Sunday, September 30, 2012

Thomas Foley and John Sedgwick Discuss "Most Wanted: Pursuing Whitey Bulger, the Murderous Mob Chief the FBI Secretly Protected" on Crime Beat Radio

On October 4, Thomas Foley and John Sedgwick discuss their explosive book, Most Wanted: Pursuing Whitey Bulger, the Murderous Mob Chief the FBI Secretly Protected, on Crime Beat Radio.

Most Wanted is a true-life thriller, and Foley is the hero at its center. His investigative efforts resulted in criminal convictions of a half-dozen of Boston’s most notorious thugs and also led to the conviction of John Connolly, one of the FBI agents who abetted Bulger; Connolly is now serving a forty-year prison sentence. In this book, Foley, a cop’s cop, honestly recounts how his wide-eyed admiration for the nation’s top law enforcement agency was gradually transformed by dark realities he didn’t want to believe.

On the air since January 28, 2011, Crime Beat is a weekly hour-long radio program that airs every Thursday at 8 p.m. EST. Crime Beat presents fascinating topics that bring listeners closer to the dynamic underbelly of the world of crime. Guests have included ex-mobsters, undercover law enforcement agents, sports officials, informants, prisoners, drug dealers and investigative journalists, who have provided insights and fresh information about the world’s most fascinating subject: crime.

Crime Beat is currently averaging 130,000 listeners plus each week, and the figure is growing. Crime Beat is hosted by award-winning crime writer and documentary producer Ron Chepesiuk (www.ronchepesiuk.com) and broadcast journalist and freelance writer Will Hryb.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Live by Night - Novel which Centers on Gangster Joe Coughlin, Steeped in Bootleg Booze and Organized Crime of Prohibition-Era America

Boston, 1926. The '20s are roaring. Liquor is flowing, bullets are flying, and one man sets out of make his mark on the world.

Joe Coughlin, the son of a prominent Boston police captain, has long since turned his back on his proper upbringing. Now in the pay of the city's most fearsome mobsters, Joe enjoys the spoils, thrills, and notoriety of being an outlaw.

Joe embarks on a dizzying journey up the ladder of organized crime that takes him from Jazz Age Boston to Tampa's Latin Quarter to the streets of Cuba. Live by Night is a riveting epic layered with loyal friends and callous enemies, tough rumrunners and sultry femme fatales, Bible-quoting evangelists and cruel Klansmen, all battling for survival and their piece of the American dream. A compelling saga of love and revenge, it is a spellbinding tour de force of betrayal and redemption that brings to life a bygone era when sin was cause for celebration and vice was a national virtue.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Leaders of Two Chicago-Area Drug Trafficking Organizations Among 39 Arrested on Federal Narcotics Charges

Two leaders of separate drug trafficking organizations that operated independently while sometimes supplying each other with multiple kilograms of cocaine were arrested and are among 39 defendants who are facing federal drug charges, federal and local law enforcement officials announced today. The charges contained in a criminal complaint stem from an investigation led jointly by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration that began in July 2011, with assistance from other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

Agents yesterday executed three federal search warrants at the same time as they began arresting defendants in the Chicago area, as well as in Indiana, Texas, and California. Agents seized approximately 2.5 kilograms of cocaine, $176,800 cash, and several guns. The two alleged leaders, Jesus Ramirez-Padilla and Humberto Jimenez, were among 27 defendants who were arrested, while the whereabouts of four others were accounted for, and eight remained fugitives. Previously, during the year-long investigation, agents seized more than 13 kilos of cocaine, 10 kilos of marijuana, 1.5 kilos of heroin, and approximately $75,000.

All 39 defendants were charged with various drug distribution offenses in a criminal complaint that was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court and unsealed yesterday following the arrests. The defendants who were arrested began appearing yesterday before Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez in U.S. District Court and remain in federal custody pending detention hearings scheduled for next week.

Yesterday’s operation brings to nearly 100 the number of defendants who have been arrested and charged in Chicago with federal or state drug trafficking offenses in just the last three weeks.

Gary S. Shapiro, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, praised the dedication and teamwork of the FBI, DEA, and HSI agents who worked diligently with the Chicago Police Department to disrupt these alleged drug trafficking organizations. Mr. Shapiro announced the charges with William C. Monroe, Acting Special Agent in -Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Jack Riley, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration; Gary Hartwig, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Chicago; and Garry F. McCarthy, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. The U.S. Marshals Service and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division also assisted, together with the Illinois State Police, the Cook County Sheriff’s Police, and the Berwyn and Oak Lawn Police Departments. The investigation was conducted under the umbrella of the U.S. Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).

