Friday, October 31, 2014

Racketeering Prison Inmate Charged with Assaulting a Correctional Officer

Erick Roman, 38, an inmate at the United States Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois, appeared today for arraignment in United States District Court in Benton on an indictment charging him with assaulting a correctional officer at that facility, Stephen R. Wigginton, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced today. The indictment, returned by a Federal Grand Jury on October 7, 2014, alleged that the offense occurred on August 20, 2014.

An indictment is a formal charge against a defendant. Under the law, a defendant is presumed to be innocent of a charge until proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to the satisfaction of a jury.

At the time of the assault, Roman was serving a 60 year sentence from the District of Maryland for conspiring to participate in a racketeering enterprise. If convicted of the assault offense, Roman faces up to an additional eight years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release to follow his incarceration.

Following his arraignment, Roman was ordered held without bond and was returned to the custody of the Attorney General to await further proceedings. Roman’s next scheduled court appearance is a final pretrial conference on December 17, 2014, at 9:30 a.m. at the United States Courthouse in Benton. A trial date of December 29th at 9:00 a.m. was also set.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A major historical biography of George C. Marshall

A major historical biography of George C. Marshall—the general who ran the U.S. campaign during the Second World War, the Secretary of State who oversaw the successful rebuilding of post-war Europe, and the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize—and the first to offer a complete picture of his life.

While Eisenhower Patton, Bradley, Montgomery, MacArthur, Nimitz, and Leahy waged battles in Europe and the Pacific, one military leader actually ran World War II for America, overseeing personnel and logistics: Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army from 1939 to 1945, George C. Marshall.

This interpretive biography of George C. Marshall follows his life from his childhood in Western Pennsylvania and his military training at the Virginia Military Institute to his role during and after World War II and his death in 1959 at the age of seventy-eight. It brings to light the virtuous historical role models who inspired him, including George Washington and Robert E. Lee, and his relationships with the Washington political establishment, military brass, and foreign leaders, from Harry Truman to Chiang Kai-shek. It explores Marshall’s successes and failures during World War II, and his contributions through two critical years of the emerging Cold War—including the transformative Marshall Plan, which saved Western Europe from Soviet domination, and the failed attempt to unite China’s nationalists and communists.

Based on breathtaking research and filled with rich detail, George Marshall: A Biographyis sure to be hailed as the definitive work on one of the most influential figures in American history.

Monday, October 27, 2014

"Stonewalled" Sharyl Attkisson's Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama's Washington.

Seasoned CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson reveals how she has been electronically surveilled while digging deep into the Obama Administration and its scandals, and offers an incisive critique of her industry and the shrinking role of investigative journalism in today’s media.

Americans are at the mercy of powerful figures in business and government who are virtually unaccountable. The Obama Administration in particular has broken new ground in its monitoring of journalists, intimidation and harassment of opposition groups, and surveillance of private citizens.

Sharyl Attkisson has been a journalist for more than thirty years. During that time she has exposed scandals and covered controversies under both Republican and Democratic administrations. She has also seen the opponents of transparency go to ever greater lengths to discourage and obstruct legitimate reporting.

Attkisson herself has been subjected to “opposition research” efforts and spin campaigns. These tactics increased their intensity as she relentlessly pursued stories that the Obama Administration dismissed. Stonewalled is the story of how her news reports were met with a barrage of PR warfare tactics, including online criticism, as well as emails and phone calls up the network chain of command in an effort to intimidate and discourage the next story. In Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama's Washington, Attkisson recounts her personal tale, setting it against the larger story of the decline of investigative journalism and unbiased truth telling in America today.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Reuputed Genovese Crime Family Associates Have Bail Reduction by Superior Court Judge

Bail was reduced for several of the alleged Genovese crime family associates accused of running illegal financial schemes and sports gambling operations, but a Superior Court judge maintained $400,000 bail for alleged "capo" Charles "Chuckie" Tuzzo Thursday. ReuThe 80-year-old Tuzzo, however, posted $40,000 with a bail bondsman and was expected to be released later in the evening.

Tuesday, acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced the arrest of 11 alleged Genovese crime family members and associates, saying their schemes were evidence the Mafia had "evolved and learned to exploit sophisticated financial systems to hide and launder the proceeds of traditional street crimes.”

Tuzzo, of Bayside, N.Y. — a Genovese "capo" — and Vito Alberti, 55, of New Providence — a "made" soldier — allegedly report directly to the crime family's hierarchy in New York, Hoffman said. Tuzzo and Alberti allegedly received tribute from Genovese family members and associates for illegal financial operations in New Jersey such as check-cashing operations and multimillion-dollar sports gambling operation.

According to Hoffman, Domenick Puccillo, 56, of Florham Park oversaw the operations of Tri-State Check Cashing Inc., located on Avenue A in Newark’s Ironbound District, and other licensed check cashing locations. Puccillo is charged with first-degree racketeering, first-degree money laundering, conspiracy, criminal usury, possession of usurious loan records and operating an unlicensed check-cashing facility.

Puccillo allegedly extended lines of both cash and credit to customers, and charged annual interest rates ranging between one to three “points”, or between 52 and 156 percent. Individuals who used the business were typically indigent with poor credit, and were required to pay interest weekly, or face threats of violence from Puccillo and an associate, Robert "Bobby Spags" Spagnola, Hoffman said.

Spagnola, 67, of Morganville is charged with first-degree racketeering, first-degree money laundering, conspiracy, criminal usury and possession of usurious loan records.

Meanwhile, Vincent P. Coppola, 37, of Union allegedly headed a multi-million dollar illegal sports gambling business. Coppola, who is charged with first-degree racketeering, first-degree money laundering, conspiracy and promoting gambling, is the son of jailed Genovese capo Michael Coppola.

Bail was set at $400,000 with no 10-percent option for each of the individuals arrested earlier this week, but Judge James DeMarzo in Morristown reduced bail to $300,000 Thursday for following: Spagnola; Abel J. Rodrigues, 52, Bridgewater; Manuel Rodriguez, 49, Chatham; and John W. Trainor, 42, Brick.

Alberti's bail was held at $400,000. "It could have been higher," the judge told the court. "It could have been much higher. Multiples of what it was set at." But, DeMarzo later said, it was his inclination to reduce it. "Bail is not there to punish," he said. "It's there to make sure someone shows up at court."

Rodrigues, the owner of Portucale Restaurant & Bar, allegedly participated in the check-cashing operation by using his business to launder money and evade taxes. He and his associate, Rodriguez, are accused of cashing more than $400 million in checks and collecting over $9 million in fees over a four-year period during the course of the scheme.

Trainor and Jerry Albanese, 47, of Scotch Plains served under Vincent Coppola as part the illegal gambling operations, Hoffman said. Trainor allegedly became tied up with the ring after becoming indebted to the crime family — which later took over his car business, GTS Auto Carriers, and siphoned money from it. Trainor, who wasn't represented by counsel but had an application for a public defender, told the court he was "completely broke" and likely couldn't pay bail even if it was reduced significantly. "I went bankrupt," he said. "I'm completely broke. I have five small kids at home." Trainor said his wife's a registered nurse and works full time, so he stays home with the children. His 17-year-old daughter, Trainor said, was still recovering from a liver transplant she received in April.

Tuzzo, Alberti, Spagnola, Rodriguez and Trainor each made appearances in court via a closed circuit feed from Morris County Correctional Facility. Rodrigues and Pucillo posted bail earlier in the week.

Coppola, who wasn’t arrested on Tuesday, was picked up by police Wednesday, according to the Attorney General’s Office. His bail wasn't reviewed Thursday.

Despite several successful bail reductions by other alleged associates, Tuzzo's attorney, Gerald McMahon, didn't seek bail modification. McMahon said it was because the terms had already been set with the Attorney General's Office and "having my guy and his picture at the top of (the AG's) chart is not conducive to getting bail reduction." But, he said, he may later seek modification and recoupment of the bail paid in excess. "I look forward to trashing this case when we get to court," McMahon told NJ Advance outside of DeMarzo's courtroom.

