Friday, August 17, 2018

Loan Shark Ronald “Ronnie G” Giallanzo, Acting Captain in the Bonanno Organized Crime Family, Imprisoned for Racketeering Conspiracy

In federal court in Brooklyn, Ronald “Ronnie G” Giallanzo, an acting captain in the Bonanno organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra, was sentenced by Chief United States District Judge Dora L. Irizarry to a total of 14 years’ imprisonment for racketeering conspiracy, including predicate acts of extortionate extension and collection of credit, as well as a related violation of the conditions of supervised release imposed for a prior racketeering conviction. As part of his plea agreement with the government, the Court also ordered Giallanzo to pay $1.25 million in forfeiture and sell his mansion in Howard Beach, Queens, which was constructed using the criminal proceeds of the defendant’s loansharking business. Giallanzo was also ordered to pay $268,000 in restitution to his victims.  Giallanzo pleaded guilty in March and June 2018.

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), announced the sentence.

“Today’s sentence punishes a violent mobster for running a massive loansharking operation that victimized a community and earned him millions in illicit profits,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “Giallanzo is headed to prison, forced to sell his mansion built on ill-gotten proceeds and held responsible for brazenly committing many of his crimes from behind bars while serving another organized crime-related sentence.  Together with our law enforcement partners, this Office will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute members and associates of organized crime.”  Mr. Donoghue thanked the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, the New York City Police Department and the U.S. Probation Department of the Eastern District of New York for their assistance in the investigation.

“Members of these mafia families continue to prey upon the people of their communities, lining their pockets on the backs of victims through intimidation and acts of violence,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “While these criminals lead lavish lifestyles, their victims struggle through years of financial distress and the constant fear of what will happen to them when they can no longer pay. The FBI New York Joint Organized Crime Task Force has been doggedly tracking members of the mafia for decades, and our work to round them up and put them in prison will not stop.”

Between 1998 and 2017, including eight years while incarcerated on a prior racketeering conviction and for nearly two years while on supervised release, Giallanzo ran a loansharking operation in which he loaned millions of dollars in cash at exorbitant weekly interest rates. Giallanzo then directed a crew of Bonanno family soldiers and associates to enforce the collection of the debts through violence and threats of physical injury. Giallanzo used more than $1 million of the extortion proceeds to purchase, reconstruct and furnish a mansion, which featured five bedrooms and five bathrooms, radiant heated floors, high-end appliances, a built-in aquarium, wine cellar, home gym, three kitchens and a salt water pool with a waterfall.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Have Connections to the #Mafia Marked @RealDonaldTrump's Entire Career?

Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas titled their classic group portrait of Harry S. Truman’s foreign policy team, “The Wise Men.” A book about Donald Trump’s associations might be called “The Wise Guys.”

Mario Puzo would’ve been just the man to write it. Martin Scorsese could option the movie rights. And if he’s not in prison when filming starts, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort deserves a role. Though Manafort hasn’t been accused of Mafia membership, Smooth Paulie certainly acts the part, judging from testimony at his trial in federal court on charges of fraud and tax evasion. He has a closet full of suits worthy of John Gotti (though even the Dapper Don might have balked at an ostrich-skin windbreaker) and a maze of offshore bank accounts dense enough to addle Meyer Lansky.

When Manafort’s turncoat lieutenant Rick Gates took the stand to detail their alleged conspiracies, I was transported to the day back in 1992 when Gotti’s underboss Sammy Gravano began singing at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn. Gotti’s lawyers attacked Sammy the Bull by demanding to know how many people he’d whacked. Manafort’s team asked Gates how many affairs he’s had.

If it seems harsh to compare Manafort to a mobster, take it up with President Trump, who got the ball rolling with a tweet before the trial began. “Looking back at history, who was treated worse, [Al] Capone, legendary mob boss . . . or Paul Manafort?” Trump mused. And the president ought to know: He has spent plenty of time in mobbed-up milieus. As many journalists have documented — the late Wayne Barrett and decorated investigator David Cay Johnston most deeply — Trump’s trail was blazed through one business after another notorious for corruption by organized crime.

New York construction, for starters. In 1988, Vincent “the Fish” Cafaro of the Genovese crime family testified before a U.S. Senate committee concerning the Mafia’s control of building projects in New York. Construction unions and concrete contractors were deeply dirty, Cafaro confirmed, and four of the city’s five crime families worked cooperatively to keep it that way.

