Friday, November 30, 2007

America's Most Wanted to Feature the Murder of Sean Taylor & Baby Grace

America's Most WantedEric Rosenstrom: Eric Rosenstrom likes to write murder mysteries, but police say the fatal shooting of a hotel owner on August 16, 2001 is no whodunit -- they believe Rosenstrom is the perp. But with his vast knowledge of law enforcement, he could be tough to catch.

Unknown Sean Taylor Killer: Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor, 24, was shot in the upper leg during a home invasion early Monday morning and passed away early Tuesday after losing a significant amount of blood from a damaged artery. A suspect still has not been named in the shooting.

Unknown “Baby Grace” Killer: Cops in Galveston County are waiting for DNA results to confirm that 2-year-old Riley Ann Sawyers is the young girl they've lovingly referred to as Baby Grace. Cops have charged Riley's mother, 19-year-old Kimberly Dawn Treno, and 24-year-old Royce Clyde Zeigler with injury to a child and tampering with physical evidence. In the meantime, cops are still looking into dozens of leads related to young girls who haven't been accounted for.

Madeleine McCann: Possible new evidence in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann breathed new life into the toddler's case this month when a bag of clothing was found just an hour away from the holiday villa where Madeleine vanished. Despite so much time having passed since she went missing, Madeleine's parents remain optimistic.

Tanya Diane Brown: Cops say when Tanya Diane Brown learned it was likely she would lose custody of her children, she packed all their bags and vanished in March 2005. Weeks later, when police arrived at a motel in San Ysidro , Calif. , they found evidence proving they had just missed Brown and her young kids. Among the personal items left behind, authorities found a journal written by Brown's oldest daughter, Tori, describing her desperation and fear of being forced into a life of hiding.

Jenny Liang: Hot tempered Jenny Liang has a violent history with the men in her life. According to Las Vegas police her jealousy boiled over to murder when she shot her wealthy boyfriend in the head. Liang skipped to Hong Kong, but now cops believe she may be back in Nevada.

Latasha Norman: Stanley Cole, 23, was charged with hitting 20-year-old Latasha Norman this past October. Seven days after Latasha went missing, her body has been found and Cole was arrested for something much more sinister: he has been charged with murder.

Kyle Fleischmann Missing: Family, friends, and classmates of Kyle Fleischmann started a page on the popular social networking website Facebook to connect with each other and spread news of the missing 24-year-old. Now, the group has over 60,000 members and is still growing exponentially. Not only has the group become a useful way to swap updates, it has brought further media attention to the missing man's story.

Colin Jackson: Six-year-old Colin Jackson was supposed to visit his non-custodial father on August 27, 2007. But what was supposed to be a short visit soon turned into a disappearing act. Thanks to some astute librarians and some help from AMW, Colin and his father were found safe in a tiny western North Carolina town.

Holiday offer 2007 - 5% Off Gifts promo code FILM5

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Editors of the ABA Journal announced they have selected The Chicago Syndicate as one of the top 100 best websites by lawyers, for lawyers.

Now readers are being asked to vote on their favorites in each of the Blawg 100’s 12 categories. The Chicago Syndicate has been nominated in the "Crime Time" Category. Voting ends Jan. 2, 2008.

“Lawyers nationwide are using the power of the Internet to educate the public about developments in the law, market their practices and attract new clients,” says Edward A. Adams, the Journal’s editor and publisher. “Our list of the 100 best lawyer blogs is the cream of the crop from our directory of more than 1,500 blawgs in dozens of categories, including blawgs focused on almost every state, law school and major federal court in the nation.”

Vote Early and often, that is the Chicago way!

About the ABA Journal:
The ABA Journal is the flagship magazine of the American Bar Association, and it is read by half of the nation’s 1.1 million lawyers every month. It covers the trends, people and finances of the legal profession from Wall Street to Main Street to Pennsylvania Avenue. features breaking legal news updated as it happens by staff reporters throughout every business day, a directory of more than 1,500 lawyer blogs, and the full contents of the magazine.

About the ABA:
With more than 413,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

DeNiro Signs On as Mob Hit Man, Frankie Machine

The announcement that De Niro is set to star in Frankie Machine with Michael Mann rumored to direct had me running to the bookstore looking for the source material. The film is based on The Winter of Frankie Machine, a novel by Don Winslow. I picked up the book and devoured it, keeping in mind Mann’s new digitized visual style and De Niro as the lead.

The premise for the film (from is listed as:

An ex-mob hit man (De Niro) living in rural comfort is lured back into his former profession by the scheming son of a Mafia Don.

Now, the book isn’t the script and it’s certainly not going to be the film, but it does give an indication as to what the primary building blocks of the project will be. With that in mind, I took a few notes. Some of the elements seem tailor-made for Mann as a storyteller; others (one in particular) would be unique for him. For De Niro, it’s a perfect fit.

Location: The setting is primarily San Diego, California. This is a landscape that Michael Mann knows well and can easily deliver on: the beaches of California, nightclubs, scenes in the back seats of limos, safe houses, all under the cover of night. Winslow seemed to be writing his locations with Mann in mind.

Characters: One word – Mafia. The story features a sprinkling of civilians by way of the family Frank has built over the years (ex-wife, daughter, lover), as well as Dave Hansen, an FBI agent and friend to Frank. Hansen and Machine have a grudging respect for each other, which is due, seemingly, to the individual code of honor each has toward life and work. Frankie Machine is a made man who leads a meticulous, controlled, life. Now well past 50 years old, he is a man now at peace who savors his morning egg and onion bagel. Frankie is the type of man who takes the time to roast and grind his own coffee beans, oil an old butcher’s block for months to bring it back to life, and create and nurture a fake ID (bills, rental house, etc.), just in case it’s needed. Frank was a sniper in Vietnam and learned his lessons well. If a man needed a bullet to the head, you called Frankie Machine. This is the type of character Michael Mann knows well.

Plot: Ex-mob hit man (De Niro) does favors for the son of the Mafia don only to find it’s a double-cross situation, and must now find out who wants him dead and why.

Violence: Controlled, but R-rated. This isn’t the type of violence you would find in a Scorsese film, but the gristle is there in a shotgun-to-the-face kind of way. The question is whether it happens on-screen or off. In some passages of the book, the blood spurts right off the page. But for the most part this will be no more shocking than most of Mann’s previous films.

Issue of note: Throughout the story Frank is searching his memory for who it may be that wants him dead and why. This sends him back into many, if not all, of his Mafia-related hits. The story itself is told in two parts, half present day and half in flashbacks that take him from being a teenager, through his military days, and up to present day. If the structure of the story is kept intact as a script, this would be the first film Michael Mann tells in flash-backs.

Innovation: There is an opportunity here for some very clean, seamless CGI by way of character animation. We all know what De Niro looked like at almost every age, from early his early 20's (Taxi Driver) through his 30’s and 40’s. Rather than hiring Shia LeBeouf to play an unbelievable young De Niro, why not have De Niro act the part, voice the part, and let the CGI alchemists push his age back to the proper time?

It was done seamlessly in X-Men: The Last Stand with both Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen so why not here?!? There is every reason to do so and no reason whatsoever not to. If handled in a classic, clean, manner, it would send the critics and fans alike back again and again to see the young De Niro (without the Taxi Driver Mohawk) tromping through the bush of Vietnam or putting his first bullet into a mooch that seriously deserved it, even if he was already dead (you’ll have to read the book to find out what I mean).

