Monday, March 09, 2009

Arthur Gianelli, Reputed Mafia Associate, Led Sprawling Criminal Enterprise According to the Feds

Reputed Mafia associate Arthur Gianelli of Lynnfield headed a sprawling criminal enterprise whose members were involved in gambling, money laundering, loan sharking, arson, and extortion, a federal prosecutor said this morning.

Gianelli, 51, and his three co-defendants "committed hundreds of crimes between 1999 and 2005," Assistant US Attorney Fred Wyshak Jr. said during opening statements at their racketeering trial in federal court.

Millions of dollars flowed through the organization's gambling operation, which took bets on football games and later shifted its operation from Massachusetts to an Internet operation in Costa Rica. The organization also created phony companies to hide profits, Wyshak said.

Wyshak said Gianelli had ties to the Mafia, making weekly payments to reputed New England underboss Carmen "Cheese Man" DiNunzio. "It was that association between this organization and organized crime that allowed Gianelli to flex his muscle, that allowed Gianelli to make people pay money that didn't want to pay," Wyshak said. "Gianelli is under the umbrella of the Mafia."

But Gianelli's lawyer, Robert Sheketoff, told jurors that, based on the government's theory of the case, Gianelli would have been a victim of DiNunzio because of the payments he was forced to make. Also on trial are Dennis Albertelli, 56, and his wife, Gisele, 54, of Stow, and Frank Iacoboni, 65, of Leominster.

Gianelli is accused of using threats and intimidation in an unsuccessful bid to force the owners of two Boston bars to sell their businesses to him between 1998 and 2002.

Gianelli, Dennis Albertelli, and Iacoboni are also charged with arson for allegedly plotting to burn down the Big Dog Sports Grille in North Reading in 2003 in an attempt to intimidate the owners into selling them another bar that they were poised to open in Lynnfield.

Defense lawyers told jurors that the most serious charges in the case involve the extortion and arson, and urged them to be skeptical of those allegations and the witnesses who testify about them.

"This is not some extortion that took place in some back room," said Sheketoff, telling jurors that there was a legal dispute between Gianelli and the Big Dog owners after he invested heavily in their financially troubled business.

Calling one of the owners, Mark Colangelo, "a swindler and a thief,'' Sheketoff said "he took my client for $1 million and my client took him to court to get it back. The suggestion that he is a victim in this case is almost laughable.''

Gianelli's wife, Mary Ann, pleaded guilty yesterday to 19 counts of racketeering, money laundering, filing false tax returns, and illegally structuring cash transactions, just as she was about to stand trial with the others.

Thanks to Shelley Murphy

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