Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Peter Bart's "Infamous Players: A Tale of Movies, the Mob (and Sex)"

He was a tall, silver-haired man, square-jawed with a military bearing, always impeccably attired in a dark blue suit. It was only a few weeks into my Paramount job when I came to understand that His visits were a daily occurrence, but did not linger or chat with anyone other than (Paramount head of production) Bob Evans, nor did anyone on staff ever refer to him or acknowledge his visits. Korshak was the ghost who was always there but never there.

Evans had talked earlier about him once or twice, always in a manner that betrayed not only respect but near-reverence. Sidney Korshak was not so much his personal attorney (he never paid him) or even his mentor as he was his consigliere. And when Korshak arrived for an Evans audience, all other plans would be set aside. Whoever happened to be in the reception room would have to wait until the big man had come and gone from Evans' sanctum sanctorum. And this procedure was replicated by other power players at other offices in town, as I was to learn.

Sidney Korshak, it seemed to me, was the man who knew everything -- the big corporate deals as well as the personal peccadilloes. It was some time before I also realized that Korshak was the man who knew too much.

It was Korshak's role in life to dwell simultaneously in two separate and distinct worlds which, in his grand design, would remain hermetically sealed against each other. There was his celebrity world -- he liked to drop names like Kirk Douglas or Dinah Shore or Debbie Reynolds, or to casually mention that he'd just had dinner with Sinatra in Las Vegas, or with Nancy and Ronnie Reagan in Beverly Hills. But he would never mention his other friends, like Tony Accardo or Sam Giancana from the Chicago mob or Jimmy Hoffa from the Teamsters or Moe Dalitz from Vegas.

Korshak would allude to the corporate deals he made on behalf of Lew Wasserman or Howard Hughes, but he never confided what he knew about Bugsy Siegel's murder or Hoffa's disappearance.

Korshak's life was built around a web of secrecy, and he was convinced that he would always be able to move effortlessly from one world to the next. It was only later in his life that he, too, found himself trapped. As the dangers in his nether life became more ominous, Korshak was unable to extricate himself from his underworld bonds. The celebrities would continue to decorate his life, like glitzy toys, but the bad boys would always be hovering out there with their furtive demands and threats. …

Over the years my relationship with Korshak remained distanced but cordial. He never directly asked anything from me nor subjected me to his power games. When his son, Harry, began to produce movies at Paramount -- I never figured out precisely how this deal came about -- Korshak said to me he would "appreciate it" if I were to "look out" for Harry and provide advice if he began to stray. But when young Harry's career did not go well, Korshak was the first to inform his son that he would do well to pursue other career possibilities.In observing Korshak's superbly surreptitious maneuverings over time, I began to accept a reality none of us wanted to openly address. Sidney Korshak was a gangster, albeit a very civil and well-groomed gangster. The bad boys had achieved major clout in the entertainment industry, and Korshak, despite all his secrecy, represented the embodiment of that clout.

Ironically, while Korshak yearned for the trappings of "respectability," his pals in Hollywood venerated him, not for his cool or his great wardrobe or even for his lawyering skills, but rather for his fabled underworld ties. …Bob Evans, for one, had always romanticized the lore of the gangster -- hence his lifelong ambition to make the movie about the mythic, mobster-owned Cotton Club, which ultimately came to haunt him. Charlie Bluhdorn,founder of Gulf + Western, which owned Par, had a longstanding flirtation with the shadow world out of fringe financiers in Europe and ended up doing deals that resulted in prison sentences for his partners and almost for himself. (Paramount president) Frank Yablans subscribed to mobster mythology to such a degree that he even agreed to play the role of an underworld thug in a movie titled "Mikey and Nicky." He was in rehearsal on the film before an apoplectic Bluhdorn vetoed his participation (even the often reckless Bluhdhorn realized the potential jeopardy to his corporate image).

Thanks to Peter Bart

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mob Outfit Film "Predators Game" to Start Filming in Chicago Soon

Predators Game is a feature-length crime thriller set (and filmed) in Chicago. The lives of a Chicago outfit Hitman and a serial killer with an obsession for beautiful women he wants to make perfect, become intimately and surprisingly intertwined.

FBI profiler, Dr. Carmichael, joins forces with lead Detective John Burke, who is tasked with putting a stop to the murderous havoc of this dangerous Predator.

The Hitman’s life is changed forever as the serial killer manipulates events in his life which sets him on a rampage of carnage in search for this unlikely opponent.