McMahon, who is licensed to practice law in New York — where Tuzzo lives — but not New Jersey, was vouched for by his son, a licensed New Jersey attorney, in the court proceedings Thursday. Regarding the case, he said, "Don't you get immunity after 80 for a glorified gambling arrest?"

Tuzzo, Alberti, Pucillo, Spagnola, Rodriguez, Coppola, Rodrigues and Trainor are all facing charges including first-degree racketeering and money laundering, each of which could land them in jail for up to 20 years.

Alberti, Trainor, Rodrigues and Rodriguez are also facing tax-related charges for their illegal activity related to the check-cashing businesses and other endeavors.

Flor Miranda of Newark and Jennifer Mann of Bayonne who were charged in connection with the alleged illegal financial operations didn't have their bail reviewed Thursday. Albanese's bail also wasn't reviewed Thursday. Miranda and Mann are each accused of helping to keep records and file false reports related to the schemes.

The Attorney General's Office was represented by Deputy Attorney Generals Jacqueline Weyand and Ray Mateo.

The matter is next scheduled to go before Superior Court Judge Robert Gilson on Nov. 19.

Thanks to Justin Zaremba.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Corrections Officer & Chicago Police Dispatcher Among 7 Charged in Alleged Plot to Smuggle Contraband into Cook County Jail

Nearly three ounces of marijuana was confiscated after it was found hidden inside two sandwiches that a Cook County corrections officer allegedly tried to smuggle into the Cook County Jail last year in exchange for a $200 bribe. As a result of that seizure and an allegedly broader conspiracy, the corrections officer, three inmates, two civilians, and a Chicago police dispatcher are facing federal charges in connection with alleged smuggling of marijuana and other contraband into the jail, sheriff’s department and federal law enforcement officials announced.

In June 2013, three jail inmates allegedly conspired with two civilian women to bribe JASON MAREK, a corrections officer for the Cook County Department of Corrections since May 2011, to bring marijuana, cigarettes, tobacco, alcohol, food and other contraband into the jail for inmates’ consumption and for further distribution within the jail, according to a three count criminal complaint.

According to the charges, an ounce of marijuana, which sells for approximately $200 outside the jail, could be sold for five times as much, or $1,000, inside the jail.

Marek, also known as “Murder” and “Murda,” 29, formerly of Orland Park, was assigned to the 3 to 11 p.m. shift at CCJ, Division 9, Tier 2H, when the alleged marijuana smuggling was thwarted on June 21, 2013. He was arrested and was released on his own recognizance after appearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey T. Gilbert in Federal Court.

Between June 15 and 24, 2013, three jail inmates—THADIEUS GOODS, PRINCE JOHNSON, and LAVANGELIST POWELL—who were housed in the same tier where Marek was assigned, allegedly conspired with two women to bribe Marek to smuggle the marijuana and other contraband into the jail. During a recorded telephone call from the jail on June 15, 2013, Goods told his wife, PEARLISA STEVENSON, that, with her help, he had the opportunity to make some money by selling marijuana inside the jail as long as he also had a corrections officer willing to help him.

“Rooting out corruption in the Cook County Jail is a top priority of mine,” said Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart. “I’m thankful to our federal partners at the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for working closely with my staff to conduct such a thorough investigation and to charge this far-reaching case.”

The arrests and charges were announced by Sheriff Dart, together with Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert J. Holley, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The investigation was a joint effort between the FBI and the Sheriff’s Office of Professional Responsibility, with Sheriff Dart’s full support, to improve the security and integrity within the Cook County Jail.

Goods, also known as “Big Weasy,” “Weasy,” and “Wang,” 36, of Calumet Park; Johnson, aka “Primo,” 32; and Powell, aka “JuJu” and “Juicy,” 22, both of Chicago, remain in state custody and will be transferred to face the federal charges on a date yet to be determined.

Stevenson, aka “Wang Wang,” 29, and NATOSHA McCOLLUM, aka “Tasha,” 21, who is Powell’s girlfriend, both of Chicago, were arrested and were released on their own recognizance after appearing before Magistrate Gilbert.

Those six defendants ― Marek, Goods, Johnson, Powell, Stevenson, and McCollum ― were charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana.

The seventh defendant, STEPHANIE LEWIS, 40, of Chicago, a “supervisor police operations” in the police dispatch group in the city of Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications, and who is Johnson’s girlfriend, was arrested last night. She was charged with one count of illegally accessing a law enforcement computer to assist the alleged extortion and drug distribution conspiracy. Lewis and three others ― Powell, Johnson, and McCollum ― were also charged with conspiracy to access a law enforcement computer to further extortion and a drug conspiracy.

Lewis was also released on her own recognizance. Marek, Stevenson, McCollum, and Lewis were each ordered to return to court at 9:30 a.m. Friday for a status hearing before Magistrate Gilbert.

According to a 48-page complaint affidavit, Goods and Powell pre-sold marijuana to inmates within the CCJ. In June 2013, inmates transferred funds to Stevenson and McCollum via the jail’s Inmate Trust Account system, allegedly to purchase marijuana and other contraband, which Goods, Powell, and Johnson expected to be brought into the jail. After collecting the money from other inmates, McCollum and Stevenson discussed with Goods and Powell their efforts to purchase marijuana from drug dealers outside the jail. Johnson and Lewis allegedly coordinated the delivery of contraband to Stevenson for delivery into the jail, and on June 21, 2013, Stevenson delivered the marijuana and other banned goods to Marek. At the same time, McCollum and Stevenson paid Marek a $200 bribe to smuggle the contraband into the jail. Marek attempted to deliver the marijuana to Goods but was intercepted by the FBI and the Sheriff’s Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility as he entered the jail.

After Marek failed to deliver the marijuana and contraband, Goods, Powell, and Johnson allegedly worked with McCollum and Lewis to obtain Marek’s home address and information about his family to threaten Marek and convince him to bring additional contraband into the jail. Johnson allegedly contacted Lewis and, after informing her that Marek had accepted a bribe but failed to deliver the goods, asked Lewis to provide Marek’s personal information, including his home address and names of family members because Johnson and Goods planned to send their associates to Marek’s house. After receiving Marek’s license plate number from McCollum, Lewis allegedly conducted an inquiry of Marek’s license plate on an OEMC computer linked to an Illinois State Police database, which queried the National Crime Information Center database, and Lewis then provided Marek’s home address to Johnson, the complaint alleges.

In June 2013, Good, Powell, and Johnson were housed in the jail’s Division 9, Tier 2H, where Marek was assigned for a 90-day rotation. Tier 2H is located on the second floor of the south tower of Division 9, which is located at 2834 West 31st St., Chicago, and is comprised of two interconnected three-story buildings that house general population male inmates with a maximum security classification.

Each count of the complaint carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

Church Director Edward J. MacKenzie Served as Enforcer for Whitey Bulger, Defrauded Church of Considerable Financial Assets

Edward J. MacKenzie, Jr., a self-professed “enforcer” for James “Whitey” Bulger, pleaded guilty to charges relating to his decade-long scheme to siphon off the considerable financial assets of the Boston Society of the New Jerusalem Church.

MacKenzie, 56, of Weymouth, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV to 13 counts, including Rico conspiracy, racketeering, mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 23, 2015 at 2:00 p.m.

In September 2002, MacKenzie became a member of the Church, which was one of the first Swedenborgian churches in Massachusetts, and in 2003, he became the “Director of Operations,” a position that had not previously existed and paid him a starting salary of over $100,000 per year. With the purpose of draining the church of its assets, he began voting himself and his associates into positions of authority within the Church, and consolidating and fortifying his control by, among other things, changing the Church’s by-laws for his own benefit. MacKenzie was able to gain control over substantial church assets, including an 18 story apartment building in downtown Boston, because the Church had a small number of voting members, many of whom were elderly.

