Saturday, February 28, 2009

Former Mob Kingpin and Underling Get Life in Prison

Two coldblooded Colombo mob bigs convicted of rubbing out an intra-family rival in 1999 were sentenced to life in prison yesterday.

Former Colombo kingpin Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico, 55, and underling John "Jackie" DeRoss, 71, were found guilty in 2007 of orchestrating the hit on William "Wild Bill" Cutolo.

Prosecutors said at trial in federal court in Central Islip, LI, that Cutolo had been dumped at sea. But his corpse eventually was discovered last fall in a Farmingdale, LI, industrial park after several days of digging by federal authorities.

Persico ordered Cutolo's hit after growing nervous about his position as acting family don in 1999 as he prepared to go to prison, prosecutors said. He feared Cutolo, then second in command, was planning a coup with Persico behind bars.

Persico had set up a meeting with Cutolo near 92nd Street and Shore Road in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, the day he vanished in May 1999.

Thanks to Selim Agar

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Did Victoria Gotti Have an Affair with Key Witness Against Her Brother?

Before he became a mob rat, Gambino associate John Alite says he was a horndog who had a secret affair with Mafia princess Victoria Gotti.

Alite took center stage Monday in Brooklyn Federal Court in the murder trial of reputed hit man Charles Carneglia, but much of his testimony was about how close he was to John A. (Junior) Gotti - and the mob scion's older sister.

Did Victoria Gotti Have an Affair with Key Witness Against Her Brother?"I was fooling around with his sister Vicky Gotti on the sneak," Alite said, roughly fixing the time frame in the late 1980s, when she was married to her then-husband, Carmine Agnello.

Alite said the husband came after him and he ended up shooting one of Agnello's goons. Alite said Junior refused to give him permission to retaliate against Agnello.

Reached for comment, Victoria Gotti ridiculed the heavily-tattooed thug's claim of a tryst with her. "He's an out-and-out liar - he's vermin," she said. "This animal [Alite] had a crush on me from the first time I met him. He was in our bridal party and he tried to kiss me at my wedding. He missed the cheek by a lot.

"Carmine knew he had a crush on me. That's why he despised him.

"In Mr. Alite's dreams would someone like me even give him a second glance let alone 'fool around' with him. I was raised a good Catholic girl and always played by the rules.

"I met and married my first and only boyfriend. I never slept with Alite or anyone else.

"Dare him to take a lie detector test. I will take a lie detector test anytime, anywhere."

Alite said Junior Gotti's refusal to approve a retaliatory strike against Agnello was one of the reasons their close friendship broke up.

Under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Burlingame, the witness said he grew up around gangsters in Woodhaven, Queens, and had a promising future at one time as a baseball pitcher.

He said he threw out his arm after one semester at the University of Tampa and returned to his old stomping grounds selling cocaine in bars on Jamaica Ave. in Queens.

Alite met Junior Gotti in the early 1980s and began paying him a cut of his $1 million-a-month drug profits. He said he and Junior were best friends for a decade. After rival drug dealers robbed an associate, Junior Gotti accompanied them on a drive-by in which two of the rivals were shot, he testified. "After that [Junior] didn't look at me like some college kid no more," Alite said.

Getting close to the younger Gotti was Alite's opening to the Mafia big leagues. They became inseparable, and Junior and his late father, Gambino crime boss John Gotti, reaped the profits of Alite's litany of crimes.

"You name it, we did it," Alite said.

Alite was Albanian, so he could never be inducted into the Gambino family, but he had his own crew, as did two other non-Italian, uniquely powerful mob associates - James (Jimmy the Gent) Burke and Joseph (Joe) Watts.

On Feb. 14, 1988, Junior Gotti was best man at Alite's wedding in Queens. The date was selected not because it was Valentine's Day, but as a sign of respect for Junior because it was his birthday.

Wearing a gray sweat suit, the heavily tattooed thug said Junior's bad-mouthing of his other close friends left him feeling it was only a matter of time before he would be left out in the cold, too.

"I didn't believe in the life," Alite said. "It's kind of like reading a brochure when you're a kid. You're going to Paradise Island and everything looks nice, but you forgot to read the fine print."

Thanks to John Marzulli

Junior Gotti Ordered Rivals Shot, Former Best Friend, John Alite, Testifies

The former best friend of John A. "Junior" Gotti says that the famous mob offspring collected drug money and ordered shootings of rivals.

Gambino crime family associate John Alite testified about Gotti's alleged misdeeds on Monday at the Brooklyn trial of a Gambino soldier accused of murder. Alite took the stand as part of a plea deal.

He told the jury that on orders from Gotti, he drove a car used in a drive-by shooting in the 1980s. He also claimed Gotti, son of notorious Gambino boss John Gotti, collected monthly cash payments from a drug-dealing operation.

Alite is expected to be a key government witness when Gotti goes on trial later this year. Gotti is charged with involvement in three gangland murders and cocaine trafficking.

Thanks to Newsday

Whitey Bulger's Femme Fatale Speaks Out

In an exclusive interview - her first since being paroled from state prison - a femme fatale associate of James “Whitey” Bulger is revealing for the first time who she believes ordered her death 25 years ago when she survived three gunshots to the head.

Eva “Liz” McDonough, 51, said she believes South Boston mob boss Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi wanted her dead for asking too many questions about her missing cousin, Debra Davis.

“I wish I could (expletive) see him face to face. I’d probably spit on him,” she said of Flemmi, 73, who is serving life for 10 murders, including Davis. “She used to tell me Whitey didn’t like her. I just want to know why. Why? She’s probably more at peace than I am.”

McDonough still wears hats - flaunts them, truth be told, for pure amusement in the North End neighborhood where a cowboy hat famously took the worst of the bullets meant for her brain.

Never to be caught, her would-be executioner came masked March 20, 1984 to a dive called One If By Land and left her with scars on her scalp and right ear. McDonough has been vocal in the past about the now dead drug dealer she thought fired the gun, but now says she believes Flemmi ordered the hit because she was badgering him about her cousin, and his girlfriend, Davis, 26, who went missing in 1981.

“One time I got little rough with him,” said McDonough.

In an age of cutthroat chauvinism, Flemmi and serial psycho killer James “Whitey” Bulger were surprisingly tolerant of the lusty McDonough, trophy moll of late Boston Mafia made man Nicky Giso, with whom she has a son, 25.

She said she confronted Flemmi, her lips loosened by liquor, at his and Bulger’s headquarters at the Lancaster Street garage and demanded, “ ‘I want to know where the (expletive) Deb is.’ I always knew he was worried I would say something to the (Mafia) and they would have that on him.

McDonough has four months left on the parole she was granted from MCI-Framingham on Aug. 18 after serving 18 years for burglary and drug possession. The woman who once posed as a cleaning lady and census taker to rip off Boston’s legitimate rich will be on probation until 2018.

Swearing - admittedly, not for the first time - the addictions to booze and dope are in her past - McDonough is still a standout in Dior eyeglasses, high-heeled spat boots and a fedora. But instead of loathsome lovers lavishing her with furs and Mercedes Benzes, the 7th-grade dropout uses money she earned making salads in a restaurant pre-release to bargain hunt in consignment shops. She hopes to land a job.

“They say to receive a blessing you have to pass one on. I worked on myself, really worked on myself,” the sober house resident said. “I’m grateful the Parole Board gave me a chance. Parole and probation continue to help me with re-entry.

“I don’t have what I had,” she said, “but I’m comfortable. I have myself, and that’s priceless. My intentions are, down the road, to open a sober house for abused women. I want to give other addicts hope.”

Asked if she wonders how Southie moll Catherine Greig is holding up on the lam now 14 years with Bulger, McDonough said, “I know she’s living the best that anyone could live. They’ve got plenty of dough, right or wrong. I think he’d rather have a woman as a partner. He doesn’t trust men. He’s no fool.”

As for those persistent rumors Bulger is bisexual, McDonough, who spoke fondly of his “movie star” charisma, nearly fell out of her chair, laughing. “He likes broads too much. Maybe just too young,” she said. “But gay? Naw!

“He got a kick out of me. He used to say, ‘Smile, they’re (the FBI) snapping (photos)!’ I laugh at these guys who say they ‘talked’ to him. He was by appointment only. He liked to have a good laugh, too, don’t think he didn’t.”

Bulger, she said, “hated women who smoked” and would have ditched even Raquel Welch if she’d lit up in his face. To push his buttons, McDonough would jump into his car when his back was turned and puff away.

“He knew I was busting his (expletive). He thought it was daredevil (expletive).” Then, her face darkening, she said, “I just wish I was smarter than I was. Drugs brought me to my knees.

“That era’s gone. It was glamorous. It was a lot of fun. But, it stripped me of my pride, my dignity. I guess sometimes it takes a wise woman to play the fool.”

Thanks to Laurel J. Sweet

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Can Mobster Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso Answer a Mystery Around the French Connection Case?

In prison, far from the Brooklyn haunts where his name was scrawled in blood, Anthony Casso stews. He stews over old vendettas. He stews over betrayals of the flesh — heart problems and prostate cancer.

Mr. Casso has served 15 years at a “supermax” prison in Colorado. And Mr. Casso, the once fearsome underboss of the Lucchese family who is now serving multiple life sentences amounting to 455 years for murder, stews over his secrets: unsolved crimes that, he says in an outpouring of letters, he is eager to help close if only he could show the authorities where the bodies are buried (especially if it entails a trip outside the gates).

“I would go out there in a heartbeat,” Mr. Casso said on Friday in a telephone call to a former detective seeking the mobster’s help in clearing his own name. But as much as he hopes for a taste of freedom, or a reduction of his sentence, prosecutors question what his information may be worth and what perils may lie in reopening contact with an antagonist some compare to the fictional monster Hannibal Lecter.

