Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Veteran Chicago Mob Investigator Passes

The trait that made retired Chicago Police Cmdr. Michael J. O'Donnell such a great mob, loan-shark and prostitution investigator may have been his kindness. That may sound like an odd crime-fighting trait, but John Spellman, a retired police officer who worked for Cmdr. O'Donnell for many years, said it set him apart.

"He had a kindness and a kind nature for people who had weakness," Spellman said.

During the 1960s, Cmdr. O'Donnell led teams of officers investigating organized crime, especially loan-sharking operations that preyed on gambling addicts. It was the kind of corruption that struck at the core of Cmdr. O'Donnell's beliefs, said his son William, who followed in his dad's footsteps.

"He did not like anyone who would take advantage of another person," said his son, commander in the Near North Police District, the same district his father commanded when he retired in 1989. "The one thing that stands out with him is his integrity. The jobs they gave him were based on that. He was my hero."

Cmdr. Michael O'Donnell, 79, who lived in the Sauganash neighborhood, died Monday, Oct. 24. He had been undergoing treatment for leukemia at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge.

During Cmdr. O'Donnell's career, federal investigators came to rely on him as a tough, reliable cop to work organized crime cases. He "was one of the most trustworthy officers I knew in the department at that time," said retired FBI agent Vincent Inserra.

Born in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Cmdr. O'Donnell moved to Chicago with his family after his father died, leaving his mother to raise 10 children. He enlisted in the Navy while attending Providence-St. Mel High School on the West Side and served on a ship in the Pacific during World War II.

He joined the Police Department in 1952, became a detective in 1954 and became a sergeant in the intelligence unit in 1961, working on organized crime cases. In the early 1960s he investigated loan-sharking operations run by some of Chicago's biggest reputed Outfit figures.

He became commanding officer of the vice control division in 1974, and eventually was made commander of the East Chicago District, now the Near North District, which includes Rush Street and the Gold Coast.

William O'Donnell said his father was a role model for him as he followed in his footsteps. "It was so much fun when I was named commander of [the Near North District] to go home and compare notes. For me, that's been the highlight of my career."

Unwise Guy, Ends Up as Mafia Hit

Friends of ours: Genovese Crime Family, Lawrence Ricci, George Barone

A top Mafia capo who recently vanished during his trial was rubbed out by bosses because he balked at copping a plea to spare them embarrassing courtroom disclosures, federal probers now believe.

Reputed Genovese crime-family captain Lawrence Ricci, 60, had been on trial along with two high-ranking International Longshoremen's Association officials who were allegedly handpicked for their posts by the mob. Law-enforcement sources suspect that before the case went to trial, Ricci's Mafia higher-ups "long known for tight lips and low profiles" demanded that the rakish Ricci dodge an expected messy proceeding by copping a plea.

Ricci - charged with steering an ILA contract to a pharmaceutical company with mob ties - likely would have been able to negotiate a deal with just a couple of years in jail. Instead, authorities suspect that he was rolling the dice for an acquittal when he mysteriously vanished after borrowing a relative's car Columbus Day weekend.

"I do not consider my client's absence to be a voluntary one," his lawyer,Martin Schmukler, has warned the court. The new theory about why Ricci may have been killed surfaced amid the ongoing extortion and conspiracy trial of the two ILA officers, Harold Daggett and Arthur Coffey.

Daggett yesterday wept like a baby when describing early dealings with a former Genovese hit man and now elderly mob turncoat in the case, George Barone, 81. Barone accused him of trying to wrest control of the powerful union away from him in the early 1980s - and brutally interrogated him at one point, a tearful Daggett testified in Brooklyn federal court.

"I'll kill you and your wife and children if you take this local," Daggett said a seething Barone warned him. "He pulled out a gun and stuck it in my head here," Daggett said, pointing to his temple. "[Then Barone] cocked the trigger and said, 'I'll blow your brains all over the room.' "I prayed to the Blessed Mother he wouldn't do it. He said, 'Get the fuck out of here.' I was so nervous, I urinated all over myself."

Monday, October 24, 2005

Major Mafia Boss Arrested

Friends of ours: Umberto Di Fazio, Bernardo Provenzano, Salvatore "Toto" Riina

Italian carabinieri military police on Sunday arrested a major Sicilian Mafia boss who had been on the run for five years, police said. They said Umberto Di Fazio, 42, considered to be the leader of the Cosa Nostra's notorious Santapaola clan, was captured near Enna, a mountaintop town in the center of the island.

Di Fazio, whose "family" dominated Catania, the main city on Sicily's east coast, was wanted for extortion and murder and international warrants had been issued for his arrest. He took over leadership of the clan after the 1993 arrest of Nitto Santapaolo, known as "The Hunter", and once the undisputed Mafia boss in Catania.

Di Fazio's arrest came two days after Italy's new national anti-Mafia prosecutor, Pietro Grasso, caused a storm by saying Bernardo Provenzano, the top Mafia chief who has been a fugitive for four decades, had been protected by politicians and policemen.

Until his appointment earlier this month, Grasso was for years the chief anti-Mafia investigator in the Sicilian capital Palermo, and often expressed frustration over the failure to capture Provenzano.

Provenzano, 71, once nicknamed "Binu the tractor" because of the way he would mow down his opponents, has managed to run the crime group like a phantom.

Provenzano, a native of Corleone -- a town made famous in "The Godfather" films -- assumed control of the Mafia after the state scored major arrests against the mob in the early 1990s, including that of top boss Salvatore "Toto" Riina in 1993.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

American Justice: The Chicago Mob

Though they have been glorified to no end, Chicago gangsters have a violent and often unbelievable history. Theirs is a tale of power, wealth, and betrayal. A&E documents the many incarnations of this criminal clan in American Justice: The Chicago Mob.

Al Capone is the most famous of faces to inhabit the Windy City. His absolute control over the streets was typified by the St. Valentine's Day massacre and a seemingly impenetrable legal defense. Under him, Tony Accardo and Sam "Mooney" Giancana learned the ropes, eventually becoming dominant bosses themselves. Accardo earned the nickname "Joe Batters" because of his supposed skill with a baseball bat. At one time, Accardo ran over 10,000 gambling dens throughout the city. Using expert interviews and FBI accounts, A&E also pieces together the ups and downs of the lowly henchmen. Gus Alex, a wise guy serving under Giancana, was ratted out by fellow gangster Lenny Patrick in 1992. The trial caused a sensation because Patrick was the highest-ranking mobster to ever provide testimony for the government. The case also signaled the sputtering end of the golden days for the high-profile organization. ~ Sarah Ing, All Movie Guide

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Gotti said to order snitches killed.