According to the complaint affidavit, the investigation determined that Ramirez-Padilla, 39, and Jimenez, 26, both of Chicago, each led his own drug trafficking organization. Both organizations regularly bought and sold multiple kilos of powder cocaine on Chicago’s southwest side. Each organization had its own wholesale distributors, drug couriers, stash houses, workers, and suppliers. While the Ramirez and Jimenez organizations operated independently, they sometimes supplied each other with kilograms of powder cocaine. Both organizations took steps to protect themselves from detection by law enforcement, including: using code words to disguise references to narcotics and other items; regularly replacing telephones; using different vehicles to transport drugs; and engaging in counter-surveillance techniques.

The 205-page affidavit details conversations among various defendants that were intercepted on 26 different telephones during the investigation pursuant to court-authorized electronic surveillance.

Sixteen defendants, who were charged in two separate conspiracies to possess and distribute cocaine and/or heroin, face a mandatory minimum of 10 years to a maximum of life in prison and a $10 million fine. The remaining defendants face maximum sentences up to 20 or 40 years in prison and a maximum fine of $2 million or $5 million. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The government is being represented by Assistant United States Attorneys Nathalina Hudson, Joseph Thompson, and John Kness.

The public is reminded that a complaint contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Mark Haller, Author of "Life Under Bruno: The Economics of an Organized Crime Family" Passes Away

Mark H. Haller, 83, formerly of Center City, a professor emeritus at Temple University who was an expert on the history of organized crime, died Saturday, Sept. 22, of pneumonia at Brooke Grove, a retirement community in Sandy Spring, Md.

Dr. Haller joined Temple's faculty in 1968. He was a professor in the history and criminal justice departments, which he helped establish, before retiring in 2010.

Dr. Haller, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on the history of the eugenics movement in the United States, transferred his interest to the study of the history of crime while teaching at the University of Chicago.

On Temple's history department's website, he explained how it happened: "In the mid-1960s, I received, unsolicited, a grant to write a report on an aspect of crime and criminal justice in 1920s Chicago. I found the topic challenging."

Dr. Haller said that after joining Temple's faculty, he began to study Philadelphia organized crime, which he preferred to call "illegal enterprise."

Over the years, Dr. Haller published articles describing the structure of gambling, bootlegging, loan sharking, and drug trafficking, and the relationship between organized crime and the community - especially political connections.

In an Inquirer article about the rising rate of robberies in Philadelphia in 1996, Dr. Haller pointed out that a century earlier, people were less likely to be robbed and more likely to lose money on the street to pickpockets. "It doesn't mean you lose more money, but the feeling of safety is very different," he said."I've been mugged twice in Philadelphia in 28 years, and I can tell you that was more frightening than four attempts to pick my pocket in Rome."

In 1990, Dr. Haller was interviewed about Moses L. Annenberg and his son Walter H., former owners of The Inquirer, for a WHYY TV12 series, Mobfathers. Moses Annenberg became a multimillionaire through his monopoly of the racing wire, which telegraphed race results and tracked odds from coast to coast. Eventually, he was convicted of income-tax evasion and went to prison.

Dr. Haller is the author of a book on the eugenics movement and of Life under Bruno : The Economics of An Organized Crime Family.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Jimmy Hoffa Buried Under Driveway in Roseville, Michigan?

Investigators will take soil samples from the ground beneath a suburban Detroit driveway after a man told police he believes he witnessed the burial of missing Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa about 35 years ago, police said Wednesday.

Roseville Police Chief James Berlin said his department received a tip from a man who said he saw a body buried approximately 35 years ago and "thinks it may have been Jimmy he saw interred."

"We are not claiming it's Jimmy Hoffa, the timeline doesn't add up," Berlin said. "We're investigating a body that may be at the location."

Hoffa was last seen on July 30, 1975, outside a suburban Detroit restaurant where he was supposed to meet with a New Jersey Teamsters boss and a Detroit Mafia captain. His body has not been found despite a number of searches over the years.

Innumerable theories about the demise of the union boss have surfaced over time. Among them: He was entombed in concrete at Giants Stadium in New Jersey, ground up and thrown in a Florida swamp or obliterated in a mob-owned fat-rendering plant. The search has continued under a backyard pool north of Detroit in 2003, under the floor of a Detroit home in 2004 and at a horse farm northwest of Detroit in 2006.

After Roseville police received the most recent tip, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality used ground penetrating radar on a 12-foot-by-12-foot patch beneath the driveway, said agency spokesman Brad Wurfel. It found "that the earth had been disturbed at some point in time," Berlin said.

