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Tuesday, November 21, 2023

More than 200 Reputed Members or Associates of the 'Ndrangheta, Italy’s Most Powerful and Richest Crime Syndicate, were Convicted in the Country’s Largest Mafia Trial in Decades.

Italy’s largest mafia trial in decades concluded yesterday with the conviction of more than 200 people accused of being part of, or collaborating with, the country’s most powerful and richest crime syndicate, the ‘Ndrangheta.

Former law-enforcement officials, politicians and businessmen were found guilty of offenses related to organized crime, including drug smuggling, money laundering and extortion, after an almost three-year trial.
The 3 judge panel announce the verdicts in the 'Ndrangheta Mafia Trial

The verdicts mark a turning point in the pursuit by Italian authorities of the ‘Ndrangheta, which—though lower-profile than the Sicilian mafia—has built itself into one of the world’s most formidable drug-trafficking syndicates. The group controls over 80% of Europe’s cocaine trade and its interests extend to the Americas, Africa and Australia, according to prosecutors, who estimate its annual revenue to be $55 billion.

Italian prosecutors have jailed important members of the Sicilian mafia since the 1990s, but have until recently had little success infiltrating the ‘Ndrangheta, which is largely made up of decentralized families with deep loyalties and no obvious leading clan.

Ahead of the trial, prosecutors said that the deliberate targeting of the group’s leadership was crucial to hampering their operations. Prosecutors also sought to expose how the group has penetrated politics and business. Still, with an estimated membership of more than 20,000 people, elimination of the criminal network remains an elusive goal.

Earlier this year in a separate operation, police in Italy, Germany and Belgium arrested around 200 people linked to the ‘Ndrangheta, following an investigation that spanned 10 countries. Investigators on that case said they confiscated 23 tons of cocaine with an estimated retail value of around €2.5 billion, equivalent to $2.7 billion. Italian police said they expect those arrests to disrupt the group’s activities in Europe temporarily.

In the court case that ended Monday, more than 320 people stood trial in a specially built fortified bunker-style courtroom in Calabria, the southern Italian region where the ‘Ndrangheta is based. The three presiding judges stayed in a safe house under police protection while they deliberated their verdicts over the past month. Sentences ranged from 10 months to 30 years and can be appealed.

The trial included thousands of hours of testimony and more than 50 former mafiosi who testified for the prosecution.

In one of the most high-profile convictions, the judges handed an 11-year prison sentence for mafia collusion to Giancarlo Pittelli, a lawyer and member of the Forza Italia political party founded by Silvio Berlusconi, the flamboyant former prime minister who died earlier this year. Prosecutors had sought a 17-year sentence, describing Pittelli as one of the key links between the ‘Ndrangheta and the world of politics. Pittelli and his lawyers couldn’t be reached to comment.

Domenico Bonavota, who received a maximum 30-year prison sentence, told the court during the trial that he was “disgusted by the ‘Ndrangheta” and not a member. “I’m not part of any organized crime group,” he said. Prosecutors accused him of having reached a level within the organization known as “gospel.” Bonavota said in court that the only gospel he knew he had studied as a child during catechism. He couldn’t be reached to comment.

Most of the defendants have been in pretrial detention since December 2019, when thousands of law-enforcement officers took part in one of Italy’s biggest-ever crackdowns against organized crime. The arrests followed a nearly four-year investigation led by Nicola Gratteri, a Calabria native who has spent years fighting the ‘Ndrangheta and has himself become one of the group’s targets.

Thanks to Eric Sylvers.

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

10 Reputed Mobsters with the Gambino Crime Family among 16 Arrested on Racketeering Charges in Mafia Crackdown

Federal prosecutors in New York on Wednesday announced the arrests of 10 men allegedly belonging to or associated with the Gambino Mafia family, as well as the arrests in Italy of six other alleged organized crime members and associates.

The defendants in Brooklyn federal court are accused of a racketeering conspiracy that allegedly involved “violent extortions, assaults, arson, and union-related crimes,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York said.