Time is running out for Detective Burke and Dr. Carmichael as they seek this Predator who is playing a deadly life and death game with all of their lives.

Filming stars soon and extras casting will be handled by Darlene Hunt and Extraordinary Casting.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Philadelphia Mafia Takedown Recap

On Monday, a superseding federal grand jury indictment was announced charging 13 members and associates of the Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra (LCN) family with racketeering, extortion, loan sharking, illegal gambling, and witness tampering.

Eleven of the 13—including the reputed boss and underboss of the criminal enterprise—were arrested earlier that day in Philadelphia and New Jersey. Two of the subjects were already serving time in federal prison for previous convictions but managed to continue their racketeering activities from behind bars.

Alleged mob boss Joseph Ligambi rose through the ranks of the Philadelphia LCN crime family and took over at the helm after the 2001 incarceration of previous boss Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino on racketeering charges.

The indictment alleges that for more than a decade, Ligambi, underboss Joseph Massimino, and the others conspired to generate money through various crimes. For example, they reportedly operated illegal gambling businesses involving sports bookmaking and electronic gambling devices in places like bars, restaurants, convenience stories, and coffee shops…and pocketed the proceeds. Mafia families like the one in Philadelphia often make millions of dollars and traditionally use gambling proceeds as seed money for other crimes.

The defendants also offered “loans”—at exorbitant interest rates—to victims who knew there would be dire consequences if they failed to repay them within a certain time frame.

To carry out their crimes, the defendants often used actual or implied threats of violence against their victims. According to the indictment, some of the defendants used phrases like, “I’ll put a bullet in your head,” and, “Chop him up,” to threaten victims who weren’t repaying their loans. The defendants used their reputation for violence to intimidate and prevent victims and witnesses from cooperating with law enforcement.

The defendants also actively worked to conceal their illegal operations from law enforcement. For example, they used coded language over the phone, such as calling the electronic gambling devices “coffee machines.” They often took “walk and talks” where they would conduct covert conversations with each other while walking to and from a particular destination because they thought they couldn’t be intercepted. They also established companies that appeared to be legitimate but were actually created to launder money and conceal the illegal nature of their activities.

To collect the evidence needed for these indictments, this long-term investigation included undercover scenarios, court-authorized electronic surveillances, consensual recordings, and many hours of physical surveillance.

This particular case was a good example of law enforcement cooperation at its best—the Philadelphia Police Department, the Pennsylvania and New Jersey State Police, the Criminal Division of the Internal Revenue Service, and the Department of Labor all worked alongside the Philadelphia FBI, with additional assistance from the New Jersey Department of Corrections and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office.  Prosecutors from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section are assisting the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania as well.

This arrest of the reputed leadership of the Philadelphia LCN comes on the heels of the large mafia takedown in New York  earlier this year. And law enforcement efforts against the LCN, as well as other types of organized crime—international and domestic—will continue unabated.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Steve Wynn Shares Casino Owner's Handbook on Organized Crime

Gambling mogul Steve Wynn Steve Wynn Shares Casino Owner's Handbook on Organized Crimehad fun with a question at a press conference Tuesday about allegations of organized crime in Macau, the world’s largest casino market.

“I know one thing–organized crime is illegal…And one should avoid participating in organized crime,” he said. “That’s the first page of the casino owner’s handbook…actually I didn’t go any further in the book. That’s where I left it right there,” he joked.

Turning more serious, he said Wynn Resorts Ltd. has an “extensive internal investigation process” to ensure it remains compliant with regulations in the U.S. and China. “We have former FBI agents and policemen from Hong Kong and China–a whole staff of people to check things up and have access to intelligence and things that us normal people wouldn’t necessarily know about.”

Mr. Wynn, Wynn Resorts’ chief executive, said the company and its Hong Kong-listed Wynn Macau Ltd. unit vet business partners including junket operators, the middlemen who recruit mostly mainland Chinese gamblers, lend them money and collect debts.

“All of this we did out of sheer common sense and understanding the business we’re in,” said Mr. Wynn following the annual general meeting for Wynn Macau. Mr. Wynn said that his compliance committee doesn’t report to him, but to Wynn Resorts board member and former Nevada Gov. Bob Miller.

