The Chicago Syndicate

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Latin King Enforcer Matthew Palacios, Sentenced for Racketeering #KingNene #Boston #OCDETF

The former Enforcer of the Boston-based Devon Street Kings Chapter of the Massachusetts Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation (“Latin Kings”) was sentenced on racketeering charges.

Matthew Palacios, a/k/a “King Nene,” 26, was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel to 33 months in prison and three years of supervised release. In September 2020, Palacios pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO conspiracy.

The Latin Kings are a violent criminal enterprise comprised of thousands of members across the United States. The Latin Kings adhere to a national manifesto, employ an internal judiciary and use a sophisticated system of communication to maintain the hierarchy of the organization. As alleged in court documents, the gang uses drug distribution to generate revenue, and engages in violence against witnesses and rival gangs to further its influence and to protect its turf.

Named for its origin on Devon Street in Boston, the Devon Street Kings or D5K Chapter of the Latin Kings, included approximately a dozen members. As Enforcer, Palacios was responsible for ensuring discipline, meting out punishment to members for violating the rules of the gang and organizing violence against rival gang members and those believed to be cooperating with law enforcement. The Devon Street Kings, in turn, reported to the Massachusetts State Leadership of the Latin Kings, providing information, structure, funds and other resources to further the Latin Kings goals and directives in the state. During the investigation, various meetings were covertly recorded in which Palacios and members of the Devon Street Kings discussed the business of the racketeering enterprise. Palacios was present during meetings where members were beaten and violence against rival gangs was discussed and decided upon.

In December 2019, a federal grand jury returned an indictment alleging racketeering conspiracy, drug conspiracy and firearms charges against 62 leaders, members and associates of the Latin Kings. Palacios is the 11th defendant to be sentenced in the case.

The remaining defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.


Wednesday, December 02, 2020

The DOJ, @TheJusticeDep, is Investigating a Bribery Conspiracy to Buy a Presidential Pardon

U.S. prosecutors are investigating whether several individuals offered political contributions in exchange for a presidential pardon, according to an unsealed court document.

The names of the people under investigation were blacked out in the document.

The disclosure of an alleged attempt to purchase a pardon comes as Donald Trump’s presidential term winds to an end, traditionally a time when pardons are meted out. Trump’s prior pardons have stirred controversy, including his decision to grant them to former Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona and former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Last week, Trump announced that he was pardoning former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

The partially redacted opinion unsealed on Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in Washington said the Justice Department was investigating a “bribery conspiracy” in which an unidentified person would “offer a substantial political contribution in exchange for a presidential pardon or reprieve of sentence.”

The Justice Department was also investigating whether two unnamed individuals had acted as lobbyists to White House officials without complying with registration requirements, Howell, the court’s chief judge, wrote.

The opinion, dated Aug. 28, was in response to a government request to review attorney-client communications related to the probe. The judge wrote that the scheme involved “intermediaries to deliver the proposed bribe,” and noted that the government hoped to present the evidence it had gathered to three unnamed individuals, at least one of whom is a lawyer.

Howell’s opinion provides few other details about the possible bribery scheme, and no one appears to have been charged as part of the investigation. But, according to the opinion, the person seeking a pardon surrendered to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons, suggesting that person has already been convicted of a crime.

“The $10,000 question is — who is it?,” said former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers. “Is it someone who would be in a position to implicate the president in anything?”

She said she didn’t think that was necessarily the case because President Donald Trump has proven himself eager to help out the people closest to him — or those who pose a possible threat — so no bribe would be necessary.

No government official was or is currently a subject or target of the investigation disclosed in the court filing, a Justice Department official said.

The origins of the probe appear to lie in a separate investigation that the Justice Department was pursuing before it unearthed evidence of bribery.

Using search warrants issued in that separate inquiry, the government seized more than 50 “digital media devices,” including iPhones, iPads, laptops, thumb drives and computer and external hard drives, according to Howell’s opinion. Emails recorded on those devices provided evidence of the bribery scheme, the judge said.