After obtaining control, MacKenzie began to steal Church funds through a combination of fraud, deceit, theft, and bribery. Moreover, MacKenzie intimidated and threatened individuals who were employed by and did work at the Church by, among other things, providing them with signed copies of his 2003 autobiography, Street Soldier: My Life as an Enforcer for Whitey Bulger and the Boston Irish Mob. In the autobiography, MacKenzie admitted to a lengthy criminal history, including burglary, robbery, armed assault, and narcotics trafficking.

As MacKenzie admitted in Court, a goal of the conspiracy was to obtain power and influence within the Church so that he and his co-conspirators could defraud the Church of its considerable financial holdings and profit from transactions involving the Church. MacKenzie’s fraud cost the Church millions of dollars.

“The defendant preyed on the elderly and unsuspecting congregation of a well-established Boston church for more than a decade,” said United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “Posing as a director with the best interests of the church as a guise, he was in fact just the opposite: a criminal bent on personal gain who siphoned the considerable income of the charitable institution that he had an obligation to protect.”

The charging statutes provide a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of twice the gross proceeds from the racketeering offense. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Tonight, Rena Kopystenski, Author of "An Unbelievable Life", Appears on Crime Beat Radio

Rena Kopystenski, author of "An Unbelievable Life: Agent Orange and One Woman's Fight Against It" appears tonight on Crime Beat Radio.

An Unbelievable Life is a post-Vietnam War memoir that offers a unique perspective on the history and realities of the war and the long term impact of Agent OrangeAn Unbelievable Life: Agent Orange and One Woman's Fight Against It. This book is a tribute to the author's late husband, who was incredibly special and important although very few people know who he was or what he accomplished. It is also a testament to those brave men, women and children who, with nothing other than anger and personal dedication, taught America to honor the Vietnam Combat Veterans and create new laws and treatment for those whose lives and progeny were destroyed by Agent Orange. Perhaps the greatest purpose served by the book is to teach those who want to evoke change but fall short due to their own self- doubt or feelings of powerlessness.

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.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Massive Details on #OperationFistful, 11 Alleged Members and Associates of Genovese Crime Family Charged With Reaping Millions in Criminal Profits

Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that seven alleged members and associates of the New York-based Genovese organized crime family were arrested and one more is being sought on an arrest warrant on first-degree racketeering charges for allegedly reaping millions of dollars in criminal profits in New Jersey through loansharking, unlicensed check cashing, gambling and money laundering, including laundering of proceeds from narcotics trafficking. Three other alleged associates were charged by summons, bringing the total number charged to 11.

Acting Attorney General Hoffman made the announcement in Newark with Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice, New Jersey Commissioner Michael Murphy and Executive Director Walter Arsenault of the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, and representatives of the other law enforcement agencies that assisted in the operation.

Much of the illicit revenue allegedly was collected and laundered through licensed and unlicensed check-cashing businesses in Newark run by alleged Genovese associate Domenick Pucillo, 56, of Florham Park. Pucillo and the other associates charged allegedly are part of a New Jersey crew operating under the supervision and control of two alleged “made” members of the Genovese crime family – Charles “Chuckie” Tuzzo, 80, of Bayside, N.Y., a Genovese “capo,” and Vito Alberti, 55, of New Providence, N.J., a Genovese “soldier” – who answer to the Genovese hierarchy in New York. Tuzzo, Alberti and Pucillo were among the seven men who were arrested early this morning.

The charges stem from “Operation Fistful,” an ongoing joint investigation by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, conducted with assistance from the New York and Queens County District Attorneys’ Offices and other law enforcement agencies. The eight men targeted for arrest face racketeering and money laundering charges that carry consecutive sentences of 10 to 20 years in prison for each charge, including lengthy periods of parole ineligibility.

The 11 defendants are charged, in varying combinations, with running the following criminal schemes, as more fully outlined below, which generated “tribute” payments up the Genovese chain of command:


  1. a massive loansharking operation that yielded about $1.3 million in illegal interest per year;
  2. an illicit multi-million dollar offshore sports gambling enterprise;
  3. an unlicensed check-cashing business that made $9 million in fees in four years, while enabling customers to launder funds and evade taxes by skirting federal reporting requirements;
  4. laundering of $666,000 in drug money via check-cashing businesses owned by Pucillo in Newark and Florida;
  5. illegal control and use of a trucking firm with a contract to transport cars from Port Newark;
  6. tax fraud and evasion.

“We charge that this crew of the Genovese crime family was up to many of the Mafia’s old tricks in New Jersey, including loansharking and illegal gambling, to the tune of millions of dollars,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “History teaches us that as long as demand exists for illegal loans, illicit gambling, drugs, and other black-market goods and services, organized crime is going to turn a profit by preying on society. Our message to the Mafia is that as long as they do, we’re going to be here to send them to prison.”

“This case illustrates that the Mafia has evolved and learned to exploit sophisticated financial systems to hide and launder the proceeds of traditional street crimes such as loansharking and illegal gambling,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Through it all, as always, the Mafia makes its money largely through the ever-present threat of violence. This case demonstrates that, as much as the Mafia may change its criminal tactics, we will work tirelessly to remain one step ahead and root out their corrosive influence.”

“This case presents yet another instance of the Waterfront Commission’s concerted efforts with its law enforcement partners to disrupt the influence of organized crime in the metropolitan area,” said New Jersey Commissioner Michael Murphy of the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor. “The Genovese Crime Family has historically exerted its influence on the Port of New Jersey. Disruption of its profits from gambling, loansharking and money laundering weaken that family’s grip.”

LOANSHARKING

Pucillo allegedly used his check-cashing businesses for a massive loansharking operation. He runs several businesses, but the main one is Tri-State Check Cashing, Inc., with headquarters at 17 Avenue A in Newark. He allegedly used cash and credit lines extended to his business to loan money “on the street” at usurious rates. He made loans at one to three “points.” A point equals 1% interest, due weekly, so one point equates to 52% annual interest, two points to 104% annual interest, and three points to 156% annual interest. New Jersey law defines criminal usury as loaning money to an individual at an annual interest rate exceeding 30%, and makes it a second-degree crime if the rate exceeds 50% per year.

Over a two-year period, Pucillo had approximately $3 million in usurious loans on the street and collected approximately $1.3 million in interest per year. It is alleged that Genovese associate Robert “Bobby Spags” Spagnola, 67, of Morganville, N.J., partnered with Pucillo in the loansharking business and received a commission of one point on each loan he secured for Pucillo. In addition, Pucillo allegedly shared the loansharking proceeds up the Genovese chain of command to Alberti and Tuzzo.

Victims were required to pay interest on a weekly basis. The scheme was designed so that, when the victims made loan payments by check, it appeared that they were cashing checks in the ordinary course of Pucillo’s check-cashing business. When they took out loans, victims were required to sign partially completed checks, which Pucillo and his co-defendants could complete and cash through the check-cashing business to collect weekly interest or payments of principal. Victims also could pay in cash.

Defendant Flor Miranda, 40, of Newark, worked as office manager for Pucillo’s check-cashing operation. She allegedly collected loansharking payments and helped Pucillo keep extensive records of the loansharking and money laundering operations run out of his check-cashing businesses.

SPORTS GAMBLING

Vincent P. Coppola, 37, of Union, N.J., son of imprisoned Genovese capo Michael Coppola, allegedly was part of a network of Genovese associates who ran a multi-million dollar illegal sports gambling enterprise in New Jersey that utilized an off-shore “wire room” in Costa Rica to process bets. Coppola allegedly was an “agent” who managed sub-agents or package holders, each of whom had a “package” of bettors under him. He allegedly supervised sub-agents John W. Trainor, 42, of Brick, N.J., and Jerry J. Albanese, 47, of Scotch Plains. Agents decide which bettors can open accounts and gamble using the enterprise’s website and toll-free phone number. They also dictate how much a bettor can gamble per game and per week, and monitor the action and balances of the packages they oversee. Eventually, Coppola allegedly gave Trainor and Albanese more complete control of the bettors in their packages. Coppola allegedly had four packages under him, including those of Trainor and Albanese. In a single year, in 2011, Coppola’s packages allegedly handled more than $1.7 million in bets, and Coppola, Trainor, Albanese and the Genovese crime family – through Alberti and Tuzzo – allegedly made more than $400,000 in profits.