Friends of ours: Gambino Crime Family, Peter Gotti, Primo Cassarino, Richard Gotti, Genovese Crime Family, Lawrence Ricci

A convicted Gambino soldier testified in a union-corruption trial yesterday that Peter Gotti once warned that if anyone cooperated with the government, he would, "kill them and their families."

Primo Cassarino, who was convicted with Gotti in 2003 for shaking down action-movie star Steven Segal, said in Brooklyn federal court yesterday that he had spoken to the FBI about cooperating with the government during that trial. But when asked why he decided to go to trial with the former Gambino boss he said, "I didn't have no choice. If I didn't go to trial, I'd have been killed by Peter Gotti. Peter Gotti told his brother, Richard, if anybody cooperates, kill them and their families."

When Richard Gotti relayed his brother's warning, he was unaware Cassarino had spoken to the FBI, Cassarino testified under cross-examination in the trial of Harold Daggett and Arthur Coffey. The two International Longshoremen's Association members are accused of conspiring with the Genovese crime family to have them installed as union heads.

Another co-defendant, reputed Genovese capo Lawrence Ricci, has been missing since the start of the trial, leading to speculation that he has been the victim of a mob hit. Ricci is accused of steering an ILA contract to a pharmaceutical company with mob ties. When asked why he had decided to be a government witness this time around, Cassarino said he was hoping to have his sentence reduced. Cassarino's conviction was for racketeering and money-laundering after he tried to force Segal to give them a cut of movie profits in a deal brokered by his former producer.

Judge Rejects Mafia Mistrial

Friends of ours: Lawrence Ricci

A judge has rejected the mistrial bid of two union bigwigs accused of having Mafia ties, despite the disappearance of their co-defendant, a reputed mobster.

Brooklyn federal Judge Leo Glasser said jurors in the trial of Harold Daggett
and Arthur Coffey had not seen media speculation that Lawrence Ricci is the
victim of a gangland hit.

Ricci, accused of guiding International Longshoreman's Association contracts
to a mobbed-up pharmaceutical firm, has not been in court for more than a
week, and his lawyer has told Glasser the absence was not voluntary. Could Ricci be Sleeping with the fishes?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sleeping with the Fishes?

Friends of ours: Lawrence Ricci, Tino Fiumara, Genovese Crime Family

A reputed mobster facing a five-year prison term in a waterfront corruption case disappeared in the middle of his trial, prompting speculation that he had instead received a Mafia-imposed death penalty.

Enesco "I do not consider my client's absence to be a voluntary one," defense attorney Martin Schmukler said in federal court Wednesday after Lawrence Ricci failed to show for the second day in a row.

Ricci serves as an acting capo under feared New Jersey docks boss Tino Fiumara. Some two decades ago, Ricci and Fiumara were convicted together of extortion. Authorities suspect that family higher ups in the Genovese family found some fault with Ricci’s performance of his duties and have dispatched him – permanently.

Ricci, a 60-year-old alleged capo in the Genovese crime family, went on trial Sept. 20 in Brooklyn. He was free on $500,000 bail. Ricci, who lists his occupation as a dairy salesman, was charged with two officials of the International Longshoreman's Association with extortion and fraud in connection with mob domination of the New York waterfront.

"We are looking for him," said FBI spokesman Matt Bertrand. "We still haven't arrested him, or have him in our sights yet."

Rosemont Mayor again denies Mob ties

Friends of mine: Donald Stephens

Rosemont Mayor Donald Stephens, who for years wanted a casino in his town, said Wednesday he now hates the idea but is stuck because he poured $50 million in village funds into the project. During a sometimes combative interview with the Tribune editorial board, Stephens portrayed himself as caught in the middle of a legal and political tug-of-war over the plans to build a casino in the northwest suburb. He also railed against accusations by state and federal authorities--highlighted in regulatory hearings--that he and the village have links to organized crime.
Donald Stephens
"I wish I never heard of this damn casino. As a matter of fact, I don't think much of casinos anyway. They're just boxes with slot machines in them," said Stephens, who in 1999 played a critical role in persuading state lawmakers to clear the way for a Rosemont casino. "Rosemont does not need a casino. That I can tell you. Rosemont can live without a casino."

Stephens blasted comments made last year by Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan, who said he has ties to organized crime. He acknowledged that in the days after Madigan made the public comments he complained to Madigan's father, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat. "I said, `What's wrong with your daughter? I mean she knows that I'm not associated with [the mob].' He said, `Don, I can't do anything with her,'" Stephens said. "I told him, `Michael, if I'm an associate of crime syndicate hoodlums, so are you because you associate with me.' And he says, `You know what? You're right.' He's been a guest in my home."

A spokesman for Michael Madigan declined to comment Wednesday. (Michael Madigan, a Notre Dame graduate, just held his annual fundraiser at the Sabre Room which is always well attended by many of my former neighbors.)

Lisa Madigan's spokeswoman, Melissa Merz, said the attorney general was unaware of the conversation between the mayor and her father. She said the attorney general "doesn't clear her statements with anyone," including her father.

Stephens' comments come just weeks before former federal appellate judge Abner Mikva is expected to decide whether to revoke the state riverboat license for the Emerald Casino, once proposed for Rosemont, amid allegations that Emerald officials lied to state regulators and some casino investors had ties to the mob.

During the administrative hearing before Mikva, attorneys for the Illinois Gaming Board presented evidence they said raised questions about Stephens and organized crime. The head of the FBI's organized crime division in Chicago testified that a federal informant told them Stephens met with five high-ranking organized crime figures to discuss what control the mob would have over contracts at the casino.

Stephens has vehemently denied the allegations and reiterated those denials Wednesday. "If I've done something, pillory me for it. But don't just say it's `alleged that' or whatever," he said. "The biggest problem that I've got is the allegations, and that's what they are, and the innuendoes and the accusations of mob influence, mob involvement in Rosemont, when there's no truth to it at all."

Should Mikva recommend revoking the license--and the Gaming Board accept that recommendation--Emerald would lose the only asset that it can sell. Emerald would be able to appeal the decision in court.