The environmental quality department on Friday will take soil samples that will be sent to a forensic anthropologist at Michigan State University to "have it tested for human decomposition," Berlin said.

Results are not expected until next week.

The FBI had no immediate comment on the new effort in Roseville. Andrew Arena, who recently retired as head of the FBI in Michigan, told Detroit TV station WDIV that all leads must be followed, but he would be surprised if Hoffa is buried there.

Thanks to Corey Williams.

Rudy "The Chin" Fratto Gets 1 Year and 1 Day in Federal Prison

Reputed made mob member Rudy “The Chin” Fratto wasn’t shy about his status in the Chicago Outfit, the feds say.

“I’m the f------ boss of this area around here. No one else,” Fratto was caught bragging on a secret recording made by federal agents. But Fratto, a reputed leader of the Elmwood Park crew, has publicly denied being part of the mob, once joking outside court he’s a “reputed good guy.” And on Wednesday, a federal judge declined to give Fratto more years behind bars because of his organized crime connections — as federal prosecutors requested — sentencing him instead to a year and a day behind bars for a bid-rigging scheme at McCormick Place.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber, noting Fratto’s age of 68, contended that the government did not prove that organized crime was connected to the scheme.

The feds, though, contend that mob connections were an integral part of the crime. Fratto encouraged a businessman to take part in the bid-rigging scheme and said he could intercede on the man’s behalf regarding an unpaid loan he had received from mob figures in Cleveland.

Federal prosecutors John Podliska and Amarjeet Bhachu also noted in a sentencing memorandum that mob killer Nicholas Calabrese testified as a government witness in the historic Family Secrets mob trial that Fratto became a made member of the Chicago mob in 1988.

The prison sentence of a year and a day allows Fratto to qualify for time reduction for good behavior while behind bars, which could reduce his sentence to about 10 months.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir.

Mike Rizzo Discusses "Gangsters and Organized Crime in Buffalo: History, Hits and Headquarters" on Crime Beat Radio

On September 27 and again on October 4th, Mike Rizzo, author of Gangsters and Organized Crime in Buffalo: History, Hits and Headquarters, discusses his research about organized crime in Buffalo, on Crime Beat Radio.

On the air since January 28, 2011, Crime Beat is a weekly hour-long radio program that airs every Thursday at 8 p.m. EST. Crime Beat presents fascinating topics that bring listeners closer to the dynamic underbelly of the world of crime. Guests have included ex-mobsters, undercover law enforcement agents, sports officials, informants, prisoners, drug dealers and investigative journalists, who have provided insights and fresh information about the world’s most fascinating subject: crime.

Crime Beat is currently averaging 130,000 listeners plus each week, and the figure is growing. Crime Beat is hosted by award-winning crime writer and documentary producer Ron Chepesiuk (www.ronchepesiuk.com) and broadcast journalist and freelance writer Will Hryb.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Frank Calabrese Jr "Operation Family Secrets" Movie in Development with Nicholas Pileggi, Author of "Goodfellas" and "Casino" as Executive Producer and Gary Ross of "The Hunger Games" as Director

One of Chicago's most notorious mobsters has a new home. Fox Chicago has learned convicted gangster Frank Calabrese, Sr. has been moved to a federal prison in North Carolina.

Calabrese, Sr. was recently transferred to Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina. He is serving life behind bars after his conviction in the historic Family Secrets mob trial of committing more than a dozen murders for the Chicago Outfit. For the last several years Calabrese was held under the highest level of security at a federal prison in Springfield, MO. Despite having virtually no contact with the outside world, Calabrese allegedly convinced a prison chaplain to pass messages to associates in Illinois, in an attempt to recover mob loot worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Frank Calabrese, Jr., who secretly recorded his father for the feds and testified against him during the trial, says it's clear why the Federal Bureau of Prisons moved his dad.

"My father's a hot item, meaning that nobody wants to deal with him, and a lot of time in the Bureau of Prisons, instead of dealing with problem prisoners, they'd rather ship them to another prison," Calabrese, Jr. said.

Calabrese, Jr. wrote a best-selling book about his decision to abandon the mob lifestyle and go against his father. He says that compelling story is now being turned into a movie with some Hollywood heavy hitters.

Nicholas Pileggi, who wrote the mob classics "Goodfellas" and "Casino" has signed on to executive produce the Calabrese story. Gary Ross of "The Hunger Games" has agreed to direct the movie. They've also landed Stephen Schiff as screenwriter, who wrote the recent "Wall Street" sequel. The William Morris Endeavor agency is involved, which is headed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's brother Ari. Calabrese says rather than sell the rights to a studio, he wanted to put together an independent team to make the movie so he could retain some control.