Conclusion: This could become the event film of 2009. This could be the De Niro film everyone has been waiting for. With Mann at the helm and if he taps into the technology available, this could become a high-water mark for both actor and director.

Thanks to Cole Drumb

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ex-DEA Agent Sends Cease & Desist Letter to "American Gangster" Move Studio

Since American Gangster's blockbuster release in theaters, the movie has been surrounded by controversy. Billed as being based on a true story, real-life characters have spoken out against the adaptation, calling it little more than fiction.
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Now, one New York City Drug Enforcement Agent is threatening to make it a legal issue, accusing Universal Pictures, the studio responsible for the flick, of making "false and defamatory statements," according to TMZ.

Gregory Korniloff, a retired NYC DEA agent, sent a cease and desist letter through his attorney to the general counsel of NBC Universal and to the president of the studio.

Korniloff is demanding a retraction of statements made in the movie. The letter claims that the movie -- which portrays the life of infamous '60s and '70s Harlem heroin dealer Frank Lucas (played by Denzel Washington) -- incorrectly states that a third of NY DEA agents were convicted on charges related to Lucas. The letter also alleges that facts in the movie are misleading including heroin being smuggled in Vietnam veteran coffins and the amount of money stolen from Lucas' home during a raid.

Korniloff was the case agent for the DEA and "personally participated in the search of Lucas' house ... and the arrest of Lucas on that same day." Korniloff's lawyer, Dominic Amorosa, says the way the movie portrays that search "destroys the reputation of honest and courageous public servants by deliberately misrepresenting the facts."

As SOHH previously reported, other real-life characters and people close to the events aren't happy with the way things were depicted in the movie.

New York-based DEA agent Joseph Sullivan said the whole thing is a pack of lies. He was at a raid on Lucas' Teaneck, N.J., home after two members of the Mafia ratted out the drug lord.

"His name is Frank Lucas and he was a drug dealer - that's where the truth in this movie ends," Sullivan said.

NBC Universal did not respond to requests for comment.

Thanks to Brandi Hopper

Tampa's Mafia Boss Just a Working Joe?

He lives in a stucco ranch home with a well-manicured lawn on a quiet Brandon street.

For the past four years he's served as the food and beverage manager at a Mediterranean-style country club in Carrollwood.

Now 70, Vincent Salvatore LoScalzo says he's just an ordinary member of the middle class, trying to make it like the rest of us. "I'm working my tushie off," he said.

Such humdrum trappings are a far cry from LoScalzo's alleged street profile. Although LoScalzo was never successfully prosecuted for any serious crime and has regularly said he was a legitimate businessman, law enforcement agencies have, since the mid 1980s, repeatedly identified him as Tampa's Mafia kingpin.

That once meant something. Yet unlike the crime families in larger cities such as New York and Boston that are flourishing, Tampa's mob is considered almost irrelevant in 2007, said Scott Deitche, author of Cigar City Mafia: A Complete History of the Tampa Underworld, a history of the Tampa mob.

So when LoScalzo says he's just a regular Joe working for a living, he probably means it, Deitche said. "His profile has declined quite a bit in recent years," he said. "Most of the old-timers have died, so his organization has faded away. But for a time, he was recognized nationally among mobsters in other cities as the head of the Tampa organization."

LoScalzo's turf at the Emerald Greens Golf & Country Club includes a grand ballroom, poolside bar, three high-class dining rooms, and two bar and grilles.

Asked to elaborate on what his duties at the club were, LoScalzo replied: "Most of my work is office work."

The restricted membership club came under new ownership in 2003.The public faces of the project, which included millions of dollars in renovations, have been Frank Hayden and James Manley. They won permission from the County Commission three years ago to build 106 townhomes around the club. An attorney for the club, Rich Sadorf, said many other investors own the club with Hayden and Manley, but he declined to disclose them.

Sadorf said he advised Hayden and Manley not to answer questions about LoScalzo's employment because of privacy concerns.

Along with the standard golf tournament banquets and its weekly Italian night, the club recently hosted separate political fundraisers for Hillsborough County Commissioners Brian Blair and Ken Hagan.

Hagan didn't return calls, but Blair said he didn't know about LoScalzo or his history stashed in investigators' files. "I've never heard of the guy or read about him," Blair said. "I don't know who he is."

For years, LoScalzo was a top target in law enforcement circles.

He owned bars in the 1980s. One of them was Mike's Lounge and Package on Nebraska Avenue, which state alcoholic beverage records show he was forced to sell after agents charged that the bar was a trading hub for drugs and stolen property. Rather than fight the charges, a company controlled by LoScalzo sold the license in 1985 to Michael Napoli.

Napoli was arrested four years later, and pleaded guilty to using four Hillsborough bars, including Mike's Lounge, for cocaine distribution. Investigators said he headed the cocaine laundering operation in Tampa for the Trafficante crime family. He served 61/2 years in prison.

LoScalzo was never charged, but during the FBI's investigation of Napoli, informants frequently mentioned his name, according to a 1992 Times story.

Santo Trafficante Jr., widely acknowledged as the head of Tampa's Mafia for decades, died in a Houston hospital after surgery in 1987. Two years later, Broward County organized crime investigators named LoScalzo as the power behind Tampa's mob. In 1991, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement identified LoScalzo as the heir to Trafficante. "I don't know about the Mafia," LoScalzo told the Times that year. "I am a legitimate businessman."

In 1992, LoScalzo and 14 others, including the husband of then-Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman, were charged with banking violations in an investigation of the Key Bank of Florida. The charges were dropped after it was learned investigators used wiretaps without probable cause.

What was reported on the wiretaps, however, suggested that LoScalzo had hidden interests in various bars, a violation of state beverage laws.

LoScalzo was arrested in 1994 and accused of taking part in a $300,000 scam involving oil filters. He pleaded no contest in 1997 to one count of sale of unregistered securities and was sentenced to three years of probation and 100 hours of community service. That same year, the FDLE issued another report that called LoScalzo the "reputed boss of the Trafficante crime family."

In 2000, the FBI raided ValuCar Sales and Superstar, a used car lot on Bearss Avenue owned by a man named Nelson Valdes. In 2005, Valdes was arrested and charged with grand theft, punishable by as much as 30 years in prison. The FDLE accused Valdes of directing employees to deceive Ford Motor Credit, which loaned ValuCar money to buy vehicles for its inventory.

In court, Valdes said he hired LoScalzo and paid him $104,000 as an inventory manager at ValuCar. He said he had known LoScalzo since childhood and "he never did anything illegal in front of me."

Later, Valdes helped the FBI investigate LoScalzo by wearing a concealed listening device. ValuCar is now defunct. The FBI never disclosed why it raided the Bradenton-based ValuCar or how LoScalzo factored into the investigation. Search warrants were sealed, and LoScalzo has never been charged. Former agents with the FDLE who investigated LoScalzo didn't return phone calls, either.

LoScalzo said prior charges about him are false, and he didn't want to talk about the past. "I'm working very hard," he said. "You guys are always looking for a needle in the haystack with me. If what was printed about me was true, then I wouldn't be working today."

The club's attorney, Sadorf, said the club has embarked upon an aggressive membership drive. The club's Web site touts its dining, which LoScalzo oversees, as a reason to join.

"Indulge yourself," it states, over a photo of a couple holding glasses filled with red wine.

"You will enjoy the elegance of high class dining," it says of the club's bar and grill. "With such a wide variety of drinks that you won't know where to start."