UNLICENSED CHECK-CASHING BUSINESS

In addition to Tri-State Check Cashing and his other licensed check-cashing businesses, Pucillo allegedly financed an unlicensed, illegal check-cashing operation with partners and Genovese associates Abel J. Rodrigues, 52, of Bridgewater, N.J., and Manuel Rodriguez, 49, of Chatham, N.J. This scheme operated out of Portucale Restaurant & Bar at 129 Elm Street in Newark, also known as Viriato Corp. – which is owned by Abel Rodrigues – under the guise that Rodrigues was legally allowed to cash checks as Pucillo’s agent. In reality, this arrangement is illegal, and the defendants allegedly used it to enable clients to launder money and evade taxes. It is alleged that over a four-year period they illegally cashed over $400 million in checks through Portucale Restaurant and collected over $9 million in fees.

Many customers cashed checks at Portucale Restaurant to launder money, hide income or obtain cash for “under-the-table” payrolls because Abel Rodrigues allegedly did not ask for any identification and would not file proper “currency transaction reports,” or CTRs, for any check or combination of checks exceeding $10,000, as required by federal law. Tri-State Check Cashing provided the cash disbursed at Portucale Restaurant, but instead of processing and reporting the individual checks that were cashed, Tri-State would receive checks from Viriato Corp. for sums in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, which bundled together the amounts of the checks cashed at Portucale Restaurant. Tri-State would then file CTRs only for the checks from Viriato Corp. Jennifer Mann, 30, of Bayonne, was employed by Pucillo as the compliance officer for Tri-State. At Pucillo’s direction, she allegedly issued hundreds of false CTRs to conceal tax evasion and money laundering at Portucale Restaurant.

In return for cashing checks for over $10,000 without scrutiny, customers paid fees of up to 3% percent per check, which exceeds the limit of 2.21% permitted under New Jersey law. Abel Rodrigues allegedly received 1% on each check, and the remainder went to Pucillo. It is alleged that Pucillo in turn provided one-quarter of his fees to Manuel Rodriguez, who shared a portion of his fees up the chain to Alberti, Tuzzo and the Genovese crime family.

DRUG MONEY

In January 2012, Pucillo acquired a check-cashing business in Hialeah, Florida, called I&T Financial Services. It is alleged that he subsequently entered into an agreement to launder and transfer drug money from New York and New Jersey to Florida. The drug traffickers allegedly would deliver cash to Flor Miranda at Tri-State Check Cashing in Newark. The money then was wired under the fictitious company name “Gold Shiny” to Florida, where it was laundered through I&T Financial’s business accounts and was received by the client, whose identity remained concealed. Pucillo allegedly laundered and transferred $666,000 in this manner, collecting $22,500 in fees on the transactions.

TRUCKING COMPANY

It is alleged that the Genovese crime family, through members and associates including Tuzzo, Alberti, Pucillo and Trainor, illicitly took control of a company called GTS Auto Carriers, siphoned money from it, and used it to commit other crimes including check forgery and tax evasion. Trainor owned and operated GTS, which transports cars from Port Newark to dealerships throughout New Jersey under a lucrative contract with Nissan. After Trainor obtained the contract, Alberti required GTS to lease trucks to transport the cars from Alberti for over $300,000 per year. Alberti created a company called AMJ Transport solely to lease trucks to GTS.

Alberti also allegedly required GTS to carry Coppola and another Genovese crime family associate on the GTS payroll even though neither actually worked for GTS. In addition, Trainor allegedly had checks issued from a GTS business account to fictitious persons to conceal the fact that he was siphoning money from GTS for his personal use and to pay Alberti and other Genovese crime family members and associates. In five months, Trainor allegedly cashed GTS checks totaling over $100,000 at Pucillo’s check-cashing business, including several on which Trainor forged the signature of the person authorized to sign checks for the GTS account.

TAX FRAUD AND EVASION

It is alleged that, in conducting their criminal schemes, Alberti, Trainor, Rodriguez and Rodrigues – through Pucillo’s check-cashing businesses and other means – concealed their income and either failed to file tax returns or filed fraudulent tax returns which did not account for their criminal earnings.

The detectives who conducted Operation Fistful for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau are Lt. Brian Bruton, Detective Mario Estrada, Detective Patrick Sole and Detective Matthew Tully, under the supervision of Deputy Chief of Detectives Christopher Donohue. The attorneys who conducted the investigation are Deputy Attorney General Lauren Scarpa Yfantis, who is Chief of the Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, Deputy Attorney General Annmarie Taggart, who is Deputy Bureau Chief, and Deputy Attorneys General Jacqueline Weyand, Ray Mateo and Vincent Militello. Acting Attorney General Hoffman thanked Director Honig, Deputy Division Director Christopher Romanyshyn and Chief of Detectives Paul Morris for their leadership in the operation.

Acting Attorney General Hoffman thanked the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor for partnering with the Attorney General’s Office in the investigation. The following individuals conducted the investigation for the Waterfront Commission: Capt. Margaret Baldinger, Sgt. George Falvo, Sgt. Kristen Brylinski, Sgt. Michelle Turner, Detective Joseph Longo, Detective Salvatore Arrigo, Detective Andrew Varga, Detective Matthew Moroney, Detective Frank Albanese, Detective Marc Valentin, Detective Wojciech Stobinski, Detective Vincent King, Detective Fauna Mitchell-Foster, Detective Shanti Kurschner and Detective Michael Petrillo.

Acting Attorney General Hoffman also thanked the following agencies for their valuable assistance:

New York County District Attorney's Office
Queens County District Attorney's Office
United States Department of Homeland Security
Florida Department of Financial Services
New York City Police Department
United States Internal Revenue Service
New Jersey Department of Taxation
New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance
New Jersey State Police
El Dorado Task Force.

These eight defendants were arrested or are being sought on arrest warrants charging the following crimes. Those arrested were lodged in jail with bail set at $400,000 for each. (* indicates the defendant remains a fugitive)


  • Charles “Chuckie” Tuzzo. Racketeering (1st degree), Money Laundering (1st degree), Conspiracy (1st degree), Criminal Usury (2nd degree), Promoting Gambling (3rd degree).
  • Vito Alberti. Racketeering (1st degree), Money Laundering (1st degree), Conspiracy (1st degree), Criminal Usury (2nd degree), Promoting Gambling (3rd degree), Filing a Fraudulent Tax Return (3rd degree).
  • Domenick Pucillo. Racketeering (1st degree), Money Laundering (1st degree), Conspiracy (1st degree), Criminal Usury (2nd degree), Possession of Usurious Loan Records (3rd degree), Operating an Unlicensed Check-Cashing Facility (3rd degree).
  • Robert “Bobby Spags” Spagnola. Racketeering (1st degree), Money Laundering (1st degree), Conspiracy (1st degree), Criminal Usury (2nd degree), Possession of Usurious Loan Records (3rd degree).
  • Manuel Rodriguez. Racketeering (1st degree), Money Laundering (1st degree), Conspiracy (1st degree), Operating an Unlicensed Check-Cashing Facility (3rd degree), Filing a Fraudulent Tax Return (3rd degree), Failure to File a Tax Return (3rd degree).
  • *Vincent P. Coppola. Racketeering (1st degree), Money Laundering (1st degree), Conspiracy (1st degree), Promoting Gambling (3rd degree).
  • Abel J. Rodrigues. Racketeering (1st degree), Money Laundering (1st degree), Conspiracy (1st degree), Operating an Unlicensed Check-Cashing Facility (3rd degree), Filing a Fraudulent Tax Return (3rd degree).
  • John W. Trainor. Racketeering (1st degree), Money Laundering (1st degree), Conspiracy (1st degree), Promoting Gambling (3rd degree), Forgery (3rd degree), Failure to File a Tax Return (3rd degree).