"What I was concerned with is not just somebody that wants to make the next shoot 'em up gangster movie. This is about family. This is about the dark side of crime," he said.

Calabrese says nobody has been cast yet, but he's heard several a-list actors are interested in the role of his father, whom he calls a Shakespearian figure.

"The multiple personalities--in the book I explain there was a good side to my dad. There was a great side to my dad. There were multiple sides to my dad. He could walk in a room and win everybody over, and the next minute he could walk in a room and everybody would run for their life."

Thanks to Dane Placko.

Fashion of the Opera!

The world of opera and fashion collide! The American Chamber Opera (ACO) presents Fashion of the Opera hosted by reigning Miss Chicago Marisa Buchheit and Jeff Conway of NBC’s 24/7 Chicago. All proceeds will benefit the Merit School of Music and their efforts to further bring music education to eager talented children and enhance current programs. Guests will experience an incomparable spectacle of music and fashion with Chicago’s best local designers on the runway to a series of live sensational opera. Designers include: Borris Powell, Anastasia Chatzka, Rachel Frank, Fraley Le and Stix and Roses by Sararose Krenger. Formal reception follows.

When: Friday, October 5th 2012

Time: 7:30pm with entertainment promptly at 8:00 and fashion show at 8:30

Where: Intercontinental Magnificent Mile
Grand Ballroom 7th Floor
505 Michigan Avenue Chicago, IL  60611

$40 General Admission $100 VIP and available at http://www.americanchamberopera.org/fashion

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ralph Lamb, Former Sheriff, Inspires New CBS Show on Battle Between Chicago Mob in Las Vegas and Law Enforcement

A new television show based on former Clark County Sheriff Ralph Lamb debuts Tuesday night on CBS. Ralph Lamb, Former Sheriff, Inspires New CBS Show on Battle Between Chicago Mob in Las Vegas and Law Enforcement"Vegas" looks at the battle between organized crime and law enforcement in the 1960s and 1970s.

Lamb was the real-life sheriff at the time and went up against the mob and the Hell's Angels on the streets of Las Vegas.

In an interview with 8 News NOW anchor Paula Francis, Lamb recounts the toughest scrape he ever experienced.

"At the Sands Hotel, I guess," he said. "I was in the Sands alone and there were… they had a big craps game going on there. Some of the biggest guys in the country were shooting craps, and one guy was keeping score on a piece of paper. He'd bet him $50,000, I'll bet you 100. I didn't have any help and no help down there, but the office and the fight broke out. I got a guy named Joe Bernstein, who you know. I drug him kinda' over to the cage and was trying to reach for the phone in there. He was a big bruiser from San Francisco, a big strike breaker, you know. He went to whippin' on me while I had the phone in one hand, and I hit him with the telephone and knocked him down. But, it got pretty hairy there before I got any help."

Lamb says he's amazed he's still alive.

"I've been very lucky... had some close calls, and I've just been blessed with being lucky and knowing what I was doing and watching out for things," he said.

Station Casinos is holding a "Vegas" premiere party Tuesday night. 8 News NOW Chief Investigative Reporter George Knapp is attending to introduce his story on Ralph Lamb. In honor of the show, Governor Brian Sandoval proclaimed Sept. 25 as "Sheriff Ralph Lamb Day."

"Vegas" premieres Tuesday night at 9 p.m. Chicago Time on CBS.

Thanks to KLAS.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Joseph Giordano, Alleged Gambino Capo, Arrested on Extortion Charges

An alleged Gambino capo was dragged from his Long Island home and brought in custody to Central Booking in Manhattan today -- accused of using force and threats to extort $50,000 from a construction company official, according to law enforcement sources.

The reputed crime family captain, Joseph Giordano, was on the Gambino's ruling commission in recent years; his brother, John Giordano, was the consigliere under the notorious John Gotti, Sr.

Josephe Giordano is expected to be arraigned this afternoon before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Gregory Carro.

Thanks to Laura Italiano.

October "There Goes the Neighbor Hood" Gangster Tour

John BinderThe Chicago Outfit, Mob historian and author of The Chicago Outfit (IL) (Images of America), conducts the popular "There Goes the Neighbor Hood" tour of gangster history in Oak Park and River Forest. This exterior tour visits 15 houses in these two suburbs which were previously owned by major hoodlums, including Tony Accardo, Paul Ricca, Sam Giancana, "Tough Tony" Capezio, and "Machine Gun Jack" McGurn. John will discuss the criminal careers of the former owners, the interesting features of each home, the family's time there, and answer all questions from the audience. The tour lasts two hours and is a deep immersion into the history of organized crime in Chicago from Prohibition to the present day. It is by minibus with no walking required.

