Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Fixed: How Goodfellas Bought Boston College Basketball #NCAA Throwback

Fixed: How Goodfellas Bought Boston College BasketballFixed: How Goodfellas Bought Boston College Basketball

Using extensive background research as well as interviews with the principal characters, Fixed provides the first in-depth reconstruction of the point-shaving scandal involving the 1978-1979 Boston College basketball team, from the genesis of the plot in the summer of 1978, through the uncovering of the scheme during an unrelated investigation in 1980, to the trial that captivated the sports world in the fall of 1981 and its aftermath. This multi-layered story of greed and betrayal combines sports, gambling, and the Mafia into an irresistible morality tale with a modern edge.

Goodfella's Henry Hill Plays Central Part in ESPN's "Playing for the Mob" 30 for 30

Some of it happened almost by accident, and some of it happened after years of determined work.

A chance meeting in prison. A failed minor league baseball player from Pittsburgh turned college basketball player in Boston. A talkative informant.

The combination thereof led to the downfall of a previously untouchable New York crime boss responsible for multiple murders and the largest cash heist in U.S. history, via cronies in Pittsburgh who ran a point-shaving scheme that paid a few players to keep scores within the spread at Boston College during the 1978-79 college basketball season.

That’s the story chronicled by the latest edition of ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary seriesPlaying for the Mob ESPN 30 for 30, “Playing for the Mob,” which premiered Tuesday night on ESPN.

The film represented something of a white whale for executive producer and co-director Joe Lavine, who for years attempted and failed to get the project green-lighted before finally landing at ESPN.

A Trenton, New Jersey, native, Lavine grew up there about the same time as Jim Sweeney -- a schoolboy legend in Trenton who went on to star at BC. So Lavine was fascinated when he found out that Sweeney was one of a handful of Eagles players accused in connection with a the point-shaving scandal that was making national headlines in 1981.

That fascination only increased when the mobster who fingered Sweeney hit the big screen years later in Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas.”

“Every year I would pitch this story,” Lavine said. “I really wanted to get to the bottom of it from a personal curiosity [standpoint], and then also knowing that this had to be a great story.”

The highlights of the film are the interviews with the former mobsters, now all well past their primes after serving their time, including the gangster Ray Liotta made famous in “Goodfellas” -- Henry Hill.

At one point Hill curses, apologizes sheepishly to the camera, and then falls right back into his expletive-laden speech. It’s one of several seeming contradictions the gangster-turned-informant offers during the film, right along with this doozy early on: “I didn’t threaten him or nothin’,” Hill says in the film, “I just said, ‘It’s hard to play basketball with a broken arm.’”

Once a gangster, always a gangster.

“Playing for the Mob” makes good use of Scorsese’s classic, splicing in “Goodfellas” clips between interviews and using Liotta as the film’s narrator. The tone is set by black-and-white mug shots and film strips from surveillance of mobsters interspersed with BC team photos and action shots from newspaper coverage of the season. And, of course, there are betting lines with the pick circled and handwritten box scores with the names of the alleged conspirators highlighted.

The film also benefits from the fact that most of those involved agreed to speak on camera, including Sweeney, fellow accused BC players Ernie Cobb and Michael Bowie (who were completely vindicated), law enforcement officials and all the principals on the organized crime side of the story.

“As a matter of fact, one thing I’m really happy with in this film, is we really did get to everybody,” Lavine said. “We spoke to everybody, whether they ended up in the film or not.”

That includes Rick Kuhn, the former minor league baseball player who started the scandal and who Sweeney says got him involved in it. Kuhn was the only player convicted -- receiving a record 10-year sentence -- and served 28 months in prison. Lavine said Kuhn was “very open” but declined to go on camera, so his side of the story is told instead mostly through court testimony.

Sweeney said he decided to cooperate with Lavine and co-director Cayman Grant because he believed they would treat the subject fairly. “These people [in the mob] get glamorized or sensationalized,” Sweeney said. “And unfortunately, if you see a real-life situation that involves people like myself and others, then you say, ‘Wow, that’s the type of effect that whatever [the gangsters] do can have on others’ lives.’”