When asked if he would oppose those efforts, Stephens said he had little choice in the matter. He said the village paid nearly $50 million to build a parking garage for the Emerald Casino and until Emerald pays that money back he must support a casino project for the suburb. "I'd love to get rid of this thing. Can I? No. What can I do ... I've got $50 million of the people of Rosemont's money involved here," he said.

Stephens said he made a mistake by not requiring safeguards in Rosemont's deal with Emerald that would have protected the village's investment.

Gaming Board officials have maintained that Rosemont built the parking deck at its own financial risk because it was done before the board voted on the Emerald project. The board eventually rejected the Emerald plan in 2001, triggering the case now before Mikva.

Emerald was eventually forced into bankruptcy court, where plans were made last year to sell the license to Isle of Capri Casinos, which also planned to build in Rosemont. But the attorney general opposed the sale, partly because of concerns about mob ties.

Stephens said he didn't ask Speaker Madigan to have the attorney general back off. He was simply inquiring why she was making her allegations. "Frankly, I was astounded. I mean this man's a friend of mine. I know his daughter. Wouldn't you say, What's going on?" he said.

Stephens has become increasingly frustrated by the casino saga. And while he long pushed governors and lawmakers to let him have a casino in Rosemont, he said has grown to dislike modern casinos for their strong reliance on computerized video poker or slot machines.

His opinion has changed, in part, because of a newfound friendship with the state's biggest opponent of gambling, Tom Grey, executive director of the National Coalition Against Gambling Expansion.

"You know what these things are? They're vacuum cleaners ... you take the vacuum cleaner and stick the business end in my pocket, you put the switch on and when there's nothing left to suck out of my pocket you turn the switch off," Stephens said. "The house can't lose. That's a casino? No."

Monday, October 10, 2005

Where are the real tough wise guys of the past?

Friends of ours: John "Junior" Gotti, Gambino Crime Family, Lucchese Crime Famly, Arnold "Zeke" Squitieri, Phil "Skinny Phil" Loscalzo

First, Junior Gotti pens a children's book in prison. Then the mob scion shows up at Sunday Mass. Now, federal prosecutors are claiming the Gambinos and the Lucheses - among the most bloodthirsty crime families New York City has ever known - are just a bunch of pansies. What's the Mafia come to?

Consider the trial going on in courtroom 26A of Manhattan Federal Court. There a group of Albanian-led mobsters are accused of crimes committed as they wrested control of Astoria's gambling clubs - and the protection money they generated - from the Luchese family. Federal prosecutors say gang leader Alex Rudaj, 38, had Gottiesque visions of heading a sixth crime family. They claim on one occasion, he and some pals even pushed their way into Rao's, the exclusive East Harlem eatery, demanded John Gotti's old table - and got it.

"The Gambino crime family simply could not stand in the way of the Rudaj organization, and the Rudaj organization took great pride in that," prosecutor Benjamin Gruenstein said. He told a jury that when the Gambinos tried to head off the Albanians in a showdown at a New Jersey gas station, they were sent away cowering. One of Rudaj's henchmen pulled a gun and pointed it at a gas pump, threatening to blow them all away. The leader of the Gambinos, Arnold (Zeke) Squitieri, backed off. After that, the Rudaj organization moved into Astoria, branching out from their base in the Bronx and Westchester, where they got their start forcing their "Joker Poker" machines on bar owners.

Attorneys for Rudaj and his five co-defendants have mocked the prosecution's theory during the opening weeks of an expected three-month trial. Rudaj's lawyer, James Kousouros, says his client was a legitimate businessman, owner of Morris Park Games, which sells foosball games, pool tables and gambling machines to bars and clubs throughout the city. "The Lucheses and the Gambinos are comprised of hundreds of members who shoot and kill anybody that stands before them and takes a nickel from them," Kousouros told jurors. "The reality is that these six gentleman did not displace two of the most powerful crime families in the world."

MenScienceAmong those on trial is Rudaj's alleged chief enforcer, Nikola Dedaj, gang members Ljusa (Louie) Nuculovic, Prenka (Frankie) Ivezaj and Nardino Colotti, a protégé of the late Gambino family soldier Phil (Skinny Phil) Loscalzo. All are charged with racketeering, gambling, extortion and loansharking.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Stool Pigeon?

Friends of ours: Frank Calabrese Sr., James Marcello, Sam Carlisi, Joseph Ferriola, Joey Aiuppa, Nick Calabrese, John Fecarotta, Tony Spilotro, Michael Spilotro, Billy Dauber, Ronald Jarrett

Reputed mob killer Frank Calabrese Sr. was taking a walk with his son in the prison yard at the federal detention center in Milan, Mich., uttering words that should never have left his lips. During that walk and others, Calabrese Sr. spoke of mob slayings -- ones the FBI says he was involved in, according to sources familiar with the matter. He discussed who was a made members of the Outfit and who wasn't. And he described his own initiation rites into the Chicago mob, where he was a reputed "made" man.

Under Outfit rules, talking about any one of those topics would be enough to get a mobster killed. But what was worse for Calabrese Sr. was that his statements were being secretly tape-recorded, by own his son, Frank Jr., who was in prison with him at the time, several years ago.

During those strolls around the prison yard, Calabrese Sr. spilled decades of mob secrets, details he should have never told anyone, even his own flesh and blood. Now those indiscretions are coming back to haunt him. Calabrese Sr.'s secretly recorded statements helped federal prosecutors build their case against him and other alleged mobsters, including the reputed head of the Chicago Outfit, James Marcello. "Wings" Jim Marcello started in the Chicago Syndicate as the driver of "Black Sam" Carlisi who was the powerful underboss under Joe Ferriola. Carlisi himself started as the driver for Joey Aiuppa when Aiuppa was boss.

The tape recordings are vital to the case and expected to be played at the trial next year of Calabrese Sr., Marcello and others, and should be a highlight. The trial will mark the culmination of the most significant prosecution federal authorities have brought against the Chicago Outfit, charging top leaders with 18 murders. Frank Calabrese Sr. alone has been accused of taking part in 13 of the slayings.

Calabrese Sr.'s attorney, Joseph Lopez, downplayed the importance of the tape-recorded conversations on Friday and questioned how the feds could properly interpret them. "My client doesn't know anything about any murders," Lopez said. The feds "gave the son the script, and he followed it. It's all very good theater."

Lopez contended that no fresh details about the slayings pop up on the tapes, and some conversations show "a father puffing up his chest for his son." "They are talking about facts that people 'in the know' would know," Lopez said. "When you hear the tapes in court, everyone will be able to draw different conclusions as to what was said."