These three defendants were charged by summons with the following crimes:


  • Jerry J. Albanese. Money Laundering (1st degree), Conspiracy (1st degree), Promoting Gambling (3rd degree).
  • Flor Miranda. Money Laundering (1st degree), Conspiracy (1st degree), Criminal Usury (2nd degree), Possession of Usurious Loan Records (3rd degree).
  • Jennifer Mann. Money Laundering (1st degree), Conspiracy (1st degree), Operating an Unlicensed Check-Cashing Facility (3rd degree), Issuing a False Financial Statement (3rd degree), Forgery (3rd degree).


First-degree racketeering carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison – 85 percent of which must be served without parole under the No Early Release Act – and a fine of up to $200,000. First-degree money laundering carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison – including a mandatory period of parole ineligibility equal to one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed – with the sentence to run consecutive to the sentences for other charges. First-degree money laundering carries an enhanced fine of up to $500,000. Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000, or an enhanced fine of up to $35,000 for the crime of promoting gambling.

Gulf Cartel Leader Juan Francisco Saenz-Tamez Arrested

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced the arrest of current Gulf Cartel leader Juan Francisco Saenz-Tamez, 23, of Camargo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, on Oct. 9, 2014 while shopping in Edinburg, Texas. Saenz-Tamez made an initial appearance in the Eastern District of Texas on drug trafficking charges.

“Juan Francisco Saenz-Tamez became the head of the Gulf Cartel following the 2013 arrest of former leader Mario Ramirez-Trevino,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “He moved steadily up the cartel ranks, working as a lookout, record keeper, plaza boss, and finally its leader. Thanks to the quick actions of DEA and our local partners, we were able to identify and safely arrest Saenz-Tamez while he was in the United States. He oversaw much of the violence and bloodshed that has plagued Mexico and DEA is pleased he will face justice in the United States.”

A federal investigation into the large-scale trafficking of illegal drugs from Mexico into the Eastern District of Texas led to the identity of Saenz-Tamez. The investigation revealed thousands of kilograms of cocaine and marijuana were shipped into the Eastern District of Texas and then to locations across the nation, including Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Mississippi, Louisiana, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Maryland and Georgia.

Saenz-Tamez was indicted by a federal grand jury on Sep. 5, 2013 and charged with conspiracy with intent to distribute cocaine, conspiracy with intent to distribute marijuana, and conspiracy to money launder. Saenz-Tamez was transported from McAllen, Texas to Beaumont where he appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Zack Hawthorn for a detention hearing and initial appearance.

If convicted, Saenz-Tamez faces a minimum of 10 years and up to life in federal prison for the drug charges and up to 20 years in federal prison for the money laundering charge.

"The news that Juan Saenz-Tamez has been arrested is further proof that justice is prevailing in Mexico,” said U.S. Attorney John M. Bales. “I am encouraged that the efforts of so many law enforcement officers are now paying off. Congratulations to them and I look forward to seeing Saenz-Tamez answer for his crimes in a Beaumont courtroom."


“The arrest of Juan Francisco Saenz-Tamez, will put a stop to his role in the distribution of illegal drugs and the laundering of drug proceeds,” said IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Lucy Cruz. “Laundering their profits is as important and essential to drug traffickers as the distribution of their illegal drugs. IRS CI is proud to provide assistance as we work alongside our law enforcement partners to bring these criminals to justice."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Detention Facility Scheme to Smuggle Pot and Cell Phones into Jail Results in Guilty Pleas

Two Newark men admitted their involvement in a scheme to smuggle contraband, including marijuana and cell phones, into the Essex County Jail, a federal pretrial detention facility, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Darsell Davis, 29, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper to an information charging him with one count of conspiring with others to commit extortion under color of official right. Dwayne Harper, 30, pleaded guilty before Judge Cooper to an information charging him with one count of conspiring to smuggle contraband into the Essex County Jail. Davis has been released on bail and Harper remains in custody. According to the documents filed in this case and other cases and statements made in court:

On multiple occasions between September 2013 and May 2014, Stephon Solomon, 26, a corrections officer at the Essex County Jail, smuggled contraband—including cell phones, tobacco, and marijuana—to Quasim Nichols, 29, a federal pretrial detainee at the Essex County Jail, in exchange for cash bribes. Davis and Harper aided the smuggling scheme by collecting the contraband to be smuggled into the jail. After receiving contraband and cash bribes from Davis, Solomon smuggled the contraband to Nichols, who ultimately sold some of the marijuana and cell phones to other inmates. The inmates purchased the contraband by having friends and family send Western Union money transfers to Nichols, who then enlisted Davis and others to retrieve those payments for him. Davis obtained at least $4,300 in Western Union payments over the course of the conspiracy.

Charges against Nichols are still pending. The charges and allegations against Nichols are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Solomon pleaded guilty on Oct. 1, 2014, to one count of conspiring to commit extortion under color of official right and awaits sentencing on Jan. 21, 2015. He has been released on bail.

The charge of conspiring to commit extortion under color of official right, to which Davis pleaded guilty, carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Davis also will forfeit $4,300, consisting of his proceeds from the conspiracy. The charge of conspiring to provide contraband, including marijuana, to inmates at the Essex County Jail, to which Harper pleaded guilty, carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.

Davis and Harper are set to be sentenced before Judge Cooper on Feb. 11, 2015, and Feb. 4, 2015, respectively.

Real World Of Mafia Boss, Michael Franzese And His True Life Redemption Shown Through Scenes Of The Crucifixion, Deemed Too Violent By MPAA In Upcoming Film "God The Father"

The upcoming release God the Father, slated for release on October 31, the day Michael Franzese, once dubbed the Prince of the Mafia, became a "made man," vividly depicts both Franzese's life as a Mob kingpin and as a man transformed by faith.  The film does not shy away from illustrating the real world and life that Franzese swore allegiance to.  But it is a scene of Christ's Crucifixion shown as part of his prison epiphany and the Mob stock footage scenes combined, that tipped the scales at the MPAA who gave the film an R rating.

The irony is not lost on Franzese: "I spent over 20 years on the street, every day in violation of both God's laws and the laws of man. And the powers that be have a problem not only with Mob reality being seen, but also with Biblical history? You see worse images and stories on the 6 o'clock news! The entertainment business can't afford to be out of touch with real world problems our youth are experiencing, from gangs to drugs and violence. Anyone over 13 needs the opportunity to see this film."

Franzese made over a billion dollars for his crime "family," earning more than anyone since Al Capone.  It was enough to place him at #18 (3 behind John Gotti) on Fortune Magazine's "Fifty Most Wealthy and Powerful Mafia Bosses."  He was a Hollywood producer, a restaurateur, a night club owner:  He was living the life of a man's man as he saw it.  A revelation that his own father went along with planning a hit on him, the love for his own family, and a realization that his life was heading like every other Mob guy before him straight to St. Johns Cemetery in Queens, New York, that made Franzese decide to leave "The Life."  In an act thought impossible, he publicly walked away from the Colombo family and organized crime.

"Its real world stuff (the Mob scene footage) that is around us all the time," says Franzese.  "It's not the gratuitous violence most movies include for the audience reaction, but real life, real crime and real people.  All ages need to see this, but especially our young people who are confronted every day with opportunities to go down the wrong path… This film was created from my reality, for all to see a life outside of the Mob, a way out… but you have to see the reality of it to understand the impact of the redemption that can occur, as what happened in my own life."

Franzese adds: "In making God The Father, we went to great lengths to show the dark aspect of my real life story in a subtle and intelligent way.  The story of Jesus's suffering and Crucifixion is very well known and in the past, audiences have been willing to endure the intensity of those scenes.   What is important to me is to share the parallel themes that I discovered in the story of the Crucifixion and my own experiences in 'The Life': themes such as perseverance, forgiveness, redemption and faith.   I hope that this film will allow everyone to see beyond the short-term and see that there are choices to lead a positive fulfilling life for themselves and those around them."

