of Camorra territory, comes up with a total of 3,600 bodies since 1979, the year he was born.
Objective, analytic journalism is foreign to Mr. Saviano. The subject at hand is too personal, and in any case he takes a fiery, romantic view of the reporter’s mission. “I believe that the way to truly understand, to get to the bottom of things, is to smell the hot breath of reality, to touch the nitty-gritty,” he writes.
This passion for close-up, eyewitness reporting leads him to take small-time jobs in Camorra businesses, to show up whenever the police turn up a dead body and to mingle in the open-air drug market in Secondigliano, where fresh batches of heroin are tested on addict volunteers. If they drop dead, the batch is too potent.
The up-close style and the floridly noir prose make for vivid scenes. When he’s concentrating properly, Mr. Saviano also exposes the nuts and bolts of Camorra operations, complete with names and precise figures. His account of the drug trade, which the Camorra has shrewdly expanded to serve the casual, middle-class customer, is a model of muckraking journalism.
So are the chapters on the construction industry and the Camorra’s sinister trade in illegal waste dumping, much of it toxic. All over Italy highly trained experts in law and the environment make the rounds of Italian businesses, offering to ship everything from dead bodies to printer toner to illegal dumping sites in the south. This is worth billions of dollars a year.
From time to time Mr. Saviano takes flight on his own prose and, drunk with indignation, loses touch with the nitty-gritty. His chapter on the port of Naples, where Chinese entrepreneurs now control the illegal offloading of containers, makes for colorful reading, but Mr. Saviano neglects to explain how the Camorra fits in. Often names and killings speed by in a blur, devoid of context. Mr. Saviano never does explain the Camorra’s structure adequately.
Granted, it is a bewildering mess. The sheer scope of the Camorra’s businesses numbs even Mr. Saviano, who confesses to despair. Everything, he writes, seems to belong to the mob: “land, buffalos, farms, quarries, garages, dairies, hotels and restaurants.”
A small flicker of hope burns in a chapter devoted to Don Peppino Diana, a crusading priest who denounces the Camorra from his pulpit in Casal di Principe, organizes protest marches and sets up community programs to siphon support for the Camorra.
“He decided to take an interest in the dynamics of power and not merely its corollary suffering,” Mr. Saviano writes. “He didn’t want merely to clean the wound but to understand the mechanisms of the metastasis, to prevent the cancer from spreading, to block the source of whatever was turning his home into a gold mine of capital with an abundance of cadavers.”
On March 19, 1994, the name day of his patron saint, Don Peppino was approached in his church by armed men who shot him in the head at close range. He died instantly. Mr. Saviano, for his part, has been forced to live in hiding under police protection since his book was published last year in Italy.
Thanks to William Grimes
The defendants, Carmine Polito and Mario Fortunato, had been found guilty of similar charges in federal court, but that conviction was overturned. A federal appeals court ruled that prosecutors had failed to prove the men had committed the crime to increase their underworld status. In June, a state appeals court ruled that the men could stand trial again in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn. Two of the confessed assassins are expected to testify, but the star witness is a man who was also shot in the attack. That witness, Michael D’Urso, has confessed to his own violent and diverse range of crimes, committed before he became a government informer.
Thanks to Michael Brick.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
It was attended by roughly 100 mafia crime bosses from the United States, Canada and Italy. Expensive cars with license plates from around the country aroused the curiosity of the local and state law enforcement, who raided the meeting, causing mafiosi to flee into the woods and the surrounding area of the Apalachin estate.
The direct and most significant outcome of the Apalachin meeting was that it helped to confirm the existence of a National Crime Syndicate, which some - including J. Edgar Hoover, head of the Federal Bureau of Investigations - had long refused to acknowledge.
Mob Members at Apalachin
1. Dominick Alaimo: Member of the Barbara family.
2. Joseph Barbara: Boss of his own family. Presently called the Bufalino family.
3. Joseph Bonanno: Boss of his own New York family; deposed in 1964.
4. John Bonventre: Uncle of Bonanno, former underboss to Bonanno. Had retired to Italy prior to Apalachin and probably couldn't resist meeting old friends.