Frank Calabrese's son, Frank Jr., put his life on the line every time he secretly tape-recorded his father, who was always cagey, always suspicious. The men were in prison together on a loan-sharking case the feds had brought against Calabrese Sr. and his crew. Calabrese Sr., who ran the crew, got nearly 10 years in prison. His son, Frank Jr., who had much less involvement in the matter, got more than 4 years.

Frank Calabrese Sr. was known for his brutality and ruthlessness, both on the streets and at home, ruling his family with fierce intimidation. To this day, Calabrese Sr. still tries to reach out and rattle family members, whether by getting messages passed out to relatives from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, where he is being held, or having rats put on the porch of another family member, sources said.

Frank Calabrese Sr. was extremely leery of even his closest associates, much less family, making it that much more of a challenge for the younger Calabrese to get him talking. Frank Calabrese Jr. not only had to get his father chatting about matters that his father would be extremely reluctant to talk about. The son also had to get his father to discuss those matters clearly, with enough detail, to be useful to federal prosecutors.

If Calabrese Sr. or any other prisoner found out the younger Calabrese was wearing a listening device in the prison yard, his life would have been in peril. But somehow, Frank Calabrese Jr. exceeded all expectations.

Despite all the danger to Calabrese Jr., he received no major benefits from the FBI. His main motivation was trying to ensure his father would stay behind bars for the rest of his life, law enforcement sources said. Calabrese Jr. was released from prison in 2000.

One recording Calabrese Jr. made even helped persuade his uncle Nick to cooperate with the feds. Frank Calabrese Sr. and his brother Nick Calabrese had a long history together and were tight. They would often do mob killings together, authorities said. But what was once a close partnership is now a blood feud, with Nick Calabrese confessing to 15 mob hits and helping the FBI. Frank Calabrese Sr.'s own words helped turn his brother Nick into one of the FBI's most valuable informants.

The key conversation came one day when Frank Calabrese Sr. and Frank Jr. were in prison and discussing Nick Calabrese and whether he was cooperating with the feds. Nick Calabrese was not cooperating at the time, but relations were tense between the two brothers. Frank Calabrese Sr. was refusing to have his underlings send money to help support his brother's family, according to court testimony. And Nick Calabrese was still sore over how Frank Calabrese Sr. had treated his own sons, Frank Jr. and Kurt, in the loan-sharking case, effectively hanging them out to dry.

Frank Calabrese Sr. assured his son on the recording that he had gotten word out of the prison that if Nick Calabrese was helping investigators, then he would have no objection to his brother being killed. Frank Calabrese Sr. said that this was the life he and his brother had chosen. When the feds played that tape for Nick Calabrese, he began cooperating. But that wasn't the only factor contributing to Nick Calabrese's change of heart.

On another recording with his son, Frank Calabrese Sr. scoffed about a mob hit that his brother Nick nearly botched and talked about it in detail. Calabrese Sr. told his son how Nick Calabrese had been assigned to kill fellow mob hit man John Fecarotta in 1986.

Fecarotta had messed up an attempt to kill Tony Spilotro, the Chicago Outfit's man in Las Vegas, and mob bosses decided that Fecarotta had to go.

According to court records and law enforcement sources, Fecarotta was set up on the ruse that he and other mobsters were going to drop off a bomb. Fecarotta apparently never figured out that the device they were carrying was fake, made up of flares taped together to look like dynamite. Nick Calabrese and Fecarotta were heading to the job site in a stolen Buick. As they pulled up near a bingo hall on West Belmont, Calabrese pulled his gun to kill Fecarotta. But Fecarotta fought him off, struggling with Calabrese until the gun went off, wounding Calabrese in the forearm.

Fecarotta ran for his life, and Nick Calabrese bolted after him, knowing if Fecarotta escaped, it would mean Nick Calabrese's own death sentence from the mob.

Nick Calabrese shot and killed Fecarotta, but Calabrese made a critical error. He left behind a bloody glove, which investigators recovered and kept. Years later, DNA tests tied Nick Calabrese to the glove and the murder.

On the secret tape recordings, Frank Calabrese Sr. spoke of other murders involving him and his brother. In one instance, Frank Calabrese Sr. bragged how he had orchestrated a shotgun slaying in Cicero of two men, Richard Ortiz and Arthur Morawski. They were sitting in a car outside Ortiz's bar on Cermak when eight shots were pumped into the 1983 Mercury, killing both men. Ortiz was killed over drugs, law enforcement sources say. Ortiz's family has denied Ortiz had anything to do with drug dealing. Morawski was killed by accident.

Calabrese Sr. also discussed his role in the 1980 slayings of mob hit man William Dauber and his wife, Charlotte, in Will County. Calabrese Sr. implicated his righthand man, the late Ronald Jarrett, as being involved, too. Jarrett was slain in a mob hit in 1999. I was living near Jarrett at this time. Calabrese Sr. even talked about mob hits he had no involvement in -- the murders, for instance, of Tony and Michael Spilotro.

Martin Scorsese's celebrated Las Vegas gangster movie, "Casino," had the men being beaten to death with baseball bats in an Indiana cornfield. But the movie got it wrong. Tony Spilotro, the Chicago Outfit's man in Las Vegas, had been lured back to the Chicago area. Spilotro, a made man, was told he was going to be promoted and that his brother was going to be made into the Outfit.

James Marcello, now the reputed head of the Chicago mob, allegedly drove the Spilotros to a Bensenville-area home and their deaths, according to court testimony. Although, it was not like this in the movie, several sources within the FBI have already suggest this from their CI's.
On tape, in the prison-yard conversations with his son, Frank Calabrese Sr. names the mobsters who were there to kill the Spilotro brothers, including his brother, Nick. As the men surrounded Tony Spilotro, he begged for time to say a prayer, a novena, sources said. His killers declined and proceeded with their work. I find it dubious that Tony "the "Ant" would have begged anybody for anything, especially to say a novena.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir Staff Reporter Sun-Times

"Mafia Cop" Livid Over Murder-Frame Accusation

Friends of mine: Louis Eppolito, Stephen Caracappa

Embattled "Mafia cop" Louis Eppolito was "more upset" by accusations that he threatened a murder witness in order to send an innocent man to jail than over his federal indictment for participating in eight mob-related assassinations, his lawyer said yesterday.

