Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Democrat National Convention was almost Fixed by the Mafia

After a dramatic Republican National Convention in Cleveland which saw Donald Trump finally become the party’s official nominee, Hillary Clinton will this week accept the formal nomination of the Democratic Party.

U.S. national conventions have always been big business opportunities. As one long-time ally of the Bush family reportedly said, “For people who operate in and around government, you can’t not be here.” Although some of the usual donors to the Republican National Convention, like Ford and UPS, stayed home this year, the host committee was able to raise nearly US $60 million from American businesses. Yet historically the “people who operate in and around government” are not only legitimate businesses but also, sometimes, less-than-legitimate ones.

Take the 1932 Democratic National Convention. As I explain in my book Hidden Power: The Strategic Logic of Organized Crime, from which this article is adapted, the nomination that year had come down to a contest between two New York politicians. Al Smith was a reform-minded former governor aligned with Tammany Hall, the Manhattan-based Democratic political machine. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the sitting governor, was running against him, and he was not aligned with Tammany.

If Roosevelt was to win the nomination at the Democratic National Convention, he needed to neutralize the Tammany threat. That meant figuring out what to do about the Mob.

Through their control of liquor and vice-markets in southern Manhattan, Tammany’s stronghold, the Italian-American Mafias and Jewish-heritage gangs that made up the New York Mob had developed growing power in Tammany affairs over the preceding years.

The Mob leadership now saw a huge strategic opportunity at the Democratic National Convention to leverage that power into something even bigger: influence over the next occupant of the White House.

Mob leaders Lucky Luciano, Frank Costello and Meyer Lansky all accompanied the Tammany Hall delegation to the convention in Chicago. Their Mafia associate Al Capone provided much of the alcohol, banned under prohibition, and entertainment.

Costello shared a hotel suite with Jimmy Hines, the Tammany “Grand Sachem,” who announced support for Roosevelt. But another Tammany politician, Albert Marinelli, announced that he and a small bloc were defecting and would not support Roosevelt.

Marinelli was Tammany’s leader in the Second Assembly District, its heartland below Manhattan’s 14th Street. During Prohibition he had owned a trucking company – run by none other than Lucky Luciano. Luciano had helped Marinelli become the first Italian-American district leader in Tammany, and in 1931 forced the resignation of the city clerk, whom Marinelli then replaced. This gave Luciano and Marinelli control over selection of grand jurors and the tabulation of votes during city elections.

Now, the two were sharing a Chicago hotel suite.

Why were Costello and Luciano backing rival horses, and through them, rival candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination? Was this a disagreement over political strategy?

On the contrary, the evidence suggests that the Mob was playing both sides, to place themselves as brokers in the Democratic nomination process.

Roosevelt needed the full New York state delegation’s support – and thus Tammany’s – if he was going to win the floor vote at the convention. But he also needed to avoid being tainted by the whiff of scandal that hung stubbornly around Tammany – and the Mafia.

Roosevelt responded to the split by issuing a statement denouncing civic corruption, while carefully noting that he had not seen adequate evidence to date to warrant the prosecution of sitting Tammany leaders, despite an ongoing investigation run by an independent-minded prosecutor, Sam Seabury. Picking up his signal, Marinelli threw his support behind Roosevelt, giving him the full delegate slate and helping him gain the momentum needed to claim the nomination.

The Mob’s role may not have been decisive. Roosevelt’s nomination had numerous fathers, not least John “Cactus Jack” Garner, a rival presidential candidate to whom Roosevelt offered the vice presidency in return for the votes of the Texas and California delegations. But it was a factor.

If the Mob leaders were not quite kingmakers as they had hoped, they were certainly players. As Luciano reportedly put it, “I don’t say we elected Roosevelt, but we gave him a pretty good push.”

Luciano was nonetheless a newcomer to national politics, and seems to have been quickly outsmarted by his candidate. Having secured the nomination, Roosevelt loosened the reins on Seabury’s corruption investigation, making clear that if it developed new evidence, he might be prepared to back prosecutions after all.