Date/Time/Details:
The bus departs from (and returns to) the Oak Park Visitor Center at 1010 Lake St. in Oak Park at 11:00 a. m. and 1:30 p. m. on October 14.  Please call the Visitor Center at 708-848-1500 (or www.visitoakpark.com) to purchase tickets.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Margaret McLean Discusses "Under Oath" on Crime Beat Radio

On September 27, a former prosecutor, discusses writing crime fiction and her latest book, Under Oath, on Crime Beat Radio.

Attorney Margaret McLean is a legal thriller author and adjunct law professor at Boston College's Carroll School of Management, specializing in business law. Her legal thriller, Under Fire, features an arson and murder trial and was published in June of 2011 by Tor Forge Macmillan. Her second novel, Under Oath, was published in April 2012. She has co-written a dramatic courtroom play, based on Under Oath, which is in development with the Playwrights and Directors Unit at the Actor's Studio in New York City.

On the air since January 28, 2011, Crime Beat is a weekly hour-long radio program that airs every Thursday at 8 p.m. EST. Crime Beat presents fascinating topics that bring listeners closer to the dynamic underbelly of the world of crime. Guests have included ex-mobsters, undercover law enforcement agents, sports officials, informants, prisoners, drug dealers and investigative journalists, who have provided insights and fresh information about the world’s most fascinating subject: crime.

Crime Beat is currently averaging 130,000 listeners plus each week, and the figure is growing. Crime Beat is hosted by award-winning crime writer and documentary producer Ron Chepesiuk (www.ronchepesiuk.com) and broadcast journalist and freelance writer Will Hryb.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Listening In: The Secret White House Tapes of John F. Kennedy

In July 1962, in an effort to preserve an accurate record of Presidential decision-making in a highly charged atmosphere of conflicting viewpoints, strategies and tactics, John F. Kennedy installed hidden recording systems in the Oval Office and in the Cabinet Room. The result is a priceless historical archive comprising some 265 hours of taped material. JFK was elected president when Civil Rights tensions were near the boiling point, and Americans feared a nuclear war. Confronted with complex dilemmas necessitating swift and unprecedented action, President Kennedy engaged in intense discussion and debate with his cabinet members and other advisors.

Now, in conjunction with the fiftieth anniversary of the Kennedy presidency, the John F. Kennedy Library and historian Ted Widmer have carefully selected the most compelling and important of these remarkable recordings for release, fully restored and re-mastered onto two 75-minute CDs for the first time. Listening In represents a uniquely unscripted, insider account of a president and his cabinet grappling with the day-to-day business of the White House and guiding the nation through a hazardous era of uncertainty.

Accompanied by extensively annotated transcripts of the recordings, and with a foreword by Caroline Kennedy, Listening In delivers the story behind the story in the unguarded words and voices of the decision-makers themselves. Listening In covers watershed events, including the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Space Race, Vietnam, and the arms race, and offers fascinating glimpses into the intellectual methodology of a circumspect president and his brilliant, eclectic brain trust.

Just as the unique vision of President John F. Kennedy continues to resonate half a century after his stirring speeches and bold policy decisions, the documentary candor of Listening In imparts a vivid, breathtaking immediacy that will significantly expand our understanding of his time in office

Friday, September 21, 2012

Nick Calabrese Testimony to be Used at Sentencing of Rudy "The Chin" Fratto

In this Intelligence Report: Federal prosecutors are winding up to throw the book at one of Chicago's top organized crime figures. The I-Team has learned details of next week's sentencing for mob boss Rudy Fratto.

The government wants outfit boss Rudy "the Chin" Fratto to take it on the chin next Wednesday when he is sentenced for his role in a contract bid-rigging scheme at McCormick Place.

Even though Fratto is from a Chicago mob family, he has managed to skate through his career largely unscathed, a routine prosecutors want to end.

In the run-up to next week's federal sentencing, Fratto has seemed to relish his role as a court jester of sorts.

Even though the record of 68-year old Fratto has been devoid of serious criminal charges, something his attorneys will point to next week, prosecutors will ask that Fratto pay the price for a lifetime in mobdom.

According to new records obtained by the I-Team, prosecutors plan to use the testimony of Nick Calabrese to paint a chilling picture of Fratto. Calabrese is the outfit hitman-turned-government witness who was a central witness in Operation Family Secrets.