The government asked Howell to allow investigators to access communications that might be shielded from scrutiny by attorney-client privilege. In the unsealed opinion, Howell agreed to allow the government to examine those communications, ruling that the documents at issue are “not protected by the attorney-client or any other privilege.”

“This political strategy to obtain a presidential pardon was ‘parallel’ to and distinct from [redacted’s] role as an attorney-advocate for [redacted],” the judge wrote.

Offering pardons for campaign contributions would be a crime, said Harry Sandick, a former federal prosecutor in New York. “While the presidential pardon power is absolute, selling pardons is prohibited by federal bribery law,” Sandick said in an interview. “This investigation may well linger into the next administration.”

Trump has pardoned or commuted the sentences of 45 people since taking office, fewer than his predecessors.

Since the election, lawyers and lobbyists across the country have mobilized on behalf of a wide range of clients to secure pardons. On Nov. 25, Trump pardoned Flynn, who has twice pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. Many more pardons are expected in the coming weeks. The New York Times reported Tuesday that Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani discussed with him as recently as last week the possibility of receiving a pre-emptive pardon before Trump leaves office.

Thanks to David Yaffe-Bellany and Erik Larson with Chris Strohm.

Monday, November 30, 2020

‘Tis the Season for Organized Crime Online Holiday Shopping Scams #CyberMonday

With the holiday shopping season underway, criminals are also gearing up to do a little ‘shopping’ of their own. The FBI reminds you to look out for scams designed to steal your money and personal information, especially while shopping online.

When shopping online, make sure a site is secure and reputable before providing your credit card number. Don’t trust a site just because it claims to be secure. Beware of purchases or services that require you to pay with a gift card.

If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers often scheme to defraud consumers by offering too-good-to-be-true deals via phishing emails or advertisements. Such schemes may offer brand name merchandise at extremely low discounts or promise gift cards as an incentive to purchase a product. Other sites may offer products at a great price, but the products being sold are not the same as the products advertised.

Steer clear of suspicious sites, phishing emails, or ads offering items at unrealistic discounts. You may end up paying for an item, giving away personal information and credit card details, and receive nothing in return except a compromised identity. Bottom line, do not open any unsolicited emails and do not click on any links attached.

Beware of posts on social media sites that appear to offer vouchers or gift cards, especially deals that are too good to be true, such as free gift cards. Some may pose as holiday promotions or contests. It may even appear one of your friends shared the link with you. Often, these scams lead you to participate in an online survey that is actually designed to steal personal information.

Be careful if someone asks you to purchase gift cards for them. In these scams, the victims received either a spoofed email, a spoofed phone call, or a spoofed text from a person in authority requesting the victim purchase multiple gift cards for either personal or business reasons. The gift cards are then used to facilitate the purchase of goods and services, which may or may not be legitimate.

Protect yourself. Secure your banking and credit accounts with strong and different passwords, as well as all your other accounts that contain anything of value, such as: rewards accounts, online accounts that save your payment information, or accounts containing your private, personal information.

Check your credit card and bank statements regularly to make sure no fraudulent charges have been made to your account.

If you suspect you’ve been victimized:

  • Contact your financial institution immediately upon suspecting or discovering a fraudulent transfer. 
  • Request that your bank reach out to the financial institution where the fraudulent transfer was sent. 
  • Contact law enforcement. 
  • File a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.IC3.gov, regardless of dollar loss.


Monday, November 23, 2020

Tony Meatballs, Louie Sheep and Joey Electric, Among 15 Reputed Mobsters with #Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra Indicted on Federal Racketeering Charges #Mafia

A superseding indictment was unsealed today against 15 defendants, including alleged members and associates of the South Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey-based criminal organization La Cosa Nostra (LCN), popularly known as the ‘mafia’ or ‘mob.’ The superseding indictment charges various crimes including racketeering conspiracy, illegal gambling, loansharking, extortion, and drug trafficking.


Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and Special Agent in Charge Michael Driscoll of the FBI’s Philadelphia Field Office made the announcement.

The defendants charged in the seven-count superseding indictment are: 
  • Steven Mazzone, aka “Stevie,” 56;
  • Domenic Grande, aka “Dom,” “Mr. Hopkins,” “Mr. Brown,” and “Dom14,” 41; 
  • Joseph Servidio, aka “Joey Electric,” 60; 
  • Salvatore Mazzone, aka “Sonny,” 55; 
  • Joseph Malone, 70; 
  • Louis Barretta, aka “Louie Sheep,” 56; 
  • Victor DeLuca, aka “Big Vic,” 56; 
  • Kenneth Arabia, aka “Kenny,” 67; 
  • Daniel Castelli, aka “Danny,” “Cozzy,” aka “Butch,” aka “Harry,” age 67;  
  • Carl Chianese, age 81; 
  • Anthony Gifoli, aka “Tony Meatballs,” 72; 
  • John Romeo, 58; 
  • Daniel Malatesta, 75; 
  • Daniel Bucceroni, 66; 
  • John Michael Payne, 33.

According to court documents, the Philadelphia LCN is one of a number of LCN organized crime families based in various cities throughout the United States. The purpose of the LCN in Philadelphia and elsewhere is to make money through the commission of various crimes, including illegal gambling, loansharking, drug trafficking, and extortion.

Like other LCN families, the Philadelphia LCN is operated through a defined hierarchical structure, including a Boss, an Underboss (Steven Mazzone), and Captains (Grande), who oversee “crews” consisting of “soldiers” and “associates.” As detailed in the superseding indictment, soldiers are members of the family who have been formally initiated through a ritual called a “making ceremony,” during which they swear allegiance to LCN above all else, take a vow of secrecy about the organization (the Code of Silence or “Omerta”), and agree to commit violence on behalf of the LCN if necessary. After this ceremony, these men (who must be of 100 percent Italian ancestry) are then referred to as “made members” of LCN. Associates are men who engage in criminal activity on behalf of LCN but who have not been formally “made,” either because they are up-and-coming and aspire to full membership, or because they are ineligible to be made because they lack fully Italian ancestry. Made members and associates who break Omerta are looked upon unfavorably as “rats” and may be targeted for death by other members of the group.


As described in the superseding indictment, the Philadelphia LCN sought to use its reputation and influence to exercise control over criminal rackets like sports bookmaking and loansharking operating in Philadelphia and southern New Jersey, particularly Atlantic City. During a period beginning in August 2015, 10 of the defendants allegedly conspired to conduct and participate in the affairs of the Philadelphia LCN through both a pattern of racketeering activity and through the collection of unlawful debts. The remaining five defendants are charged with allegedly committing a variety of other offenses, including conducting an illegal gambling business, conspiracy to make extortionate extensions of credit, and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, in partnership with other members and associates of the Philadelphia LCN.

As alleged in the superseding indictment, on Oct. 15, 2015, defendants Steven Mazzone, Grande, and Salvatore Mazzone participated in a “making ceremony” (as detailed above) in a South Philadelphia residence, during which several new soldiers were inducted into the Philadelphia LCN. The superseding indictment describes the various acts allegedly committed by the defendants and others as members of the group including the distribution of heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, methamphetamine and oxycodone pills; the disbursement and collection of tens of thousands of dollars of unlawful bookmaking and other debts ‘owed’ to the group at interest rates as high as 400 percent; and even an alleged conspiracy to kidnap or murder a drug dealer in order to protect the reputation of the Philadelphia LCN after the dealer sold members of the group fake drugs.

An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Did a Trump Supporting Mob Boss in Philadelphia Rig the Election for Biden? Despite the Lack of Evidence, Some Say Hell Yes

No, the Philadelphia mob did not stuff the ballot box for Joe Biden.