Investigations into the casino industry have been on investors’ minds recently. A U.S. government probe of rival casino operator Las Vegas Sands for possible lack of compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act has some investors and industry watchers concerned there could be a sector-wide probe on the way. (Las Vegas Sands has said it is cooperating with investigators and has denied allegations in a separate lawsuit the company believes sparked the investigation.) Last year, another Macau casino player, MGM Resorts International, sold its stake in a New Jersey casino after regulators there found the operator’s Macau partnership with a daughter of tycoon Stanley Ho troubling because of his alleged ties to organized crime. Mr. Ho and his family denied any such ties.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal Saturday, Mr. Wynn said his company didn’t face any regulatory risk despite the increased scrutiny of some in the industry.

“We’ve never been investigated by anyone and have no risk of any kind whatsoever,” he said.

Thanks to Kate O'Keefe

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Crime Beat Radio Show Releases Upcoming Program Schedule

Crime Beat: Issues, Controversies and Personalities from the Darkside has been programming since January 28 of this year and is currently averaging 60,000 listeners plus each week, and the figure is growing.

Crime Beat is now pleased to announce its forthcoming schedule:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Vinny Gorgeous Begs Jury for Mercy

After a blood-soaked career as a New York mafia boss, Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano found himself begging a jury Tuesday for something he rarely gave himself: mercy.

Jurors in Brooklyn federal court began hearing arguments on whether the convicted murderer and former boss of the Italian-American Bonanno crime family should be executed or spend the rest of his life in a top security prison.

A lawyer for Basciano, a 51-year-old famous for his sharp suits and swept-back, immaculate hair, made an emotional appeal, telling the jury to let his client die "in God's time and not man's."In several years' time, defense attorney Richard Jasper said in a dramatic whisper, jurors would be asked by their children how they acted "and you will be able to tell them: 'I chose life.'"Basciano was convicted last week for ordering the murder of a fellow wiseguy, Randolph Pizzolo. Unlike in usual cases where the judge sets the sentence, the jury in a capital case also has sentencing power.

Prosecutor Jack Dennehy described "the murderous rise to power" that took Basciano to the top of the Bonannos, one of New York's traditional five Cosa Nostra crime syndicates.

He said Basciano was involved in several mafia killings, both as trigger puller and the man who gave the orders -- "a man who wants to decide who lives and who dies."If Basciano were sent to prison, even without parole, he would continue to pull the strings, Dennehy argued. "He will not leave the Bonanno crime family behind in prison."Basciano's life and trial could be taken from the script of a brutal Hollywood mafia movie. A striking-looking man, he spent three decades thriving in the snake-pit of the Big Apple underworld.In court, he has fought equally hard to justify his infamous "Vinny Gorgeous" nickname. He complained several times at the outset about his poor access to clothes and he even borrowed the judge's tie so that he could look smart before jurors came in.

On Tuesday, the cool killer wore an olive green suit with a tie in forest colors and a white shirt. His silver-black hair was combed perfectly backward.With years of experience in the justice system, Basciano takes active part in his defense. He entered court carrying a box of documents and spent his time taking notes -- passing some along to his lawyers -- and shaking his head when Dennehy said he'd gone as far as plotting to murder women.

Dennehy said the fallen mob boss "poses a future danger to others" and had "earned the ultimate punishment, the punishment of death." But Jasper, his voice ranging from a near shout to intimate whispers, sought to tug jurors' consciences. For a death sentence, the jury must be unanimous. If not, Basciano will go to prison.

Jasper urged jurors against thinking that life in prison was a soft option. Basciano, he said, would be sent to the Supermax facility in a remote part of Colorado, a place "feared" by the hardest of the hard.There would be no second chance for Basciano, he said. "Vinny Basciano will come out of prison in a box."The dapper don act will be over too."No suits, no shirts, no ties, no 'Vinny Gorgeous,'" Jasper said. "The rest of his life in prison."

Monday, May 23, 2011

Reputed Philly Mob Boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi Along with Alleged Underboss Joseph "Mousei" Massimino Among 12 Arrested

The reputed boss of the Philadelphia mob, his alleged lieutenant and 11 others were hit with federal racketeering and gambling charges in an indictment unsealed Monday that federal authorities said shows that violent organized crime remains a real-life menace.

Alleged mob leader Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi, reputed underboss Joseph "Mousie" Massimino and the others ran illegal gambling operations and engaged in loan sharking, according to the 70-page indictment that described a "Godfather"-like world in which reputed mobsters used threats to kill or harm people to recoup business debts.