As for his role in what happened, Sweeney says he’s never run from the truth. He acknowledges taking $500, but says he never did anything to fix games. He says he believes his experience could serve as a test case for others, to help prevent anything like it from happening in the future.

“Obviously, I could’ve done things differently,” Sweeney said. “You can’t change things in life. And I never go there, like, coulda, woulda, shoulda, because that would only lead to frustration. That only leads to animosity. And I don’t have that. “I moved on many, many years ago, and I think the worst thing you can do is blame others or even blame yourself because that’s kinda like a poison that just stays with you. And I don’t think it ever stayed with me.”

The filmmakers ultimately don’t take a side on who did what, instead presenting at times conflicting accounts and letting the audience decide. “Obviously, the huge message is don’t get involved with point-shaving,” Lavine said with a laugh. “Don’t get involved with organized crime people.”

After more than a decade spent trying to make “Playing with the Mob” happen, Lavine is ready to move on to a new project. “We’re really happy with it. I think it tells a great story, I think the story is told in an entertaining fashion,” he said. “Will I ever totally leave Boston College? I don’t know. I think it will always be in the back of my mind somewhere.

“It really was over 10 years that I’ve been trying to do this, so I don’t know that I can just turn the page on it and go on to something else. I’m ready to move on from the actual filmmaking process. But I’ll always be curious about certain things that went on.”

Thanks to Jack McCluskey.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Jeffrey S. Sallet, Investigator of #OrganizedCrime and #Corruption, Named Special Agent @FBIChicago

FBI Director Christopher Wray announced the appointment of Jeffrey S. Sallet as the special agent in charge of the Chicago Division. Mr. Sallet most recently served as the special agent in charge of the New Orleans Division since 2015.

Mr. Sallet entered on duty with the FBI in 1997 and was assigned to the New York Division, where he investigated organized crime, public corruption, labor racketeering, and counterterrorism matters.

Throughout his career Mr. Sallet has held leadership positions in the Criminal Investigative Division at Headquarters, the Boston Division, and the Providence, Rhode Island Resident Agency.

Mr. Sallet will report to the Chicago Field office for his new role in November.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Sammy the Bull, Salvatore Gravano, is Released from Prison 5 Years Early

Notorious ​M​afia hit man-​turned-canary Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano has been released from an Arizona prison five years early, according to inmate records.
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The ​infamous ​72-year-old mob rat, who ​squealed to ​help authorities bring down “Dapper Don” John Gotti in exchange for a 1991 plea deal, was let out Sept​. 18, Arizona’s Department of Corrections records show.

He’ll​​ remain on federal parole for the rest of his life, as ordered by Brooklyn federal ​Judge Allyne Ross in 2002 when she locked him up.

“I spoke to him,” the aged wiseguy’s daughter, Karen Gravano, ecstatically told The Post. “He is happy to be out after spending the last 17½ years in prison. He’s in good health, great spirits and he’s anxious to move forward with the next phase of his life.”

“There is no doubt I’m extremely happy,” she said. “I’ve been fighting for this day the whole 17½ years that he’s been in prison, so I’m ecstatic it’s finally here.”

Defense attorney Thomas Farinella echoed Gravano’s comments almost exactly, saying his client was “in good health and great spirits” and “extremely happy to be out.” He declined to comment on whether the elder Gravano would settle again in Arizona, or if he would continue sketching — a hobby he picked up while incarcerated.

The former Gambino underboss pleaded guilty to running a nearly 50-person, $500,000-a-week ecstasy ring in 2001, and was sentenced to 20 years behind bars.

That conviction followed a sweetheart deal in which Gravano was sentenced to just five years in prison for an admitted 19 murders — in exchange for helping the feds fell 39 mobsters, including his former boss and pal the Teflon Don.