Thanks to Michael Van Sickler

Mob Museum Obtains Almost a Million Dollars More

Las Vegas' historic downtown post office received $800,000 in new funding Monday and is also going to get help from the FBI and "Casino" author Nicholas Pileggi. And while previous city announcements have said the museum will focus on broader Las Vegas history, "including the influence of organized crime," a presentation Monday indicated that the museum's exhibits will be tightly focused on the valley's colorful Mafia past.

The Las Vegas Centennial Commission approved the funds for exhibit acquisitions and an expensive seismic retrofit. Interior refurbishing was recently completed, and there's at least two years of planning and construction left before the museum opens.

"It's a very complex project," said Nancy Deaner, manager of cultural affairs for the city of Las Vegas. "Not only is it a historic project for our community, but it has far-reaching tentacles all over the United States."

Deaner provided an overview of what the exhibits in the three-story building would cover, including:

• Las Vegas' development in the days of Prohibition and bootlegging.
• The influx of organized crime.
• How mob operations in various cities were connected.
• A guide to "following the money" from its sources through the money laundering process.
• The infamous Kefauver hearings on organized crime.

The post office building, located on Stewart Avenue next to the shuttered Lady Luck Casino, was also the city's first federal courthouse and was one of the sites of the Kefauver hearings, named for crusading U.S. senator C. Estes Kefauver of Tennessee.

Organizers recently met with FBI officials in Washington D.C. and secured a promise that the agency will locate and loan organized crime artifacts for the museum's displays. That could include photos, weapons, cars and other evidence, said Ellen Knowlton, the former head of the Las Vegas FBI office and president of 300 Stewart Ave. Corp., the nonprofit that's working with the city on the museum.

The commission approved a grant of $300,000 that the nonprofit will use to buy artifacts as they become available.

In addition, Mayor Oscar Goodman said Pileggi -- who wrote "Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas" as well as the screenplay for Martin Scorsese's 1995 film -- is willing to join the project, perhaps initially by writing a script for an introductory film. "He said whatever we need," Goodman said. "He wants to be a part of this."

Goodman, who defended organized crime figures in his pre-mayoral career as an attorney, has long championed the idea of a mob-themed museum. On Monday, he gushed again about some crowd-pleasing possibilities, including allowing visitors to purchase "mugshots" of themselves and having a recorded voice read visitors their Miranda rights as they enter the exhibits.

Projections call for the museum to attract 800,000 visitors a year and to serve as a daytime destination downtown. "I think our numbers are fairly conservative," Knowlton said, noting the popularity of the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C. That museum saw more than 1 million visitors in its first year, more than twice as many as estimates predicted.

The exhibits at the Las Vegas museum won't glorify organized crime, she said. The aim is to show the history of organized crime in America and how law enforcement worked to extract the mob's influence from gaming. "There's no other museum like this," Knowlton said.

A survey conducted last year found visitors and locals were divided about the most appealing museum topics.

More than 70 percent of the tourists polled loved the idea of a museum dedicated to organized crime.

A third of the locals in the survey, however, preferred a "vintage Vegas" theme that would look at the architecture, music and personalities that dominated the valley from 1930 through the 1950s. Only 17 percent put the organized crime emphasis in first place.

City spokeswoman Diana Paul said the museum's focus "hasn't changed."

"It's been pretty consistent as far as having the museum showcase the city's history through that period, emphasizing organized crime," she wrote in an e-mail.

Centennial commission members also voted to contribute $500,000 toward the anticipated $3.6 million bill for seismic upgrades to the 76-year-old building. The commission previously allocated $1.2 million for this part of the project, and the museum organizers will seek other grants to make up the difference.

The commission's funds come from the sale of license plates commemorating Las Vegas' 2005 centennial.

The overall preservation effort on the post office building, now dubbed POST Modern, has an estimated price tag of more than $30 million.

Thanks to Alan Choate

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Southsiders Producing/Filming Locally Mafia Drama "Chicago Overcoat" with Celebrity Talent

Indie Film “Chicago Overcoat” by Local Production Company

Attracts Celebrity Talent to its Cast

Chicago Overcoat, a feature-length crime based drama, is shooting throughout Chicago this month. The film stars veteran mob actor Frank Vincent (Goodfellas, Casino, The Sopranos) as Lou Marazano, and showcases the city and its infamous mob history.

The story takes a chilling look into what remains of the most powerful organized crime syndicate in the second half of the twentieth century. They were known as "The Outfit" and controlled the city of Chicago. Their most deadly hit man, the notorious Lou Marazano, killed several high profile officials without leaving a trace of evidence. Years later he is being pursued by the relentless Detective Ralph Maloney (Danny Goldring). With time against him, Marazano must finish the job as he struggles with old age, a splintered family, and a lifetime of regret.

The 'Chicago Overcoat' stars veteran mob actor Frank Vincent (Goodfellas, Casino, The Sopranos) as Lou Marazano, and showcases Chicago and its infamous mob history.
Lou, played by Frank Vincent, prepares to deliver some Chicago Lightning with his Tommy Gun.

Overcoat also stars Mike Starr (Goodfellas, Dumb & Dumber) as the powerful street boss Lorenzo Galante, and Kathrine Narducci (A Bronx Tale, The Sopranos) as Marazano’s love interest. Most recently, Stacy Keach (American History X, Prison Break) joined the cast to play retired Chicago detective Ray Berkowski, and Armand Assante (Gotti, American Gangster) signed on to play mob boss Stefano D’Agnostino.

In addition to the impressive celebrity ensemble, Overcoat features a talented cast of local Chicago actors. Among them are accomplished actors Danny Goldring, who just played Grumpy in Batman: The Dark Knight, and Tim Gamble, who plays Jack Crawford opposite Daniel Baldwin in The Devil’s Dominoes. Also featured in the cast is local actor Dominic Capone, the great nephew of Al Capone. Dominic is one of the few Capone descendants who embraced the family name, but went into show business rather than the family business.

The film is being produced by Chicago based company Beverly Ridge Pictures. This is the first feature-length film for the production company known for its Shorts Collection with their premiere short The Small Assassin. Beverly Ridge Pictures consists of six recent Columbia College graduates who are trying to bring production back to Chicago: producer John W. Bosher, producer William Maursky, director Brian Caunter, production designer Phillip S. Plowden, cinematographer Kevin Moss, and casting director Chris Charles.

“We hope that audiences acknowledge the new roles for most of these actors,” says Producer John Bosher, “by casting people you’ve seen in the genre but not in this type of role. Frank Vincent has a lot of fans from ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘Goodfellas,’ but they’ve never seen him as a character with this kind of arc.” To follow the progress of Chicago Overcoat, you can check out the official Beverly Ridge Pictures website at: Watch out for Overcoat in theatres this Fall.

Crooked Judge for Genoveses Gets 33 Months in Prison

A former Nassau County judge was sentenced to nearly 3 years in prison for conspiring to launder more than $400,000 for members of the Genovese crime family. David Gross, 45, pleaded guilty in July and admitted he agreed to try to secretly move cash he believed was the result of a jewelry heist. What Gross did not know is that one of the men he was making the deal with was an undercover FBI agent.

Federal prosecutors said Gross planned to keep up to 20 percent of all cash he agreed to launder. He also agreed to try to sell more than $280,000 worth of stolen diamonds. Gross faced a possible maximum of 20 years, but Judge Arthur Spatt handed down a 33-month sentence during Friday's sentencing.