Seabury quickly exposed significant Tammany graft in the New York administration. The city sheriff had amassed $400,000 in savings from a job that paid $12,000 a year. The mayor had awarded a bus contract to a company that owned no buses – but was happy to give him a personal line of credit. A judge with half a million dollars in savings had been granted a loan to support 34 “relatives” found to be in his care. Against the backdrop of Depression New York, with a collapsing private sector, 25 percent unemployment and imploding tax revenues, this was shocking profligacy and nepotism.

By September 1932, the mayor had resigned and fled to Paris with his showgirl girlfriend. In early 1933, Roosevelt moved into the White House and broke off the formal connection between Tammany Hall and the national Democratic Party for the first time in 105 years. He even tacitly supported the election of the reformist Republican Fiorello La Guardia as New York mayor.

Luciano was pragmatic about having been outsmarted. “He done exactly what I would’ve done in the same position,” he reportedly said. “He was no different than me … we was both s—ass double-crossers, no matter how you look at it.”

Thanks to James Cockayne.

The Crime Classification Manual: A Standard System of Investigating and Classifying Violent Crime

The landmark book standardizing the language, terminology, and classifications used throughout the criminal justice system

Arranged according to the primary intent of the criminal, the Crime Classification Manual: A Standard System for Investigating and Classifying Violent Crime, Third Edition features the language, terms, and classifications the criminal justice system and allied fields use as they work to protect society from criminal behavior.

Coauthored by a pioneer of modern profiling and featuring new coverage of wrongful convictions and false confessions, the Third Edition:

  • Tackles new areas affected by globalization and new technologies, including human trafficking and internationally coordinated cybercrimes
  • Expands discussion of border control, The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and Homeland Security
  • Addresses the effects of ever-evolving technology on the commission and detection of crime

The definitive text in this field, Crime Classification Manual, Third Edition is written for law enforcement personnel, mental health professionals, forensic scientists, and those professionals whose work requires an understanding of criminal behavior and detection.

A History of the Jews

Less a seminal contribution than a distillation of a wide range of sources, this history of the Jews focuses on their four-millennia interplay with, and adaption to, other, often hostile, civilizations a "world history seen from the viewpoint of a learned and intelligent victim.'' Weaving biblical and archeological data, Johnson (Modern Times Revised Edition: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties), History of Christianity) is particularly deft at placing the patriarchs and early Israelites (the Bronze Age through the destruction of the First Temple) in their historical context. His dense, somewhat arbitrary, capsule extols Judaic rational scholarship which contributed to ethical monotheism and the 18th-century economic system, in turn and denigrates mystic kabbalah``heresy of the most pernicious kind.'' Although Johnson, who seeks to acknowledge ``the magnitude of the debt Christianity owes to Judaism,'' traces ``an inherent conflict'' between the religion and the state of Israel through the various ages, the work is incontrovertibly sympathetic to Zionism.

A History of the Jews.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Explosion of Chicago's Black Street Gangs

Explosion of Chicago's Black Street Gangs-1900 to Present, is the bible on the social pathology of street gangs in Chicago. It should be read by all professionals working with young adults, especially those involved in law enforcement.


"This commentary is not intended to be a comprehensive analysis of Chicago's Black street gangs, nor does it purport to be based on scientific data. However, as one who has worked with and observed Black street gangs for over twenty-five years, I believe I do have some insight about them. Furthermore, I believe as a Black social practitioner my insight gives a perspective on Black street gangs that has not been provided by many white academicians and social scientists.

What this commentary attempts to do is to trace the evolution of Chicago's Black street gangs and identify those factors that have made many of them the violent gangs they are today. In doing so, I have tried to separate myth from fact and list critical realities we must face if we are to have a significant impact on Black street gangs. Although I do not provide solutions to the Black street gang problem, I believe some strategies for remedying the problem can be extrapolated from my commentary."