The turncoat consigliere took the stand and spilled the Five Families’ secrets for five days during Gotti’s trial — and then testified in nine more, putting 39 wiseguys and associates in prison.

At the time, he was the highest-ranking member of La Cosa Nostra to turn fed.

After a short stint in the big house followed by an even shorter one in witness protection, he moved to Tempe, Arizona, and lived under the assumed name Jimmy Moran.

While Gravano was living in Arizona, peddling ecstasy and installing pools, he barely escaped his own killing, when the late godfather’s enraged brother, Peter Gotti, sent a team of hitmen to go find him in the Copper State.

The then-Gambino crime boss ordered the hit in retaliation for his brother’s death from cancer at age 61 behind bars.

His latest bid for early release was in 2015, when Ross declined to shave years off his sentence, citing his “longstanding reputation for extreme violence.”

Thanks to Oli Coleman and Emily Saul.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Alleged Mafia Soldier, Christopher Londonio, Charged With Attempting To Escape From Federal Pretrial Detention Facility

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and James P. O’Neill, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) announced the filing of a Superseding Indictment charging CHRISTOPHER LONDONIO with attempting to escape from the Metropolitan Detention Center (“MDC”), in Brooklyn.

LONDONIO has been detained at the MDC since February 2017 in connection with murder and racketeering charges pending in White Plains federal court.  The Superseding Indictment re-alleges previously filed charges against LONDONIO and 18 other members and associates of the Luchese Family of La Cosa Nostra, who are charged with racketeering, murder, narcotics offenses, and firearms offenses.  LONDONIO will be arraigned on the new charge at the next pretrial conference, which is currently scheduled for September 20, 2017.  The case is assigned to United States District Judge Cathy Seibel.

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “Already detained on racketeering and murder charges, Luchese soldier Christopher Londonio, allegedly hatched a scheme to break out of federal prison with a hacksaw blade and a rope made from tied-up bedsheets. Although sounding like a script for a made-for-tv movie, the charges allege yet another serious federal crime against Londonio. As alleged, with this latest chapter in his years-long life in the mob, Londonio adds to the string of crimes he must now face, in a criminal justice system he was desperately seeking to escape.”

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “Someone facing federal charges of murder, extortion, racketeering, and a litany of other crimes may feel a certain desperation to attempt breaking out of jail to avoid justice.  However, the outlandish choice of dental floss, and even allegedly asking a priest to assist in the escape defies comprehension.  The attempts didn't work, and now the subject in this case faces even more charges for his alleged criminal behavior.”

According to the allegations in the Superseding Indictment[1] and other documents in the public record:

In or about June 2017, LONDONIO and another detainee concocted a plan to escape from the MDC.  In furtherance of the plan, LONDONIO used dental floss as a cutting tool to tamper with a window in the facility.  He also planned to solicit a priest to smuggle a saw blade into the facility, and secretly stockpiled a large number of sheets and blankets, intending to use them as a rope to aid in his escape.  The plan was foiled after a fellow detainee reported the escape plan to the authorities.

La Cosa Nostra or “the Mafia” is a criminal organization composed of leaders, members, and associates who work together and coordinate to engage in a multitude of criminal activities.  In addition to the attempted escape charge, the Superseding Indictment alleges that from at least in or about 2000 up to and including in or about 2017, MATTHEW MADONNA, STEVEN CREA, Sr., a/k/a “Wonder Boy,” JOSEPH DINAPOLI, STEVEN CREA, Jr., DOMINIC TRUSCELLO, JOHN CASTELUCCI, a/k/a “Big John,” TINDARO CORSO, a/k/a “Tino,” JOSEPH VENICE, JAMES MAFFUCCI, a/k/a “Jimmy the Jew,” JOSEPH DATELLO, a/k/a “Big Joe,” a/k/a “Joey Glasses,” PAUL CASSANO, a/k/a “Paulie Roast Beef,” CHRISTOPHER LONDONIO, TERRENCE CALDWELL, a/k/a “T,” VINCENT BRUNO, BRIAN VAUGHAN, CARMINE GARCIA, a/k/a “Spanish Carmine,” RICHARD O’CONNOR, ROBERT CAMILLI, and JOHN INCATASCIATO, along with other members and associates of La Cosa Nostra, committed a wide array of crimes in connection with their association with the mafia, including murder, attempted murder, assault, robbery, extortion, gambling, narcotics trafficking, witness tampering, fraud, money laundering, and trafficking in contraband cigarettes.