Dangling as a prize is the answer to one of New York’s most scandalous mysteries: how 400 pounds of heroin and cocaine, much of it seized in the so-called French Connection drug bust in 1962, were spirited out of the police property vault for resale back on the street. By the time the record theft was discovered in December 1972, the drugs — then valued at $73 million — had been replaced with flour and cornstarch.

Who committed the deed? There were four narcotics detectives,” Mr. Casso wrote the former detective, Pat Intrieri, in October, amplifying information he offered in his 2008 biography, Gaspipe: Confessions of a Mafia Boss. “One worked inside the property clerk’s office.” One, he added, was later shot to death; Mr. Casso said he remembers where the gun was thrown. But Mr. Casso, 66, whose mob nickname was Gaspipe, says he is having trouble with exact locations. So, naturally, he would like to get out, if only for a day, to be helpful. Or at least win some leniency along the lines of a plea deal he says the government reneged on: six and a half years in prison.

“Of course he’d like to get out — he’s serving 55 million years,” said Michael F. Vecchione, chief of the rackets division in the Brooklyn district attorney’s office. Like other prosecutors, Mr. Vecchione has little stomach for Mr. Casso. But without any promises, he has arranged to visit Mr. Casso on Tuesday at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, N.C., where he has been undergoing cancer treatment, although it would take corroboration far beyond the mobster’s word to make any case.

“I bet you when the state guys come, they don’t know half the things,” Mr. Casso said on Friday to Mr. Intrieri, who relayed his remarks to The New York Times.

There is little chance that Mr. Casso, now 15 years behind the stoutest walls America can contrive, will ever see his release — not after pleading guilty in 15 murders and being tied to some 22 others.

He has also been accused of plotting to kill a federal judge and prosecutors, and violating the terms of his agreement to turn informant as one of the highest-level mobsters ever to flip — becoming the only major Mafia defector to be thrown out of the federal witness protection program.

Mr. Casso has also waffled on whether he corrupted an F.B.I. agent and hired two New York City police detectives, Louis J. Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, as mob assassins. The former detectives are to be sentenced on March 6 on racketeering charges.

If, moreover, he still wonders why the authorities are leery of his offers, Mr. Casso may have provided the answer to his biographer, Philip Carlo. In his 2008 book, “Gaspipe: Confessions of a Mafia Boss,” Mr. Carlo, a longtime friend of the Casso family, outlined several of the mobster’s escape schemes, including the planned ambush of a van carrying him back from court after his capture in New Jersey in 1993.

“He’s where he should be,” said Gregory O’Connell, a former federal prosecutor in Brooklyn who initially interviewed Mr. Casso with his late partner, Charles Rose, and called him “the most treacherous sociopath we ever dealt with.”

But a man can dream, and for Mr. Casso, that means being back once again in the Brooklyn sunshine, pinpointing old Mafia execution grounds and the watery grave of a murder weapon. Not rising at 5 a.m. every day to meticulously clean his cell in a federal “supermax” prison in Florence, Colo., that also houses the likes of the Unabomber, Theodore J. Kaczynski; the Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols; and such fellow mobsters as Gregory Scarpa Jr. and Salvatore Gravano, known as Sammy the Bull.

“I think he got a raw deal,” said Joshua L. Dratel, the latest of Mr. Casso’s many lawyers. Mr. Dratel said Mr. Casso was “poor at playing the system” and threatened major cases by exposing Mr. Gravano and other government witnesses and federal agents as liars. Mr. Casso has long claimed that the records of his F.B.I. debriefings, never made public, would show that the government covered up his warnings of moles in its ranks and that to get out of their plea deal with him, prosecutors used other Mafia turncoats as witnesses instead.

Perhaps Mr. Casso’s staunchest pen pal is Mr. Intrieri, 79, a onetime decorated New York detective lieutenant who was convicted of tax evasion in 1976 in the aftermath of the French Connection drug thefts. Mr. Intrieri, who has drafted a memoir asserting his innocence, saw new information on the case in Mr. Carlo’s book and said he found Mr. Casso’s accounts of unsolved crimes credible.

“He wants to get out a little bit, I guess; he’s going stir-crazy,” Mr. Intrieri said, after getting more than a dozen phone calls from Mr. Casso in recent weeks. “But his goal is a sentence reduction.”

The drugs at the core of the mystery — popularized as “The French Connection: A True Account of Cops, Narcotics, and International Conspiracy” in a 1969 book by Robin Mooreand an Academy Award-winning film that followed two years later — were secreted in compartments in a 1960 Buick loaded aboard the liner United States sailing from Le Havre, France, to New York. The car and its 112 pounds of heroin were later claimed by a Lucchese family underling, Patsy Fuca, who, as it happened, was being tailed by a pair of dogged New York narcotics detectives, Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso.

The drug bust in January 1962 was widely hailed as a record. But the heroics proved short-lived. In six thefts between March 1969 and January 1972, someone signing the register as Detective Joseph Nunziata, a member of the narcotics bureau’s widely corrupt special investigations unit, and using fictitious badge numbers, removed the French Connection drugs along with another 300 pounds of heroin and cocaine from the police property vault at 400 Broome Street (now a New York University dorm).

Handwriting analysis and a discovered fingerprint never established that Detective Nunziata actually signed the police register. But eight months before the thefts were discovered, Detective Nunziata, charged with corruption in an unrelated case, was found shot to death in his car. It was ruled a suicide.

Mr. Moore, the author, wrote that as far back as 1967, he and Detectives Nunziata, Egan and Grosso joked about stealing the French Connection heroin.

Many suspects emerged, including Vincent Papa, a major drug dealer; Frank King, a retired narcotics detective and private eye working for Mr. Papa; and Mr. Intrieri, who upon his retirement had joined Mr. King as a bodyguard for one of Mr. Papa’s sons — “the biggest mistake of my life,” Mr. Intrieri now says. (Mr. Papa’s lawyer was overheard on a wiretap asking Mr. King, “Do we have anything to worry about the handwriting analysis?”) After providing what he thought was confidential information on four corrupt narcotics detectives, Mr. Papa was stabbed to death in prison.

Also under scrutiny was Vincent Albano, another former narcotics detective, who had served under Mr. Intrieri and had survived a mysterious hail of bullets in 1969, only to be slain in 1985.

Thomas P. Puccio, then a Brooklyn federal prosecutor, focused on Mr. King and Mr. Intrieri, but failed to tie them to the drug thefts. Mr. Puccio charged them instead with tax evasion for unexplained income, winning convictions and five-year sentences for both, along with three years for tax evasion by Mr. Albano. But the case remained a puzzle, Mr. Puccio conceded in an interview. “We never really conclusively solved it,” he said.

Still indignant over his conviction more than 30 years later, Mr. Intrieri — who held 15 police citations for bravery and valor — saw in Mr. Carlo’s book that Mr. Casso had named Mr. Albano and a mob associate as two of the French Connection thieves. The book related how Mr. Albano had been shot to death in Brooklyn in 1985, and how Mr. Casso had supplied the gun and helped dump the body on Staten Island.

Mr. Carlo, in an interview, said Mr. Casso had told him Mr. Albano had conceived the drug heist and asked Mr. Casso how to carry it out.

Mr. Intrieri, in his own manuscript, “The French Connection: The Aftermath,” told of running into Mr. Albano several times over the years — including in 1980 while Mr. Albano was casing a Queens bank — and said that Mr. Albano had laughed at hearing that Mr. Intrieri was a suspect in the drug thefts.

By opening an exchange of letters with Mr. Casso — a correspondence that grew to include this reporter — Mr. Intrieri elicited other details, and other crimes.

Mr. Casso offered details of the 1986 car bombing aimed at John Gotti that killed his Gambino family underboss, Frank DeCicco; the killing of a Russian mob associate, Michael Markowitz, in 1989; and the apparently unreported killing of a Jewish drug importer near Mr. Albano’s office around 1980, among other crimes.

Officials at the Federal Medical Center in North Carolina did not respond to repeated requests to interview Mr. Casso by phone.

“I’ll be here awhile receiving treatments for prostate cancer,” Mr. Casso wrote Mr. Intrieri in December. “Just my luck.”

As for the gun that killed Mr. Albano, Mr. Casso supplied a hand-drawn map with imperfect punctuation showing, he said, where it had been thrown: “Its in Sheepshead Bay.”

He also sketched a site where, he said, another mob victim was buried, calling it: “Drawing for the Colombians remains.”

Mr. Intrieri said that his follow-up inquiries gave credence to Mr. Casso’s information and that it was worth giving the old mob boss a chance to hand prosecutors new evidence. “I sincerely believe that until he goes to the site, he won’t remember,” Mr. Intrieri said.

Thanks to Ralph Blumenthal

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Report Links Three Montreal Canadiens Players to Man with Possible Organized Crime Ties

National Hockey League officials are investigating a report linking three Montreal Canadiens players to a man with possible ties to organized crime.

The NHL “is aware of the reports and is in the process of gathering additional information,” Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said today in an e-mailed statement.

Montreal’s La Presse newspaper reported today that defenseman Roman Hamrlik and forwards Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn have relationships with Pasquale Mangiola, who was arrested last week during a police raid on street gangs and drug dealers, according to a Feb. 17 Montreal police statement. He could be charged with conspiracy and possessing and trafficking cocaine.

Andrei Kostitsyn told La Presse after his team’s game in Pittsburgh last night that he knows Mangiola but that he knew nothing about his situation. None of the Canadiens players mentioned by La Presse has been accused of wrongdoing. Andrei’s brother Sergei said today he can’t comment, according to a broadcast on Montreal radio station CKAC.

Donald Beauchamp, a spokesman for the club, told reporters at a televised press conference in suburban Montreal today that Canadiens players won’t be available to comment on non-hockey related matters.