Gross was first elected as a Nassau County judge in 1999. He was arrested in 2005 and suspended pending the outcome of the criminal case against him. The investigation began after the FBI developed leads stemming from raids on several mafia-run gambling houses on Long Island.

New York FBI Director Mark Mershon described Gross' criminal conduct as "the most egregious betrayals of the public trust."

Investigators said the former judge had teamed up with Nicholas Gruttadauria who they said is a member of the Genovese crime family. Gruttadauria has also pleaded guilty. FBI officials said the two men tried to use invoices from Freeport restaurant Cafe By The Sea to launder the money.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Shark Tales and Thanksgiving Wishes

Joseph "The Shark" Lopez returns with more Shark Tales. In this addition, he comments on the surreal celebrity event status the Family Secrets trial acheived this past summer. He also catches up on his work and travels since the first phase of the trial concluded and passes along Happy Thanksgiving wishes. Lopez represented Frank Calabrese who was a defendent with 4 others including Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo and James "Little Jimmy" Marcello.

In July one day a family of tourists came to see the trial. They were dressed in shorts and were from Europe they came to see the trial because they wanted to see real American gangsters. They were not the only ones who came. People flocked to see us like we were an attraction at Navy Pier.

The courtroom was packed everyday with gawkers and gangster groupies. All eyes were upon us. Needless to say Frank was the main attraction, followed by Lombardo and Marcello. Lombardo has that catchy moniker and Jim Marcello looks like a next door neighbor.

This case reinvents itself every few weeks with new legal issues. This jury issue of the alleged overhearing of a threat to Markus Funk raises a whole new issue for all the defendants. This issue will not be resolved until next year. Meanwhile, the guys wait it out.

As for me, the trial may be over but the work continues on this case and others. I have been doing a lot traveling taking the dog and staying in truck driver motels. I was down in the Okefenokee forest at a small jail, a place of American I have never seen. There was not a wiseguy in sight. I wonder if any beefers live down there in obscurity. It was a million miles from Taylor street. I was happy to find a Ruby Tuesday to eat dinner where i enjoyed two glasses of Cabernet, a mound of mixed greens and a prime beef burger. As I looked around, I saw people living a simple life, not like the rat race that I am used to here in Chicago.

I want to wish all my supporters and my critics who despise me a wonderful Thanksgiving. We should be proud to be Americans and this day is one that belongs to us to show the world how strong and tight we really are on this holiday. To my paisans out there do not eat too much lasagna and sausage; eat more turkey and on Friday get some Italian bread, mayo, turkey, provolone, and hot peppers and make a giant sangwich. Do not drive and drink. I know I will drain a bottle of wine and I have a designated driver. Ciao! - Joe Shark

Old School Mobsters Among "Celebrities" Spending Time in The Big A

The Big A has always been a rough joint.

Before the turn of the last century, the government had no dedicated facilities for men convicted of federal crimes – typically, moonshiners, mail-tamperers and those engaged in "white slavery," better known today as pimpin'.

When criticism escalated about the common practice of renting out federal prisoners as involuntary laborers, Congress passed the Three Prisons Act of 1890, which authorized federal prisons in Leavenworth, Kansas; on McNeil Island in Washington's Puget Sound; and on the southeastern outskirts of Atlanta.

Although 14 more federal penitentiaries – considered the high-security flagships of the Bureau of Prisons – would be built over the next century, Atlanta would remain the largest. And when Alcatraz shut its doors in 1963, it regained its reputation as the meanest.
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Italian immigrant and small-time scam artist Charles Ponzi served a few years in Atlanta for fraud during the teens. When he got out, he dreamed up an elaborate investment scheme that hoodwinked a nation and, at the time it came crashing down in 1920, was earning him $250,000 a day. Ponzi served another few years in prison, was deported back to Italy and finally died penniless in Brazil.

In 1919, the Atlanta Pen would get its first celebrity inmate in Eugene V. Debs, a renowned labor leader, pacifist and three-time Socialist Party candidate for president. The 63-year-old Debs had been convicted under the liberally worded Espionage Act for giving a speech opposing World War I and sentenced to 10 years in prison. In 1920, he again ran for president from his cell, receiving nearly a million votes, about 3.4 percent of the ballots cast. The following year, Debs was pardoned by President Warren G. Harding.

Another political prisoner was Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican-born journalist who had come to the United States in 1916 to preach the then-controversial notion of social equality for blacks. Launching a back-to-Africa movement, he was viewed as a rabble-rousing seditionist by the feds, who eventually convicted him of mail fraud.

Garvey came to Atlanta in 1925 and immediately wrote his most famous speech, "First Message to the Negroes of the World From Atlanta Prison," which urged his followers to "Look for me in the whirlwind." His sentence was commuted two years later by President Calvin Coolidge and he was subsequently deported.

Also in 1925, Atlanta became home to Roy Gardner, a legendary train robber who had managed to escape from McNeil Island. He tried to tunnel under the thick prison wall and, later, led an unsuccessful breakout by holding two Atlanta guards at gunpoint, a move that earned him 20 months in solitary, followed by a transfer to Alcatraz. Paroled in his 50s, Gardner committed suicide after a movie based on his life failed at the box office.

Al Capone's business card reputedly identified him as a used-furniture dealer. But, although he was never convicted of racketeering or rapped for the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, the Chicago mob boss known as "Public Enemy No. 1" was eventually nailed by G-man Eliot Ness on 22 counts of tax evasion.

Landing in Atlanta in 1932, Capone soon became top dog, bribing guards to run errands and manipulating the warden for special privileges. Two years later, federal authorities fed up with the mobster's cushy arrangement shipped off him to Alcatraz. Released in 1939, Capone spent his remaining years suffering from advanced syphilis.

Capone was only one of many gangsters to spend time in the Big A. Irish-American hoodlum James "Whitey" Bulger served three years here in the mid-'50s for armed robbery and hijacking before returning to Boston to take charge of a crime ring that controlled much of the narcotics trade throughout New England. A fugitive since 1994, Bulger is widely thought to have been the inspiration for the mob boss portrayed by Jack Nicholson in The Departed.

Old-school Mafia Don Vito Genovese ended up in Atlanta for heroin dealing not long after he had finished bumping off rivals to secure his place as boss of the country's pre-eminent crime family. Reportedly, he continued to run the family business from behind bars until his death in 1969.

After the fabled French Connection narcotics ring had been broken up in the late '60s, Vincent Papa, a major New York drug runner, organized one of the most brazen series of thefts in that city's history. Over the course of three years, more than 250 pounds of seized heroin was stolen from the NYPD property room and replaced with baking flour. The switch was only discovered when police noticed the powder was being eaten by small beetles.

Although Papa was convicted for the scheme and sent to Atlanta in 1972, authorities never solved the question of how he managed to get the drugs out of the heavily guarded room. Five years later, Papa took his secret to the grave when he was stabbed to death by inmates reputedly hired by Lucchese family mobsters who'd heard the rumor – spread by then-prosecutor Rudolph Giuliani – that he was talking to the feds.

In 1957, Atlanta became home to Rudolph Abel, a Soviet superspy whose real name was Vilyam Fischer. After supervising Moscow's entire U.S. espionage network for decades, Abel was finally caught when the FBI found one of the hollow nickels he used to hide microfilm. He was returned to the Motherland in a secret 1962 swap with downed U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers.