Quoting Calabrese, prosecutors will say that Fratto was a "made" member of the Chicago outfit, and that in a Hollywood-style fingerpricking ceremony on Father's Day of 1988, Fratto was inducted in the mob. According to the government, a "person would not even be considered for that status until he had committed a homicide on behalf of the outfit." And, Fratto prosecutors say, he "represented himself to be a boss of the Chicago outfit."

It was in that role that Fratto offered to provide mob protection in exchange for a share of the profits from forklift contracts at McCormick Place.

Fratto ran the mob's rackets in Elmwood Park, according to federal agents, where his relative, Luigi Tomaso Giuseppi Fratto, was gangland boss leader from the 1930s into the 1960s.

Luigi Fratto was also known as "Cockeyed Louie" due to his off-kilter eyeball. On Wednesday, the government wants the descendent Rudy Fratto's sentence to be "substantially in excess" of what the law prescribes for the McCormick Place scheme, making it clear he should pay a premium for all those years he got off easy.

The recommended sentence is no more than two years in prison. But the government hopes Judge Harry Leinenweber will hand Fratto much more than that.

In newly filed court documents, lawyers for Fratto claim he is remorseful and regretful and, as they say, not a bad apple.

Fratto is asking for probation -- no prison time, but rather home confinement.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Dixie Mafia Lonely Hearts Scam


Dixie Mafia inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola were behind a scam, in the 1980's, that brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars. Ringleader Kirksey McCord Nix—a convicted murderer serving a life sentence without parole—believed that if he raised enough money he could buy his way out of jail.

Here’s how the scam worked: Inmates paid guards to use prison telephones. Then they placed bogus ads in homosexual publications claiming they were gay and looking for a new partner to move in with. The men who replied to the return post office box address got additional correspondence and racy pictures. But there was a catch—the scammers told their victims a variety of lies about why they needed money before they could leave where they were.

“A lot of money came flowing in,” said retired Special Agent Keith Bell. “There were hundreds of victims.” Men from all walks of life—professors, mail carriers, politicians—fell victim to the scam. “One guy in Kansas mortgaged his house and sent $30,000 to the scammers over a period of months,” Bell recalled.

To add insult to injury, some of the inmates writing letters eventually confessed the scam to their victims—and then extorted even more money by threatening to “out” the men if their demands were not met.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Billionaire Mafia Founder Loves Attention from "Vegas High Rollers"


Addicted to reality TV villains? Odds are good you'll love or loathe Russian diva Lana Fuchs of TLC's "Vegas High Rollers."

She's clearly running out of friends after storming out of a cocktail reception during a weekend film shoot.

Just three weeks into a three-month shoot with the local socialites, the fireworks erupted Friday when the fashion designer's cast mates, concerned about her bad-mouthing, confronted her to clear the air.

Fuchs walked out, with cameras - and eyes - rolling.

"She seems to have an issue with everybody," a source said.

Fuchs appears to love the attention. At their opening shoot at the Hard Rock Hotel's pools, she arrived with an entourage of little people and bodyguards for the Black and White Party, an AIDS benefit.

Fuchs, who grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., after leaving Russia, is the founder of Billionaire Mafia and Lana Fuchs Couture.

Billionaire Mafia has been a hit with the hip-hop crowd and club scenesters.

The shooting has been taking place throughout the city, from staid Las Vegas Country Club to restaurant hot spots Firefly and Marche Baccus to Rain nightclub at the Palms for a pole dancing expo.

Thanks to Norm Clarke.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Anthony DiNunzio, Head of New England Mafia, Pleads Guilty to Racketeering

The head of the New England Mafia pleaded guilty to racketeering in federal court in Rhode Island, in yet another blow to organized crime in the region.

Anthony DiNunzio, 53, of East Boston, could serve to 63 to 78 months in prison through an agreement he reached with federal prosecutors. He pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit racketeering and is slated to be sentenced Nov. 14.

Outside the courthouse in Providence this morning, Rhode Island US Attorney Peter Neronha said the case was the product of a strong investigation that has already led to convictions of DiNunzio’s underlings in Rhode Island. “We have driven a stake through the heart of organized crime in Rhode Island and we have cut off its head in Boston,” Neronha said.

During a brief hearing this morning, Assistant US Attorney William Ferland told the court that DiNunzio assumed control of the area’s faction of La Cosa Nostra, which oversees eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, after former boss Luigi Manocchio stepped down in 2009.

