The Chicago Syndicate

Friday, May 22, 2020

Chicago Mobsters Mario "The Arm" Rainone and Paul "The Indian" Schiro Request Prison Release Due to #COVID19

Mario "the Arm" Rainone and Paul "the Indian" Schiro have outlived many of their Outfit brethren.

Now they want out of the federal prisons that have been infested by COVID-19 germs.

Rainone, nicknamed "the Arm" for his skill at muscling those who have irked the Chicago mob, is now asking for "compassionate release" from federal prison where he is due to stay until 2028.

"He is no longer the Mario Rainone of the past," said his attorney Joe "the Shark" Lopez in a newly filed motion in Chicago federal court.

In Rainone's past he was a gangland enforcer with a long history of various mob rackets, burglary, bribery, violent threats and gun-play. He is currently doing time for a 2013 case in which authorities found him in possession of a .357 revolver, which, as a convicted felon currently on parole, was illegal.

Today, according to his attorney, Rainone, 65, "is an ailing senior citizen with a myriad of medical issues."

The motion lists his maladies: skin cancer, cataracts, liver disease, prostate cancer, heart and breathing problems, asthma, tinnitus, cataracts and a tortuous aorta in his heart, which can lead to high blood pressure, aortic insufficiency or premature atherosclerosis.

"Mr. Rainone is at grave risk for a variety of other diseases and health conditions. His health problems have worsened since his incarceration in February 2009, and the COVID-19 pandemic poses an additional deadly risk to Mr. Rainone," his motion contends.

Rainone appears to have jumped through the legal hoops that he hopes will certify him for compassionate release, most notably first applying through the warden's office at the federal medical center in Rochester, Minnesota, where he is housed. He filed that paperwork on March 31, according to his motion. "No response has been made by the warden, and, since 30 days have passed, Mr. Rainone has exhausted his administrative remedies," the motion states.

A court hearing on his COVID-19 motion for release is set for May 28 at 9:30 a.m. before Chicago U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber.

As of Wednesday, federal officials say 2,298 inmates and 198 Bureau of Prisons staff are currently infected with COVID-19. Fifty seven inmates have died.

The first mobster-motion for compassionate release came last month, and was filed by octogenarian hoodlum Paul Schiro, who pleaded guilty in 2009 during the government's landmark "Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled the Chicago Mob" Outfit murder trial in Chicago.

Schiro, 82, is known by the mob moniker "the Indian" for his Native American appearance and because he was a feared Outfit warrior dating back to the 1970s. He was convicted of racketeering but sentenced also for his role in the 1986 murder of Arizona businessman Emil Vaci, whom the mob feared was cooperating with law enforcement concerning a casino employee killing.

According to Schiro's motion filed in Chicago, "He is in very poor health. He has had lung cancer (now in remission), part of one lung removed, and reportedly had a lung collapse. He currently has COPD, diabetes, a heart arrhythmia, coronary atherosclerosis, cataracts, arthritis and hemorrhoids. He uses a walker for any distances over 10 feet, and a cane within his cell."

The public defender who filed the motion states that the "Covid-19 epidemic is a factor to consider. There are not many people more at risk than Mr. Schiro. ... He is at extraordinarily high risk of death from Covid-19."

Prosecutors note that Schiro has been trying to get out of prison early for the past four years "based on his advanced age and medical issues."

He is currently being held at the federal medical facility in Butner, North Carolina. "Given that the defendant's condition is stable, that he is receiving proper care for his medical problems (and he does not claim otherwise), and that, according to BOP records, he is getting around as necessary, providing self-care inside the institution, the defendant's age and health condition do not -- singly or in combination -- warrant relief," Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet Bhachu states in the government's response to his request. Schiro, he says, "is not deserving of a four-year reduction of sentence."

Schiro's attorney asks: "In this kind of case, is there room for compassion, now, for Mr. Schiro?"

One answer to that question comes from a daughter of Emil Vaci, the man who was murdered as Schiro acted as a lookout for the hit team.

In an affidavit filed by the government, Vaci's daughter Darleen Olson states: "We lost our Father 15 to 20 years too soon due to this crime. Paul Schiro had his life. My Father did not. We are the victims, not Paul Schiro because of his failing health and COVID-19. Paul Schiro needs to serve the maximum sentence he was given and not be granted early release due to underlying health issues, nor the COVID-19 pandemic."

Thanks to Chuck Goudie, Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Ross Weidner.

Police Arrest 2 Men in Fatal Shooting of Organized Crime Figure Antonio "Tony Scratch" Fiorda

Police have arrested two men in connection with the daylight shooting death of a longtime organized crime figure in Etobicoke last fall.

Antonio Fiorda, 50, of Maple, died on Nov. 4 when he was shot in a parking lot near Sherway Gardens mall by the corner of North Queen Street and the Queensway. The shooter fired at Fiorda several times after driving into the parking lot, police said.

Fiorda, who often went by the name “Tony Scratch,” died in hospital several hours later.