LONDONIO, 43, is a resident of Hartsdale, New York.  The attempted escape charge, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 751(a), carries a maximum prison term of five years.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Frank Vincent's A Guy's Guide to Being a Man's Man

A Guy's Guide to Being a Man's Man.

These days, it’s harder than ever to know how to act like a real man. We’re not talking about the touchy-feely, ultra-sensitive, emotion-sharing, not-afraid-to-cry version of manhood that Oprah and Dr. Phil have been spouting for years. We’re talking about the though, smart, confident, charming, classy, all-around good fella that upholds the true ideal of what is known as “a man’s man.”

Now, renowned actor and true-life man’s man Frank Vincent, famed for his unforgettable tough-guy roles in such classic films as Raging Bull, Goodfellas and HBO’s The Sopranos, is going to show how any man can be all that he can be in love, work, play, and life. Everything you need to know is covered here, including, getting the best women by being the best man, dressing like a champ and taking on the world, winning big money and big respect in Las Vegas, selecting, smoking, and savoring a great cigar, and much more.

If you want to learn how to be a man’s man, you gotta learn from a man’s man. And with the great Frank Vincent vouching for you, you’ll be on your way to getting everything you ever wanted outta life.

A Guy's Guide to Being a Man's Man.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Diary of a Motor City Hit Man: The Chester Wheeler Campbell Story

Diary of a Motor City Hit Man: The Chester Wheeler Campbell Story.

February, 1975...

A case began to unfold like nothing the quaint Detroit suburban area of Orchard Lake had ever seen. In the hours following a near head-on collision between a mysterious sedan and an on-duty patrolman, the frightening truth behind the speeding car's driver would be discovered.

The vehicle was littered with weapons, drugs, and cash, yet these items weren't even the beginning. The most menacing item law enforcement could imagine was made of paper.
Found in Chester Wheeler Campbell's possession was a set of meticulously detailed assassin's notebooks - containing the names of unsolved murder victims and a list of planned targets.

It was a time when outlandish courtroom drama, gangland executions, corruption investigations, and scandals were all part of the twisted world where a Motor City Hitman could thrive. This is the true tale not only of a murderer for hire, but also the parallel people and occurrances that helped warp a stressed socio-economic landscape of Detroit into a drug fueled organized crime controlled underworld.

Diary of a Motor City Hit Man: The Chester Wheeler Campbell Story.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Opening Soon: Irish Mafia Brewing

The name is a certainly an attention-grabber (or maybe even a bit of a head-scratcher). Mark Mansfield's new craft brewery is full of blarney.

Irish Mafia Brewing opens in late September in Bloomfield, Ontario County. And the first question Mansfield always gets is: Where did that name come from?

"That’s what everyone is asking, and I wish I had a better story," Mansfield said of Irish Mafia Brewing, 2971 Whalen Road (near the intersection of Route 5 & 20), which will become Ontario County's 14th craft brewery.

"My stock answer is, I’m really proud of my Irish heritage and I wanted to bring that out," he added. "I’m not saying I have relatives in the Irish Mafia, but I’m really proud of being Irish. That’s why it says, 'you know who you are' on the label and in my logo."

Mansfield struggled with a name. (He even considered "Suburban Mafia.") "My whole theory on the planet and life itself, 'everything happens for a reason,' " he said. "I’m a big karma guy."