Prosecutors said the Brooklyn defendants, who are charged in a 16-count indictment, committed those crimes as part of an effort to dominate New York’s carting and demolition industries.

The Gambinos are one of New York’s five Cosa Nostra organized crime cliques. It previously was led by the late notorious boss John Gotti, who died in a federal prison in Missouri in 2002.

The defendants arrested in New York on Wednesday included the alleged Gambino captain Joseph “Joe Brooklyn” Lanni.

Prosecutors said the arrests were part of a coordinated operation with Italian law enforcement, who arrested the six defendants in Italy on charges that include mafia association and related offenses.

One defendant remains at large in that case.

Prosecutors said the other defendants in Brooklyn include: “Diego ‘Danny’ Tantillo, Angelo Gradilone, also known as ‘Fifi,’ and James LaForte, alleged Gambino soldiers, Vito Rappa, alleged U.S.-based Sicilian Mafia member and Gambino associate, Francesco Vicari, also known as ‘Uncle Ciccio,’ alleged U.S.-based Sicilian Mafia associate and Gambino associate, and Salvatore DiLorenzo, Robert Brooke, Kyle Johnson, also known as ‘Twin,’ and Vincent Minsquero, also known as ‘Vinny Slick,’ alleged Gambino associates.”

The Gambino Family: A History of New York's Gambino Mafia Family.

Monday, October 02, 2023

We Do What We Must: Blood, Wine, and the Birth of the American Mafia in New Orleans #NOLA

An immigrant Sicilian family triumphs over The Mafia in turn of the century New Orleans, just not in the way they'd planned.
We Do What We Must
Blood, Wine, and the Birth of the American Mafia
 in New Orleans

WINNER: Pinnacle Book Achievement Award, Fall 2022 - Best Historical Fiction - We Do What We Must: Blood, Wine, and the Birth of the American Mafia in New Orleans.

This fictionalized tale recounts the story of the true life Giacona family, who emigrated from Sicily to New Orleans in the 1890s. They came to the US to escape the influence of The Mafia, only to be confronted by the same challenges in the New World.

Pietro Giancona and Corrado Giacona, father and son, do what they must to defend their family and business from the dreaded Black Hand, as well as powerful organized crime families. They proceed the only way they know how, through bravery, guile, and tough choices. Although committed to living as 'Honest Italians, ' their choices lead them down a perilous path.

EVOLVED PUBLISHING PRESENTS a fascinating glimpse of an important part of Americana, blending slices of true history with fiction, in a compelling story of organized crime in New Orleans.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

47 Top Mobster Nicknames

  1. Al Capone - Scarface
  2. Albert Anastasia - Lord High Executioner and Mad Hatter
  3. Albert Gallo - Kid Blast
  4. Albert Vena - Albie the Falcon
  5. Anthony Accardo - Big Tuna and Joe Batters
  6. Anthony Corallo - Tony Ducks
  7. Anthony Casso - Gaspipe
  8. Anthony Doyle - Twan
  9. Anthony Silvestro - Bugz
  10. Benjamin Siegel - Bugsy
  11. Carmine Persico - The Snake
  12. Charlie Luciano - Lucky
  13. Daniel Capaldo - The Wig and Shrek
  14. Dominick Ricigliano - The Lion
  15. Donald Angelini - The Wizard of Odds
  16. Felix Alderisio - Milwaukee Phil
  17. Frank Cali - Frankie Boy
  18. Frank Nitti - The Enforcer
  19. Frank Schweihs - The German
  20. Jim Colosimo - Big Jim
  21. John Cerone - Jackie
  22. John D'Amico - Jackie Nose
  23. John DiFronzo - No Nose and Johnny Bananas
  24. John Gotti - The Dapper Don and The Teflon Don
  25. Joseph Aiuppa - Joey Doves
  26. Joseph Andriacchi - Joe The Builder and The Sledgehammer
  27. Joseph Bonanno - Joe Bananas
  28. Joseph Lombardo - Joey The Clown
  29. Joseph Marra - Joe Fish
  30. Louis Daidone - Louie Bagels
  31. Louis Fratto - Cock-Eyed Louie
  32. Luigi Manocchio - Baby Shacks
  33. Michael DiLeonardo - Mikey Scars
  34. Michael Sarno - The Large Guy
  35. Michael Yannotti - Mikey Y.
  36. Paul Rica - The Waiter
  37. Paul Schiro - The Indian
  38. Patrick DeFilippo - Patty the Pig and Patty from the Bronx
  39. Philip Giaccone - Phil Lucky
  40. Salvatore DeLaurentis - Solly D
  41. Salvatore Gravano - Sammy the Bull
  42. Salvatore Vitale - Good Lookin' Sal
  43. Sam Battaglia - Teets
  44. Sam Giancana - Moony and MoMo
  45. Vincent Basciano - Vinny Gorgeous
  46. Vincent Gigante - The Chin
  47. Vincent Scura - Vinny Linen