"It cut to the core, angered and frustrated him more so than anything else," attorney Bruce Cutler said of Eppolito's reaction after reading yesterday's exclusive front-page account in The Post from ex-Marine Peter Mitchell.

Mitchell, a key witness in the 1986 murder of Virginia Robertson, told The Post that Eppolito ignored his descriptions of a paunchy white-haired suspect, and instead pounded away on him that Barry Gibbs, then a scruffy 38-year-old drug user, was the killer "he wanted to get."
Eppolito went so far as to threaten Mitchell that he would plant drugs in Mitchell's mother's home and then arrest her if he did not finger Gibbs, Mitchell told The Post. "Louie was so offended, it cut to his core that he would frame someone," Cutler said. "It was just not true."

Limoges Jewelry
Eppolito, the son of a Mafia capo, "was more upset with this accusation" than by the laundry list of federal charges brought against him and ex-NYPD Detective Stephen Caracappa — including accusations they raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars from the mob for leaking confidential NYPD information, personally killing a diamond dealer and facilitating the murders of seven other wise guys and associates.

Thanks to Murray Weiss

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Overheard: Junior Gotti Released

John Gotti Junior was released from prison recently and placed under house arrest in Long Island until he is re-tried on Mafia racketeering charges. He is not now nor ever was accused of killing anybody. He's the black sheep of the family.

DeLay with Mafia Ties?

Friends of ours: John "Dapper Don" Gotti, Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello, Anthony "Little Tony Ferrari, James "Pudgy" Fiorillo

John Gotti's reputed bookkeeper and two others have been busted in the gangland-style slaying of a Florida mogul who was trying to stop the sale of his casino-boat fleet to a powerful Washington lobbyist, cops said.

Cuban Crafters CigarsAnthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello, 67, who reportedly leased the car the Dapper Don drove, was picked up at his Howard Beach, Queens home last Monday night in the Feb. 6, 2001 slaying of self-made millionaire Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis. A pal of the rotund Moscatiello, Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari, 48, was arrested at his North Miami Beach home, and the third man, James "Pudgy" Fiorillo, 28, was busted in Palm Coast, Fla. Boulis, a 51-year-old Greek immigrant who founded the popular Miami Subs sandwich chain, was ambushed while driving his BMW along a quiet Fort Lauderdale street.

After two cars boxed Boulis in, the driver of a dark Mustang pulled alongside and pumped three hollow-point bullets into his chest. At the time, Boulis had gone to court to stop the $147.5 million sale of his SunCruz Casinos offshore gambling fleet to Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff and disbarred New York lawyer Adam Kidan.

Abramoff a key figure in fund-raising investigations involving House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Kidan were indicted on Aug. 11 on wire-fraud charges in the sale of the 11 boats. Law-enforcement sources said Moscatiello was Gotti's bookkeeper and did catering for the Gottis.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Profile: Harry Aleman

He's known as the ultimate iceman -- a cool, calculating mob killer whose brains and brutality are matched only by his stubborn refusal to rat out others. But to hear it from reputed hit man Harry Aleman -- whose dark, penetrating eyes once struck terror into hearts -- he's really an old softy, just trying to get by while serving a 100- to 300-year prison sentence.

He breaks into a smile at the thought of his first great-grandchild paying a recent visit ("It was something to see"), shakes his head at the hurricane devastation in New Orleans ("A f------ shame"), contemplates Jesus' suffering in the movie "The Passion of the Christ" ("This guy had balls this big") and longs for freedom and living out his final years with his family ("They sustain me").

During an exclusive interview with the Chicago Sun-Times at the Western Illinois Correctional Center, about 250 miles from Chicago, the convicted killer spoke about his personal and professional lives and admitted being affiliated with the Chicago mob -- when it existed. "It's over," he insists. "It's done."

He also says he has never killed anyone and is doing time for someone else's crime.

In fact, Aleman hints that new evidence pointing to his innocence will emerge in an upcoming court filing. One of his lawyers later explained that Aleman will be seeking a new trial based on "newly discovered evidence" that he won't yet discuss.

Authorities regard Aleman's claims of innocence and a frameup as ridiculous. "I think he's convinced himself he's a victim, which people often do when they've been locked up for as many years as Harry has," said Cook County prosecutor Scott Cassidy. "There was evidence that he was a hit man for the mob, and I think he relished that role."

In a landmark case handled by Cassidy, Aleman was convicted in 1997 of shotgunning to death a Teamsters union steward who once was married to Aleman's cousin. It remains Aleman's sole murder conviction, although he once was indicted in another case and is suspected in 15 to 20 or more slayings. "Never, never," he said, when asked if he has ever killed anyone. "And they know who killed them -- but he's dead. They don't get raises or elevated blaming a dead person."

Aleman said he was framed because he would never flip on fellow hoodlums as local and federal officials pressed him to do. He said he maintained that obstinate attitude during more-recent prison visits by investigators.

It's not totally clear why Aleman -- a thin but taut man of 66 with graying, combed-back hair and well-groomed nails -- agreed to speak. A reporter wrote him many months ago, and Aleman recently agreed to talk. He said he has never granted an interview before. But the three-hour sit-down came as Aleman lays the groundwork to get a new trial, he faces a December parole hearing, and a massive federal investigation bears down on some of his old mob associates for crimes stretching back decades.

"I could be a target; I don't know what's in the FBI's mind," said Aleman, who's prone to gesturing and raising his voice when trying to make a point.

"For all I know, they're going to keep indicting me for murders" until he flips.

Thawing out

Harry Aleman wants hot chocolate.

Technically it's still summer, but the frigid rain pelting Aleman's medium-security prison, population 1,900, indicates otherwise. Aleman suggests that the reporter who came to visit him go to the vending area and get a hot chocolate -- and a coffee for "yourself." Then he remembers: You need a special vending card, so that's not an option.

He's hungry, apparently having missed lunch for this meeting. But he's still polite and friendly. "What can I do for you?" he asks after small talk about a long-ago hunting and fishing excursion out West.

Aleman is reminded it was he who wrote the reporter earlier in the month saying he had something "exceptionally newsworthy" to discuss.

"Where's the letter?" he asks.

In the car.

"Did the FBI send you?"


The meeting is taking place in a small office with a desk, typewriter, phone and a few filing cabinets. The walls are tan cinder block. The floors are pale tile. Aleman is wearing a blue button-down prison-issued shirt tucked into darker prison-issued pants. He's carrying a coat. He and the reporter are alone, but just outside the closed door is another desk and, at times, a guard. There'll be no trouble, however. Aleman isn't regarded by corrections officials as problematic.