Canadiens General Manager Bob Gainey said he’s “very concerned” by the report and won’t tolerate the kind of behavior the newspaper described. The Canadiens, winners of an NHL record 24 Stanley Cups, are celebrating their centenary season this year. “We’ve made the players understand that this is not the kind of conduct that is part of people in our organization,” he said. “As young athletes, they have to make stronger choices than the person besides them. We’ve upped the message, we’ve upped the intensity.”

Off-ice behavior may be one of the reasons the team hasn’t performed well, Gainey said. The Canadiens have won three of their last 15 games. “I can only go on what I know today, and what I know today is not good for our team,” he said. “It doesn’t reflect well on our team or on the individuals. It cannot be extinguished as a possible inhibitor to our performance.”

Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau, in comments broadcast in Quebec by television network RDI, said the club must do a better job of monitoring what its players do outside the rink. “Our players are adults and we try to protect them as best we can, but they are in demand all over the place,” Carbonneau said. “One thing is for sure, we are going to tighten the leash, and tighten it quite a bit.”

Gainey said he’s not surprised by the report, given the level of interest for hockey in Montreal. The Canadiens have sold out 168 consecutive games, stretching back four years. “It’s not very surprising if you have a sense of how many people would like to get their tentacles not only on the players individually, but into the organization,” he said.

While the team regularly fields requests for appearances at charity events, “there are also people who are looking for trophy friends or the possibility of being close to somebody who earns a million dollars plus,” he said. “They are still young kids and some of them could still be in high school.”

Thanks to Frederico Tomesco

Friday, February 20, 2009

Labor Union Drops Attorney Who Was Mentioned by Witness at Family Secrets Mob Trial

The union representing hotel and restaurant workers severed ties with a politically connected Chicago lawyer whose name surfaced at the Family Secrets Chicago mob trial.

Samuel Banks was on the payroll of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union, and its successor organization, Unite Here, since at least 1989. A court-appointed union watchdog raised questions more than a decade ago about what Mr. Banks did for his salary there.

In August 2007, former mob-linked burglar Sal Romano testified at the Family Secrets trial that he had bribed police officers through Mr. Banks and another lawyer. Mr. Banks, who is also a criminal defense attorney, hasn’t been charged with wrongdoing.

Mr. Banks is the brother of Chicago Alderman William Banks (36th), father of tollway board member James Banks and father-in-law of state Rep. John Fritchey, D-Chicago. Mr. Banks did not return calls.

Mr. Banks and the union parted ways at the end of last year. A labor leader said the split had nothing to do with the accusation made at the trial. “It was based primarily on finances,” said Henry Tamarin, an executive vice-president of the international and president of Chicago-based Unite Here Local 1, which represents roughly 15,000 workers, including those on strike at the Congress Hotel.

U.S. Labor Department records indicate Local 1 paid Mr. Banks $48,000 for “legal counsel” in 2007. As for Mr. Banks’ role at Local 1, “he generally advised us politically,” Mr. Tamarin said.

Mr. Banks also was on the international union payroll as a lobbyist and was paid $88,000 in 2007, the most recent year federal records are available. His employment ended with the new year, a spokesman confirmed.

Unite Here groups contributed at least $25,000 over the past three years to the campaign fund of William Banks, and at least $10,000 to Mr. Fritchey, now running for Congress.

Mr. Banks was a close associate of the late Ed Hanley, who ran the international union until he was forced out in 1998 amid corruption allegations by a court-appointed monitor.

Around that time, the monitor, former U.S. Justice Department attorney Kurt Muellenberg, released a report that, among other things, questioned what Mr. Banks and other consultants did for the union since their work was not documented or itemized.

Thanks to Robert Herguth

Mob Informant Testifies that Actor Was Mobster On and Off the Screen

GOODFELLAS star FRANK SIVERO had links to real life mafia bosses and hitmen, a mob informant has testified in court.

On Wednesday (18Feb09), a New York court was shown photographs of Sivero posing with Charles Carneglia, who is on trial charged with five murders, including the slaying of an off-duty cop. Prosecution witness Kevin McMahon claims Sivero - who played Frankie Carbone in the 1990 movie - was a regular visitor at the Brooklyn junkyard where cops believe Carneglia dissolved the bodies of his victims in acid. And he suggested the 57-year-old actor, who is not accused of any crime, used his underworld connections to settle vendettas. McMahon, a former associate of jailed New York crime boss John Gotti, told the court, "(Sivero) had some kind of problem with somebody in jail, I am not exactly positive." When approached by the New York Daily News, Sivero's agent Mitchell Shankman declined to comment.

Mob Informant Supports Las Vegas Mob Museum

Yesterday started and ended with the mob. It’s just like living in a Scorsese movie sometimes.

In the morning, mob-turned-informant Frank Cullotta, focus of crime author Denny Griffin’s gripping biography “Cullotta,” said in a phone interview from an undisclosed location (me, I was in my kitchen) that he thought the proposed Mob Museum in Las Vegas is a “great idea.” The former “Hole In The Wall Gang” member, friend and bodyguard/muscle guy of Tony “The Ant” Spilotro and admitted double-murderer also says he has been approached by someone who is involved in the development of the mob museum to help add some authenticity. Cullotta refuses to say who has contacted him, but that he has been asked to provide some personal items and personal, inside information and anecdotes about his days helping the “Chicago Outfit” skim profits from their Vegas casinos through abject violence, theft and intimidation.

I asked if that overture included audio narration for some of the displays, and Cullotta thought for a moment. “That could be. I haven’t thought of that, but I’ve got a distinctive voice,” he said in a thick Italian-type accent. “Maybe I should try to trademark my voice. It’s really recognizable. That’s why I was never good with a wiretap.”

You and me both, brother.

Later in the day, I got word that Cullotta, also famous as a technical advisor and bit actor in the film “Casino” (the Frank Vincent character was based on him) would appear on ABC’s “Nightline,” having been interviewed recently by reporter Neal Karlinsky for the piece. It was the third in a series of reports, the first being about repo men and the second about the chimp in L.A. that got free from a residence and nearly killed a woman. Click here for the report.

Karlinsky’s report treaded familiar territory. He spoke with Cullotta, a product of the Witness Protection Program who still uses a secret name. “I was a gangster, burglar, murderer, extortionist, arsonist,” he said to a dutifully impressed Karlinsky. “I was all the things you don’t want to be. But I'm not like that no more. I’m a different man now.”

Mayor Oscar Goodman was interviewed in his City Hall office, and took Karlinsky on a tour of the old downtown courthouse, which would be home to the $50 million Mob Museum. Goodman estimates 800,000 people a year would visit the attraction, which is equal parts fascinating and controversial.

“This is the quintessential mob museum, there’s nothing quite like it,” Goodman said. When asked if an art museum would be a more appropriate use of the space, Goodman said, “Anyone who says this should be an art museum should go jump in the lake, with concrete shoes on!”

Playing to the cameras was the mayor. He also said he was grateful for being known as a “mob attorney” because it “put me in financial position to run for mayor.”

During our phone conversation, Cullotta said the museum would certainly help preserve Las Vegas’ history – whether we like it or not. “We have too many people who don’t know how Vegas was built,” he said. “I mean, we are losing our history, tearing it down. We have kids who don’t even know who Frank Sinatra was.” As for the argument that the museum, by its very existence, would glorify crime and criminals, Cullotta said, “People want to know about this part of our past. You make a movie about Jack the Ripper, and people flock to see it. It’s the same with this museum.”

In front of the camera, Cullotta said “The Outfit” would help dig Vegas out of the recession if the crew were around today. He is the last survivor of the original Chicago team in Vegas. “Vegas is having a rough time,” he said, “but I guarantee if the Outfit was still around there would be money here, somehow.”

I expect we will hear from Cullotta again, as part of some sort of Vegas history reclamation project.

Thanks to John Katsilometes

The Mob's Roach Motel

Kevin McMahon never had a chance. Both his parents were junkies.

McMahon was born addicted to heroin, he said Tuesday in Brooklyn Federal Court. Then, when he was 6, Mommy and her boyfriend killed Daddy. Mommy went away. Grandma took little Kevin in for a few years, but she couldn't handle him in their rough East New York neighborhood, so when, he said, he was 12 or 13, she threw him out into it. He slept in alleys and yards, and one day, he found a cabana and went inside. He was discovered by the owner. The good news: The owner and his wife took Kevin into their home, and over time, they essentially adopted him.

The bad news: The owner was top John Gotti hit man John Carneglia. And he took Kevin right under his gun-bearing wing.

A teenager. Perfect chum. Just the age when kids with not enough love or luck are feeling the most vulnerable. And McMahon isn't the only one the Mafia grabbed at this impressionable age. Peter Zucarro, who also testified at the ongoing trial of mob hit man Charles Carneglia, John's younger brother, said that he was about 13 when neighborhood mobsters started giving him money for doing errands, sucking him in. "I wanted to be just like them," Zucarro said.

One problem: The mob is like a Roach Motel. You crawl in, but you can't crawl out.

Both Zucarro and McMahon and other informants have referred to themselves as "property." The capos owned them. In this democracy, they volunteered to live in a military dictatorship. They obeyed any order. Anything to feel like they belonged.

It's like the story of the child soldiers in Africa, kidnapped and then rewarded for killing. In his great book "A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier," Ishmael Beah tells of a contest the grownups would hold between the kids "for who could slice the prisoners' throats quickest. ...A lot of things were done with no reason or explanation. Sometimes we were asked to leave in the middle of a movie. We would come back hours later after killing many people and start the movie where we left off as if we had just returned from intermission."

In the mob, you followed orders or you would be killed, as anyone who has a TV set knows. But with law enforcement's ongoing destruction of the Italian-American Mafia, why do we care? Because youth gangs have filled the void. "There are now a million gang members in the U.S., up 200,000 since 2005," according to a report released last week by the National Gang Intelligence Center, and they commit 80% of crimes in some communities.

The MS-13 gang, with roots in El Salvador, is particularly brutal, and many gangs are using the Internet "to develop working relationships with foreign drug traffickers."