Eleven people, including Ligambi, were arrested Monday. The other two defendants were already in federal custody.

Ligambi, 72, pleaded not guilty during an initial appearance. His attorney, Joseph Santaguida, said the case against his client isn't strong and that he should be granted bail at a hearing later this week.

Massimino, 61, said in court that he didn't yet have an attorney. He has a bail hearing scheduled for Thursday. A judge also scheduled bail hearings for many of the other defendants this week.

The arrests were the largest action taken against Philadelphia's crime family in a decade.
"They used violence and the threat of violence to exert control over others," Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said at a news conference, noting that organized crime in Philadelphia had shown "a remarkable ability to reorganize and reinvent itself."

Ligambi, Massimino and the others provided video poker machines and other illegal gambling devices to bars, restaurants and convenience stores in and around Philadelphia, prosecutors said.

Ligambi, Massimino and another defendant tried to make the business appear legitimate to hide the money from the federal government, prosecutors said. Ligambi, Massimino and other defendants also "approved, supervised, and otherwise participated in extortions" to generate income for the enterprise and its members, the indictment said.

In one instance, between about 2002 and 2006, Massimino and another defendant extorted a bookmaker by demanding that the bookmaker provide "yearly tribute payments" to the Philadelphia La Casa Nostra in order to "avoid personal harm" and the disruption of business, the indictment said.

The indictment is also riddled with allegations of defendants threatening to kill or harm people who haven't paid their debts, including alleged threats to "put a bullet in your head" and to "chop him up." Massimino allegedly told one victim that he wouldn't "be able to hide anywhere in the U.S.," prosecutors allege.

"The defendants also used express and implied threats of physical violence and economic harm to instill fear in their victims and to preserve and sustain the enterprise," the indictment said.
U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger said the arrests should serve as a warning that law enforcement hasn't forgotten about the Mafia.

"Today, we make clear that such activity will not be tolerated by my office and that La Cosa Nostra remains a priority for the Department of Justice," Memeger said.

Ligambi took over the Philadelphia mob after former boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino was convicted of racketeering in 2001, according to investigators. Merlino was later acquitted of a murder charge in 2004.

Ligambi was convicted in the 1985 gangland slaying of Frank "Frankie Flowers" D'Alfonso and spent 10 years in prison before he was acquitted on retrial in 1997.

Merlino is currently serving a six-month term at a Florida halfway house after being released from federal prison in March.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Extradition of Genovese Family Soldier from Italy to Face Racketeering Charges for His Alleged Role in Two Murders and Other Crimes

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that EMILIO FUSCO was extradited from Italy to face racketeering and other charges in connection with his role as a made member of the Genovese organized crime family. FUSCO arrived in New York , and was arraigned in Manhattan federal court.

FUSCO was charged, along with co-defendants FELIX TRANGHESE, TY GEAS, FOTIOS GEAS, and ARTHUR NIGRO, in a superseding indictment (the “indictment”) unsealed in July 2010. TRANGHESE pled guilty in January 2011, and NIGRO, FOTIOS GEAS, and TY GEAS were convicted by a jury on April 1, 2011, of racketeering charges, multiple murder charges, and multiple extortion charges.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA stated: “Emilio Fusco will finally face the justice he deserves—something that he never afforded his alleged victims.”

According to the indictment and testimony and evidence presented at the trial of FUSCO’s co-defendants:

FUSCO was a made member of the Genovese organized crime family, in Springfield, Massachusetts. In 2003, prior to being sentenced for an earlier racketeering conviction, FUSCO obtained a court document showing that Genovese family capo Adolfo Bruno had spoken with an FBI agent about FUSCO’s status in the Genovese family. Thereafter, Arthur Nigro, who was then an acting boss of the Genovese family, gave the order to murder Bruno. FUSCO and others conspired to carry out the murder, and Bruno was killed on November 23, 2003.

Less than three weeks before Bruno’s murder, FUSCO, along with another Genovese family soldier and two associates, murdered an individual named Gary Westerman to maintain and increase their position in the Genovese organized crime family and to prevent Westerman from providing information to law enforcement about crimes committed by members and associates of the Genovese organized crime family.

FUSCO is charged with one count each of racketeering conspiracy, racketeering, conspiring to commit extortion, extortion, and interstate travel in aid of racketeering. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence on each racketeering count of life in prison, a maximum sentence on each extortion count of 20 years in prison, and a maximum sentence on the interstate travel count of five years in prison.