He wanted the name to be welcoming and he wanted it to be a bit edgy, he said. "It just hit me like a lead balloon, like a punch in the face: Irish Mafia," Mansfield said. "That’s the name. I didn’t want to offend people. But I wanted to have fun and I wanted to embrace it. It is cheeky."

Mansfield, 47, is a Bloomfield native. He graduated from Bloomfield High School in 1988. He now lives with his wife and four kids just up the road in Victor. His Bloomfield roots run deep and he wants to be a valuable stop in the bustling Finger Lakes beer trail. (You can even see Bloomfield's Nedloh Brewing from the front patio of Irish Mafia).

Thanks to Will Cleveland.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

DUAL LIVES: from the Streets to the Studio - "Teacher of the Year" becomes Mob Artist

In DUAL LIVES: from the Streets to the Studio, renowned American artist and 3-time national award-winning “Teacher of the Year” Michael Bell has written an inspiring and brutally candid memoir that chronicles his meteoric rise to becoming one of the most highly decorated public school teachers in America, all the while, living out a storied and often controversial professional painting career as “Mob Artist” to America’s most infamous.

Go behind the scenes with his intriguing clientele on how these friendships also fueled his career—from John Gotti to Al Capone’s great-nephew, Dominic Capone to numerous actors from “the Sopranos”, “Goodfellas”, “A Bronx Tale”, and more. Then, take a roller coaster crusade through the ever-changing, volatile landscapes of the art world and a US public education system that has begun placing more of an emphasis on "data mining" than on "building relationships."

This is the ultimate story of overcoming extreme adversity and being a true champion for today’s youth from someone still in the trenches, still at the top of his game. And, in the education arena, Bell has done the unprecedented. His students have earned tens of millions in scholarships; 7 back-to-back NAEA Rising Star Awards in art—an award presented to just one student artist in the entire nation annually; and 8 Scholastic Art National Medalists 3 years straight.

Bell also discusses the impact of his family life on his art—on the tragic stillbirth of his sister; on his lifelong relationship with his Grandmother, Violet, a self-taught artist from Lyndhurst, New Jersey; on his inspiring son, Carmen, (“Lil' C”), and his battles with Autism while on his quest to become a Golden Gloves boxing champion. Then there's Bell's notorious cousin Vinnie, who was part of the longest double-murder trial in the history of the State of New Jersey. Learn how Bell, himself, went from being a troubled youth once facing twenty-years-to-life to saving one of his own students from a similar fate nearly two decades later.

DUAL LIVES: from the Streets to the Studio, is passionately written, and just as courageously vulnerable as the compelling narratives found within Bell’s paintings. So, ride shotgun alongside Michael Bell throughout his meteoric rise across two very different worlds—from the streets to the studio.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Columbia Point Dawgs Gang Leader Sentenced for Drug Trafficking

A leader of the Boston street gang, Columbia Point Dawgs, was sentenced in federal court in Boston for trafficking oxycodone.

Demetrius Williams, a/k/a Troll, 30, of Roxbury, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns to 151 months in prison and five years of supervised release. In December 2016, Williams pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, cocaine base and heroin. Demetrius Williams, one of 48 defendants tied to the CPD, was indicted in June 2015 on racketeering, drug trafficking, and firearms charges.

Williams, was involved in the importation and distribution of at least 880 grams of cocaine base, 10 kilograms of cocaine, and 700 grams of heroin in Massachusetts, along with other members and associates of the Columbia Point Dawgs (CPD), including his brothers Yancey Williams and Herbert Small, and father Yancey Calhoun.

According to documents filed in court, the CPD, also known on the street as “the Point,” was Boston’s largest and most influential citywide gang. The criminal organization started in the 1980s in the former Columbia Point Housing Development (now Harbor Point) and, over the years, gang members established drug trafficking crews throughout Boston. It is alleged that the CPD was responsible for the distribution of multiple kilo quantities of heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, and oxycodone throughout Boston and Maine.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Carmine Carini, Son of Mob Associate, Body Found Tied to Cinder Block, Floating by Dock

The NYPD says a man whose body was found tied to a cinder block and floating by a dock in New York City over the weekend has been identified as the son of a mafia associate.