"Gangs give a sense of feeling safe, of discipline, of belonging," FBI gang expert Linda Schmidt has said. Schmidt recommends that the government fund programs "that our young people can turn to" and that they be "24/7 - like gangs are."

Thanks to Joanna Molloy

Convicted Chicago Outfit Extorter Suspected in String of Home Burglaries

Police have identified two ex-convicts -- one with ties to the Chicago Outfit -- as top suspects in a burglary ring traveling the North Shore and other suburbs lately.

Former mob extortionist Mario Rainone, 54, of 930 Grant St., Addison, and convicted burglar Vincent T. Forliano, 39, of 362 Glenwood Drive, Bloomingdale, were arrested Saturday and charged with burglarizing a Lincolnshire home on Trafalgar Square two days earlier.

Police would not disclose exact details of the arrests this week, except to say that investigators from various police departments had identified Rainone and Forliano as potential suspects in a string of area home burglaries.

"We started noticing there were patterns to other burglaries," explained Lincolnshire police Detective John-Erik Anderson. "Through intelligence sharing, we came up with these guys' names and put them under surveillance."

Police have not disclosed what evidence led to the arrests, but "they've been pretty much under regular surveillance for awhile now. It was a result of that regular surveillance that led us to arrest them," Anderson said.

Both men were picked up by Addison police and turned over to Lincolnshire on Saturday. They were charged and transferred to Lake County Jail on $500,000 bond.

Anderson expects other police departments in Lake, Cook and DuPage counties to file additional burglary charges in this case. Several burglaries have been reported in Deerfield, Buffalo Grove, Northbrook and elsewhere in the past month, though authorities had not officially tied those crimes together by the time the arrests were announced.

In 1992, Rainone pleaded guilty to six counts of racketeering and extortion in federal court. Prosecutors said he shook down several businesses for cash on behalf of a Chicago mob crew, including Francesco's Hole in the Wall Restaurant, which was then located in Wheeling.

Rainone was sentenced to 17 1/2 years but was released early, in December 2006, according to a Federal Bureau of Prisons inmate registry. He is still on parole and is wanted by South Barrington police on theft charges, Anderson said.

Forliano was paroled from the state's East Moline Correctional Center last May after being convicted of theft in Cook County. His record also includes burglary convictions in Cook and DuPage counties dating back the past two decades. In 2001, he was arrested by Winnetka police on suspicion of burglarizing condominiums on Green Bay Road.

Rainone was scheduled a Feb. 19 bond hearing in Lake County Court, while Forliano is to appear on Feb. 20.

Rainone's defense attorney, Sam Amirante, says he will ask the judge to reduce his client's $500,000 bond, which he described as unusually high for a burglary charge. Amirante could not say whether the arrest would lead federal authorities to revoke Rainone's parole. "Mr. Rainone should be presumed innocent, just like everyone else," he said.

Thanks to Matt Kiefer

Chicago Outfit's Former "Go-To" Guy Busted for Burglary

Mobster Mario Rainone has crossed both sides of the law enough times, it is a wonder his legs aren't permanently tangled.

After a spasmodic career as both a criminal and a government witness, Mr. Rainone, 54, is once again sitting in jail. This time Rainone is in the Lake County lock-up on one count of residential burglary and on an outstanding retail theft warrant from South Barrington.

For years, the beefy hoodlum was considered a prime "go-to" guy for the Chicago Outfit's Northside Crew.

In the 1980's, when Mob bosses needed a job handled quickly and efficiently, Rainone was often enlisted to get things done according to Outfit investigators. He was especially adept at collecting unpaid debts, whether as a result of Mob juice loans or illegal gambling debts.

Among the legends of Mario Rainone is the time he informed a shakedown target that his family would pay if he didn't. The old man asked Rainone exactly what he meant. Rainone told the elderly extortion victim that if the debt wasn't handed over, he would kill his children and plant their heads in his front yard. The man settled up.

Rainone quit Organized Crime in late 1989, when he was deployed to murder a wayward mobster. As he prepared to take up a position for the hit, Rainone realized that he was actually the intended target. Rather than waiting to be whacked, Rainone escaped to his truck and sped away.

He went straight to the FBI in Chicago and spilled his story. Agents convinced him that he could only help himself by wearing a wire and working undercover against his one-time Mob bosses.

Rainone got a couple of wise-guys on tape but his cooperation was short-lived. He stopped helping the FBI in November, 1989 when a his mother's front stoop was blown up. The message-bombing freaked Rainone, who felt it was better that he spend a stretch in prison rather than his mother end up in pieces on her porch. So he gave up witness protection and in 1992 pleaded guilty to extortion and racketeering. He was sentenced to nearly 18 years and released in 2006.

Rainone, last known to reside in Bloomingdale, was arrested on Friday by Lincolnshire police and charged with the Feb 12 burglary of a home in the Trafalgar square subdivision. Also charged as an accomplice was Vincent T. Forliano, 39, of Addison.

Both men are being held on $500,000 bond. Rainone is schedule to appear in Lake County Court Tuesday at 9am. Forliano is due in court on Friday at 9am. The duo has been under investigation by several northwest suburban police departments in connection with a string of home invasions.

Other than the alleged burglary business, the connect between Rainone and Forliano is not known. Mobwatchers say if the accused break-in artists were not paying a kick-back to the Outfit, known as "tribute" or "street-tax," Rainone could once again find himself on short hit-list.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Mafia Wars Move to the iPhone World

The creator of the Facebook gaming phenomenon Mob Wars, David Maestri, is no stranger to court battles when it comes to his mafia-based adventure title. He's already gone through a few rounds to debate the game's ownership with his former employer SGN, and now he's taking on the boss of Zynga due to the similarity of its iPhone game Mafia Wars to iMob Online (the iPhone version of Mob Wars).

It has to be said that the two games, of which Mafia Wars appeared second, are immensely similar in design and content. This isn't a particularly unique sub-genre, however, so it's unlikely to be an open and shut (violin) case.

Mob Wars is believed to bring in around $1 million a month to Maestri's studio, Psycho Monkey, so he's undoubtedly going to defend this valuable property quite vigorously. Of course, Mafia Wars isn't alone in its similarity to iMob Online, so the outcome of the court case could have some far reaching consequences.

Thanks to Spanner Spencer

Protect Your Information on Your iPhone.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Frank Cullotta Book Solves Two Murders

Dennis Griffin admits he's no Shakespeare, just a retired New York health care fraud investigator who had a story to tell and caught the writing bug when he retired in 1994.

Since then he's churned out 10 books, none of which will make you forget Hemingway or compare him to Steinbeck. But Griffin has done something none of those other mopes ever accomplished: He wrote a book, "Cullotta: The Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster, and Government Witness," that's helping to solve a real-life murder mystery.

Published in 2007 by Huntington Press, the work serves as the biography of Frank Cullotta, the childhood friend of Chicago Outfit enforcer Anthony Spilotro. Cullotta was an undistinguished street criminal who in the early 1980s joined Spilotro's violent Las Vegas street crew. He committed crimes ranging from robbery to murder, then became a key government witness in its investigation of the mob's influence in Las Vegas.

Fast-forward to 2008. An Illinois woman named Holly Hager picked up a copy of "Cullotta," and nearly screamed when she reached page 130, which gave details of the June 1981 murders of bar owner Ronald Scharff and waitress Patricia Freeman at the P.M. Pub in Lakemoor, Ill. Scharff was the best friend of Hager's father, Jim Hager. The murders had gone unsolved, and McHenry County detectives claimed to be stumped about the killer's identity.

In the book, Cullotta named Spilotro intimidator Larry Neumann as the murderer of Scharff and Freeman. And Cullotta would know. After serving time in prison with Neumann, Cullotta introduced him to Spilotro's gang. As Cullotta recalled during his law enforcement debriefing, Neumann admitted committing the murders because Scharff had thrown his ex-wife out of the tavern.

David Groover, then a Metro detective investigating Spilotro's crew, wrote five succinct paragraphs about the murders during Cullotta's debriefing. The alleged killer, a possible accomplice, and a motivation for the crime were given. Scharff had been killed for the perceived slight. Freeman was murdered because she was a witness.

Cullotta's Metro and FBI handlers didn't sit on the information. They quickly informed McHenry County authorities, who could not have been surprised to hear Neumann's name. After all, he already had been identified as a possible suspect by Scharff's best friend, Jim Hager.

Not only did the McHenry County detectives fail to act, they appeared to go out of their way to attempt to damage Cullotta's credibility.

These days Scharff's son, Paul Scharff, is aggressively seeking to have McHenry County officials finally name Neumann as the killer. It's not for justice, but for a sense of closure.

Neumann died in prison in January 2007 after a lengthy criminal career that included at least six murders, including a 1956 triple homicide from which he managed to gain release. The sheriff and detectives from McHenry County who criticized Cullotta back in the early 1980s are gone, too. But Paul Scharff, who was just a boy at the time of his father's murder, has lived with the dark memory every day since then.

In an Amazon.com review of "Cullotta," he wrote, "I have never written a review for a book before, but I never had a book IMPACT my life like this one. From the book 'Cullotta,' I discovered who killed my father and his barmaid 27 years ago."

That beats a New York Times review any day.

"It's actually very uplifting, particularly so since I've actually gotten to know Paul Scharff," Griffin says. "He's just a real super guy. That makes me feel all the better that perhaps the book will help him and his family."

It would be an ending most authors would reject as too implausible to be believed. For Griffin, it's just another twist in a very real story.

"Paul Scharff is convinced they (McHenry County detectives) are actually seriously looking into the events surrounding the killings," Griffin says. "We think it's more than just paying lip service. We think they're actually fully engaged with it."

By phone from an undisclosed location, Cullotta says it's about damned time. "It's taken them so long it's ridiculous," the 70-year-old reformed hoodlum says in his biting Chicago accent. "The kid wants closure, and can you blame him?"