Aleman begins speaking about himself, claiming he was "out and out railroaded" and prosecuted for no other reason than "just to get Harry."

William Logan, the Teamsters official, was murdered in 1972, and an eyewitness, Bob Lowe, testified during a 1977 trial that Aleman was the trigger man.

Aleman was acquittedWhen Corruption Was King: How I Helped the Mob Rule Chicago, Then Brought the Outfit Down, and later it was determined that the judge had been bribed with the help of mob lawyer Bob Cooley, who later became an informant.

Although the law bars "double jeopardy" -- trying someone for the same crime twice -- Cook County prosecutors won a new trial as the courts determined there was no "jeopardy" the first time because the case was fixed.

Aleman still is indignant over the ruling, noting that two white men who once denied killing black youngster Emmett Till in 1955 and were acquitted in his race-inspired murder later confessed in a magazine article. But they couldn't be retried because of double jeopardy.

Aleman was tried again in 1997 -- again with Lowe's help -- and convicted. A book about Lowe and his long road to justice, Everybody Pays, came out a few years ago.

Aleman, though, questions Lowe's credibility, mentioning his personal troubles and asking a "hypothetical" question: If a killer "in the movies" made eye contact with an eyewitness to a murder, what do you think would happen to that eyewitness? "You kill him," not let him go, Aleman says.

'I didn't feel nothing'

Aleman's other allegation -- raised unsuccessfully by his defense team in the 1997 trial, at which Aleman never testified -- was that William "Butch" Petrocelli really killed Logan. Petrocelli had been secretly dating Logan's ex-wife, and he and Logan had fought, Aleman said. Petrocelli also was a reputed hit man. Aleman said they once were best friends, and he described Petrocelli as "my partner." Petrocelli disappeared in late 1980, and his mutilated body was discovered several months later.

Although Aleman was jailed at the time -- he has spent most of the last 27 years in custody for various crimes -- questions have been raised about whether he ordered the hit because his old pal was holding back money meant to take care of his family.

Aleman dismisses that theory, saying, "If he was holding back money, I wouldn't have known about it because my family was taken care of."

Theories about Petrocelli's murder also have centered on Petrocelli possibly shaking down people in a mob boss' name, without his knowledge, then keeping the cash.

Aleman, though, claims Petrocelli was killed by mobsters because it was found out he was a "rat."

How was that discovered? "People in the neighborhood" began asking questions about why Aleman got sent away on a particular beef and Petrocelli didn't, Aleman said, and "it got to the right ears."


"Whoever," Aleman says.

Aleman believes -- it's not clear exactly why he believes this -- that Petrocelli was in trouble with the law in the late 1970s, so a relative, a policeman, persuaded him to flip. And then the government didn't want to admit Petrocelli was the Logan killer, Aleman says.

Cassidy, the Cook County prosecutor, said, "I have no information to support that allegation" of Petrocelli being an informant. The feds wouldn't comment. "The government wants everybody to be a stool pigeon ... and I'm never going to become a stool pigeon," Aleman said. "I don't want to disgrace my family."

The government doesn't "respect" that stance "because they've had so much success turning over hard-core guys," Aleman says. "The guys out there [still on the street] I have to think twice about. You're not stupid."

How did he feel when Petrocelli died? "I didn't feel nothing," Aleman says. "I wish they would have got him and made him confess, then exile him. Killing him didn't help me at all. I'm still languishing in prison."

No more mob

The feds hope to solve 18 old mob hits as part of their ongoing probe. One of those is Petrocelli's murder.

The indictment fingers notorious loan shark Frank Calabrese Sr. as a participant, saying he "and others committed the murder of William Petrocelli in Cicero."

Aleman has not been implicated in any of the 18 killings, or any of the other crimes listed in the indictment, but curiously, he is mentioned in the document as being among the "criminal associates who reported at various times to [late hoodlum] Joseph Ferriola."

The feds are basing much of the information in their racketeering case on the word of mobster-turned-witness Nick Calabrese, Frank Calabrese Sr.'s younger brother. Aleman says Nick Calabrese and he served time together at the federal prison in Pekin. He describes Nick Calabrese, now in protective custody, as "a regular guy," quick to add that "I didn't pal with him or anything like that. ... You never ask a guy questions." He heard about Nick Calabrese flipping "in your paper."

Aleman doesn't know if he'll be pulled into this probe in some way, and the feds won't talk. "Who knows what Calabrese could say," he says. What could he say? "It's not anything 'on me' [that Nick Calabrese has], it's what they want him to say," Aleman says, referring to the feds.

To that point, federal prosecutor Mitch Mars later said, "We never tell any of the witnesses to say [something]. It's suicidal for us. . . . Nick will say whatever he's going to say."

Aleman looks at the floor when asked about Frank Calabrese Sr. He refuses to discuss him, changing the subject to the reporter's shoes, marveling that they had cost just $17 on sale. When pressed, he says, "Go talk to him."

Likewise, Aleman would rather not talk about reputed mob boss John "No Nose" DiFronzo, who was not indicted in the feds' current case. "I don't know what anybody does," Aleman says.

Asked about the severity of one Calabrese brother turning on the other, Aleman says, "I don't think about them things. If he did it, he did it." But he adds that the increasing number of mob informants is one of the reasons "no new people [are] coming into the mob.

"The reporters and newspapers have to keep it alive, but there ain't nothing in Chicago, no street tax, no extortion, no nothing," Aleman says. "There might be some old guys languishing around, but it's moot.

"The younger generation doesn't want no part of the mob; it's over." Aleman adds that young men would rather go to college and not take a risk they'd end up like him.

"There's no dice games, no card games, no bookmaking, if there's any bookmaking, it's just with the Jewish people on the North Side," he says, adding that even if that's happening, there's no street tax on the money changing hands.

"There's nobody who wants to do the job; this isn't the '30s or '40s," he recalls. "Is there a mob running over, putting people in trunks? . . . No, nobody wants to be part of it because of the feds. ... And these guys don't want to go to no jail like Harry.

"Whoever they locked up recently, they locked them up for their past performance, because they haven't been doing anything for the past 10 or 15 years."

While it's true the murders in the feds' case are old, authorities accuse reputed mob chief Jimmy Marcello and his brother Michael "Mickey" Marcello, among others, of running an illegal video gambling operation in recent years.