God The Father takes audiences on the untold personal journey into the life and spiritual transformation of Michael Franzese, a young and charismatic Capo in the Colombo crime family during the 1980's-90's, who's notorious father Sonny Franzese was also a renowned Underboss. It's a true story about mafia, money, love, loyalty and God.

GOD THE FATHER opens on Friday, October 31 across the country in select theatres.  It is rated "R" for violent images by the MPAA and has a running time of 101 minutes.

Friday, October 17, 2014

10 More Reputed Members of the Almighty Imperial Gangsters Nation Gang Indicted on Various Murder Chargers

Ten alleged members of the violent Almighty Imperial Gangsters Nation gang have been indicted by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Florida for their roles in various murders in Miami, Chicago, and East Chicago. Fifteen alleged members of the gang have now been charged by the Justice Department in this case.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge Robert J. Holley of the FBI’s Chicago Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office made the announcement.

The second superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury on Oct. 9, 2014, charges Robert Martinez, aka “Trap,” 20, of Miami, along with Rogelio Perez, aka “Popeye,” 40, Eddie Camacho, aka “NeNe,” 35, Miguel Pedraza, aka “Fuzzy,” 33, Ryan Perez, aka “Lil Dk,” 32, Carlos Mena, aka “Rollo,” 33, Carlos Gomez, aka “Lokes,” 35, and Guillermo Sinisterra, aka “Memo,” 26, all of Chicago, with conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity, including murder. Piero Benitez, aka “Bam Bam,” 27, of Skokie, Illinois, was charged with murder in aid of racketeering, and Santiago Salcedo, aka “Chino,” 25, of Miami, was charged with conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering. Alleged fellow gang members Jose Herrera, aka “Spyro,” 27, Leonel Carrera, aka “Leo,” 25, Victor Lopez, aka “Magic,” Ramon Madruga, aka “Porky” 28, and Alex Enrique Somarriba, aka “A-Rock,” 28, all of Chicago, were previously charged in the superseding indictment unsealed in this case on Aug. 4, 2014, and remain charged in the second superseding indictment.

According to the second superseding indictment, all fifteen defendants are members of the Almighty Imperial Gangsters Nation, which is a nationally-known organized street gang that originated in the near northwest side of Chicago and spread to other regions of the United States, including South Florida. Members and associates of the Almighty Imperial Gangsters Nation allegedly engaged in acts of violence, including murder, attempted murder, battery, aggravated battery, and aggravated assault, as well as narcotics distribution and other criminal activities. Specifically, the indictment charges that the gang is responsible for twelve murders in Miami, Chicago and East Chicago, Indiana between 1985 and 2011, including the murder of a state prosecution witness whose cooperation with law enforcement ultimately led to the conviction of the gang’s South Florida leader, Victor Lopez, on cocaine distribution charges.

"Papa Grande", Colombian Cartel Leader Salomon Camacho Mora, Admits Trafficking Narcotics

A Colombian cartel leader expelled from Venezuela to face federal charges in New Jersey for his role in an international cocaine distribution conspiracy admitted today in Newark federal court to conspiring traffic the drug into the United States, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman and FBI Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford announced.

Colombian national Salomon Camacho Mora, 70, a/k/a “Papa Grande,” a/k/a “El Viejo,” a/k/a “Hector,” was arrested in Valencia, Venezuela, on Jan. 13, 2010, and subsequently expelled by Venezuelan authorities to the United States. Previously, Camacho, who had been designated a Consolidated Priority Organization Target (CPOT) by the Department of Justice, was a New Jersey FBI fugitive for more than eight years.

Camacho was originally indicted in September 2002 in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. He entered a plea of guilty, to a count of conspiracy contained in a superseding indictment, before U.S. District Judge William H. Walls.

According to statements made during Camacho’s guilty plea proceeding and documents filed in Newark federal court:

Camacho admitted that he and members of his drug organization purchased multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine from various cocaine processing laboratories located in Colombia, and arranged for the transportation of the cocaine loads to various shipping ports in Venezuela. Camacho and members of his drug organization then sold the cocaine shipments to other drug trafficking organizations operating in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and the United States.

He also acknowledged that others in his organization received and stored the drug shipments in Venezuela, and arranged for their maritime transportation to Puerto Rico and the United States.

The drug trafficking operation generated substantial profits for Camacho and his conspirators.

Camacho faces a statutory mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison, a statutory maximum of life in prison, and fines of up to $10 million or twice the amount of profits he gained from his illegal conduct. As part of his plea agreement, Camacho has agreed to the entry of a $1.6 million forfeiture money judgment and the forfeiture of eight Colombian properties that were the product of ill-gotten gains. Sentencing is currently scheduled for March 10, 2015.

Christmas Bonus Extortion Conspiracy Earns Robert Ruiz 20 Months in Prison

A former delegate of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) Local 1235 was sentenced to 20 months in prison for conspiring to extort longshoremen on the New Jersey piers for Christmastime tribute payments, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman and Eastern District of New York U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch announced.

Robert Ruiz, 55, of Watchung, New Jersey—the delegate of the union from approximately 2007 through 2010—previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi to one count of an indictment charging him with conspiring to extort Christmastime tributes from ILA Local 1235 members. Judge Cecchi imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Ruiz and two other former ILA officers—Vincent Aulisi, 82, of West Orange, New Jersey, the president of ILA Local 1235 from 2006 through 2007; and Thomas Leonardis, 57, of Glen Gardner, New Jersey, the president of the union from approximately 2008 through 2011—admitted that they conspired to compel tribute payments from ILA union members, who made the payments based on actual and threatened force, violence and fear. The timing of the extortions typically coincided with the receipt by certain ILA members of “Container Royalty Fund” checks, a form of year-end compensation. Leonardis and Ruiz were suspended from their positions following their arrests in January 2011. Aulisi had already retired from his employment on the New Jersey piers at the time of his arrest.

Aulisi was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Oct. 8, 2014. Leonardis still awaits sentencing.

Charges are still pending against three defendants in the superseding indictment, including a racketeering conspiracy charge against Stephen Depiro, 59, of Kenilworth, New Jersey—a soldier in the Genovese organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra. Since at least 2005, Depiro has managed the Genovese family’s control over the New Jersey waterfront—including the nearly three-decades-long extortion of port workers in ILA Local 1, ILA Local 1235, and ILA Local 1478. Members of the Genovese family, including Depiro, are charged with conspiring to collect tribute payments from New Jersey port workers at Christmastime each year through their corrupt influence over union officials, including the last three presidents of Local 1235.

Two other Genovese family associates charged in the case are former union officials: Albert Cernadas, 79, of Union, New Jersey, the president of ILA Local 1235 from approximately 1981 to 2006 and former ILA executive vice president; and Nunzio LaGrasso, 63, of Florham Park, New Jersey, the former vice president of ILA Local 1478 and former ILA representative.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Cecchi sentenced Ruiz to serve two years of supervised release.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sinaloa Cartel Member, Rafael Humberto Celaya Valenzuela, Found Guilty of Drug Trafficking Conspiracy

Rafael Humberto Celaya Valenzuela, 41, formerly of Sonora, Mexico, was convicted following a jury trial of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, announced United States Attorney John P. Kacavas.

Celaya Valenzuela and his co-conspirators were members of the Sinaloa drug cartel, led by represented the Sinaloa Cartel, led by the notorious drug lord Joaquin Guzman-Loera, also known as “Chapo.” The cartel was seeking new cocaine distribution routes from South America to Europe, Canada, and the United States. Beginning in early 2010 and continuing through August 2012, undercover FBI agents posing as members of a European organized crime syndicate met with the cartel representatives. Many of the meetings were audio and video recorded and portions of those recordings were played for the jury. The recordings showed Celaya Valenzuela and several co-conspirators attending meetings in Miami, Boston, Madrid, Spain, and in Portsmouth and New Castle, New Hampshire.