For author Dennis Griffin, it would be an ending the literary greats would envy.

Thanks to John L. Smith



Be the Don and Build Your Crime Family on April 7, 2009

"The Godfather II is taking the open-world genre in an entirely new direction by combining the furious combat of acting like a mobster, with the strategic gameplay of thinking like a Don," says Hunter Smith, Executive Producer for The Godfather II.

"As game makers, when we looked at what lies at the heart of the Godfather universe, we discovered a game focused around organized crime. The Corleones and all the other families schemed and fought to gain access and control of different territories, so that they could control the flow of money in those areas.

This underlying battle cloaked secrecy is what The Godfather II and mafia life is all about, and we wanted players to be in control as a Don and make those strategic decisions to lead their families to success."

As a Don in the Corleone family, The Godfather II allows players to carve out their own story of deception, betrayal, and conquest in a 1960's organized crime world. Interacting closely with major characters, your story will interweave with many of the key events From The film, such as the meeting of the Don's in Cuba, blackmailing Senator Geary, and the Senate investigation of organized crime.

Players will have to invest in their family, manage their business, and reach out to corrupt officials - all of which is done through the revolutionary Don's View. The Don's View is a 3D representation of the player's criminal empire; it allows them to coordinate their strategy, plan hits on rival made men, attack enemy rackets, and much more. By letting players call the shots, The Godfather II delivers the ultimate organized crime experience.

Developed at the EA Redwood Stores studio, The Godfather II will be coming to the Xbox 360 videogame and entertainment system, PLAYSTATION 3 computer entertainment system, and PC.

Players who pre-order The Godfather II at participating retailers worldwide will receive an exclusive crew member, named Tommy Cipolla, to hire into their family. The Godfather II has been rated M for Mature by the ESRB and 18+ for PEGI.

Budget Crisis Costs Defendant in Mob Boss Murder Case One of His Attorneys

Fallout from the state budget crisis is cropping up in the darnedest places.

A defendant charged in federal court in a mob murder conspiracy lost one of three appointed lawyers after a hearing on Wednesday. The lawyer argued her state-funded office is too cash-strapped for her to remain on the case.

Fotios A. "Freddy" Geas Jr., accused in the 2003 murder of organized crime boss Adolfo M. "Big Al" Bruno and facing a potential death penalty if convicted, lost the services of defense lawyer Stephanie Page. Page works for the Committee for Public Counsel Services, the state agency that provides legal counsel to indigent defendants.

Page said that as a state employee, she felt compelled to withdraw from the federal case. Her agency, like others with operations financed by the state, is reeling from deep budget cuts announced last month by Gov. Deval L. Patrick. "In light of the budget crisis, I felt I had to bow out," she said after the hearing in U.S. District. "I'm a full-time state employee."

Page represents Geas in a parallel murder case in Hampden Superior Court, and will remain his legal counsel in that venue.

David P. Hoose and Peter L. Ettenberg, both private lawyers who were appointed to the case, will stay on Geas' defense team in the federal court. The case is crawling along as Justice Department officials consider whether they will seek the death penalty.

Geas, 41, was indicted in federal court for murder in aid of racketeering, a charge that can trigger capital punishment. He also is charged with murder in state court along with Brendan D. Croteau and Frankie A. Roche.

Roche, the admitted gunman in the case, turned government informant and has offered testimony against others in the case. Prosecutors say Geas paid Roche $10,000 to shoot Bruno on Nov. 23, 2003, in the midst of a power struggle.

Like most state offices, the Committee for Public Counsel Services' budget was slashed when the governor announced $191 million in emergency cuts for this fiscal year and $871 million in proposed cuts for the next fiscal year that begins July 1. The agency's budget plummeted from about $186 million to roughly $158 million, according to state records.

Page is one of 200 members of the committee's Public Defender Division. The agency also pays thousands of private lawyers out of its budget for the bulk of the defense work it provides.

Thanks to Stephanie Barry

Omerta - The Massive Multiplayer Text-Based RPG Gangster Game

While the gangster games are on their way – basically in the form of 2K Games’ Mafia II and EA’s GodFather II: The Game – another company is updating an MMOG that takes the whole mobster concept and puts some spice on it…and a little black-handing, because gamers like black-handing.

Comments Steve Biddick, CEO of Omerta Game commented in the press release about the new update, saying... "There had been a lot of talk among our players about making a change to how players are killed within the game. We have since implemented these changes so that in effect, the strength of the players account will be a crucial factor in a duel as a higher ranked player can take more bullets. But now is the best time for new players to join in with Omerta as with a new version, everybody starts from what is effectively a level playing field”.

The game, surprisingly enough, boasts 3.5 million subscriptions. Yizers, that’s a lot of people playing a game that is relatively unheard of. One of the things that makes Omerta different from other MMOGs is that a lot of the content is contributed by players. Kind of neat, eh?

"We pride ourselves on involving our players, listening to their feedback and then responding accordingly. Our players can make recommendations which are then discussed in the user group and actioned by our development team”. Said Biddick.

More than 250 volunteers help out with Omerta and the game is available in 34 different languages. For gamers interested in this game be sure to check out the Main Website for more information.

Thanks to William Usher

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled the Chicago Mob by Jeff Coen


Painting a vivid picture of the scenes both inside and outside the courtroom and re-creating events from court transcripts, police records, interviews, and notes taken day after day as the story unfolded in court in 2007, this narrative accurately portrays cold-blooded—and sometimes incompetent—killers and their crimes. In 1998 Frank Calabrese Jr. offered to wear a wire to help the FBI build a case against his father, Frank Sr., and his uncle Nick. A top Mob boss, a reputed consigliore, and other high-profile members of the Chicago Outfit were eventually accused in a total of 18 gangland killings, revealing organized crime's ruthless grip on the city throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. After a series of other defendants pled guilty, those left to face off in court alongside Frank Sr. were James “Little Jimmy” Marcello, the acting head of the Chicago mob; Joey “the Clown” Lombardo, one of Chicago’s most colorful mobsters; and Paul “the Indian” Schiro. A former Chicago police officer who worked in evidence, Anthony "Twan" Doyle, rounded out the list. The riveting testimony and wide-angle view provide one of the best accounts on record of the inner workings of the Chicago syndicate and its control over the city's streets.

The author, Jeff Coen, is a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, covering federal trials and investigations from the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse in downtown Chicago. He was present in the courtroom throughout the Family Secrets trial, and his pieces on the case were featured in a popular series in the Chicago Tribune. He lives in Oak Park, Illinois.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

La Cosa Nostra Getting Competition from Eurasian and Asian Crime Groups

When you hear the words “organized crime,” the first thing that comes to mind is probably the Mafia and its five major crime families in New York City. But have you ever heard of the notorious Thief-in-Law Vyacheslav Ivankov, the Solnstsevo organization, the Young Joon Yang gang, or the Black Dragons?

They’re involved in organized crime, too. Individuals associated with foreign-based criminal groups are targeting the U.S. as we speak, and they are a major focus of American law enforcement and a top priority of the FBI’s organized crime busting efforts.

These groups have much in common with their Mafia brethren, beginning with their hunger for power and profit. But what sets them apart is their reach. While traditional mobsters mostly operate domestically, Eurasian and Asian crime groups are transnational. Some report to an established leadership hierarchy in their native lands while others have fuzzier connections, but all require that we work closely with our law enforcement partners in these regions of the world.

Who they are. Eurasian criminal groups hail from dozens of countries spanning the Baltics, the Balkans, Central/Eastern Europe, Russia, the Caucacus, and Central Asia. Although ethnically-based, they work with other ethnic groups when perpetrating crimes. Asian organized crime includes traditional enterprises like the Chinese Triads, Chinese Tong, and Japanese Boryokudan (a.k.a., Yakuza), as well as more loosely organized groups like the Big Boys Circle, the Asian Boyz Group, and Vietnamese and Korean criminal enterprises.

What they do. Both groups are involved in a range of illegal activities in this country, including drug trafficking, extortion, murder, kidnapping, home invasions, prostitution, illegal gambling, loan sharking, insurance/credit card fraud, stock fraud, and the theft of high-tech components. Chinese groups are also involved in human trafficking—bringing large numbers of Chinese migrants to North America and essentially enslaving them here. One of U.S. law enforcement’s chief concerns: the same criminal infrastructure that smuggles people into the U.S. could also be used to smuggle terrorists.

Investigative strategies. Over the past few decades, U.S. law enforcement has had a great deal of success against the major Mafia families using a full suite of investigative methods. Now, we’re using the same set of tools to combat Eurasian and Asian crime groups, including:

* Intelligence gathering;
* The enterprise theory of investigation, which focuses on the entire criminal group rather than on isolated members;
* The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, or RICO, Act (both the criminal and civil provisions of this law can help dismantle criminal organizations);
* Cooperation, lots of it, with both domestic and global law enforcement partners; and
* Time-tested techniques like undercover operations, court-authorized electronic surveillance, informants and cooperating witnesses, and consensual monitoring.

Investigative accomplishments. Thief-in-Law Vyacheslav Ivankov’s conviction in New York in 1996 represented the FBI’s first major victory against the new wave of Eurasian organized crime entering America. Subsequent successes included Operation “Trojan Horses,” which dismantled a violent New York City Albanian criminal enterprise that had taken traditional racketeering activity away from the established La Cosa Nostra crime families. And undercover investigations in Newark and Los Angeles uncovered an Asian criminal organization that was smuggling, or attempting to smuggle, nearly every form of contraband imaginable—counterfeit currency, cigarettes, illegal drugs, pharmaceuticals, and weapons—into the United States.