This would not have been news to Trump, whose early political mentor and personal lawyer was Roy Cohn, consigliere to such dons as Fat Tony Salerno and Carmine Galante. After Cohn guided the brash young developer through the gutters of city politics to win permits for Trump Plaza and Trump Tower, it happened that Trump elected to build primarily with concrete rather than steel. He bought the mud at inflated prices from S&A Concrete, co-owned by Cohn’s client Salerno and Paul Castellano, boss of the Gambino family.

Coincidence? Fuhgeddaboudit.

Trump moved next into the New Jersey casino business, which was every bit as clean as it sounds. State officials merely shrugged when Trump bought a piece of land from associates of Philadelphia mob boss “Little Nicky” Scarfo for roughly $500,000 more than it was worth. However, this and other ties persuaded police in Australia to block Trump’s bid to build a casino in Sydney in 1987, citing Trump’s “Mafia connections.”

His gambling interests led him into the world of boxing promotion, where Trump became chums with fight impresario Don King, a former Cleveland numbers runner. (Trump once told me that he owes his remarkable coiffure to King, who advised the future president, from personal experience, that outlandish hair is great PR.) King hasn’t been convicted since the 1960s, when he did time for stomping a man to death. But investigators at the FBI and U.S. Senate concluded that his Mafia ties ran from Cleveland to New York, Las Vegas to Atlantic City. Mobsters “were looking to launder illicit cash,” wrote one sleuth. “Boxing, of all the sports, was perhaps the most accommodating laundromat, what with its international subculture of unsavory characters who play by their own rules.” But an even more accommodating laundromat came along: luxury real estate — yet another mob-adjacent field in which the Trump name has loomed large. Because buyers of high-end properties often hide their identities, it’s impossible to say how many Russian Mafia oligarchs own Trump-branded condos. Donald Trump Jr. gave a hint in 2008: “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.”

For instance: In 2013, federal prosecutors indicted Russian mob boss Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov and 33 others on charges related to a gambling ring operating from two Trump Tower condos that allegedly laundered more than $100 million. A few months later, the same Mr. Tokhtakhounov, a fugitive from U.S. justice, was seen on the red carpet at Trump’s Miss Universe pageant in Moscow.

Obviously, not everyone in these industries is corrupt, and if Donald Trump spent four decades rubbing elbows with wiseguys and never got dirty, he has nothing to worry about from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. But does he look unworried to you?

Thanks to David Von Drehle.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Omarosa - Unhinged: An Insider's Account of the Trump White House - Reputedly Backed by Secret Recordings

The former Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison in the Trump White House, Omarosa Manigault Newman, provides an eye-opening look into the corruption and controversy of the current administration.

Few have been a member of Donald Trump’s inner orbit longer than Omarosa Manigault Newman. Their relationship has spanned fifteen years—through four television shows, a presidential campaign, and a year by his side in the most chaotic, outrageous White House in history. But that relationship has come to a decisive and definitive end, and Omarosa is finally ready to share her side of the story in this explosive, jaw-dropping account.

A stunning tell-all and takedown from a strong, intelligent woman who took every name and number, Unhinged: An Insider's Account of the Trump White House, is a must-read for any concerned citizen.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

MS-13 Gang Members Charged with Murder Conspiracy and Attempted Murder of 16 Year Old

Melvi Amador-Rios, Santos Amador-Rios, Yan Carlos Ramirez and Antonio Salvador were charged in a four-count indictment with assault, murder conspiracy and attempted murder in-aid-of racketeering, along with a related firearms offense. The defendants were arrested and were arraigned before United States Magistrate Judge Marilyn D. Go at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn.

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and James P. O’Neill, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the indictment.

“As alleged, the defendants are members of MS-13, an international gang known for its culture of violence and murder,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “They used their positions to direct, instruct and assist lower-level gang members to shoot and kill a suspected rival on the streets of Jamaica, Queens. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who spread fear in our communities by participating in such acts of violence.” Mr. Donoghue thanked the Queens District Attorney’s Office for its assistance in the investigation.

“Since January 2016, the FBI Safe Streets Gang Task Forces in Queens and Long Island have arrested more than 45 of the most violent MS-13 members in the area and charged them with murder, attempted murder, arson, and assault,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “Today’s operation is a continuation of this coordinated and sustained effort. The task force will not stand by while this gang engages in meaningless violence in an attempt to use fear to poison and control our communities.”