Celaya Valenzuela held himself out as an attorney and financial planner working on behalf of Chapo and the cartel. Manuel Gutierrez Guzman, a co-conspirator and first cousin of Chapo, held himself out as his cousin’s representative in the negotiations. The cartel representatives offered to deliver thousands of kilograms of cocaine by containerized cargo vessels to various ports on the northeastern seaboard of the United States and in Europe. They further represented that the cocaine would come from any number of source countries, including Bolivia, Panama, Belize and Columbia. The deal was consummated by a face-to-face meeting with Chapo in the mountains of his home state of Sinaloa and several telephone calls in which he himself discussed details of the intended shipments.

On July 27, 2012, the conspirators delivered 346 kilograms of cocaine, more than 750 pounds worth millions of dollars, to a port in Algeciras, Spain. The cocaine was shipped via cargo container in boxes that purportedly held glassware. The FBI seized the cocaine, and on August 7, 2012, arrested Celaya Valenzuela, Gutierrez Guzman, Samuel Zazueta Valenzuela and Jesus Palazuelos Soto in Madrid. The defendants were then extradited to New Hampshire.

Manuel Gutierrez Guzman, Samuel Zazueta Valenzuela and Jesus Palazuelos Soto pleaded guilty before trial. A sentencing hearing for Soto is scheduled for December 22, 2014. Sentencing hearings for Manuel Gutierrez Guzman and Samuel Zazueta Valenzuela are scheduled for January 15, 2015. Celaya Valenzuela’s sentencing is scheduled for January 22, 2015. All the defendants face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The cartel’s leader, Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman-Loera, was arrested by Mexican authorities in February, 2014. He is under indictment in multiple jurisdictions in the United States, including the District of New Hampshire.

United States Attorney John P. Kacavas said, “Today’s guilty verdict, together with the guilty pleas of the defendant’s co-conspirators, demonstrates the Department of Justice’s commitment to disrupting and dismantling international drug trafficking organizations wherever they seek to peddle their poison. Whether along our southwest border, in major American cities, or in bucolic New Hampshire, we will use every law enforcement and prosecutorial tool at our disposal to bring international drug traffickers to justice. I want to thank our federal law enforcement partners, especially the FBI agents who went undercover at significant risk to their personal safety, and the Spanish National Police for their assistance in foiling this far-reaching scheme.”

Tonight, @JayDobyns, Author of "No Angel", Discusses his Hells Angels Undercover Journey on Crime Beat Radio

Jay Dobyns, author of No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels, discusses his book tonight on Crime Beat Radio.

Getting shot through the chest as a rookie ATF agent, bartering for machine guns, throttling down the highway at 100 miles per hour, and responding to a full-scale, bloody riot between the Hells Angels and their rivals, the Mongols...these are just a few of the high-adrenaline experiences Jay Dobyns recounts in this action-packed, hard-to-imagine yet true story of how he infiltrated the legendary Hells Angels.

Dobyns leaves no stone of his harrowing journey unturned. On biker runs and at gang clubhouses, between rides and riots, Dobyns befriends bad-ass bikers, meth-fueled "old ladies," gun fetishists, psycho-killer ex-cons, and even some of the "Filthy Few" - the elite of the Hells Angels who've committed extreme violence on behalf of their club. Eventually, at parties staged behind heavily armed security, he meets legendary members like Chuck Zito, Johnny Angel, and the Godfather of bikers, Ralph "Sonny" Barger.

To blend in, Dobyns gets "sleeved" (full-arm ink). To win their respect, he vows to prove himself a stone-cold "killer". Hardest of all is leading a double life, torn between devotion to wife and children and his pledge to become the first federal agent to become a fully "patched" member of the Angels' previously-impregnable ranks. His act is so convincing that he comes within a hairsbreadth of losing himself. Eventually, he realizes that as he's been infiltrating the Hells Angels, they've been infiltrating him. And just as they're not all bad, he's not all good.

Reminiscent of Donnie Brasco's uncovering of the true Mafia, this eye-opening portrait of the outlaw biker world is one of the most in-depth since Hunter Thompson's seminal work. "No Angel" viscerally describes the seductive lure of criminal camaraderie for men who would otherwise be powerless, marginalized outsiders. Here is all the nihilism, hate, and intimidation, but also the freedom and brotherhood of the only truly American brand of organized crime.

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.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Mafia Cops's Victim's Families Given Green-Light in Wrongful-Death Lawsuits

A federal judge has green-lighted the multimillion-dollar wrongful-death lawsuits filed against the city by the families of seven men slain in mob hits executed or aided by former two detectives Louis Eppolito and ex-Great Kills resident Stephen Caracappa.

In allowing the cases to proceed, District Judge Raymond J. Dearie said there was evidence to suggest the rubouts would not have occurred had Eppolito been kicked off the force or disciplined after he was "caught red-handed" passing confidential police records to a mobster in 1984.

The slayings took place between 1986 and 1991.

Dearie said evidence also indicated there was a "systemic failure" to address corruption under then-Police Commissioner Benjamin Ward. "The failure to discipline a detective who colludes with organized crime plainly courts the risk that that detective will do so again," wrote Dearie. "And it is likewise obvious that collusion between a police detective and organized crime might well lead, as it did in these cases, to unconstitutional harm to members of the public."

The judge further ruled the plaintiffs' families, who filed the suits in 2006 and 2007, had done so within statutory time limits.

Caracappa, 72, and Eppolito, 66, the so-called "Mafia Cops," are serving life sentences for their roles in the slayings, carried out at the behest of Luchese crime family underboss Anthony (Gaspipe) Casso, who later cooperated with authorities.

The two detectives were paid $4,000 a month to provide Casso with law-enforcement information. They received extra cash for murder contracts, including $70,000 for a hit on Eddie Lino, a Gambino crime family capo suspected of being involved in a failed assassination attempt on Casso, the ruling said.

Eppolito, whose father was a member of the Gambino crime family, retired from the NYPD in 1990. He played a bit part in Martin Scorsese's 1990 mob drama "GoodFellas" and launched an unsuccessful career as a screenwriter.

Caracappa retired in 1992 after establishing the Police Department's unit for mob murder investigations. In 2005, while awaiting trial to start and after posting bail, Caracappa had stayed with his mother in South Beach.

Eppolito, then working in the 62nd Precinct in Brooklyn's Bath Beach neighborhood, came under scrutiny in 1984. FBI agents found confidential NYPD Intelligence Reports in the home of mobster Rosario Gambino, who was under indictment for heroin trafficking, said the judge's ruling.

A probe determined the reports had been photocopied at the 62nd Precinct and Eppolito's fingerprints were on the photocopies, the judge said. Eppolito subsequently underwent a departmental trial which cleared him, despite "compelling" evidence against him, said the judge. The trial was prosecuted by a junior NYPD lawyer and was based on stipulations between the parties, not live testimony, which was unusual, Dearie said.

Commissioner Ward declined to overturn the findings, although a follow-up Internal Affairs probe after the hearing again concluded that Eppolito had leaked the reports, said the judge.

Dearie said a report by the Mollen Commission provides "powerful evidence" that the Police Department at that time "tolerat(ed) corruption to avoid bad publicity." He said the NYPD's "inexplicable failure" to discipline Eppolito may have emboldened Caracappa.

Eppolito started his relationship with the Luccheses after being cleared of the charges, the ruling started.

His cohort Caracappa, who worked for the NYPD's Major Case Squad, was specifically assigned to the Lucchese unit. He often worked on joint NYPD and federal task forces and had access to confidential information about ongoing investigations, said the judge.

Besides whacking Lino, the pair slayed an innocent victim, Israel Greenwald, a Diamond District jeweler, according to the ruling and Advance filings. They also provided information which factored into the slayings of five others, including another innocent victim, Nicholas Guido of Brooklyn, said the judge. And they were convicted of kidnapping Jimmy Hydell in 1986 and delivering him to Casso to be executed in retaliation for a botched attempted on Casso's life, said Advance reports. Hydell's mother, Betty Hydell, testified she saw the two detectives casing her Grasmere home in an unmarked police car the day her son vanished.