"Jackie the Nose" Indictment Announcement

LEV L. DASSIN, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and JOSEPH M. DEMAREST, JR., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"), announced the unsealing of an indictment charging JOHN D’AMICO, a/k/a "Jackie the Nose," the Acting Boss of the Gambino Organized Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra (the "Gambino Crime Family"), and powerful, longtime Gambino Crime Family associate JOSEPH WATTS with the 1989 murder of FREDERICK WEISS, who the defendants believed was serving as a federal government witness. The Indictment unsealed today also charges D'AMICO with racketeering conspiracy involving murder, extortion, witness tampering, obstruction of justice and gambling. WATTS was arrested earlier this morning in Manhattan and is expected to be presented later today in Manhattan federal court. D'AMICO is in federal custody in connection with a separate matter and is expected to be transferred to Manhattan to face these charges at a later date. According to the Indictment unsealed earlier today and other documents filed in Manhattan federal Court:

D'AMICO is a Capo in the Gambino Crime Family -- one of the families of "La Cosa Nostra" that operate in the New York City and New Jersey areas -- and is presently serving as its Acting Boss.

One of the purposes of the Gambino Crime Family is to identify and kill individuals suspected of providing information about the Family to law enforcement. On September 11, 1989, FREDERICK WEISS was murdered at the direction of JOHN GOTTI, the boss of the Gambino Family, because he was believed to be cooperating with law enforcement. D'AMICO and WATTS were among those involved in carrying out GOTTI's order to murder WEISS. From at least 1986, D'AMICO was also involved in conspiring with other members and associates of the Gambino Crime Family to commit a wide range of criminal offenses, including murder, operating illegal gambling businesses, extortion and obstruction of justice. D'AMICO's illegal conduct continued until at least May 2008 when, in an attempt to obtain release on bail in connection with separate federal charges against him, he misrepresented the nature of a salaried position with a major beverage distributor, which he obtained through Gambino Crime Family influence.

D'AMICO is charged with one count of racketeering conspiracy involving murder, extortion, witness tampering, obstruction of justice and gambling; and one count of murder of a witness in a federal criminal case. WATTS is charged with one count of murder of a witness in a federal criminal case. If convicted, D'AMICO, 72, and WATTS, 67, face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The Indictment also seeks the forfeiture of $4 million from D'AMICO. The forfeitures represent the alleged proceeds obtained from the charged offenses.

Mr. DASSIN praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys MIRIAM ROCAH and ARLO DEVLIN-BROWN are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mafia Games Latest Hot Genre on iPhones and iPods

The latest hot games genre on iPhone and iPod touch? Mafia titles.

Social games firm SGN has launched its Mafia: Respect & Retaliation game, which will now go head-to-head with Addmired's iMob Online, Aftershock Innovations's Mafia LIVE! and PlayMesh's iMafia.

All three are massively multiplayer strategy games where players build an empire by carrying out criminal jobs, rubbing out rivals, and signing friends up to join their mobs.

SGN is touting location-based features and "Sin City-alike graphics" as the key selling points of its title. Jobs can be carried out in real-world locations, including The Empire State Building and Central Park Zoo in New York.

Mafia: Respect & Retaliation also has the multi-tiered pricing model seen in its rivals. There's a free version, but then a series of premium versions letting their characters start with more 'respect' - right up to a $99.99 Ultimate version.

There's also an accelerometer-powered shooting gallery mini-game, to further tempt players away from the rival games.

Which of the three will be more popular among iPhone gamers? It's too early to tell - their respective viral spreads will define this. But it's looking likely to be a bloody battle.

Thanks to Stuart Dredge

Mafia Channeling Funds into Desperate Banks During Global Credit Crisis

Cash-rich Mafia groups have been channelling funds into banks desperate to survive the global credit crisis, the UN anti-crime chief said on Monday.

Antonio Maria Costa of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said he had collected ample evidence to make such accusations.

"Consultations I've had with prosecutors and law-enforcement officials around the world show there is ample evidence that the banking system's illiquidity is providing a unique opportunity for organized crime to launder their money," Costa told Reuters.

"Just about every financial centre can be characterized as part of the problem," Costa said in the interview, but declined to name countries or banks involved, saying that was for prosecutors and other law-enforcement bodies to do.

Costa said a Vienna conference next month marking the 10th anniversary of a UN General Assembly special session on drugs would mull ways to boost steps against money laundering and ease the impact of drug gang profits on the integrity of states.

He said the multilateral Financial Action Task Force (FATF) formed in 1991 did much to help drive mafia money out of banks over the ensuing decade but that achievement was being challenged by the global hemorrhaging of legitimate credit.

"You have the supply — an organized crime industry with enormous amounts of cash, estimated at $322 billion in 2005, not any more stored in banks — and the demand, a banking sector strapped for liquidity," said Costa.

"This is a supply- and demand-driven situation. Our intuition, based on logic, is now supported by ample evidence."

Asked where cases were occurring, he said: "Traditionally, Europe and North America are the places where, as financial centres, most money would be laundered.

"What we are seeing," Costa said, "is the weakening of the strongest instrument embedded in the FATF campaign, and that is, 'Know your client'. That is, accept resources only from those you know, and if you don't do so, inform the authorities.

"It has been quite widely documented that because of the difficult financial situation of banking institutions, that principle has been weakened to the point of being indirect evidence of what we are (talking about)." Costa said many member states in his UNODC agency were saying the time was not yet right for additional measures against money launderers taking advantage of struggling banks.

"I insist that the (globalized) crime industry has become so gigantic, destabilizing so many countries, that it is emerging in areas where we have not seen it before. They're buying more than just industry, real estate, elections, power," he said.

"We will present some concepts and lines of action for member states to consider when ministers meet next month, related to the size and shape of organized crime and the threat it is now posing."

Costa raised the appearance of links between the liquidity crunch and organized crime cash flows at a closed gathering of financial industry professionals in Frankfurt in November.

Britain said in December that financial sector fraud had risen alarmingly, fifteen-fold, since its credit markets began seizing up but was typically committed by internal managers and suppliers rather than organized crime.

Thanks to Mark Heinrich

Lorenzo Giordano of the Montreal Mafia Sentenced to Prison in the Operation Colisee Case

A prominent member of the Montreal Mafia has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Lorenzo Giordano, 45, pleaded guilty in the past to charges of gangsterism, conspiracy and living off the profits of crime.

He was involved in helping to import hundreds of kilograms of cocaine into Canada.

Time spent behind bars before sentencing usually counts double, but the Crown agreed to allow it to count for triple in Giordano's case because he will be in isolation.

That means Giordano has about 10 years left in the 15-year sentence.

Giordano was arrested in Toronto in May 2007 as part of Operation Colisee, a widespread crackdown on the Mafia.

Video Conference Court Hearing Held for Reputed Mob Captain Called "The Saint"

Reputed mob captain Anthony "the saint" St. Laurent faces charges of trying to pull off a gangland slaying in downtown Providence.

On Monday, St. Laurent participated in a U.S. District Court in Providence by video conference from the federal prison in Massachusetts. St. Laurent is currently serving a sentence for extortion.

St. Laurent, identified by law enforcement as Capo Regime in the Patriarca crime family, tried to hire two men to kill rival Capo, Robert "Bobby" Deluca in 2006, and again from behind bars in 2007.

In a criminal complaint obtained by Target 12, FBI case agent Joseph Degnan wired up an informant ,who recorded a 2006 conversation in St. Laurent’s house. According to the recording, St. Laurent not only told two men he wanted Deluca dead, but he said he had the permission of "the boss."

The boss, according to court documents, is Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio, who runs the New England crime family from Providence's Federal Hill. St. Laurent even drove one of the men to Deluca's workplace, Sidebar Bar and Grille in Providence.

Shortly after that, St. Laurent was scooped up in a separate extortion plot. But apparently, still raging from behind bars at Fort Devens Federal Prison in Massachusetts, investigators said St. Laurent tried to solicit a hit through fellow inmates.

In a criminal complaint, unsealed on Friday, St. Laurent was charged with solicitation of murder. The FBI released a statement Friday afternoon touting cooperation between Rhode Island State Police, Massachusetts State Police, Providence Police and Boston Police.

Target 12 Investigator Tim White spoke with Deluca's attorney Artin Coloian late Friday and said his client was informed of the attempted hit and that Deluca is not concerned for his safety.

Thanks to Melissa Sardelli

FBI Holds Whitey Bulger Briefing for International Media

One of the FBI’s most notorious fugitives was in the spotlight yesterday, as a briefing for international media at the State Department offered a global perspective on James “Whitey” Bulger, the Boston crime boss wanted for his role in 19 murders and a host of other offenses.

Supervisory Special Agent Richard Teahan, who heads the Bulger Fugitive Task Force in Boston, speaks at the Foreign Press Center.Because Bulger is believed to be living overseas, “the focus of the case has become international,” said Richard Teahan, a Supervisory Special Agent in the FBI's Boston office who is in charge of the case. Through international exposure, Teahan said, “We hope to make his world smaller for him.”

There is currently a reward of up to $2 million for Bulger, the largest reward they’ve ever offered for any of the FBI's U.S. Top Ten fugitives.

The job of catching Bulger—on the run for 14 years—has not been easy, in part because he is a meticulous planner who spent nearly two decades preparing for life as a fugitive. He stashed money all over the world, and he leaves no paper trail, paying only in cash.

Based on intelligence, they have a strong picture of Bulger’s personality:

* He is an avid reader who frequents libraries, an animal lover, and a fitness nut who takes long walks.
* He is a history buff with a compulsive urge for collecting videotapes and books about World War II and Adolf Hitler.
* He loves to travel, frequently visiting historic landmarks and museums, and has traveled widely in France, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Canada.
* He is said to always carry a knife.

Bulger, now 79, is known to disguise himself by dying his hair, wearing a moustache, and donning different types of glasses. He is said to be proud of the three-year stretch he did at Alcatraz (for bank robbery), and, noted Teahan, “he has vowed that he will never, ever go back to prison.”