5. Russell Bufalino: Underboss to Barbara. Became head of the Bufalino family when Barbara died in 1959. A suspect in the Jimmy Hoffa disappearance in 1975. Bufalino controlled organized crime in the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre area and upstate New York, including Utica. He died in 1994.
6. Ignatius Cannone: Member of the Barbara family.
7. Roy Carlisi: Member of the Magaddino family from Buffalo.
8. Paul Castellano: Capo in the Gambino family. Took over as boss when Gambino died in 1976. Whacked by John Gotti in 1985.
9. Gerardo Catena: Underboss to Vito Genovese. Later helped run the family when Genovese went to prison.
10. Charles Chivi: Member of the Genovese family.
11. Joseph Civello: Boss of Dallas family.
12. James Colletti: Boss of the Colorado family. Partner of Joe Bonanno in the cheese business.
13. Frank Cucchiara: Member of the New England family. Most commonly called the Patriarca family.
14. Dominick D'Agostino: Member of the Magaddino family.
15. John DeMarco: Capo or perhaps underboss in the Cleveland family then run by John Scalish.
16. Frank DeSimmone: Boss of the Los Angeles family; he was a lawyer.
17. Natale Evola: Capo in the Bonanno family; later became boss of the family circa 1970.
18. Joseph Falcone: Member of Barbara or Magaddino family.
19. Salvatore Falcone: Member of Barbara or Magaddino family.
20. Carlo Gambino: Had just ascended to the head of the Gambino family after Albert Anastasia was whacked in October 1957.
21. Michael Genovese: Believed to be underboss of the Pittsburgh family.
22. Vito Genovese: Had just recently ascended to the head of the Genovese family after previous boss, Frank Costello, was wounded in a murder attempt and then retired.
23. Anthony Guarnieri: Capo in the Barbara family.
24. Bartolo Guccia: Believed to be member of the Barbara family or an associate of the family.
25. Joseph Ida: Boss of Philadelphia. He retired shortly after Apalachin.
26. James LaDuca: Capo in the Magaddino family; related by marriage to Magaddino.
27. Samuel Laguttuta: Member of the Magaddino family.
28. Louis Larasso: Capo in the New Jersey family then led by Phil Amari. Became underboss to Nick Delmore when he took over for Amari in 1957. He was whacked in the 1990s.
29. Carmine Lombardozzi: Capo in the Gambino family.
30. Antonio Magaddino: Capo in the Magaddino family and brother of boss Stefano Magaddino.
31. Joseph Magliocco: Underboss of the Joseph Profaci family, which is now the Colombo family.
32. Frank Majuri: Underboss in the New Jersey family of Phil Amari. Slid down to capo when Amari retired later in 1957 and was replaced by Nick Delmore. Bumped up later to underboss in the regime of Sam DeCavalcante in the 60s after Delmore died.
33. Rosario Mancuso: Member of Barbara or Magaddino family.
34. Gabriel Mannarino: Capo in the Barbara family.
35. Michael Miranda: Capo in the Genovese family.
36. Patsy Monachino: Member of the Barbara or Magaddino family.
37. Sam Monachino: Member of Barbara or Magaddino family.
38. John Montana: Underboss in the Magaddino family, demoted after Apalachin.
39. Dominick Olivetto: May have been a member of the New Jersey family.
40. John Ormento: Capo in the Luchese family. Not too long after Apalachin, he got yet another narcotics conviction and spent the rest of his life in prison.
41. James Osticco: Capo in the Barbara family.
42. Joseph Profaci: Longtime boss of his own family until his death in 1962. Family is now called the Colombo family.
43. Vincent Rao: Consigliere (counselor) in the Luchese family.
44. Armand Rava: Member of the Gambino family. Was whacked not long after Apalachin because he was an ally of the slain Albert Anastasia.
45. Joseph Riccobono: Consigliere in the Gambino family.
46. Anthony Riela: Capo in the Bonanno family.
47. Joseph Rosato: Member of the Gambino family.
48. Louis Santos (Santos Trafficante): Boss of the Tampa family.
49. John Scalish: Boss of the Cleveland family.
50. Angelo Sciandra: Capo in the Barbara family.
51. Patsy Sciortino: Member of Barbara or Magaddino family.
52. Simone Scozzari: Underboss in the L.A. family.
53. Salvatore Tornabe: Member of the Profaci (now Colombo) family; died Dec. 30, 1957.
54. Patsy Turrigiano: Member of Barbara or Magaddino family.
55. Costenze Valente: Probable member of the Buffalo family. The debate is whether Rochester was an independent family or simply a part of the larger Buffalo family.