Aleman readily admits knowing the heavy hitters in that indictment. His take on the Marcellos, after being told about the alleged video gaming racket: "Mickey's a legit guy . . . his brother wouldn't make him do anything stupid like that. He has a catering business or a vending business."

Aleman said he only knew Jimmy Marcello was in trouble by catching a glimpse of the WGN-TV news one day.

Aleman also knows reputed mob overlord Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, who was accused of murder in the feds' current case but is on the lam.

Aleman says he didn't know Lombardo had taken off. "Joey ran away? Good for him," he says. "I hope they don't find him because he's a real good guy. He'd help anyone. ... He was known for helping out everyone in the neighborhood.

"He's not a monster at all; he helped more people in this area; he's the softest touch around -- 'Hey Joe, can you loan me $20?' Newspapers, what they can do to you."

Regrets? He's had . . . very few

Aleman indicated that it was the black-knight image of hoodlums that led him into the mob.

Sure, his dad was a criminal, a "regular thief," he says. But it was the guys in the shiny cars and slick suits who would act as "Robin Hoods," watching over the neighborhood and paying the grocery bills when a family couldn't, that got Aleman excited. "Some guys want to be like that; some want to be a tailor" like one of Aleman's grandfathers, he says. "I wanted to take care of my family. . . . I'd do anything to support them, anything. Like many other guys did before me."

Aleman, who says he tries to "slough it off" when people call him a cold-blooded killer, was asked several times if he has any regrets about his chosen profession or anything he might have done in the past. "The only regret I have is not being with my family and not being with my grandkids," Aleman replies the first time.

Later, when asked again, he gets a serious look -- something that often entails a clenched jaw -- and says, "The only regret I've got is I broke my mother's heart, and she died prematurely. . . . All I try to do is try to stay healthy and see my family and talk to them . . . all you've got left is family."

And lastly: "The only regret I have is not being able to sit down and eat with my family on a daily basis."

Family dinner

Family is a recurring theme with Aleman. Not "family" in a mob sense, but his family at home.

Some believe he cynically fosters this image of a devoted family man to soften his reputation -- to jurors, investigators, the public. But Cassidy, the prosecutor, believes there really is a strong mutual love between Aleman and his family. "Unfortunately, he has another side to him," Cassidy added.

Whatever the case, Aleman's family has remained devoted to him, weathering a four- to five-hour drive from the Chicago area to visit him.

Aleman has no biological children. But long ago, he married a woman, Ruth, with four kids. Their biological father, also a hoodlum, had been murdered. Aleman notes: "I didn't know my wife at the time he got killed."

Ruth died in 2000. Aleman helped her raise two boys and two girls as his own, and believes their fusion as a family unit was serendipitous.

As a teenager, Aleman had a nasty accident. While washing his dad's car in a family friend's garage, Aleman stepped on one of those sewer caps, it flipped up, and he came down hard on it, right between the legs. His scrotum was torn open, and he was rushed to the hospital. Aleman was patched up and recalls being told he still could have kids some day. But much later, he found out he was unable to have children, so finding a "ready-made" family was "destiny," he says.

Aleman emphasizes the importance of having dinner every night -- when his dad wasn't in jail -- with his family growing up around Taylor Street.

When his dad was in jail, Aleman was sent to live with grandparents and an aunt, while his brothers stayed with their mom. He lived there as a youngster. He became quite close with the aunt, Gloria, often curling up with her to sleep. And so, when she ended up marrying Joseph Ferriola, the fearsome mobster, Aleman became close with him, too.

Aleman says he wasn't really involved in anything heavy, and cites Uncle Joe as evidence. "They make me part of the mob because of my uncle . . . which is not true because the last thing he wanted me to do is join," Aleman recalls. "My Aunt Gloria, she made sure he didn't make me do anything like he was doing."

Still, there's ample evidence of Aleman's ferocity. Before being sent to state prison, he did prison time for home invasions and other racketeering-related crimes.

For years, Aleman was accused of working as an illegal "juice" loan collector, pursuing deadbeats who didn't pay what they owed the mob, said Vic Switski, the former Aleman case agent on the FBI/Chicago Police organized crime task force.

Once, Aleman was accused of shoving a woman through the glass door of a lounge, then beating a Chicago Police commander's son who tried to intervene.

Because his frame was always slight -- he's 5-foot-8, 140 pounds -- Aleman said he felt he sometimes had to fight to prove himself. In high school, he and a friend brawled against others every day one semester, he said.

'You have no idea'

Aleman once sent ripples of terror throughout the underworld, and segments of legitimate society, but his own fears appear much different. They don't seem to involve the joint because he says he has no real trouble, from guards or other inmates. People treat the older guys with some deference, he says, and he and the other old-timers are known as "pops" by the younger, mostly black prison population.

One of the few times he alluded to fear came in a childhood story involving his beloved aunt, who "dressed me up and walked me to school," he says. "I was afraid to go to school."

He admits to being scared seeing his little great-granddaughter; he was worried about the long drive and his family getting into a car accident. The wife of a fellow inmate in Atlanta once was killed that way, driving to see the inmate, he says. "It's etched in me," he adds, simmering about his 2003 transfer from Dixon, which is closer to Chicago, to this current facility in the sticks, south of Macomb.

Aleman also hints at some frightening characters in his past. "You have no idea the guys in Chicago who never got their names in the newspapers and are the most f------ dangerous guys I knew," Aleman says. He declines to identify them.

Most of all, though, as the interview with the reporter nears completion, Aleman seems worried about the impact a story might have. He says he's not optimistic about getting paroled -- at more than one point, he says he's resigned to dying in prison -- but he's clearly thinking toward the possibility of freedom. "My fate was cut out . . . to raise my four kids and to be in prison for the rest of my life," he says. "I've got the love of my kids ... what else could I ask for? Of course, it would be nice to be with them."

"Don't hurt me," Aleman later implores.


