Sunday, April 26, 2009

Convictions for 4 in Racketeering, Loan Sharking and Extortion Case Including Arthur Gianelli

Reputed Mafia associate Arthur Gianelli kept meticulous records for his sprawling sports betting and loan shark ring, including a list of so-called problem people that included deadbeat gamblers and mobsters who were shaking him down for a cut of his profits.

He warned his girlfriend to "keep your mouth shut" about his gambling business, unaware that State Police investigators were secretly recording that phone call and hundreds more as he and his associates blabbed about arson, extortion, money-laundering, and other crimes.

Yesterday, after weighing all those records and phone calls, a US District Court jury in Boston found Gianelli, 51, of Lynnfield, guilty of hundreds of charges, including racketeering, arson, illegal gambling, money laundering, and attempted extortion.

The jury of six men and six women, which deliberated 23 hours over four days, also found Gianelli's three codefendants - Dennis "Fish" Albertelli, 56, and his wife, Gisele Albertelli, 54, of Stow, and Frank Iacaboni, 65, of Leominster - guilty of racketeering conspiracy and a variety of other charges in the case that prosecutors say marked the downfall of a sprawling enterprise protected by the Mafia.

"This prosecution eliminated one of the largest gambling and loan-sharking operations operating in the Greater Boston area," Assistant US Attorney Fred Wyshak said after the verdict. "It was affiliated with organized crime, and this is part of the government's battle against organized crime."

There was testimony during the eight-week trial that Gianelli, who is the brother-in-law of disgraced former FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr., paid $2,000 a month in tribute to New England Mafia underboss Carmen "The Cheese Man" DiNunzio from 2001 to 2003. In exchange, the Mafia protected Gianelli's organization, prosecutors said.

Jurors also heard tapes and testimony indicating that another reputed mobster, Dennis LePore, allegedly started shaking Gianelli down for money after relatives told him they had heard Gianelli's gambling business was booming.

In a Feb. 5, 2004, call recorded by State Police and played at the trial, Gianelli accused Daniele Mazzei, then his girlfriend, of putting him in jeopardy with the Mafia by talking about his business to LePore's nephew. "Just don't tell anybody these [expletive] things, because it ends up a [expletive] problem," Gianelli said. "These [expletive] people are jealous against everybody, and and they're lookin' to rob everybody, all right? And they ain't gonna rob me."

In a telephone call with LePore the next day, Gianelli agreed to pay him $15,000.

Jurors found Gianelli ran an organization involved in sports betting, video poker machines, and later online gambling. They also convicted Gianelli of attempted extortion for trying to seize control of Clarke's Turn of the Century Saloon in Faneuil Hall and McCarthy's Bar and Grill on Boylston Street in Boston, between 1998 and 2002.

Gianelli's lawyer, Robert Sheketoff, who had argued that the government's witnesses were not credible, urged jurors not to be swayed by the sheer size of the 333-count indictment. He declined to comment after yesterday's verdict.

Gianelli's wife, Mary Ann, who pleaded guilty last month to money-laundering, racketeering, and other charges and is awaiting sentencing, is the sister of Connolly's wife, Elizabeth. The Gianellis and Connollys lived next door to each other in Lynnfield. Connolly was convicted of federal racketeering in Boston in 2002 and sentenced to 10 years.

Last November, Connolly was convicted of murder in Florida for helping longtime informants James "Whitey" Bulger and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi orchestrate the 1982 slaying of a businessman.

Yesterday, Gianelli, who had been in custody while awaiting trial, showed little emotion as the verdict was read, and he said nothing afterward.

Iacaboni, who was convicted of eight of nine charges against him, said, "This is a shock," after the verdict was read.

Gianelli, Iacaboni, and Dennis Albertelli were all convicted of arson in plotting to burn down the Big Dog Sports Grille in North Reading in a bid to force its owners to sell Gianelli and Albertelli another bar in Lynnfield. The arson conviction carries a minimum mandatory 15-year prison term.

Gisele Albertelli's lawyer, Page Kelley, said, "I'm disappointed that they returned so many 'guilties,' because there were a lot of counts on which the evidence was dubious. The problem with an indictment like this that alleges so many crimes is that it's hard to overcome the presumption of guilt."

Dennis Albertelli's lawyer, Edward Pasquina Jr., referring to prosecution witnesses who were granted immunity in exchange for their cooperation, said, "Certainly the government marched in a parade of horribles, and they [jurors] took their word for it."

US District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton set sentencing for July 17 for Gianelli; July 23 for Dennis Albertelli, the following day for Iacaboni, and July 29 for Gisele Albertelli.

The case, investigated by the Massachusetts State Police Special Service Section, began with a wiretap and quickly mushroomed.

Thanks to Shelley Murphy

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