A conference in the case is scheduled before U.S. District Judge P. KEVIN CASTEL on June 17, 2011, at 12:00 p.m.

Sentencing for NIGRO, FOTIOS GEAS, and TY GEAS is scheduled for July 15, 2011, at 11:15 a.m. TRANGHESE is scheduled to be sentenced on July 15, 2011, at 9:30 a.m.

Mr. BHARARA praised the efforts of the FBI’s New York Field Office, the FBI’s Springfield, Massachusetts, Resident Agency, and the Massachusetts State Police for their outstanding work in the ongoing investigation. He also thanked the United States Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs and the United States Marshals Service for their involvement in the extradition process.

This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Organized Crime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys MARK LANPHER, ELIE HONIG, and DANIEL GOLDMAN are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Unfinished Business on Mob Wives

During a ladies' night out, "Party Renee" Graziano makes an overdue and completely wild appearance. Meanwhile, Drita D'avanzo comes face to face with the harsh realities of having a husband behind bars as her birthday approaches. Her boozy blowout pushes her to resolve one conflict, though she remains oblivious to another even bigger one that is brewing. Carla Facciolo's blissful relationship with a mystery man sows the seeds of dissent among the women, as Renee prepares herself for a fresh start, at any cost. While continuing to work on her book and dig into her past, Karen Gravano resolves to confront an explosive issue that's been eating at her for a long time. Sparks fly. Lines are crossed.

Friday, May 20, 2011

How Joseph Massino Exposed the Ugly Truth About "Vinny Gorgeous"

A New York City mobster who is serving a life sentence for attempted murder could become the first mafia boss to face the death penalty after being convicted in a case accusing him of ordering a gangland killing to cement his rise to power in the Bonanno organised crime family.

A Brooklyn jury had deliberated for four days in the death penalty case before finding tough-talking Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano guilty of murder, racketeering, conspiracy and other charges on Monday.

The jury, after being swayed by wiretaps and a series of low-level mob witnesses, will reconvene next week to decide whether Basciano, 51, will get another life term or execution by lethal injection.

The federal trial of the one-time owner of the Hello Gorgeous beauty salon featured testimony by former Bonanno boss Joseph Massino, who made another first in this trial, by becoming the first boss to testify against one of their own.

Massino, 68, began talking with investigators after his 2004 conviction for orchestrating a quarter-century's worth of murder, racketeering and other crimes as he rose through the Bonanno ranks.

He is serving two consecutive life terms for eight murders. He testified his cooperation spared his wife from prosecution, allowed her to keep their home and gave him a shot at a reduced sentence.

By cooperating, he told jurors he was violating a sacred oath he took during a 1977 induction ceremony to protect the secret society. It was understood, he said, that "once a bullet leaves that gun, you never talk about it".

The bloodshed revealed by Massino's testimony includes the shotgun slayings of three rival captains and the execution of a mobster who vouched for FBI undercover agent Donnie Brasco in the 1980s.

While imprisoned together in 2005, the former Bonanno boss agreed to wear a wire and betray Basciano, a gangster known for his meticulously groomed hair, sharp suits and hot temper. Before trial, Basciano won approval to have access to five different suits to wear to court – one for each day of the week.

Jurors heard one recording of Basciano boasting, "I'm a hoodlum, I'm a tough guy. Whatever happens, happens. Let's go."

The tape was evidence that the defendant is "a cold-blooded remorseless killer," Assistant US Attorney Stephen Frank said in his closing argument.

Prosecutors alleged that Basciano – while seizing control of the Bonannos as acting boss in 2004 after Massino was jailed – orchestrated the killing of mob associate Randolph Pizzolo. The slaying was payback for a drunken tirade by Pizzolo demanding induction into the family.

Thanks to Richard Hall and Tom Hays

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Following its December 2010 Showtime television premiere, Beverly Ridge Pictures’ feature length gangster film Chicago Overcoat had its much-anticipated North American home video release on April 19, 2011. MTI Home VideoChicago Overcoat, The Glory Days are Back, now in its 27th year distributing films, made Chicago Overcoat availableto rent at Netflix, Redbox, and Blockbuster Express, and to purchase at Amazon, iTunes, and thousands of other online stores. Major retailers will have Chicago Overcoat DVDs on their shelves Summer 2011. Original music from the film can be purchased on iTunes, Amazon, and eMusic.