Gifted con man Frank Abagnale had already successfully impersonated an airline pilot, a pediatrician and an attorney when, at the ripe age of 23, he was sent to Atlanta in 1971. He didn't stay long. Abagnale reportedly walked out the front gate by pretending to be an undercover prison inspector. Later recaptured, he served less than five years in prison and now runs a thriving consulting firm specializing in fraud prevention.

During his 1970s heyday, Atlanta's own "Scarface of Porn," Mike Thevis, owned more than 500 adult bookstores, controlled distribution of 40 percent of the country's pornography and was raking in $100 million a year. Thevis was convicted of burning down a competitor's business in 1978, and he escaped from jail to shotgun the former associate (and a bystander) who'd ratted him out. Thevis was recaptured and briefly held in the Atlanta Pen before being sent off to a federal prison in Minnesota to serve a life sentence.

Another notable Atlantan to pass through the Big A was Fred Tokars, a former prosecutor and magistrate judge who had his wife killed in 1992 rather than pay a divorce settlement. Hit man Curtis Rower kidnapped Sara Tokars and her two young sons, then shot her in the back of the head with a sawed-off shotgun as the children watched. Sent away for life, Tokars now suffers from MS in a federal prison infirmary in Florida.

Charles Harrelson, father of Woody Harrelson of "Cheers" fame, was sent to Atlanta for the notorious 1988 murder of a federal judge in Texas. A freelance contract killer, the elder Harrelson is often cited by conspiracy buffs who place him on the Grassy Knoll during JFK's assassination. After a failed escape attempt, he was sent to the Supermax facility in Colorado, where he died in his sleep in March.

The Atlanta Pen's last real celebrity prisoner was ill-starred baseball star Denny McLain.

A two-time winner of the Cy Young Award as a Detroit Tiger and the last major-league pitcher to win 30 games, he finished his career with the Atlanta Braves. Unfortunately, McLain also was a born flimflam man who makes Pete Rose look like the Dalai Lama.

Even as a player, he was suspended for running a bookmaking operation and once cost his team a pennant race when he had his toes broken by a Mob loan shark. Not long after leaving baseball, McLain declared bankruptcy for the second time, fell in with gamblers, and was convicted of racketeering, extortion and cocaine possession.
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On arriving in Atlanta in 1985, the former all-star tipped the scales at 275 pounds and was in such bad shape that when he pitched in a jail-yard baseball game, he had to be relieved after the sixth inning and his team lost 25-5.

McLain was eventually released two-and-a-half years into a 23-year prison sentence when it was proved that several of the jurors who'd convicted him had slept through the trial. But, unable to stay out of trouble, he spent another six years behind bars for looting the pension fund of a company he'd bought, finally getting sprung in 2003.

In his various memoirs, McLain singled out the Big A as the filthiest and most dangerous of the many prisons he'd known, once writing: "After Atlanta, the men's room at a Texaco would look like a hospital operating room."

Thanks to Scott Henry

Mob Fighting Forensic Accountant Earns FBI Promotion

The Target 12 Investigators bring you "Inside the Mafia" revealing a new threat to the New England mob.

An FBI agent who infiltrated a New York crime family and took down their powerful boss has just arrived in Providence. He's agreed to speak exclusively with Target 12 Investigator Tim White.

Jeff Sallet is the newest supervisor for the FBI in Providence. He quickly built a reputation in New York for being a tenacious investigator and for helping take down the city's last true "don".

A legendary bust that crippled the mighty Bonnano crime family. They're the notorious leaders of the five organized crime empires in New York.

Infamous Gambino boss, John Gotti, Colombo family boss Carmine "The Snake" Persico, Genovese leader Vincent "The Chin" Gigante, Luchese boss Vittorio "Little Vic" Amuso, and boss of the Bonnano family Joseph "The Ear" Massino.

By 1997, all but one had been sent to prison. He was the "last don," and somehow, "The Ear" had successfully evaded the sting of law enforcement. Sallet says, "The reason they came up with the name "The Ear" is because he always had his ear to the ground, as Joe always knew what was going on."

In 1999 FBI agent Jeffrey Sallet and his partner Kimberly McCaffrey were assigned to infiltrate Massino's empire in an unconventional way.

The FBI calls them "forensic accountants" -- specially trained to sift through financial records and instantly recognize criminal patterns like "money laundering."

Sallet says, "I think there is nothing people fear more than an accountant with a badge."

The paper chase into Massino's massive finances led investigators down the chain to a low-level mob associate. Sallet not only convinced the mob insider to become an informant, but take on the dangerous assignment of wearing a "wire" around wiseguys.

Sallet says, "Top down our main targets were Joe Massino and Salvator Vitale. But in order to get to the top, we also had to get to the bottom and determine who were the people to get us in."

It took 4 years, but eventually the feds had their case. On January 9th, 2003, a team of federal agents knocked on Massino's door. The charges, among many: Loan-sharking and murder.

Sallet was there and in what he describes as surreal, the mob boss knew him and his partner by their first names.

Tim White asks, "Had you ever met Joe Massino before that moment?"

Sallet: "Never"

White: "So how did he know who you were?"

Sallet: "I think one of the quotes he also said is you do your homework and I do mine."

The case lead the FBI a lot in Brooklyn lot, where they recovered the bodies of three mob soldiers Massino had whacked. The last don is now in prison for life.

Sallet, has moved on, 6 months ago he came to the FBI's Providence office to run the organized crime, violent crime, gang criminal enterprises squad.

After helping take down the last don in New York, it makes sense why Sallet would be here. Sallet says, "The boss of the New England LCN is one of the only bosses, official bosses to be on the street."

Citing FBI policy, Sallet won't identify members of the Patriarca crime family. But law enforcement sources tell Target 12, the boss, is 80 year old Louis "Baby Shacks" Mannochio.

State police Major Steven O'Donnell, a veteran organized crime fighter, says Sallet's knowledge of the New York families will work here.

O'Donnell says, "you read a report about a wiseguy in Rhode Island... Its no different than reading about a wiseguy in New York, its the same type of activity just a different person."

O'Donnell says Sallet meets daily with state and Providence police. And, we've learned Sallet has made contact with the criminal side as well. Sallet won't comment, but mob insiders tell Target 12 he was spotted introducing himself to "Baby Shacks" Mannochio, letting the boss know, he's in town.

Sallet says, "I have been investigating organized crime for ten years, and what I can tell you is I have always treated everybody with the utmost respect."

Sallet's squad not only focuses on bringing down traditional wiseguys, but also with the growing national problem of violent street gangs. Sallet says their "turf wars" are a prime target for the FBI and local police.

Thanks to Tim White

Mafia Influencing Insurgents in Iraq

In northern Iraq, insurgents are using Mafia-style rackets and extortion of legitimate businesses to fund deadly attacks on American and Iraqi forces. U.S. military units say they've uncovered a complex connection between insurgent shakedowns, government corruption and crooked businessmen that together pay for the insurgency in Iraq's largest northern city.

Throughout the war in Iraq, the U.S. military has worked to understand how the insurgency is financed. Two big sources of money are clear: kidnapping rings and smuggled cash. Now commanders in northern Iraq's largest city, Mosul, say they've uncovered a network of Mafia-style rackets.

Schemes include extortion and construction kickbacks that pump hundreds of thousands of dollars a month into the insurgency. And widespread corruption is complicating efforts to shut down those funding streams.

One such scheme involves real estate. A few months ago, a local government official informed one unit in Mosul that insurgents had muscled-in on sales of property, much of it government owned.