1975: Bookie Anthony Reitinger is murdered; Aleman indicted years later, but it never goes to trial

1977: Put on trial for 1972 murder of William Logan; acquitted because judge is bribed

1978: Convicted of interstate home invasions, goes to federal prison

1980: Reputed hit man and Aleman friend William "Butch" Petrocelli is murdered

1989: Aleman gets out of prison, albeit briefly

1990: Hit with new racketeering charges, sent to prison to await trial

1992 : Convicted in that case, gets 12 years

1997: Retried for Logan murder. Convicted, sentenced to 100 to 300 years

2002: Denied parole

2005: Major mob indictment comes down, Aleman not charged; awaits parole hearing


A snapshot of Harry Aleman's early rap sheet

1960 malicious mischief
1961 gambling
1962 possession of burglary tools
1962 assault, criminal damage
1965 aggravated assault
1966 grand theft auto
1966 armed robbery
1968 criminal damage to property
1969 aggravated kidnapping
1971 violating Federal Reserve Act
1975 keeper of gambling place

Thanks to Robert C. Herguth - Chicago Sun Times

Judge delays fish market move again

A Manhattan judge once again delayed the Fulton Fish Market's move to a new Bronx facility, siding with claims that the city was ignoring a law designed to keep the Mafia out of the $1 billion-a-year wholesale fish business.

State Supreme Court Justice Carol Edmead issued a 10-day injunction on September 30th blocking wholesale fish mongers from taking over the fish unloading business at a new refrigerated facility in Hunts Point. She is expected to issue a decision permanently blocking the fish mongers when the injunction runs out.

The fish sellers insist they cannot pay the costs associated with the more sanitary market unless they take over the unloading business, which they say they can operate faster and cheaper than current unloader Laro Service Systems Inc.

Laro was installed by former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in 1995 to take over the historically mob-tainted business of unloading fish trucks. The mob had been using the unloading service to extort payments from sellers dependent on quick service in the highly time-sensitive fish market.

Fish mongers' lawyer Tom Canova said the move could be delayed for a month as a result of Edmead's decision but predicted eventual victory. Laro attorney Randy Mastro, Giuliani's former chief of staff, said the case was "about protecting the public interest against organized-crime corruption."

"The judge's decision today vindicates that public interest," Mastro said.

Feds Fear Syndicate Rebirth

A tidal wave of imprisoned mobsters, including ferocious Mafia bosses champing at the bit to hit the streets, will soon be freed to reclaim the reins of the city's five crime families, The NY Post has learned.

In an extraordinary interagency memo, the FBI has been warned by the Bureau of Prisons to brace for the release of 80 goodfellas and their close associates, whose sentences behind bars will expire before January 2007, according law-enforcement sources. The list of hardened hoods in the prisons bureau survey reads like a Who's Who of Mafioso whose exploits were splashed across the front pages during the past two decades:

* Venero "Bennie Eggs" Mangano, 84, legendary underboss to Vincent "Chin" Gigante of the Genovese crime family, is scheduled for release on Nov. 2, 2006, after serving 15 years for his role in rigging window-installation contracts at city projects in the infamous "Windows Case."

* Sal Avellino, 69, the Luchese crime family underboss and one-time chauffeur for family godfather Anthony "Tony Ducks" Corallo, is slated to be released Oct. 10, 2006, after serving 11 years in prison for his role in various mob activities, including the murders of two waste carters who were cooperating with the feds.

* Joe "Joe the German" Watts, 63, former chauffeur and gunslinger for John Gotti, the late Gambino boss, will be freed May 5, after serving 11 years for convictions for murder conspiracy and for an elaborate money-laundering scheme.

* Steve "Stevie Wonder" Crea, 58, a powerful Luchese underboss, is expected to be free Aug. 24 after serving three years for fixing prices on three Manhattan construction projects and extorting money from a Long Island construction company.

* Andrew "Andy Mush" Russo, 71, the capo cousin of Colombo crime family godfather Carmine "The Snake" Persico, who was convicted as the muscle over private carters and is coming out June 6 after serving nine years for racketeering.

* Salvatore "Sammy Meatballs" Aparo, 75, a powerful Genovese capo, will be free May 25 after serving time for a 1991 labor-racketeering conviction in a case in which another mobster was caught on tape bragging, "Hurting people. That's what this is about."

* Charles Carneglia, 59, a trusted Gambino power whose brother, John, was a reputed hit man in the famed slaying of boss Paul "Big Paul" Castellano, will be free May 1 after serving five years for extortion.

* Richard G. Gotti, 37, nephew of the late John Gotti, and son of the Dapper Don's brother, Richard V. Gotti, will be free March 3 after serving three years in the same racketeering case that convicted his father and his uncle, Peter.

Experts say the survey, conducted in July, serves as additional proof that speculation about the demise of the Mafia is vastly premature — despite high-profile defections of mob bosses such as Salvatore "Sammy Bull" Gravano, a succession of celebrated convictions and the latest twist involving a mob lawyer entering the witness-protection program, as The Post reported last week. "You only hear about the all the guys who flipped, but if you ever took a look at the list of guys who went into prison and how many rolled over, it is not even close," one longtime mob hunter observed.

In fact, there are about 1,100 members of organized crime, with each wiseguy connected to 10 associates, making for a separate rogues' gallery of about 11,000 businessmen, labor officials and others linked to the mob, the sources said.

In recent years, law-enforcement has broken the mob's stranglehold on certain unions and construction industries, but "the nucleus is still there" in those businesses as well as in the Mafia's bread-and-butter pursuit: gambling. "There's too much money to be made and always people willing to take the shot," one source said, adding that the "same is true of the leadership."Cannes Film Festival Club at the Film Movement

For example, the Gambino power vacuum created by the death of John Gotti and the subsequent imprisonment of brother Peter has been quickly filled by the lower-profiled Nicholas "Little Nick" Corozzo and his brother, Joseph "JoJo."

"For each rat or guy we put in prison, there are 20 others willing to take their place," a mob watcher said. "And none of these guys are coming out to shine shoes."

A prisons bureau spokesperson declined to explain what prompted the mob-inmate survey, but sources say the analysis was handed over to FBI brass in Washington and was being used to update the inmates' connections to the mob and assess "their potential impact" on La Cosa Nostra when they get out.

James Margolin, the FBI spokesman in New York, said the advisory "is further indication of what we have always maintained, that there remains plenty of work to be done in fighting organized crime, and that is why it continues to be a priority for this office."

And as chilling as the recent survey is, it does not list hoods such as Oreste "Ernie Boy" Abbamonte, a major convicted heroin dealer and a member of both the Bonanno and Luchese families, who came out of prison in February.

It also does not mention a future wave of releases expected after 2007 including gangsters such as Liborio "Barney" Bellomo, 48, the former Genovese street boss who is due out in August 2008.

Thanks to Murray Weiss

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