The film stars Frank Vincent (The Sopranos) as an aging hit man who tries to get back a piece of the glory days. Fellow Sopranos cast member Kathrine Narducci (A Bronx Tale) co-stars as Vincent’s girlfriend, along with Danny Goldring (The Dark Knight) as a tenacious homicide detective, and Mike Starr (Goodfellas) as the street boss. The cast also features Emmy Award winner Armand Assante (American Gangster) as the imprisoned Outfit boss, and Golden Globe winner Stacy Keach (Lights Out) as a retired detective.

Chicago Overcoat had its world premiere at the 45th Chicago International Film Festival, where it was voted into the “Best of the Fest.” It went on to win “Best Dramatic Feature” at the 8th Garden State Film Festival then “Best Cinematography” at the 6th Midwest Independent Film Festival. The film received much critical acclaim during its festival tour. In Variety’s review Alissa Simon wrote: “This energetic calling-card pic boasts the most charismatic mafia murderer since Tony Soprano…” And Chicago Sun-Times columnist Bill Zwecker wrote: “Well produced and directed…a very tense thriller.”

For information on how to rent or purchase Chicago Overcoat go to www.beverlyridgepictures.com or follow the film on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

‘Do You Know Who I Am?’ on Mob Wives

Renee Graziano tempts fate by hosting a Psychic Party, while Carla Facciolo loses control over her rambunctious twins and contemplates telling them the truth about their Dad's imprisonment. After Drita D'avanzo's moves to make amends are rebuffed by Renee, the domineering wise gals go head to head. Renee's inner Mafia Princess is unleashed when things take a disrespectful and dangerous turn during a night out with Karen Gravano.

"Capone Days Festival" to Honor Al Capone's Grand Niece, Deirdre Marie Capone, at Gangster Museum Grand Opening

Deirdre Marie Capone is the Guest Of Honor at the Hot Springs, Arkansas 'Capone Days Festival' May 20, 21, 22.

She will also be signing copies of her new award winning book, Uncle Al Capone at the grand opening of The Gangster Museum.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"America's Most Wanted" Canceled by Fox in Budget Move, Show to Consider Syndication?

You didn't have to watch "America's Most Wanted" to be grateful it's there. For 23 years it has resided on Fox, rallying its audience into a nationwide crime watch from which everyone benefited.

The viewership was not insignificant: 5 million viewers, on average, this season.But other numbers were more impressive. Like the 1,151-and-counting worldwide captures it claimed, a public blessing for which the show, and the community it roused, could take proud credit.

No wonder if the public was shaken by the news on Monday that Fox has canceled "AMW."

Too expensive, Fox entertainment Kevin Reilly explained when making the announcement. Instead of "AMW," Fox will air weekly repeats of its prime-time entertainment series. He said there would be just four, two-hour "AMW" specials next season.

John Walsh had gotten the bad news on Sunday. Walsh, of course, is the host of "AMW" and its driving force, a man who led a crime-busting crusade in the aftermath of the abduction and murder of his 6-year-old son Adam in 1981. "I was quite surprised," he said by phone Monday afternoon from backstage at the Fox's presentation for advertisers in Manhattan. He said he told Reilly, "We performed hard for you and we had a good year. We caught more guys than we've ever caught." But that wasn't the metric that mattered to the network.

Set aside for a moment the public good "AMW" has provided. It's also been a remarkable TV institution. It premiered in April 1988 on the fledgling Fox network during a season when other freshman Fox shows included such long-forgotten fare as "The New Adventures of Beans Baxter" and "Second Chance."
It was billed as "a weekly nationwide criminal manhunt." Walsh, a former hotel executive with no TV experience, was its host, with a simple message for the law-abiding public that he deputized to help flush out the bad guys: It's us or them.

"AMW" caught on, where most of Fox's lineup failed. (In July 1989, it became the first-ever Fox program to rank first in its time slot.) It's been a fixture on the network ever since, and, since 1994, planted at 9 p.m. Eastern on Saturdays. Oh, except for a couple of months in 1996 after Fox canceled it the first time.
"The public went bananas," Walsh recalled. So did government and police officials, who regarded the show as an invaluable law-enforcement resource. The network swiftly reconsidered, and "AMW" carried on with its good work.

"It's a show that seems like it was always there," said Brad Adgate, an analyst for the firm Horizon Media. And innovative: "It harnessed the wisdom of crowds long before social media."