“Through close collaboration with our law enforcement partners at the FBI and the Eastern District of New York, the NYPD will continue to conduct aggressive, precisely-directed investigations into criminal groups like this,” stated NYPD Commissioner O’Neill. “Such cases result in strong indictments that ultimately send these criminals to prison. And this important work stanches the violence – which is an essential step toward healing gang-plagued communities and fulfilling our duty to work with and protect all New Yorkers, in every neighborhood.”

According to court filings, the defendants are members of the La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13. Melvi Amador-Rios is the leader of the Centrales Locos Salvatruchas (CLS) clique of MS-13, which operates in Jamaica, Queens. On October 22, 2016, Amador-Rios directed a low-level CLS member, known as a “chequeo,” to obtain a firearm from his brother, Santos Amador-Rios, and use the firearm to murder a rival gang member. The CLS chequeo obtained the firearm and enlisted two other CLS chequeos to assist in the murder. Yan Carlos Ramirez and Antonio Salvador instructed the three CLS chequeos how to use the firearm to carry out the murder. During the early morning hours of October 23, 2016, in Jamaica, Queens, the three CLS chequeos confronted the suspected member of the rival 18th Street gang, beat the victim and shot him in the head. The victim survived the attack, but is now a paraplegic.

This indictment is the latest in a series of federal prosecutions by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York targeting members of the MS-13, a violent international criminal organization. The MS-13’s leadership is based in El Salvador and Honduras, but the gang has thousands of members across the United States, comprised primarily of immigrants from Central America. Since 2003, hundreds of MS-13 members, including dozens of clique leaders, have been convicted on federal felony charges in the Eastern District of New York. A majority of those MS-13 members have been convicted on federal racketeering charges for participating in murders, attempted murders and assaults. Since 2010, this Office has obtained indictments charging MS-13 members with carrying out more than 45 murders in the district, and has convicted dozens of MS-13 leaders and members in connection with those murders. These prosecutions are the product of investigations led by our law enforcement partners including the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force, comprising agents and officers of the FBI and NYPD.

Monday, August 06, 2018

John Tortora Jr AKA "Johnny T" of the Genovese Crime Family, Arrested In 1997 Murder-For-Hire Of Richard Ortiz #LaCosaNostra

Geoffrey S. Berman, the 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 Charles Gardner, the Commissioner of the City of Yonkers Police Department (“YPD”), announced the arrest of JOHN TORTORA JR., a/k/a “Johnny T,” on charges of racketeering conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering, and murder for hire. The murder charges arise out of TORTORA’s role in the November 11, 1997, murder of Richard Ortiz, 29, in Yonkers.  TORTORA was arrested in Yonkers by FBI agents and Yonkers PD detectives. TORTORA was to be presented before the U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein at the United States Courthouse in Manhattan. The case has been assigned to United States District Judge Sidney H. Stein. An initial pretrial conference is scheduled for August 14, 2018, at 3:00 p.m., before Judge Stein.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said: “As alleged in the indictment, the defendant was responsible for the stabbing death of Richard Ortiz over 20 years ago. Today, thanks to the remarkable dedication and perseverance of the FBI and the Yonkers Police Department, the defendant faces charges for his crimes.”

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “The arrest of John Tortora should remind everyone that justice delayed is not justice denied. Whether a crime was allegedly committed decades ago or just days ago, the FBI will maintain the same tenacity and we will be relentless toward ensuring those who commit violent crimes be held accountable for their actions. The FBI New York Office never does these investigations alone, and we want to thank the Yonkers Police Department for their help in successfully solving a case from more than 20 years ago.”

Yonkers Police Commissioner Charles Gardner said: “This arrest for the 1997 murder of Mr. Ortiz demonstrates the resolve and commitment of law enforcement to hold those accountable for their actions and serves as a warning to all members of La Cosa Nostra engaging in violent criminal activity in our communities. We will continue to work with our federal partners to aggressively target alleged criminals and criminal enterprises operating in our City. I would like to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the FBI for their invaluable support and efforts in this investigation.”

According to the allegations contained in the Indictment[1] and statements made in court:

From in or about 1997 up to and including in or about 2018, TORTORA, an associate and later a member of the Genovese Crime Family, along with other members and associates of La Cosa Nostra, committed a wide range of crimes, including murder, extortion, gambling, and narcotics trafficking.  In particular, TORTORA hired others to kill Richard Ortiz in order to further the goals of the Genovese Family. As a result, on November 11, 1997, Ortiz was brutally stabbed multiple times, causing his death.

TORTORA, 61, of Yonkers, New York, is charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering, murder in aid of racketeering, and murder for hire.

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