Official Mafia III Accolades Trailer - The Fall's Most Promising Open-World Game

With over 60 E3 accolades, 12 awards and a host of top-ten recognitions, Mafia III is poised to be Fall’s Most Promising Open-World Game.

Mafia III Deluxe Edition - PlayStation 4: - It’s 1968 and the rules have changed. After years in Vietnam, Lincoln Clay knows this truth: Family isn’t who you’re born with, it’s who you die for.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

9 Vehicles from Drug Kingpin Included in U.S. Marshals Online Auction

The U.S. Marshals Service is holding an online auction, ending Thursday for the sale of 10 high-end vehicles at Nine of the vehicles are from the drug kingpin Alvaro Lopez Tardón case in Miami.

The auction, already underway, has drawn hundreds of bids. A 2003 Ferrari Enzo, with 13,088 miles, is currently at more than $1.9 million.

The vehicles will be shown during a preview Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Miami Marlins Park, 501 Marlins Way, Miami, FL 33125.

Vehicles being sold from the Tardón case include an Enzo Ferrari, Bugatti Veyron 16.4, Rolls-Royce Ghost, Ferrari F430, Maybach 57S, and four luxury SUVs (two Mercedes and two Range Rovers). A Bentley Continental GTC, also for sale in this auction, is from a New Jersey case.

Tardón, 41, a Spanish national, was the head of an international narcotics trafficking and money laundering syndicate which distributed over 7,500 kilograms of South American cocaine in Madrid and laundered over $14 million in narcotics proceeds in Miami by buying high-end real estate, luxury and exotic automobiles and other high-end items. After a seven-week trial in 2014, Tardón was convicted on one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and 13 counts of money laundering. He was sentenced to 150 years and is serving his sentence at the Miami Federal Detention Center.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Sidney Korshak was The Myth, Mr. Silk Stockings, The Duke and The Fixer

Some mobsters get ridiculous nicknames.

The Clown.

No Nose.

The Weasel.

But others, like Chicago mob lawyer Sidney Roy Korshak, get nicknames more reflective of their importance.

To the rich and powerful, Korshak was "The Myth."

He was "Mr. Silk Stockings" and "The Duke."

And most appropriately, he was "The Fixer."

Korshak was the ultimate fixer, in Chicago and later in sunny California, where he thrived in the shadows.

Need a criminal case fixed? Call Korshak.

Teamsters threatening to cripple your business and they're not in a mood to negotiate? Call Korshak.

Looking for an investment to launder the blood out of your mobbed-up money?

You get the picture.

His life spanned much of last century, and in his heyday he was the ultimate bridge between big business, politicians, Hollywood, Las Vegas and the mob. When the mob needed a smooth operator to work in the worlds where rough-hewn Chicago mobsters wouldn't fit in, Korshak -- the brother of the late Chicago Democratic politician Marshall Korshak -- was the man of choice.

He was the velvet encasing the hammer.

He's now the subject of a new, exhaustive look at his exploits in investigative reporter Gus Russo's magnum opus:Supermob: How Sidney Korshak and His Criminal Associates Became America's Hidden Power Brokers.

Russo tackled the Chicago mob in his 2003 book The Outfit. In Supermob: How Sidney Korshak and His Criminal Associates Became America's Hidden Power Brokers he expands on that work of melding big business and organized crime.

Russo underscores the Outfit's desire to move a lot of its money into legitimate and quasi-legitimate businesses and investments, and the need of organized crime for legitimate-looking men to help smooth that transition.

No one would typify that more than Korshak, a product of Lawndale and DePaul University Law School who started representing mobsters in Chicago courthouses and ended up charging $50,000 a year as a retainer for "labor relations" for national businesses.

Early in the book, Russo does a masterful job of establishing the ethnic and political foundations for Korshak's beginnings in the Jewish section of the Lawndale neighborhood and in the 24th Ward of consummate machine politician Jacob Arvey.

In a neighborhood filled with young men hot for success, Korshak stood out. Russo shows how Korshak's friends from the same background would weave their way into Korshak's orbit again and again throughout his life, from MCA's Jules Stein to the Pritzker family, from mobster Alex Louis Greenberg to Appellate Court Justice David Bazelon.