DiNunzio quickly sought to continue Manocchio’s operations in Rhode Island, including the extortion of protection payments from area strip clubs. “He ultimately assumed a leadership role in the enterprise,” Ferland said

DiNunzio, wearing olive green prison garb and glasses, looked to his lawyer for answers as the proceedings continued. He answered loudly “guilty” when asked how he would plead.

Outside the courtroom, Neronha promised that the investigation into organized crime and the New England Mafia will continue, targeting anyone looking to assume DiNunzio‘s position. “When there’s money to be made, the criminal element will step up to take their place,” he said.

Thanks to Milton J. Valencia.

Jerry Castaldo Discusses "Brooklyn New York: A Grim Retrospective" on Crime Beat Radio

On September 20, Comedian Jerry Castaldo discusses his fascinating memoir Brooklyn New York: A Grim Retrospective, on Crime Beat Radio.

On the air since January 28, 2011, Crime Beat is a weekly hour-long radio program that airs every Thursday at 8 p.m. EST. Crime Beat presents fascinating topics that bring listeners closer to the dynamic underbelly of the world of crime. Guests have included ex-mobsters, undercover law enforcement agents, sports officials, informants, prisoners, drug dealers and investigative journalists, who have provided insights and fresh information about the world’s most fascinating subject: crime.

Crime Beat is currently averaging 130,000 listeners plus each week, and the figure is growing. Crime Beat is hosted by award-winning crime writer and documentary producer Ron Chepesiuk (www.ronchepesiuk.com) and broadcast journalist and freelance writer Will Hryb.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dixie Mafia Flashback - The Assassination of Judge Vincent Sherry


This month marks the 25th anniversary of the murder of Judge Vincent Sherry and his wife, Margaret, whose deaths at the hands of the so-called Dixie Mafia exposed the lawlessness and corruption that had overtaken Mississippi’s Gulf Coast in the 1980s.

“It was out of control,” said retired Special Agent Keith Bell, referring to the level of corruption in Biloxi and Harrison County—so much so that in 1983 federal authorities would designate the entire Harrison County Sheriff’s Office as a criminal enterprise. Special Agent Royce Hignight initiated the investigation of the sheriff and was soon joined by Bell.

“They were doing anything and everything illegal down here,” said Bell, who grew up on the Gulf Coast. “For money, the sheriff and officers loyal to him would release prisoners from the county jail, safeguard drug shipments, and hide fugitives. Anything you can think of, they were involved in.”

Bell is quick to point out that there were plenty of honest officers on the force, and some would later help the FBI put an end to the culture of corruption in Biloxi. But for a long time, Sheriff Leroy Hobbs and his Dixie Mafia associates held sway.

The Dixie Mafia had no ties to La Cosa Nostra. They were a loose confederation of thugs and crooks who conducted their criminal activity in the Southeastern United States. When word got out that Biloxi—with its history of strip clubs and illicit gambling—was a safe haven, the criminals settled in.

At the same time, members of the organization incarcerated at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola were running a “lonely hearts” extortion scam with associates on the street. The scam targeted homosexuals and brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars—money they entrusted to their lawyer, Pete Halat. But Halat, who would later become mayor of Biloxi, spent the money. When it came time to hand it over to the crooks, he said the cash had been taken by his former law partner, Vincent Sherry. So the mob ordered a hit on Sherry, a sitting state circuit judge who had no direct ties to the criminals. On September 14, 1987, Sherry and his wife were murdered in their home.

“Gulf Coast residents were shocked by the murders,” Bell said. Local authorities worked the case unsuccessfully for two years. The FBI opened an investigation in 1989, and Bell was assisted in the investigation by Capt. Randy Cook of the revamped sheriff’s office—Leroy Hobbs was convicted of racketeering in 1984 and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The federal investigation into the Sherry murders lasted eight years. In the final trial in 1997, Pete Halat was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Kirksey McCord Nix—the Dixie Mafia kingpin at Angola who ordered the hits—as well as the hit man who killed the Sherrys each received life sentences.

As a result of the cases, Bell said, “Gulf Coast citizens started demanding more professional law enforcement and better government.” Bell—who wanted to be an FBI agent since he first watched The FBI television series as a child—added, “It meant a lot to me to return to my home and do something about the corruption that had worked its way into government and law enforcement there.” He added, “The majority of citizens realized that if the FBI had not stepped in, the lawlessness and corruption would likely have continued unabated.”

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Carl Gibson, Founder of US UNcut, to Discuss Wall Street Crimes and More on Crime Beat Radio

On September 13, Carl Gibson, founder of US UNcut discusses corporate greed, Wall Street crimes and Occupy Wall Street movement on Crime Beat Radio.