Saaid Mohiadin, 29, of Toronto was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday. Police also arrested 18-year-old Jordan Thompson, also from Toronto. He has been charged with being an accessory to the murder after the fact.

Sources told the Star that Fiorda was a former biker and organized crime figure who was close to members of a York Region crime family linked to the ’Ndrangheta, a Mafia-style crime group based in southern Italy.

Thanks to Miriam Lafontaine.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Rod Blagojevich Officially Disbarred by Illinois Supreme Court After President Trump Commutes the Prison Sentence for Attempting to Sell President Obama's Former Senate Seat

The Illinois Supreme Court officially disbarred former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, two months after a state panel recommended that the disgraced politician lose his law license.

The court's decision was hardly a surprise and Blagojevich, whose license was suspended indefinitely after his 2008 arrest, did not fight to regain it. He didn't attend a March hearing about the matter before the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, and he suggested afterward that he had no intention of practicing law again.

“Imagine yourself sitting on a plane and then the pilot announces before takeoff that he hasn’t flown in 25 years,” Blagojevich said. “Wouldn’t you want to get off that plane? I don’t want to hurt anybody.”

During that hearing, which came days after President Donald Trump commuted his 14-year sentence, the commission panel heard evidence that led to Blagojevich's convictions for a host of felony charges, including that he tried to sell an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama and that he tried to shake down a children's hospital CEO and racetrack owner.

Since his release from prison, the 63-year-old Blagojevich has earned money from a website where customers pay for personalized video tributes from celebrities. And earlier this month, he signed on to host a podcast put out by WLS-AM radio in Chicago called “The Lightning Rod.” Blagojevich said in announcing the show that he was “fired up” to speak his mind and share what he's “learned from the school of hard knocks.”

Friday, May 15, 2020

John Gotti's Highly Esteemed Prosecutor, John Gleeson, Appointed Independent Attorney as "Friend of the Court" to Examine Potential Improper Political Influence in Michael Flynn Case

Nearly three decades ago, John Gleeson made his name by successfully prosecuting the man known as "The Teflon Don."

Now he finds himself mixed up in a case tied to the modern-day inheritor of that nickname.

On Wednesday, Gleeson became the latest participant in the turbulent criminal case against President Donald Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn, after the federal judge overseeing the case appointed Gleeson to oppose the Justice Department's effort to drop it.

The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies by Michael Flynn.

An esteemed former federal judge himself, Gleeson, 66, entered the discourse around the Flynn case on Monday, when he and two other former Justice Department officials wrote in The Washington Post that among the steps US District Judge Emmet Sullivan could take would be to "appoint an independent attorney to act as a 'friend of the court,' ensuring a full, adversarial inquiry."

Saying the case "reeks of improper political influence," they wrote that "if prosecutors attempt to dismiss a well-founded prosecution for impermissible or corrupt reasons, the people would be ill-served if a court blindly approved their dismissal request. The independence of the court protects us all when executive-branch decisions smack of impropriety; it also protects the judiciary itself from becoming a party to corruption."

Now, according to Sullivan's order, Gleeson will articulate an argument against the Department of Justice's effort to end the prosecution and will weigh whether Flynn should face a perjury charge for contradictory statements he has given the court.

Former colleagues, contemporaries and friends of Gleeson's -- even some who have expressed sympathy for Flynn's position -- said they expect Gleeson's rigor, intellect and experience to be a welcome counterweight to the tumult of the case so far. Through a spokesman at the law firm where he is a partner, Debevoise & Plimpton, Gleeson declined to comment for this story.

Known for his boyish looks, penchant for cardigans and sweater vests, and habit of eating tuna fish straight from a can for lunch even as a judge, Gleeson rose to prominence as a federal prosecutor in the Brooklyn US attorney's office in the early 1990s, when he won a murder and racketeering trial against Gambino crime boss John Gotti, known as "The Teflon Don."

"I have never been exposed to someone as prepared, as fair, as impartial, as unbiased and as precise in his language as John Gleeson," said James Gagliano, a retired FBI agent and a CNN law enforcement analyst who worked as an agent on the Gotti case when it went to trial. "John could spell a death knell for a case just in three or four words."

Gagliano was 26 years old when he was assigned to the Gotti case, but "John never treated me like a junior agent. He treated me as an equal and as a contemporary."

Though Gagliano has said he believes Flynn has been mistreated by law enforcement, he said: "When it comes to John Gleeson, there is no one that is going to question his credentials."

In the Brooklyn prosecutors' office, Gleeson served as chief of its organized crime section and chief of its criminal division, during which time he became close with a colleague, Andrew Weissmann, who would go on to become a top prosecutor in special counsel Robert Mueller's office. Gleeson and Weissmann remain friends, according to a person who knows the men. Weissmann declined to comment.

In 1994, at the age of 41, Gleeson became one of the youngest federal judges after being nominated by President Bill Clinton. When Gleeson first arrived on the bench, some of his former colleagues from the Brooklyn US attorney's office anticipated he might be lenient when sentencing their cooperating witnesses.