Police identified 35-year-old Carmine Carini through fingerprints, saying they are still trying to determine why he was killed. Robert Boyce, the police chief of detectives, said at a Tuesday press conference Carini’s father had the ties to organized crime — not the son.

Carini was released from prison in 2015 after serving time for a robbery conviction. Boyce says investigators do not know yet if the man’s death is linked to his previous convictions.

Carini’s father declined comment on Tuesday. His sister, Annie Carini, says the family is pained by coverage of her nephew’s death.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Examining the Crimes of the Calabrese Family #FamilySecrets

Why are we so fascinated by the mob? Well, there's violence: garroting, shooting, stabbing; the thrill of men hunting men. Money: While most of us sweat for our daily bread, gangsters take what they want. The unknown: Gangster stories give us special knowledge of dark, hidden places in the city and in the human heart.

That last point is important, because half the fun is pulling back the veil. The author strips away the pretenses and pleasantries of daily life and reveals how the world really is. Which is to say that force reigns supreme, not intelligence or character or merit. But part of the popularity of gangster lit is the assumption that the veil is only ever half-raised. Mob stories feed our most paranoid fears by implying that so much more remains to be told. Because we really can't see the subject whole, never know the limits of the mob's influence, we can imagine it as all-powerful, with cops, politicians and businessmen bought and paid for. Authors let us in on the secrets, but the thrilling question always remains, just how big is this menace?

That is one of the reasons that Chicago Tribune reporter Jeff Coen's "Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled the Chicago Mob" is so refreshing. He never reaches beyond his story, sticks close to his evidence, lets the carefully gathered wiretaps and eyewitness testimony and reporter's notes do the talking. Like Nicholas Pileggi's classic "Wiseguy," on which the film "GoodFellas" was based, Coen keeps it at street level, focusing on his distinct cast of characters, the gangsters and their victims, the federal agents, local cops and attorneys who played out the drama.

During the 1970s, '80s, and '90s, Frank Calabrese Sr. operated a lucrative loan-sharking business on Chicago's South Side. He had ties to higher-ups in the "Outfit," as the Chicago mob is known, men like Joey "the Clown" Lombardo, and James "Jimmy Light" Marcello. Calabrese was not a nice man. In the late '90s, his son, Frank Jr., musing on his father's abusiveness, decided to turn state's evidence against the old man. Seeing the handwriting on the wall, young Frank's uncle Nick (Frank Sr.'s brother) also decided to cooperate with the feds.

With that the Outfit's cover unraveled, and the case finally came to trial in 2007. Coen gives us fine-grained pictures of the loan-sharking and extortion, and, above all, at least 18 killings.

Nick Calabrese, a reluctant hit man, committed multiple murders at brother Frank's behest. Nick told the feds that his sibling would willingly kill him had he failed to carry out a hit. Frank Calabrese himself specialized in garroting his victims, then cutting their throats to make sure they were dead. Coen gives us gruesome accounts of the murders and burials in corn fields and at construction sites.

"Family Secrets" isn't for everyone. It is a complex narrative of a long case that resulted in several convictions. The devil is in the details, there are a lot of them, and they thoroughly de-romanticize the mob.

This is a well-written and researched book, but its subject might disappoint some readers. Unlike the East Coast mob, Coen tells us, "Chicago had been unified for much of the century, since the days of the infamous boss Al Capone. ..." That statement is true but a bit deceptive. This late 20th Century crew seems a little pathetic. They're not exactly the gang that couldn't shoot straight, but they're certainly not Capone's Outfit either. When we pull back the veil, we get a strange blend of Don Corleone and the Three Stooges.

Thanks to Elliott Gorn, who teaches history at Brown University. He is author of "Dillinger's Wild Ride: The Year That Made America's Public Enemy Number One," published this year by Oxford University Press.