Commanders say insurgents threatened bureaucrats into signing phony deeds for homes and land confiscated from former Baath party officials who are now dead, in jail or have fled the country.

Insurgents then would sell the illegally obtained property to private buyers and pocket the money. An Iraqi whistle-blower said insurgents had threatened to kill his predecessor and are now threatening him.

Thanks to Eric Westervelt

Friday, November 16, 2007

Whitey Bulger Makes Leap to The World's Most Wanted

AMERICA’S MOST WANTED becomes “The World’s Most Wanted” in a special broadcast Saturday, Nov. 17 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. Host John Walsh brings television’s top crime-fighting show to London to hunt for international fugitives including Whitey Bulger, the elusive Boston mobster who is on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, and to search for new evidence in the disappearance of 4-year-old Madeleine McCann.

Bulger has been on the run for years, and possible sightings of him have been reported worldwide, most recently in Italy. AMW will reveal exclusive new information about the fugitive from some of the people who knew him best. In their first-ever television interviews, the convicted mob figure who gave Bulger his start in organized crime and Bulger’s former longtime girlfriend offer new insights and information about Bulger that viewers can use to help authorities finally track down this dangerous man. The story will also feature photos of Whitey Bulger that have never before been broadcast.

The episode will also include AMW’s investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, one of the world’s most closely watched missing-child cases. Recently, John Walsh met with Madeleine McCann’s parents to discuss their daughter’s disappearance. AMW correspondent John Turchin continues to cover the story from the tiny beach town of Praia da Luz, Portugal, where the girl vanished. Turchin analyzes the crime scene and breaks down possible scenarios of what may have happened to Madeleine—in an investigation that brings him face-to-face with the first official suspect in the case.

Mob Tied to Altantic City Sports Gambling Ring

An illegal sports gambling ring run out of a high-stakes poker room in an Atlantic City casino was busted Wednesday, authorities said, and 18 people were arrested, including four with mob ties.

Since March 2006, the ring took in $22 million in bets on college and professional football and basketball in the poker room of the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, said New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram.

The off-the-books exchanges of cash and casino chips were unraveled only when an informant told authorities what to look for using the casino's eye-in-the-sky surveillance cameras, Milgram said.

The suspected ringleader of the operation, Andrew Micali, 32, of Ventnor City, New Jersey, is an associate of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, mob boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, according to a New Jersey law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the criminal complaints do not mention any reputed mob ties. Micali was charged with promoting gambling, money laundering and loan-sharking.

Three associates of Micali also were arrested. Vincent Procopio, 41, of Brigantine, New Jersey, was charged with promoting gambling. Anthony Nicodemo, 36, and Michael Lancellotti, both of Philadelphia, were charged with conspiracy to promote gambling.

"They sought to escape detection by enlisting casino employees in their crimes," Milgram said. "I'm pleased to say they greatly underestimated our vigilance and determination to keep organized crime out of Atlantic City casinos."

Twenty-three people in all are charged, and authorities were seeking five on Wednesday. Most were charged with promoting gambling or money laundering.

Unlike Las Vegas, Nevada, Atlantic City has no legal sports book.

Authorities said the Borgata cooperated with the investigation and let investigators use casino surveillance video. Borgata spokesman Rob Stillwell said the ring involved "rogue employees." No one was arrested on the casino floor, and the integrity of the casino's operations was never compromised, he said. The casino employees charged included poker room supervisors, dealers and a bartender.

The state Casino Control Commission was expected to punish the casino workers, commission spokesman Daniel Heneghan said.

The four men with alleged mob ties, along with Borgata supervisor Joseph Wishnick, 42, of Brigantine, were taken into custody Wednesday. Bail was set at $100,000 for Micali and $50,000 for the others. Wishnick was in custody Wednesday at the Atlantic County Jail. It was not immediately clear whether the others had posted bail or were waiting to be processed at the jail. None could be reached for comment by The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The state Attorney General's Office said lawyers had not come forward for any of the 23 suspects.

If the charges are proven, the case would be among the most serious mob incursions into the Atlantic City casino industry since the first casino opened in 1978.

Milgram said authorities followed the money in the case from the casino to so-called "wire rooms" in Philadelphia. The wire rooms were used to tally the bets and calculate winnings and payouts for the ring.

The ring was publicized mainly by word of mouth among illegal gamblers, who were advised whom to see in the poker room to place their bets.

Authorities said the ring engaged in "massive money laundering" facilitated by casino employees who would not record certain exchanges of cash and gambling chips. This is a common method of money laundering at casinos called "chip washing," Milgram said.

"It involves taking cash, turning it into chips, 'washing' the chips by betting and then turning them in, and taking cash out," she said.

Losing bettors were forced to take out loans from the ring at more than 50 percent interest to cover their losses, authorities said.

In their search Wednesday, authorities seized more than $40,000 worth of cash and Borgata chips from a safe deposit box Micali maintained at the casino. The state also obtained a court warrant freezing Micali's bank account with more than $200,000 in it.

Fear of organized crime led New Jersey to institute tight controls when legal gambling began, but regulations have been loosened over the years.

The anxieties were expressed in a now-famous speech by then-Gov. Brendan T. Byrne when he signed the law authorizing casinos on June 2, 1977: "I've said it before and I will repeat it again to organized crime: Keep your filthy hands off Atlantic City. Keep the hell out of our state!"

This is the second high-profile sports betting charge in New Jersey in the past two years. In 2006, a state trooper, NHL hockey coach Rick Tocchet and a third man were charged with running a sports gambling ring. All later pleaded guilty.

Thanks to CNN

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wiseguy Widow Fingers Crime Boss

The widow of wiseguy William (Wild Bill) Cutolo did Tuesday what prosecutors wanted her to do - she placed Colombo crime boss Alphonse Persico at the center of the crime.

Then things started unraveling for Marguerite (Peggy) Cutolo when defense lawyers suggested her husband was still alive and that she had stashed away up to $2.7 million in loanshark profits.

"I'm not lying," a visibly upset Cutolo said in Federal Court in Central Islip, L.I. "I've been distressed and depressed for eight years because I don't know where my husband was. My husband would have never run away."

She left witness protection to testify against (Allie Boy) Persico and former underboss John (Jackie) DeRoss, who are charged with her husband's murder - and whose first trial ended in a mistrial. Prosecutors say the gangsters orchestrated the murder because they believed Wild Bill was trying to take over the Colombo family.

Under questioning from prosecutors, Peggy Cutolo insisted her husband kept nothing from her. On the day he vanished, she said, "I knew he was meeting Allie Boy."

She said Cutolo's meeting with Persico in Bay Ridge on May 26, 1999, was unusual because on Wednesdays he usually visited his union office in Manhattan, got his weekly haircut at Bruno's in Bensonhurst, and dined with his crew at the Friendly Bocce Club in Brooklyn.

Cutolo was DeRoss' best man at his wedding. After he disappeared, DeRoss was more concerned about finding the piles of cash Cutolo stashed in their Staten Island mansion than finding her husband, the widow testified.

Peggy Cutolo admitted she hid $1.65 million in an air conditioning vent and moved it when the AC went on the fritz and the repairman - DeRoss' nephew - came to fix it. She said she took the money with her when she went into witness protection in February 2001. "My husband told me, 'If anything happened to me, you give them nothing,'" she testified.

When DeRoss' lawyer, Robert LaRusso, produced ledgers indicating Cutolo had $2.7 million at the time of his disappearance, the flustered widow explained her husband kept two sets of books - one for Colombo money, one for his money. "I just know what I counted," she said.