Russo's ambition is to mark Korshak's place in the so-called Supermob of mainly Jewish lawyers and businessmen who often got a boost from mobsters early on in their careers and dealt with gangsters with varying degrees of involvement throughout their lives.

The amount of research in the book is staggering. It's a testament to Russo's doggedness to bring the full story to light, but it also turns into one of the book's main weaknesses.

Russo empties his notebooks into the tome. Some of the tales make for a good read but are ancillary. So his story, at times, gets away from him. Still other tales undermine the confidence one has in the reporting in the book. In one instance, Russo suggests Korshak is a man with a taste for teenage girls, with little to back it up. In another, Russo makes a convincing case for how former President Reagan had close ties to members of the Supermob, only to undermine it with innuendo.

Russo shows how Reagan carried out orders of the Supermob when he was president of the Screen Actors Guild and effectively betrayed his own members in the 1950s to the benefit of Lew Wasserman's MCA. But then, Russo provides an account from the actress Selene Walters, who contends Reagan raped her one night. Two weeks later, Reagan married Nancy Davis, the woman who would become the first lady.

There are no interviews in the book with any of Walters' contemporaries at the time to see if she told them a similar story. There's no mention of any police report.

The accusation stands alone unsupported, and it's not worthy of the excellent reporting elsewhere in the book. Because salaciousness aside, Russo pulls plenty of substantive dirty deeds done by Korshak into the light.

Korshak would have cringed.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

Friday, July 01, 2016

Famed Pizzeria Owner Gunned Down in Reputed Mob Hit

An owner of a popular Brooklyn pizzeria was fatally shot outside his home on Thursday night, the police said.

The victim, Louis Barbati, 61, an owner of L&B Spumoni GardensOwner of L&B Spumoni Gardens Gunned Down in Reputed Mob Hit, was shot twice in the torso outside 7601 12th Avenue in the Dyker Heights neighborhood around 7 p.m., the police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Donna Padmore, 56, of East New York, a home health aide who works across the street from Mr. Barbati’s home, said she heard three or four shots. She said she heard Mr. Barbati’s wife screaming, “He got shot! He got shot!”

Then, she said, she saw neighbors rushing to the home, where at least one bullet hole and two nicks in the white fence were visible late Thursday night.

The police said no arrests had been made.

L&B Spumoni Gardens, which has been run by the Barbati family for four generations, is a well-loved institution in Gravesend, neighboring Bensonhurst, and beyond, known for its Sicilian-style pizza pies and frozen dessert that forms part of its name.

The restaurant, with a sign declaring it was established in 1939, occupies a hodgepodge of one-story buildings on 86th Street.

After the restaurant’s windows and doors creaked open for business Friday morning, a man inside the eatery — his voice booming on a loudspeaker — told a group of reporters to leave. “No leaning on the fence,” he said. “Go take a walk somewhere. Thank you.”

A short time later, two men apologized but said the killing had left everyone’s emotions raw. “The family is really upset right now,” one of the men said.

Customers who approached seemed to do so with care. A news conference organized by Eric L. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, and a city councilman from the area was called off.

In an interview Thursday night, Mr. Adams said that shootings were rare in the 68th Precinct, which includes Dyker Heights, Bay Ridge and Fort Hamilton. Mr. Adams noted that the shooting happened on the last day of Gun Violence Awareness Month in New York.

“The bullet might have stopped when it hit the owner,” Mr. Adams said, “but it is sending ripples throughout the community.”

A two-block area around Mr. Barbati’s home was cordoned off on Thursday night as the police investigated the shooting.

The street where the killing occurred is in a neighborhood with many Italian-American families. During the warm months, neighbors throw block parties with the kind of communal activities more common in suburban areas. At Christmastime, the area is known for elaborate light displays and decorations that draw thousands of visitors.

Thanks to Christopher Mele and Al Baker.

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