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Former Buildings Commissioner Eric Ulrich Accused of Trading Favors for $150,000 in Bribes in Organized Crime Connected Charges

Eric Ulrich rose through the ranks of city government with modest momentum, first elected as a city councilman before Mayor Eric Adams appointed him a senior adviser and, finally, his commissioner of the Department of Buildings.

At each stop, prosecutors with the Manhattan district attorney’s office said on Wednesday, he used his positions to benefit friends and associates, and harvested more than $150,000 for himself. They said he reaped New York Mets season tickets, a custom suit, a painting by an apprentice of Salvador Dalí and cash for gambling.

The district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, said in a statement that Mr. Ulrich had accepted or solicited the bribes over just two years. And a court filing said that Mr. Ulrich had engaged in conduct antithetical to his oath of office “on an almost daily basis.”

“At every possible turn,” Mr. Ulrich used his taxpayer-funded positions “to line his pockets,” Mr. Bragg’s statement said. At an afternoon news conference, the district attorney said that “Eric Ulrich’s duty was to the people of the City of New York, not his friends, not his associates and certainly not himself.”

Mr. Ulrich, 38, who faces 16 felony charges including counts of conspiracy and bribe-taking, pleaded not guilty, as did five other men who prosecutors say participated in the scheme. A sixth man was showing symptoms of Covid-19, his lawyer said, and is to be arraigned later this month.

Taken together, the five indictments that bear the charges portray Mr. Ulrich as a one-stop fixer who, after rising to the highest levels of municipal government, reached into more than a half-dozen agencies to expedite restaurant and building inspections, assist with licensing problems and arrange jobs and raises.

Mr. Ulrich’s lawyer, Samuel M. Braverman, said in a statement after the arraignment that his client maintained his innocence and that “today’s proceedings do nothing to change that — his integrity remains intact.”

“When thousands of phone calls and documents are cherry-picked and cut into small bits, and then viewed with eyes biased toward guilt, anyone can be made to look bad,” he added. “Mr. Ulrich unequivocally denies these charges and looks forward to his day in court where only the evidence matters, not charging documents or press releases.”

The head of the city’s Department of Investigation, Jocelyn Strauber, said that Mr. Ulrich had promised the six other defendants such favors with little hesitation.

“When a public official puts New York City up for sale and uses their government office, influence and relationships to enrich themselves, they will be held accountable,” she said at the news conference.

The mayor was not charged or implicated in any wrongdoing. But the investigation has put him in an uncomfortable position. He appointed Mr. Ulrich despite a letter the councilman wrote on behalf of a constituent with ties to organized crime, and despite his acknowledged gambling and alcohol addictions. Mr. Ulrich and three of the other defendants hosted an August 2021 fund-raiser on the mayor’s behalf.