On the air since January 28, 2011, Crime Beat is a weekly hour-long radio program that airs every Thursday at 8 p.m. EST. Crime Beat presents fascinating topics that bring listeners closer to the dynamic underbelly of the world of crime. Guests have included ex-mobsters, undercover law enforcement agents, sports officials, informants, prisoners, drug dealers and investigative journalists, who have provided insights and fresh information about the world’s most fascinating subject: crime.

Crime Beat is currently averaging 130,000 listeners plus each week, and the figure is growing. Crime Beat is hosted by award-winning crime writer and documentary producer Ron Chepesiuk (www.ronchepesiuk.com) and broadcast journalist and freelance writer Will Hryb.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Gunshots Hit Chicago School Bus Packed with Children


Police say no one was injured when a bullet ripped through a school bus taking students to a Catholic school in the South Deering neighborhood of Chicago on Friday.

The bus had 25 children onboard and was picking up two more children for school around 7:48 a.m. at 106th Street and Calhoun Avenue when shots rang out, Chicago Police Department News Affairs Officer Laura Kubiak told NBC News.

Kubiak said a bullet entered the bus through a passenger side window, shattered the glass as it went through a seat and exited through the driver's side window.

The school bus was headed to Our Lady of Guadalupe School at 9050 S. Burley Ave. when it was struck by what appeared to be a bullet, according to Ryan Blackburn from the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Officer of Catholic Schools. The incident happened about two miles from the school.

"Gratefully none of the students were harmed, and this incident demonstrates why the school's mission is so critical to its families," Blackburn told The Chicago Tribune. "Teaching our students to learn well and live as disciples of Jesus Christ is what we do, and any action that threatens our children's safety cannot be tolerated."

The bus driver told investigators he didn't know what had hit the bus, and drove the bus to the school, Kubiak said.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

James Holmes is Profiled by Renown Forensic Psychiatrist and Tracker of Elusive Serial Killer Discusses Her Discovery

Tomorrow, on Crime Beat Radio, Paula Todd discusses how she tracked down an elusive serial killer and discovered a mother of three. Also, Dr. Michael Stone, world renowned forensic psychiatrist, will profile alleged mass murderer James Holmes and the Aurora, Colorado massacre.

On the air since January 28, 2011, Crime Beat is a weekly hour-long radio program that airs every Thursday at 8 p.m. EST. Crime Beat presents fascinating topics that bring listeners closer to the dynamic underbelly of the world of crime. Guests have included ex-mobsters, undercover law enforcement agents, sports officials, informants, prisoners, drug dealers and investigative journalists, who have provided insights and fresh information about the world’s most fascinating subject: crime.

Crime Beat is currently averaging 130,000 listeners plus each week, and the figure is growing. Crime Beat is hosted by award-winning crime writer and documentary producer Ron Chepesiuk (www.ronchepesiuk.com) and broadcast journalist and freelance writer Will Hryb.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Griselda Blanco, "Godmother of Cocaine" Killed by Motorcycle Hitman

A 69-year-old woman known throughout the drug world as the "Godmother of Cocaine" was gunned down by an assassin on a motorcycle in Colombia Monday, according to international news reports.

Griselda Blanco, once listed alongside Pablo Escobar as one of the "most notorious drug lords of the 1980s" by the Drug Enforcement Administration, was fatally shot as she left a butcher's shop in western Medellin Monday afternoon, according to a report by Univision and El Colombiano. Colombia's El Espectador reported authorities are looking for Blanco's killers and are investigating possible motives for the killing.

Blanco served nearly 20 years in an American prison on drug trafficking charges and was at one point tied to as many as 40 murders in the U.S., according to a 1997 Senate testimony given by then-director of DEA international operations Michael Horn. Horn said that Blanco ordered a Florida mall shooting in 1979 that left two dead and four injured, and she apparently enjoyed her line of work.

"To foster her reputation as the 'Godmother' of cocaine, [Blanco] named her fourth son Michael Corleone, after the fictional mob character portrayed in the movie 'The Godfather,'" Horn said.

Court documents filed in 1988, three years after Blanco was caught, detail the shadowy, decade-long hunt for the queenpin that involved federal agents chasing false identities and checking Miami hospitals for gunshot wound victims that matched Blanco's description. But she wasn't able to elude them forever and after being captured in 1985 in Irvin, Calif. and serving nearly two decades behind bars in America, Blanco was released from prison and deported back to Colombia in 2004.

The DEA referred all inquiries into Blanco's death to Colombian authorities, telling ABC News, "she served her time here." The Colombian National Police did not immediately respond to requests for comment for this report.

Thanks to Lee Ferran.