56. Frank Valente: Probable member of the Buffalo family.
57. Emanuel Zicari: Member of the Barbara family.
58. Frank Zito: Boss of the Springfield, Illinois family.
59. Joe Barbara Jr. Was not at the meeting, although he was probably going to be. He arrived from the family bottling works after the troopers were set up and is not listed as an attendee.
60. Stefano Magaddino: Some clothes of the Buffalo boss were found in a car stashed in a barn at Barbara's home a day or two after Nov. 14, 1957.
61. Joe Zerilli: Detroit boss used his license to rent a car in Binghamton shortly after the fiasco.
62. John LaRocca: Pittsburgh boss was registered at an area motel but was never caught.
63. James Lanza: Like LaRocca, the San Francisco boss was registered at a local motel but never caught.
64. Nick Civella, the Kansas City boss and soldier J. Filardo were tentatively identified as the two men who called a cab from a local business.
65. Neil Migliore: A soldier in the Luchese family, Migliore allegedly was involved in a traffic accident in Binghamton the day after the fiasco. The speculation was that he came to pick up Tommy Luchese.
66. Tommy Luchese: Boss of his own family. He was never caught, though logic says he would have attended.
67. Carmine Galante: One of Barbara's housekeepers, tentatively identified as Bonanno's new underboss, was one of several men still at Barbara's a day after the Apalachin fiasco.
Many other mob powers, including the Chicago delegation, were on their way to Barbara's and lucked out by arriving late and were able to avoid the fiasco.
Monday, November 12, 2007
American Gangster is a 2007 crime film written by Steve Zaillian and directed by Ridley Scott. The film stars Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. Washington portrays Frank Lucas, a real-life heroin kingpin from Manhattan who smuggled the drug into the country in the coffins of American soldiers returning from the Vietnam War. Crowe portrays Richie Roberts, a detective who brings down Lucas's drug empire.
Sons, publicists and friends swirl around Lucas in nearly perpetual commotion, fetching him everything from pills to a cooling fan. A recent visitor is directed kindly -- though in no uncertain terms -- in and out of the room. There's still plenty of power left in Lucas's presence, even though his days as a Harlem drug lord are decades past, his millions long ago seized by the government.
Lucas is again in the spotlight because of "American Gangster," the Ridley Scott-directed film in which Denzel Washington portrays Lucas. A special as part of BET's "American Gangster" series also recently profiled him.
"If you can find one better than Denzel Washington, I want you to tell me," says Lucas, in a halting drawl similar to bluesman John Lee Hooker's. "What's their name? What's their name?" Video Watch Washington and Russell Crowe discuss the film »
Lucas's story is unbelievable even by Hollywood standards. After a childhood in North Carolina, he moved to New York, eventually becoming the driver for and pupil of Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson, a powerful Harlem gangster.
After Johnson's death, Lucas, who went by the nickname "Superfly," took over his heroin dealing business, but made one audacious change: He established his own drug connection, cutting out the middleman and landing huge amounts of nearly pure heroin. Sold on the street as "Blue Magic," it netted him an incredible profit -- up to $1 million in revenue a day, Lucas claims.
He managed this by buying his dope in the jungles of Vietnam, tipped off by U.S. soldiers then fighting in the war. To get the drugs back to the States, Lucas established the infamous "cadaver connection," hiding the heroin in the caskets of dead soldiers.
Judge Sterling Johnson Jr. of the Federal District Court in Brooklyn, who prosecuted Lucas and played a major role in bringing him down, once called the operation "one of the most outrageous dope-smuggling gangs ever."
Lucas wasn't the only arrogant gangster in New York then. His rival, Leroy "Nicky" Barnes (played by Cuba Gooding Jr. in the film) appeared on the cover of The New York Times Magazine in an article titled "Mr. Untouchable" -- which prompted President Jimmy Carter to pressure for a crackdown.