Asked whether Mr. Adams regretted appointing Mr. Ulrich after the indictments were made public, a spokesman for the mayor said, “We always expect all our employees to adhere to the strictest ethical guidelines.” The mayor’s statement on Wednesday reasserted that his office would continue to assist Mr. Bragg.

The arraignment Wednesday afternoon in New York State Supreme Court was a crowded affair, with Mr. Ulrich, the other defendants and their lawyers clustered around the table as the docket numbers for the five indictments were read out. Throughout, Mr. Ulrich sat at the table, wearing a flannel jacket and gray slacks. Prosecutors asked the judge, Daniel Conviser, to impose mild restrictions on Mr. Ulrich’s travel, which the judge agreed to do.

Four of the indictments charged Mr. Ulrich and various friends and associates with bribery and corruption-related crimes. The fifth accused him of failing to disclose his ill-gotten gains on financial disclosure forms.

The other defendants are Mark Caller, 51, a Brooklyn real estate developer; Joseph Livreri, 55, and Anthony Livreri, 51, brothers who own a Queens pizzeria; Michael Mazzio, 54, who operates a Brooklyn towing company; Paul Grego, 73, who expedites permit and plan approvals at the Buildings Department; and Victor Truta, 53, a former city correction captain.

Court papers said the bribes bestowed on Mr. Ulrich included a bespoke suit, artwork and a discounted apartment in a luxury beachfront building in Queens where Mr. Ulrich lived. The premium Mets season ticket package was valued at nearly $10,000.

Last month, Mr. Ulrich, whose phone was wiretapped as part of the investigation, posted to social media a grinning selfie in a Mets shirt with the caption “Take me out to the ballgame!”

The Livreri brothers and Mr. Mazzio were said to have given Mr. Ulrich cash that he used in part to fund his gambling at casinos and at the 89th Street Cafe, an illegal gambling club, according to the court papers.

Law enforcement officials have identified Mr. Mazzio and the Livreri brothers as having connections to organized crime, and prosecutors had sought to find out more about Mr. Ulrich’s relationship with organized crime figures.

The former commissioner surrendered at the district attorney’s office in Lower Manhattan shortly after 7 a.m. He was accompanied by his lawyer, Samuel M. Braverman, and was carrying a copy of Bill O’Reilly’s book, “Killing Jesus: A History.”

Mr. Ulrich was appointed to head the Buildings Department in May 2022. He resigned six months later, when news of the investigation surfaced.

The department, though often bedeviled by scandal, is among the most important city agencies. It regulates the construction and real estate industries, issuing permits, licensing contractors and policing construction safety and the city’s building code, and thus can have a significant impact on development.

Mr. Caller, a Brooklyn real estate developer, was accused of attempting to use his relationship with Mr. Ulrich to influence the department to expedite requests for his firm, the Marcal Group, and of pushing the Department of City Planning to make a zoning change in Rockaway Park.

Mr. Caller’s firm works on developing commercial and residential projects in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, including an 86-unit condo building in Rockaway Park and several others in the Rockaways, according to news reports from the real estate website The Real Deal and The City.

According to the Marcal Group’s website, Mr. Caller “amassed a $100 million portfolio” of more than 1,500 units in “underserved communities.” The Marcal Group says in recent years it has collaborated with the city on affordable housing and with Maimonides Medical Center on medical facilities.

Mr. Caller’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said in a statement that his client “did not commit any crime whatsoever,” adding that the indictment was “predicated on a flawed theory” and Mr. Ulrich’s apartment was obtained at market rate.

Lawyers for the Livreris, Mr. Grego and Mr. Truta did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Livreri brothers, Mr. Mazzio and Mr. Ulrich organized the 2021 fund-raiser for the mayor, and Mr. Ulrich has raised Mr. Adams’s name during the investigation.

Mr. Ulrich has told prosecutors that Mr. Adams warned him of the investigation, which the mayor has denied. And Mr. Adams was among those whose conversations were wiretapped by investigators.

Thanks to Jonah E. Bromwich and William K. Rashbaum.


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