Asked what happened to the cash, Peggy Cutolo said, "The government let me have the money. I had to take care of the kids."

Thanks to John Marzulli and Corky Siemaszko

Two Men Accused in Mob Killing

Prosecutors opened their murder case yesterday against two men accused of hiring assassins to kill an associate of the Genovese crime family in 1994.

The defendants, Carmine Polito and Mario Fortunato, had been found guilty of similar charges in federal court, but that conviction was overturned. A federal appeals court ruled that prosecutors had failed to prove the men had committed the crime to increase their underworld status. In June, a state appeals court ruled that the men could stand trial again in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn. Two of the confessed assassins are expected to testify, but the star witness is a man who was also shot in the attack. That witness, Michael D’Urso, has confessed to his own violent and diverse range of crimes, committed before he became a government informer.

Thanks to Michael Brick., Inc.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mobsters at the Apalachin Mob Meeting

The Apalachin Meeting was a historic summit of the American mafia held on November 14, 1957 at the home of mobster Joseph "Joe the Barber" Barbara in Apalachin, New York.

It was attended by roughly 100 mafia crime bosses from the United States, Canada and Italy. Expensive cars with license plates from around the country aroused the curiosity of the local and state law enforcement, who raided the meeting, causing mafiosi to flee into the woods and the surrounding area of the Apalachin estate.

The direct and most significant outcome of the Apalachin meeting was that it helped to confirm the existence of a National Crime Syndicate, which some - including J. Edgar Hoover, head of the Federal Bureau of Investigations - had long refused to acknowledge.

Mob Members at Apalachin

1. Dominick Alaimo: Member of the Barbara family.

2. Joseph Barbara: Boss of his own family. Presently called the Bufalino family.

3. Joseph Bonanno: Boss of his own New York family; deposed in 1964.

4. John Bonventre: Uncle of Bonanno, former underboss to Bonanno. Had retired to Italy prior to Apalachin and probably couldn't resist meeting old friends.

5. Russell Bufalino: Underboss to Barbara. Became head of the Bufalino family when Barbara died in 1959. A suspect in the Jimmy Hoffa disappearance in 1975. Bufalino controlled organized crime in the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre area and upstate New York, including Utica. He died in 1994.

6. Ignatius Cannone: Member of the Barbara family.

7. Roy Carlisi: Member of the Magaddino family from Buffalo.

8. Paul Castellano: Capo in the Gambino family. Took over as boss when Gambino died in 1976. Whacked by John Gotti in 1985.

9. Gerardo Catena: Underboss to Vito Genovese. Later helped run the family when Genovese went to prison.

10. Charles Chivi: Member of the Genovese family.

11. Joseph Civello: Boss of Dallas family.

12. James Colletti: Boss of the Colorado family. Partner of Joe Bonanno in the cheese business.

13. Frank Cucchiara: Member of the New England family. Most commonly called the Patriarca family.

14. Dominick D'Agostino: Member of the Magaddino family.

15. John DeMarco: Capo or perhaps underboss in the Cleveland family then run by John Scalish.

16. Frank DeSimmone: Boss of the Los Angeles family; he was a lawyer.

17. Natale Evola: Capo in the Bonanno family; later became boss of the family circa 1970.

18. Joseph Falcone: Member of Barbara or Magaddino family.

19. Salvatore Falcone: Member of Barbara or Magaddino family.

20. Carlo Gambino: Had just ascended to the head of the Gambino family after Albert Anastasia was whacked in October 1957.

21. Michael Genovese: Believed to be underboss of the Pittsburgh family.

22. Vito Genovese: Had just recently ascended to the head of the Genovese family after previous boss, Frank Costello, was wounded in a murder attempt and then retired.

23. Anthony Guarnieri: Capo in the Barbara family.

24. Bartolo Guccia: Believed to be member of the Barbara family or an associate of the family.

25. Joseph Ida: Boss of Philadelphia. He retired shortly after Apalachin.

26. James LaDuca: Capo in the Magaddino family; related by marriage to Magaddino.

27. Samuel Laguttuta: Member of the Magaddino family.

28. Louis Larasso: Capo in the New Jersey family then led by Phil Amari. Became underboss to Nick Delmore when he took over for Amari in 1957. He was whacked in the 1990s.

29. Carmine Lombardozzi: Capo in the Gambino family.

30. Antonio Magaddino: Capo in the Magaddino family and brother of boss Stefano Magaddino.

31. Joseph Magliocco: Underboss of the Joseph Profaci family, which is now the Colombo family.

32. Frank Majuri: Underboss in the New Jersey family of Phil Amari. Slid down to capo when Amari retired later in 1957 and was replaced by Nick Delmore. Bumped up later to underboss in the regime of Sam DeCavalcante in the 60s after Delmore died.

33. Rosario Mancuso: Member of Barbara or Magaddino family.

34. Gabriel Mannarino: Capo in the Barbara family.

35. Michael Miranda: Capo in the Genovese family.

36. Patsy Monachino: Member of the Barbara or Magaddino family.

37. Sam Monachino: Member of Barbara or Magaddino family.

38. John Montana: Underboss in the Magaddino family, demoted after Apalachin.

39. Dominick Olivetto: May have been a member of the New Jersey family.

40. John Ormento: Capo in the Luchese family. Not too long after Apalachin, he got yet another narcotics conviction and spent the rest of his life in prison.

41. James Osticco: Capo in the Barbara family.

42. Joseph Profaci: Longtime boss of his own family until his death in 1962. Family is now called the Colombo family.

43. Vincent Rao: Consigliere (counselor) in the Luchese family.

44. Armand Rava: Member of the Gambino family. Was whacked not long after Apalachin because he was an ally of the slain Albert Anastasia.

45. Joseph Riccobono: Consigliere in the Gambino family.

46. Anthony Riela: Capo in the Bonanno family.

47. Joseph Rosato: Member of the Gambino family.

48. Louis Santos (Santos Trafficante): Boss of the Tampa family.

49. John Scalish: Boss of the Cleveland family.

50. Angelo Sciandra: Capo in the Barbara family.

51. Patsy Sciortino: Member of Barbara or Magaddino family.

52. Simone Scozzari: Underboss in the L.A. family.

53. Salvatore Tornabe: Member of the Profaci (now Colombo) family; died Dec. 30, 1957.

54. Patsy Turrigiano: Member of Barbara or Magaddino family.

55. Costenze Valente: Probable member of the Buffalo family. The debate is whether Rochester was an independent family or simply a part of the larger Buffalo family.

56. Frank Valente: Probable member of the Buffalo family.

57. Emanuel Zicari: Member of the Barbara family.

58. Frank Zito: Boss of the Springfield, Illinois family.

59. Joe Barbara Jr. Was not at the meeting, although he was probably going to be. He arrived from the family bottling works after the troopers were set up and is not listed as an attendee.

60. Stefano Magaddino: Some clothes of the Buffalo boss were found in a car stashed in a barn at Barbara's home a day or two after Nov. 14, 1957.

61. Joe Zerilli: Detroit boss used his license to rent a car in Binghamton shortly after the fiasco.

62. John LaRocca: Pittsburgh boss was registered at an area motel but was never caught.

63. James Lanza: Like LaRocca, the San Francisco boss was registered at a local motel but never caught.

64. Nick Civella, the Kansas City boss and soldier J. Filardo were tentatively identified as the two men who called a cab from a local business.