Just before his appointment, Gleeson had won an extraordinary prison term for Salvatore Gravano, the Brooklyn mobster also known as "Sammy the Bull," who had been a star witness in the Gotti case. Gravano, who admitted in testimony to participating in 19 murders, was sentenced to five years after Gleeson argued he had "rendered extraordinary, unprecedented, historic assistance to the government."

Underboss: Sammy the Bull Gravano's Story of Life in the Mafia.

In his new role, however, Gleeson was no more forgiving than his black-robed colleagues. "He wasn't influenced by the fact that as a prosecutor he advocated for leniency for important cooperators. He realized that as a judge he would have to be neutral and form a fact-based and precedent-based view," said Jodi Avergun, a white-collar defense attorney at the law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham and Taft who worked with and later tried cases before Gleeson.

Later in his career, Gleeson would go on to speak out about what he described as the "excessive severity" of the federal criminal justice system, and he became an advocate for alternatives to incarceration. "I didn't fully appreciate this in my early days as a judge," he told the Wall Street Journal in 2016. "I'd spent 10 years bringing to justice gangsters -- most of them for murders," Gleeson said. "They were part of the narrow slice of the caseload that actually deserved the severity our system visited on them. It took me a while to fully appreciate how wrong and unfair it was to spread that harshness across the entire caseload, including low-level, nonviolent defendants."

Others who appeared before Gleeson recalled the austerity of his courtroom practices. "You wear white shirts on Gleeson days," said a former federal prosecutor who appeared before Gleeson numerous times. "He thought prosecutors should wear a white shirt and a striped tie in his courtroom. You would find out in an embarrassing way," the former prosecutor recalled. "He would ask, 'Is that a blue shirt you're wearing?' "

Gleeson, this person recalled, held prosecutors "to a standard that was super high in every way."

The son of Irish immigrants, Gleeson found performing naturalization ceremonies to be one of his favorite parts of being a judge, recalled Mimi Rocah, a Democratic candidate for district attorney in Westchester County, New York, and a former prosecutor who worked as a judicial clerk for Gleeson. "He really took very seriously and to heart this idea of where his family came from and a very patriotic view of America as a fulfillment of the American dream that he could become a judge," she recalled.

Gleeson's 22 years on the bench were marked by some controversies, including one case that was publicly criticized, in which he approved a deferred prosecution agreement between the Department of Justice and the bank HSBC to settle allegations that HSBC processed payments for Mexican drug cartels. As part of the settlement, the bank paid $1.2 billion and agreed to the appointment of an independent monitor who was required to write a confidential report as to whether the bank had taken steps to improve its compliance program.

In that opinion, Gleeson commented on the power of prosecutors and the court to determine the course of a prosecution, a topic relevant to what happens next in the Flynn case. Gleeson wrote that "the government has absolute discretion to decide not to prosecute," but added that "a pending federal criminal case is not window dressing. Nor is the Court, to borrow a famous phrase, a potted plant."

Despite taking heat at the outset, Gleeson later, against the wishes of the bank and the Justice Department, ruled that the monitor's confidential report should be made public, citing the public's right to access. "My oversight of the DPA and the open criminal case goes to the heart of the public's right of access: federal courts must 'have a measure of accountability,' and the public must have 'confidence in the administration of justice,' " the judge wrote in an opinion. (An appeals court later reversed the decision.)

Rocah said Gleeson has a history of doing what he believes is the right thing, even if it hasn't been done before, a trait she believes makes him the right person for the Flynn case. "He's one of these people that's very guided by principle and what he thinks is the right thing to do, which I think is important here," Rocah said. "He really is a judge who is very concerned about looking out for the rights of defendants. Flynn is a defendant and a person with rights," she said. "It's going to be really hard for anyone to paint Gleeson as some hard-charging, 'lock him up and throw away the key' person. That is absolutely not who he is."

Thanks to Erica Orden, Kara Scannell and David Shortell.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Amazon Launches Gaming Benefits for Prime members including for Mafia City, Here’s what you get.... has launched a new Prime benefit for its Amazon Prime members, especially the gaming enthusiasts. Prime members in India can now enjoy a range of mobile gaming content with their Prime membership and this includes access to free in-game content like collectible characters, upgrades, in-game currency and Prime-only tournaments.

Starting today, Prime members can claim content from popular mobile games like Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, Words with Friends 2, Mafia City, World Cricket Championship etc. The content line-up at launch includes a Stadium Unlock for the World Cricket Championship 2, 50 Gold and 10K Cash for Mafia City, an item chest and hero and skin trial cards from Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and a Mystery Box from Words with Friends 2.

There will be more content coming in for games like Ludo King etc and the content line-up will be refreshed frequently with new games and in-game perks.

Customers can check what’s on offer on the Prime gaming benefits homepage - on any device. All these games are available to download on all app stores. To claim these benefits, Prime members need to log in with their Amazon credentials on the game to access the benefits immediately.

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