Born and raised in the predominantly Irish-Catholic projects of South Boston, Bulger was involved in serious crimes at an early age, including assault, robbery, and rape.

After a stint in the Air Force and at several federal penitentiaries, he joined the Winter Hill Gang, which took over the South Boston crime scene. In addition to the murders he is charged with, he participated in drug trafficking, extortion, and loan-sharking, Teahan said.

Bulger’s criminal enterprises over the last several decades may have earned him anywhere from $10 million to $30 million. He also infiltrated government agencies, including the FBI, sowing seeds of public distrust in law enforcement that remain in South Boston to this day. “He left a scar on the community,” Teahan said, that will only be fully healed when he has been captured.

Despite the difficulty of the search, the FBI has made some progress in the case. For example, they have discovered two of Bulger’s bank accounts. At Barclay’s Bank in London, they found $75,000 in cash. At another of his accounts in Ireland, they found different types of currencies and rare coins.

A multi-agency task force dedicated solely to finding Bulger (and his companion, Catherine Greig, who is under indictment for harboring a fugitive) continues to gather and analyze intelligence and respond to tips of sightings. The task force is made up of personnel from the FBI, the Massachusetts Department of Correction, and the Massachusetts State Police.

“We’re committed to finding him,” Teahan said. “No matter how long it takes.”

They need your help. If you have any information on Bulger’s whereabouts, contact your local FBI office or the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Feds Record Mob Hit Man Discussing a Whacking

The feds secretly recorded Gambino hit man Charles Carneglia acknowledging he fatally stabbed a mob associate outside a Queens diner, it was learned Monday.

Carneglia fessed up to the murder in a 1999 jailhouse visit with Gambino capo Gene Gotti, a transcript shows.

Documents filed in Brooklyn Federal Court say a listening bug was planted in the visiting room at the federal prison in Pennsylvania where Gotti was serving a 50-year sentence for heroin trafficking.

The victim, Michael Cotillo, was the nephew of a Gambino gangster whose crew was often at odds in the 1970s with John Gotti's faction, of which Carneglia was a member.

"Well, you stabbed somebody, Charles. You stabbed one of their guys," Gene Gotti said on the transcript.

Carneglia replied: "I know that. I know."

"And that's why they wanted to get you," Gene Gotti reminded him.

Gene Gotti was referring to revenge sought by Cotillo's friends and relatives after the Nov. 6, 1977, killing during a melee outside the Blue Fountain Diner on Cross Bay Blvd. in Howard Beach.

There were multiple sitdowns within the crime family to settle the beef, turncoat witness Anthony Ruggiano testified Monday at Carneglia's racketeering trial.

"They [Cotillo's faction] were looking to kill Charlie," Ruggiano said. "I said whatever you do, do it right because Charlie's no joke."

Despite the passage of 22 years, Carneglia still expressed concern on the tape that permission to whack him for Cotillo's murder had been granted. Gotti pointed out the threat was "squashed."

Carneglia is charged with killing five people, including Cotillo. Prosecutors plan to play the tape for the jury today.

Thanks to John Marzulli

Monday, February 09, 2009

History Repeats Itself, After One CPA Gets Capone, Another CPA Puts the Mafia Cops Away

Accountant Stephen Corso was in deep trouble. His clients, including longtime friends, told federal authorities in 2002 t hat he had stolen more than $5 million. Then the Ridgefield man who loved to gamble took the biggest risk of his life: He decided to become an FBI informant in Las Vegas.

Corso's fateful decision came as federal agents were struggling to build a case against two former New York City police detectives long suspected of collaborating with the mob — and even of killing for the mob — in one of the worst cases of police corruption in the city's history.

After a secret meeting with an FBI agent, Corso was fitted with a wire and went to work recording conversations with suspected mobsters visiting Las Vegas from around the country.

He had no backup as he secretly recorded the conversations, and once was threatened with execution if he turned out to be an informant, authorities said.

His clandestine recordings eventually filled more than 900 tapes.

"We came across anything and everything," said FBI agent Kevin Sheehan.

Among the people Corso met in his undercover work was Louis Eppolito, one of the detectives suspected of carrying out mob hits.

"It was divine intervention," Robert Henoch, a former New York prosecutor who handled the case, said at Corso's sentencing Tuesday when he received a year in prison. Or maybe it was dumb luck, he added.

Either way, Corso's recordings began to fill in the holes in the case against Eppolito and fellow former detective Stephen Caracappa. Eppolito, the son of a mobster, was living in Las Vegas while trying to peddle screenplays.

Eppolito and Caracappa were accused of participating in eight mob-related killings between 1986 and 1990 while working for the Luchese crime family. At one point in Corso's recordings, Eppolito bragged about dunking someone's head in acid and threatened to decapitate another person, Henoch said.

A New York jury found the detectives guilty in 2006, but a judge dismissed their racketeering case after determining the statute of limitations had passed on the slayings. A federal appeals court reinstated the verdict last year after prosecutors argued that the murders were part of a conspiracy that lasted through a drug deal in 2005 with Corso.

"There never would have been justice without Mr. Corso's cooperation," Henoch said.

Corso's intelligence also led to other prosecutions and saved investigators millions of dollars, authorities said.

Corso, who faced the possibility of more than seven years in prison but won the reduced sentence for his extraordinary cooperation, is scheduled to surrender May 6. He also has been ordered to pay restitution to the clients from whom he stole money.

Susan Patrick, whose family lost more than $800,000 to Corso, said he was a family friend before the thefts.

"This started a six-year nightmare," she said Tuesday. "We will never be whole for our losses. I don't believe Mr. Corso is at all sorry."

Corso, who apologized to the victims and his family, said at the time that he ripped off millions from his clients to finance a life of "girlfriends, jewelry and going out." Prosecutors say he also had significant gambling losses while living a second life in Las Vegas.

Corso told the judge his parents were first generation Italian immigrants who struggled so that he could have a better life and helped pay for his education at New York University. They hated the mob, he said. "And I threw it all away," Corso said. "I simply lost the way I was raised, how I was raised, but I know for the last six years I functioned and there was never a moment, never a second, that I ever considered doing anything wrong."

Authorities said they offered to put Corso in a witness protection program, but he refused because he would not be able to see his wife and three children.

They say Corso remains in danger because of his cooperation with them. "Mr. Corso will live the rest of his life with a target on his back," said his attorney, J. Bruce Maffeo.

Thanks to John Christoffersen

Chicago Bulls Assistant Coach, Bob Ociepka, Authors "Minestrone for the Mobster's Soul: Life Lessons from the Movie Mafia"

When Chicago Bulls assistant coach Bob Ociepka says "nice shot" in his free time, you can bet he's not talking about basketball.

Ociepka, who lives in Arlington Heights, loves mob movies. Loves them. He's studied them all, from the James Cagney flicks of the 1930s all the way up to contemporary films like "American Gangster."

The crime and violence inherent in such films is part of the fascination, of course, but Ociepka said he's also attracted to the actually quite-traditional values that the characters espouse when they're not breaking the law: respect, loyalty, responsibility, friendship.

"It occurred to me that there really are some important lessons in those movies," Ociepka said during a phone interview shortly before a Bulls-Rockets game in Houston. "And that's when I thought of putting those lessons together in a book."

The result is "Minestrone for the Mobster's Soul: Life Lessons from the Movie Mafia," a book Ociepka co-wrote and self-published with his cousin, Bruno Ociepka, also a mob-movie devotee.

The pair's fascination with Hollywood's treatment of organized crime began in their youth, when they lived on Chicago's West Side, an area that used to be home to a connected guy or two.

"We didn't have to look far to see some of that stuff," Bob Ociepka said with a laugh. "It was all around."

The book includes hundreds of mob-movie quotes and lists of the mob films that the authors would like to have "made" and others they believe should get whacked. ("The Godfather" is a favorite, but "Black Caesar" gets low marks.)

The heart of the book, though, is a fictionalized account of life on Chicago's West Side in the '50s and '60s. These accounts, narrated by the Ociepkas' alter-egos Bobby Madura and Joey DiBruno, hum with Chicago references and street slang. You'll read about 16-inch Clinchers, stern Catholic school nuns and the danger involved in running afoul of the neighborhood precinct captain.

"It was a professional writer in California who suggested that we include the Chicago stories along with the movie stuff," Bob Ociepka said. "We changed some details in the stories so they could fit with the lessons we were talking about, but there's still a lot of truth in them."

Ociepka, a graduate of Providence-St. Mel High School in Chicago, made his name as a local high school basketball coach before moving to the NBA in the late 1980s. He joined the Bulls' staff last year.

Ociepka said he's been handing out copies of the book to his players, many of whom share his interest in mob flicks. He recently autographed a copy for Ben Gordon, the Bulls' hot-shooting guard.

"I'm glad that a lot of the players like the movies, but they tend to focus on the recent ones," Ociepka said. "'Scarface' (the 1983 Brian DePalma version) is a big favorite. But it kills me that some of them have never seen 'The Godfather.'"

Writing "Minestrone" took about seven years, from conception to completion. Ociepka said he loved the experience, but he's not sure if he has another book inside him. "I might have told all my good stories in this one," he said.

Thanks to Matt Arado

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Customer Complains about Calzone, Allegedly Pistol-Whipped by Reputed Mobster Restaurateur

Authorities believe a Florida restaurateur accused of pistol-whipping and beating a customer might have connections to organized crime in New York City.

When a Florida judge signed warrants Friday for Joseph Milano, they also listed the name "Joseph Calco." The Daytona Beach News-Journal obtained the documents.

Calco was an aspiring mobsters who became a federal informant and testified at the trial of Anthony Spero. Authorities called Spero one of New York's top organized crime figures.

Milano was arrested Friday on two charges of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The State Attorney's Office told the newspaper the charges were "based on his identity as Joey Calco."

Milano was arrested in January after being accused of attacking a customer who complained about a calzone.