"AMW" had another thing going for it. No matter how aggressively the show led a fight to drain the nation's swampland of depravity, there was no danger it would ever run dry. "AMW" has content guaranteed to keep going forever.

Anyone other than Walsh might have received the news that "AMW" was being cut down with a measure of relief. After a quarter-century immersed in the dark side of humanity while keeping up a punishing schedule, he might reasonably welcome a respite now, at age 65. But he's not about to slow down.

"We're getting better at it," he said of the collective effort he and his show display. "I got better at it, smarter at it, tougher."

Walsh said there will be a couple more episodes to do for the network. Meanwhile, he'll be talking to Twentieth Television, the network's studio arm, about possible new outlets for the show. "I think this show could go into syndication big-time," he said. "And I'll do those specials, because I love the network. Who else would give the father of a murdered child a chance to host a revolutionary reality show?"

Then he had to get off the phone. He was needed onstage at the presentation. "Television is a business and I understand that," Walsh said in parting. "But you never know: We came back once, stronger than ever. ... I'm not ready to throw in the towel."

Vincent 'Vinny Gorgeous' Basciano Could Face Death Penalty for Mob Murder

Notorious mob boss 'Vinny Gorgeous' could face the death penalty after being convicted on Monday in federal court of ordering the death of a former Mafia associate.

A jury in Brooklyn reached the verdict on its fourth day of deliberations after the month-long trial and now must decide whether he should be killed for his crime or locked up for life.

It is only the second time in 30 years that a mobster has faced the death penalty for a gangland murder.

In 1992 Thomas 'Tommy Karate' Pitera was convicted of seven murders and could have been executed, but instead the jury gave him life in prison.

There is no longer a state death penalty charge in New York but the feds are seeking the death penalty under the murder in aid of racketeering statute.

Vincent Basciano, who was known to mobsters as Vinny Gorgeous, was already serving a life sentence for an attempted murder conviction in 2007.

This time, he was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, murder in aid of racketeering, and an illegal gun charge in relation to the killing of a mob associate who ran afoul of the Bonanno organised crime family in 2004.

The trial featured testimony by former Bonanno boss Joseph Massino, the highest-ranking member of a New York City Mafia family ever to testify against his own.

Jurors heard secret recordings by Massino in which 51-year-old Basciano admitted to the killing. Prosecutors suggested Basciano was a power-hungry gangster, 'ruthless' and 'ambitious' in his lethal methods.

Basciano gave the order to kill Randolph Pizzolo, a Bonanno associate who was gunned down in 2004 in an industrial section of Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Assistant US Attorney Stephen Frank told the jury at Brooklyn federal court Basciano continued to run the crime family from behind bars.

Basciano 'ordered the murder of Randolph Pizzolo, who disrespected and disobeyed the defendant and paid for it with his life,' he said. Pizzolo's death 'would be a statement to everybody in the crime family that Vinny Basciano don't play around,' Frank added.

He suggested a secret recording which captured the gangster saying 'let him [Pizzolo] go', proved the mobster's guilt.

Despite the recordings and testimony from former mob associates of the gangster, Basciano's defence had tried to argue he wasn't involved in Pizzolo's murder. 'At times in his life, he was a hoodlum. But he didn't kill Randy Pizzolo,' George Goltzer, one of Basciano's defense attorneys, told the jury.

The defence painted half a dozen former Bonannos who testified against Basciano as ruthless murderers seeking reduced sentences at any cost.

One of them, Joseph Massino, was the Bonanno boss for two decades before turning on his own and becoming the first head of a New York crime family to testify for the government.

The case relied heavily on secret recordings between Basciano and Massino, who was wearing a wire.

The jury will return to court in a few days to discuss Basciano's penalty and determine whether or not he should be executed for his mob crimes.

Thanks to DMR

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Mob Bust on VH1's Mob Wives

When the Feds conduct the biggest mob bust in the history of organized crime, the fall out rocks Staten Island to its core and Renee Graziano's world starts to unravel.

Mob Bust Hits VH1's Mob Wives

Karen Gravano is forced to revisit her mafia past as she reconnects with memories of growing up as an infamous gangster's daughter. Drita D'avanzo faces the harsh realities of her husband's prolonged jail sentence which forces her to question her future as a prisoner's wife. The divide between Renee and Drita deepens when Renee receives an unexpected blow and an unlikely ally shows support.

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