The city maintained the cases should be tossed because the plaintiffs did not file them until decades after their loved ones' deaths.

The plaintiffs contended they were not required to commence the lawsuits until they had some reason to link police to the killings. Eppolito and Caracappa were indicted in 2005.

Dearie sided with the plaintiffs and declined to throw out the suits.

A spokesman said the city Law Department is reviewing the decision.

Thanks to Frank Donnelly.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Shaneen Allen to Keynote ANJRPC Annual Banquet October 18!

Shaneen Allen to Keynote N.J. State Association Annual Banquet October 18!  Shaneen Allen will be the featured speaker at the NJ State Association annual meeting banquet on Saturday evening, October 18, in Edison, New Jersey.  She will also be joined by Ginny Simone of NRA News, and gun rights attorney Evan Nappen. The Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs (ANJRPC) is the official NRA State Affiliate in New Jersey (www.anjrpc.org).

WHO IS SHANEEN ALLEN?

Ms. Allen, a single mother and Pennsylvania resident with a carry permit from the Keystone State, recently made international news when the anti-gun Atlantic County prosecutor refused to allow her into the "pre-trial intervention" (PTI) leniency program and sought to imprison her for 10 years after she made the honest mistake of bringing her legal handgun into New Jersey.

The very same prosecutor displayed incredible hypocrisy by recently allowing NFL star Ray Rice into the leniency program after Rice was videoed beating his fiancé and knocking her unconscious in a hotel elevator.

In a stunning turn of events on September 24, the New Jersey Attorney General issued a clarification of existing law to all county prosecutors indicating that persons in Ms. Allen's situation should be allowed into the PTI program. The Atlantic County prosecutor then reversed himself and was essentially forced to allow Ms. Allen into the program.

ANJRPC’s combined Annual Meeting Banquet and Friends of NRA Dinner & Auction will take place Saturday, October 18 starting at 6:00 p.m.  Anticipated to be one of the largest Friends of NRA Banquets in the state, the festivities are guaranteed to be lively.  The auction portion of the banquet will feature one-of-a-kind NRA-branded collectible merchandise, and half the proceeds will be donated back to New Jersey shooters by the NRA Foundation.

Come meet New Jersey’ Second Amendment leaders!  Banquet seating ($60 per ticket) is open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.  Prepay for a ticket to ensure that seats are still available and that the event is not sold out (contact Jennifer Pantano at bulletholeinc@verizon.net or 201-268-2618).

The event will be held at The Rosewood, 2863 Woodbridge Avenue, Edison, NJ 08837 (732-549-2900), http://www.therosewood.com/directions.php.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Vicente Carrillo-Fuentes' Mexican Arrest Brings Congratulations from the DEA

DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart today issued the following statement following the arrest in Mexico of Juarez Cartel leader Vicente Carrillo-Fuentes:

"The Drug Enforcement Administration congratulates the Government of Mexico on the arrest of Vicente Carrillo-Fuentes, one of history’s most notorious drug traffickers. Carrillo-Fuentes was the leader of the Juarez Cartel and facilitated murder and violence in Mexico while fueling addiction in the United States and across the world. Once again, our valiant partners in Mexico who pursue these dangerous criminals should be lauded for their efforts.” 


Vincent Aulisi, Former President of the International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1235, Sentenced to Prison for Conspiracy for Christmas Tribute Payments

The former president of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) Local 1235 was sentenced to 18 months in prison for conspiring to extort longshoremen on the New Jersey piers for Christmastime tribute payments, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman and Eastern District of New York U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch announced.

Vincent Aulisi, 82, of West Orange, New Jersey—the president of ILA Local 1235 from 2006 through 2007—previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi to one count of an indictment charging him with conspiring to extort Christmastime tributes from ILA Local 1235 members. Judge Cecchi imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Aulisi and two other former ILA officers—Thomas Leonardis, 57, of Glen Gardner, New Jersey, the president of the union from approximately 2008 through 2011; and Robert Ruiz, 55, of Watchung, New Jersey, the delegate of the union from approximately 2007 through 2010 –admitted that they conspired to compel tribute payments from ILA union members, who made the payments based on actual and threatened force, violence and fear. The timing of the extortions typically coincided with the receipt by certain ILA members of “Container Royalty Fund” checks, a form of year-end compensation. Leonardis and Ruiz were suspended from their positions following their arrests in January 2011. Aulisi had already retired from his employment on the New Jersey piers at the time of his arrest.

Charges are still pending against three defendants in the superseding indictment, including a racketeering conspiracy charge against Stephen Depiro, 59, of Kenilworth, New Jersey—a soldier in the Genovese organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra. Since at least 2005, Depiro has managed the Genovese family’s control over the New Jersey waterfront –including the nearly three-decades-long extortion of port workers in ILA Local 1, ILA Local 1235, and ILA Local 1478. Members of the Genovese family, including Depiro, are charged with conspiring to collect tribute payments from New Jersey port workers at Christmastime each year through their corrupt influence over union officials, including the last three presidents of Local 1235.

Two other Genovese family associates charged in the case are former union officials: Albert Cernadas, 79, of Union, New Jersey, the president of ILA Local 1235 from approximately 1981 to 2006 and former ILA executive vice president; and Nunzio LaGrasso, 63, of Florham Park, New Jersey, the former vice president of ILA Local 1478 and former ILA representative.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Cecchi sentenced Aulisi to serve one year of supervised release and fined him $10,000.

Tonight, @BryceTBauer, Author of "Gentlemen Bootleggers" Appears on Crime Beat Radio

Bryce T. Bauer discusses his book "Gentlemen Bootleggers: The True Story of Templeton Rye, Prohibition, and a Small Town in Cahoots" tonight on Crime Beat Radio.

During Prohibition, while Al Capone was rising to worldwide prominence as Public Enemy Number One, the townspeople of rural Templeton, Iowa—population just 428—were busy with a bootlegging empire of their own. Led by Joe Irlbeck, the whip-smart and gregarious son of a Bavarian immigrant, the outfit of farmers, small merchants, and even the church Monsignor worked together to create a whiskey so excellent it was ordered by name: Templeton rye.

Gentlemen Bootleggers: The True Story of Templeton Rye, Prohibition, and a Small Town in Cahoots tells a never-before-told tale of ingenuity, bootstrapping, and perseverance in one small town, showcasing a group of immigrants who embraced the American ideals of self-reliance, dynamism, and democratic justice. It relies on previously classified Prohibition Bureau investigation files, federal court case files, extensive newspaper archive research, and a recently disclosed interview with kingpin Joe Irlbeck. Unlike other Prohibition-era tales of big-city gangsters, it provides an important reminder that bootlegging wasn’t only about glory and riches, but could be in the service of a higher goal: producing the best whiskey money could buy.

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.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Tonight, Mark Songini @Msongini, Author of "Boston Mob" Appears on Crime Beat Radio

Mark Songini, author of Boston Mob: The Rise and Fall of the New England Mob and Its Most Notorious Killer, appears tonight on Crime Beat Radio.

The New England Mafia was a hugely powerful organization that survived by using violence to ruthlessly crush anyone that threatened it, or its lucrative gambling, loansharking, bootlegging and other enterprises. Psychopathic strongman Joseph “The Animal” Barboza was one of the most feared mob enforcers of all time, killing as many as thirty people for business and pleasure.

From information based on newly declassified documents and the use of underworld sources, Boston Mob spans the gutters and alleyways of East Boston, Providence and Charlestown to the halls of Congress in Washington D.C. and Boston’s Beacon Hill. Its players include governors and mayors, and the Mafia Commission of New York City. From the tragic legacy of the Kennedy family to the Winter Hill-Charlestown feud, the fall of the New England Mafia and the rise of Whitey Bulger, Mark Songini's Boston Mob is a saga of treachery, murder, greed, and the survival of ruthless men pitted against legal systems and police forces.

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.