Crime Does Pay. How? Italian Mafia Earned $167 Billions

How many times have we heard these words? "Crime doesn't pay"....or a Judge will say, "it doesn't pay to commit crimes".

It is true crime didn't pay for some lawbreakers who were caught and lost their freedom and every dime they earned. Swindler Ken Madoff earned billions running a ponzi scheme that bilked investors and now he's been caught. With the exception of having already spent 'hundreds of millons' and facing life in prison Madoff will probably lose all the money he may have left. Did crime pay for this billionaire crook?

You be the judge.

But there's a group of outlaws who keep winning in the crime game and seemingly they .never lose. They don't own banks, casinos, nor authorized by government to print 'money on demand' but they've mastered the money game of making crime pay 24-7. They're not strangers. Their history etched in the annals of the crime world. They are no other than Italian Organized Crime aka Mafia. And they make billions!

Financial experts said the global recession has undoubtedly struck European countries hard but Italy's organized crime thrives in the midst of it all. Italy's world known organized crime groups are: (1) Sicilian Mafia. (2) Camorra (3) 'Ndrangheta (4) Sacra Corona Unita. Bloomberg.com reported the Italian Mafia's revenue in 2008 had increased 40 percent.

Example: Italy's organized crime syndicates grossed at least $167 billion dollars in 2008, up from $90 billion euros in 2007, according to figures supplied by Eurispes and SOS Impresa. Eurispes is a worldwide research organization and SOS Impresa consist of businessmen who investigate Mafia extortion. Extensive research based on long-term investigations and apprehension of organized crime gangsters, drug trafficking ranked the number#1 top revenue, bringing in approximately $59 billion euros.

Other Mafia players earned $5.8 billion euros from selling arms, the Rome-based research group reported Friday, January 30, 2009. "During a crisis, people lower their guard", says Robert Saviano. Saviano became an overnight success in 2007 after publishing a bestselling book called "Gomorrah". Gomorrah, superbly document the history of the notorious Camorra crime bosses. "Studies show the criminal market never suffer during a crisis", Saviano explained. "I'm convinced this crisis brings huge advantage to criminal syndicates". As the global recession tighten its grip banks are recluctant to risk loans.

This area of finance brings the Mafia on shore. They loan money at high interest rates. Consequences are detrimental even sometimes fatal if the borrower fail to pay up on time. "With people more desperate for money, loan sharking thrives", said Amedeo Vitagliano, an Italian crime expert at Eurispes research organization. "While the country is on its kneess, the Mob rejoice".

So how can the experts know the amount of illegal money earned by organized crime? What guidelines are utilized to caculate the Mafia's big payoffs? Simple math.

Mafia wealth is reflected in police asset seizures of $5.2 billions in 2008. $2.9 billions seized from the Camorra; $1.4 billion from the Sicilian Mob based in Sicily, and $231 millions from the 'Ndrangheta syndicate. The Eurispe report confimed a recent estimation by the Interior Ministry that 'Ndrangheta alone generate $45 billion euros, or 3% of GDP(Gross Domesticated Products) from dominating the European cocaine trade.

Here's another breakdown of revenues earned in 2008 by Italian organized crime based on their network of operations:

(1) loan shark: $12.6 billion euros
(2) protection rackets: $9 billion
(3) Arms trafficking and smuggling crimes: $5.8 billion In 2006, previous research showed that organized crime made $128 billions, a sum equivalent at that time to 7 percent of Italy's GDP.

For 2005, the crime syndicates took in approximately $106 billions. But the economy in Italy can swing back and forth with a double edged sword. Many businesses not particularly connected with the mob engage in shady pratices of doing business off the books.

Gian Maria Fara, an Eurispes chairman said the deeper underground economy don't reflect gross domestic product figures. "During good times, having a big underground sector can be a burden since the underground products isn't taxable and the state must account for it by increasing taxes on those who actually pay taxes".

"In this country," Fara added, "much more money goes around than whats actually represented by official statistics". "Italy's black economy has grown to a staggering 35% of GDP, approximately $540 billion euros".

Despite mass arrests of Italian crime gangsters over the years and the capture of several family bosses and high-ranking soldiers the Italian Mafia is a phenonomal money machine. They are a force the law must deal with in years to come.

Each day from extortion the combined groups earn at least $90 to 100$ billon euros per year, $250 million euros a day and $10 million euros an hour. If that's not making crime pay....then nobody commit crimes.... but we know this isn't true. People commit crimes every day.

Just ask the Mafia. They make billions and nobody can stop them.

Thanks to Clarence Walker

Genovese Crime Family Bust Centers Around Gambling Operations

In the state of New York it has become common place to have police bust up mafia operations. It occurred again on Wednesday when thirteen alleged members of the Genovese crime family were charged with various crimes.

Gambling, as it is in most mafia cases, was at the forefront of the charges. The indictment that was unsealed refers to the "operation of illegal gambling businesses." The men were also charged with extortion, narcotics trafficking, and loansharking.

Of the thirteen people that were charged, six of them were arrested early Wednesday morning. The other seven were either in the process of turning themselves in or were already in custody from other charges.

Among the arrests was a former acting boss for the Genovese crime family. Several of his soldiers were also picked up in the raid. Thomas Tassiello, another Genovese family member was charged in a separate indictment on charges of extortion and racketeering.

The sting stems from the crime family shaking down local businesses, mainly bartending school owners in both Jersey City and Manhattan. Genovese soldiers reportedly took over the businesses after the owners could make their payments on loansharking debts.

Thanks to Tom Jones

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Do You Want to be Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's Chumbolone?

The Tribune has commissioned a new poll asking taxpayers whether they support Mayor Richard Daley's 2016 Olympic dream. But the pollsters didn't call me, so I conducted my own poll on the cheap, while shaving.

Just look at yourself in the mirror, while trying to shave that stubborn stubble from under your nose, and ponder whether it's smart to give the Daley gang billions of dollars to run the Olympics. There's only one question in the Kass poll. Just ask yourself:

"Does wanting the Olympics in Chicago make me a big chumbolone?"

"Chumbolone" is the immortal term uttered by corrupt Chicago cop Anthony Doyle, convicted of being a messenger boy for imprisoned Chicago mob bosses in the Family Secrets trial. In those prison visits, he insisted he didn't hear anything. All he did was nod when the boss was talking, over and over, nodding like some Chinatown-crew bobblehead doll.

"I didn't know what he was talking about," Doyle explained from the witness stand. "I don't wanna look like a chumbolone, an idiot, stupid."

And there you have it.

We want the glitzy Olympic party. But we think we won't have to pay for it. And when Mayor Fredo talks about his Olympic dream, we nod like chumbolones.

For almost two decades now, Daley has run the city and Cook County. His administration is an encyclopedia of corruption and insider deals for friends and family. He'd drink with white guys with Outfit connections every Christmas Eve, guys who received $100 million in affirmative-action contracts from his administration, and he didn't know how it happened.

As of Sunday, it has been 1,615 days since the mayor promised he'd find out who promoted ex-gangbanger Angelo Torres to run his scandal-plagued Hired Truck program that cost taxpayers at least $40 million. We're still waiting.

There are so many such deals that counting them would be like trying to count the flies on a chunk of liver sausage in an alley in July. All this on his watch. Just imagine what he'll do with all that Olympic gold.

These days, corruption is important again, since the former governor, Mr. Dead Meat, got busted for trying to sell President Obama's Senate seat. But when will we realize that the governor of Illinois—no matter who sits in the chair—is just a measly nose hair compared to the boss of Chicago?

And if it's not outright corruption, it's incredible arrogance born of absolute political power with no dissent.

Just the other day, the mayor said he wasn't going to tell the people of his city what large "shovel-ready" public works projects he wanted out of the Obama White House. Or, is it the Cellini/La Hood U.S. Department of Transportation sending all that federal cash?

"Oh, yes, we have our list," said the mayor. "We've been talking to people. We did not put that out publicly because once you start putting it out publicly, you know, the newspapers, the media is going to be ripping it apart."

Translation: Why do I have to tell the chumbolones what I'm going to do with their tax money? They're my chumbolones. Not yours. They're mine! Mine!

Just imagine how he'll react when asked about who got cut in on some Olympic village deal. Don't ask me no questions, you chumbolones, he'll say.

Daley has already sold off the Skyway to a private management firm, and Midway Airport, and all the city's parking meters, blowing long-term assets for short-term cash. At this rate, if one of his guys gets a lobbying deal in Dubai, he might sell off all the water in Lake Michigan in the middle of the night, and everyone will wake up to the sound of fish flopping in the mud.

Such private management contracts shield information about lucrative subcontracts and, for instance, whose political brother-in-law with the room-temperature IQ gets hired after cashing in his second six-figure government pension.

Pestered by reporters about the wisdom of selling everything he can get his hands on, Daley got angry and trashed his entire city workforce, the same workforce that he's been managing for almost 20 years now, the same workforce that puts his stooges in office.

"They're not customer-related. They're gonna leave at 5 o'clock. They're gonna leave at 4:30 or 4. I'm sorry. We are on the time clock. They walk out. But in the private sector, when you have a customer, you're gonna stay there making sure they're happy and satisfied," said Daley, who regularly takes three-day weekends to his Grand Beach estate when he's not jetting off on free vacations to Paris, Geneva, Rome, Beijing, Mumbai and elsewhere.

The next day, he whined that reporters had twisted his words. "I'm a ping-pong ball for the media," he said. "But don't misinterpret what I say to try to bring confrontation against city workers."

Don't misinterpret? It was on tape. He must think we're chumbolones.

So with Daley pushing the Olympics and all the gold that flows with it, look yourself in the eye while shaving the stubble under your nose (unless, of course, you're a woman). Either way, you can still take the Kass poll. Just ask yourself:

Do I really want to be Daley's Olympic chumbolone?

Thanks to John Kass