"Never, never," the city's former Mob boss, Ralph Natale told Fox News. "They were told if you do one thing it will be the end of us for all time. This is their chance to become human beings."

Natale, born and raised in the South Philadelphia neighborhood that is the city's mafia home base, ruled the Philadelphia mob in the late 1990s. He flipped and testified for the government against his reputed successor, Joe "Skinny Joey" Merlino in 2000, after pleading guilty to racketeering, murder, and drug conspiracy charges. He also admitted to eight gangland murders. He says organized crime may resort to almost every crime imaginable but putting the fix in for Biden is not one of them.

"The Dems won the election fair and square," he said.

The prospect that the mafia interfered in the election to tip it to the President-Elect in the key state of Pennsylvania, was first raised on the internet by a Buffalo, N.Y. website and then amplified by several of President Trump's supporters. Jordan Sekulow, the son of top Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow, retweeted the claim that Merlino helped fake 300,000 illegal ballots for Biden, at $10 each, for a $3 million underworld score that handed the state to the Democratic nominee.

Besides Natale, authorities and Merlino's lawyer say the story is not true.  "This claim published by a disreputable website has been thoroughly debunked," Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner spokesperson Jane Roh told Fox News.

"Joey is a Trumper and any allegation of fixing this is just completely fiction. Maybe they should write a movie script, this is not reality," Merlino's attorney John Meringolo told Fox News. He says his client supports President Trump because "he is against cooperating witnesses and against making uncorroborated deals with snitches, which is what the president is against."

President Trump's personal lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who is also heading the campaign legal efforts, was asked about the possibility of mob election interference during an interview on the Fox Business Network. He said that "although there is an allegation of a mobster involved, but I think it's a far-fetched one."

South Philadelphia is largely composed of seven Wards, and the president won only one of them: Ward 26, with 54.9% to Biden's 44.3%. In all, the neighborhood went for Biden by a margin of about 76.49% to the president's 22.53%.

One source close to the Philadelphia mobsters told Fox News that the unusual voting block overwhelmingly backs the president because "he is a no-nonsense type of guy."

Natale has another view, noting that Biden, who was born in the state, has long been a strong union supporter. "Biden, Biden is a beautiful man. Quiet, he's nice. He has had suffering in his life, and he is not a braggart,” he said.

In fact, Natale gives the president-elect the highest compliment a made guy can give another one: "he's a man's man."

Natale was not only a member of the Angelo Bruno Philadelphia crime family for decades, but was also the head Bartenders Union Local 170, and says he helped the mob-run the Atlantic City casinos starting when gambling was first legalized in 1976. As a top union official...and mobster, he says he routinely dealt with elected officials and politicians. He was instrumental in helping federal prosecutors nail Camden New Jersey Mayor Milton Milan in 2001 on charges of taking mob payoffs, laundering drug money, and stealing campaign funds.

"They are so easy to bribe they will take an Indian penny. That's why they become politicians."

Natale detailed his life in his recent book, "Last Don Standing: The Secret Life of Mob Boss Ralph Natale."

Natale is now working with producer Dan Pearson of Dan4Entertainment (D4E) on telling the story of his mob days for Hollywood, who says "when you peel back the onion, politics and the mob are one in the same."

As someone who has been on both sides of the law, Natale predicts that President Trump will end up being indicted for what some have alleged could be business fraud charges by New York State prosecutors when he leaves office. "He's almost really broke, you'll see what is going to happen within six months," Natale says. "I think he is afraid that he will get arrested when is not president anymore. He is what he is. He has conned people...he is just a big liar."

President Trump and his campaign have continued to push unsubstantiated and false claims about the election in Philadelphia, which have caused Natale to pine for days gone by. "I remember when I was a little boy, every Italian home in South Philly had a picture of FDR, in a frame, and they put it in the dining room. They loved Franklin Delano Roosevelt, you know why? He called it as it was. He saved this country's life."

Thanks to Bradford Betz and Eric Shawn.


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