In "American Gangster," Lucas is depicted to a certain degree as an entrepreneur who broke through the racial barriers of traditional organized crime. "That had nothing to do with it," says Lucas, who also sold his drugs to Italian mob families. "I saw an opening, a soft spot -- the soft part of the belly -- and I took advantage of it."
After Lucas was arrested in 1975, his sentences in New York and New Jersey added up to 70 years in prison and he quickly turned into a government informant, most notably against the then-corrupt Special Investigations Unit of the NYPD.
Out of 70 SIU officers, 52 were eventually either jailed or indicted. Lucas claims he only informed on corrupt police officers. He insists: "The only people I every ever informed on were them ... cops who took my money."
But prosecutors involved in the case have contradicted that. Richard "Richie" Roberts, who prosecuted the superseding indictment in New Jersey, says plainly: "Absolutely not. He gets mad every time I tell the truth."
Lucas's sentence was reduced to five years after his informant work. Once released, Lucas was quickly arrested again for drug dealing, but on a much smaller scale. He served seven more years and, when he got out of jail in 1991, Roberts came to his aid ("I couldn't buy a pack of cigarettes," says Lucas).
Today, they are good friends. Roberts is Lucas's defense attorney and the godfather to his 11-year-old son, Ray, whose education Roberts has paid for. "We've had our ups and downs over the years," says Roberts, speaking from his New Jersey law office. "The charm that Denzel exhibited in the movie was the way Frank was. Frank would probably shoot you and make you feel pretty good as you were dying."
Russell Crowe plays Roberts in the film, though the character is a composite of the many detectives and prosecutors who arrested and tried Lucas. Lucas for a moment hesitates to speak ill of his friend, but the inflated screen persona given to Roberts riles him.
"Richie Roberts and his crack crew couldn't catch a ... bad cold in Alaska in the wintertime," he says with undimmed competitiveness. "They were the bad-news cops."
It was originally Nicholas Pileggi (who wrote "Wiseguys," the book "Goodfellas" was based on) who brought attention to Lucas' story. He introduced Lucas to writer Mark Jacobson, whose 2000 New York Magazine article was the basis for "American Gangster."
Lucas, Roberts, Pileggi and Jacobson flew to L.A. together to meet with producer Brian Grazer, who Pileggi says, snapping his fingers, "bought it right in the room."
The stars of "American Gangster" and its writer, Steve Zaillian, consulted heavily with Lucas and Roberts. Lucas was present almost daily on the Harlem film set, lending Washington frequent advice on details like how he taped his gun.
On the BET special, Washington said about Lucas: "He'll have you working for him by the end of the day."
Of the slow pace of film productions, Lucas poetically says: "It was kind of like watching a flower grow in the nighttime." He then adds with phrasing rather alarming coming from a former gangster: "The way they do it is not according to Jim, you know what I mean? I usually am bang, bang, bang -- I'm gone."
Lucas, who lives with his wife and youngest son in Newark, New Jersey, says that the experience couldn't help but rekindle his memories. "You're back in the saaame thing," he says with a laugh. "The girls I knew, some of them came up claiming they got kids by me. Since I started making the movie, I got 10 more sons."
But Lucas says he's repentant. Aside from any murders he himself committed or had carried out, the strength of Lucas's potent heroin killed many young users. "I regret it very much so," he says. "I did some terrible things. I'm awfully sorry that I did them. I really am."
Many of those who lived through the events depicted in "American Gangster" worry the film could glamorize Lucas' drug-dealing days.
Pileggi, also an executive producer on the film, says he hopes "American Gangster" above all makes clear "that you're going to get caught, even if you're as clever and try to be as laid-back as (Lucas)."
"He can never redeem what he did, he can never bring those kids back or clean up the schoolyards, but there is rebirth or redemption in realizing what you did was bad," says Pileggi.
Lucas now touts a charity founded by his daughter, Francine Lucas-Sinclair, that seeks to raise money for the children of incarcerated parents (http://yellowbrickroads.org).
"I always keep my eye on the prize," says Lucas. "The film, in three or four months, it'll be gone -- but I'll still be here. And I gotta keep the fire burning.