65. Neil Migliore: A soldier in the Luchese family, Migliore allegedly was involved in a traffic accident in Binghamton the day after the fiasco. The speculation was that he came to pick up Tommy Luchese.

66. Tommy Luchese: Boss of his own family. He was never caught, though logic says he would have attended.

67. Carmine Galante: One of Barbara's housekeepers, tentatively identified as Bonanno's new underboss, was one of several men still at Barbara's a day after the Apalachin fiasco.

Many other mob powers, including the Chicago delegation, were on their way to Barbara's and lucked out by arriving late and were able to avoid the fiasco.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Full American Gangster Trailer

American Gangster is a 2007 crime film written by Steve Zaillian and directed by Ridley Scott. The film stars Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. Washington portrays Frank Lucas, a real-life heroin kingpin from Manhattan who smuggled the drug into the country in the coffins of American soldiers returning from the Vietnam War. Crowe portrays Richie Roberts, a detective who brings down Lucas's drug empire.

Spotlight on American Gangster

Frank Lucas, at 77 years old and wheelchair-bound, still has a small gang doting on him.

Sons, publicists and friends swirl around Lucas in nearly perpetual commotion, fetching him everything from pills to a cooling fan. A recent visitor is directed kindly -- though in no uncertain terms -- in and out of the room. There's still plenty of power left in Lucas's presence, even though his days as a Harlem drug lord are decades past, his millions long ago seized by the government.

Lucas is again in the spotlight because of "American Gangster," the Ridley Scott-directed film in which Denzel Washington portrays Lucas. A special as part of BET's "American Gangster" series also recently profiled him.

"If you can find one better than Denzel Washington, I want you to tell me," says Lucas, in a halting drawl similar to bluesman John Lee Hooker's. "What's their name? What's their name?" Video Watch Washington and Russell Crowe discuss the film »

Lucas's story is unbelievable even by Hollywood standards. After a childhood in North Carolina, he moved to New York, eventually becoming the driver for and pupil of Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson, a powerful Harlem gangster., Inc.
After Johnson's death, Lucas, who went by the nickname "Superfly," took over his heroin dealing business, but made one audacious change: He established his own drug connection, cutting out the middleman and landing huge amounts of nearly pure heroin. Sold on the street as "Blue Magic," it netted him an incredible profit -- up to $1 million in revenue a day, Lucas claims.

He managed this by buying his dope in the jungles of Vietnam, tipped off by U.S. soldiers then fighting in the war. To get the drugs back to the States, Lucas established the infamous "cadaver connection," hiding the heroin in the caskets of dead soldiers.

Judge Sterling Johnson Jr. of the Federal District Court in Brooklyn, who prosecuted Lucas and played a major role in bringing him down, once called the operation "one of the most outrageous dope-smuggling gangs ever."

Lucas wasn't the only arrogant gangster in New York then. His rival, Leroy "Nicky" Barnes (played by Cuba Gooding Jr. in the film) appeared on the cover of The New York Times Magazine in an article titled "Mr. Untouchable" -- which prompted President Jimmy Carter to pressure for a crackdown.

In "American Gangster," Lucas is depicted to a certain degree as an entrepreneur who broke through the racial barriers of traditional organized crime. "That had nothing to do with it," says Lucas, who also sold his drugs to Italian mob families. "I saw an opening, a soft spot -- the soft part of the belly -- and I took advantage of it."

After Lucas was arrested in 1975, his sentences in New York and New Jersey added up to 70 years in prison and he quickly turned into a government informant, most notably against the then-corrupt Special Investigations Unit of the NYPD.

Out of 70 SIU officers, 52 were eventually either jailed or indicted. Lucas claims he only informed on corrupt police officers. He insists: "The only people I every ever informed on were them ... cops who took my money."

But prosecutors involved in the case have contradicted that. Richard "Richie" Roberts, who prosecuted the superseding indictment in New Jersey, says plainly: "Absolutely not. He gets mad every time I tell the truth."

Lucas's sentence was reduced to five years after his informant work. Once released, Lucas was quickly arrested again for drug dealing, but on a much smaller scale. He served seven more years and, when he got out of jail in 1991, Roberts came to his aid ("I couldn't buy a pack of cigarettes," says Lucas).

Today, they are good friends. Roberts is Lucas's defense attorney and the godfather to his 11-year-old son, Ray, whose education Roberts has paid for. "We've had our ups and downs over the years," says Roberts, speaking from his New Jersey law office. "The charm that Denzel exhibited in the movie was the way Frank was. Frank would probably shoot you and make you feel pretty good as you were dying."

Russell Crowe plays Roberts in the film, though the character is a composite of the many detectives and prosecutors who arrested and tried Lucas. Lucas for a moment hesitates to speak ill of his friend, but the inflated screen persona given to Roberts riles him.

"Richie Roberts and his crack crew couldn't catch a ... bad cold in Alaska in the wintertime," he says with undimmed competitiveness. "They were the bad-news cops."

It was originally Nicholas Pileggi (who wrote "Wiseguys," the book "Goodfellas" was based on) who brought attention to Lucas' story. He introduced Lucas to writer Mark Jacobson, whose 2000 New York Magazine article was the basis for "American Gangster."

Lucas, Roberts, Pileggi and Jacobson flew to L.A. together to meet with producer Brian Grazer, who Pileggi says, snapping his fingers, "bought it right in the room."

The stars of "American Gangster" and its writer, Steve Zaillian, consulted heavily with Lucas and Roberts. Lucas was present almost daily on the Harlem film set, lending Washington frequent advice on details like how he taped his gun.

On the BET special, Washington said about Lucas: "He'll have you working for him by the end of the day."

Of the slow pace of film productions, Lucas poetically says: "It was kind of like watching a flower grow in the nighttime." He then adds with phrasing rather alarming coming from a former gangster: "The way they do it is not according to Jim, you know what I mean? I usually am bang, bang, bang -- I'm gone."

Lucas, who lives with his wife and youngest son in Newark, New Jersey, says that the experience couldn't help but rekindle his memories. "You're back in the saaame thing," he says with a laugh. "The girls I knew, some of them came up claiming they got kids by me. Since I started making the movie, I got 10 more sons."

But Lucas says he's repentant. Aside from any murders he himself committed or had carried out, the strength of Lucas's potent heroin killed many young users. "I regret it very much so," he says. "I did some terrible things. I'm awfully sorry that I did them. I really am."

Many of those who lived through the events depicted in "American Gangster" worry the film could glamorize Lucas' drug-dealing days.

Pileggi, also an executive producer on the film, says he hopes "American Gangster" above all makes clear "that you're going to get caught, even if you're as clever and try to be as laid-back as (Lucas)."

"He can never redeem what he did, he can never bring those kids back or clean up the schoolyards, but there is rebirth or redemption in realizing what you did was bad," says Pileggi.

Lucas now touts a charity founded by his daughter, Francine Lucas-Sinclair, that seeks to raise money for the children of incarcerated parents (

"I always keep my eye on the prize," says Lucas. "The film, in three or four months, it'll be gone -- but I'll still be here. And I gotta keep the fire burning., Inc.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Writing and Planning a Crime Novel

Writing and Planning a Crime Novel
Bestselling author Elizabeth George talks about the writing process, character development, and creating a successful series in this behind the scenes look at crafting her new book, What Came Before He Shot Her. George also reads a sample excerpt.


Fedzheimer's -- the terrible malady that saps the memories of politicians when the feds begin snooping around -- claimed another victim on Thursday:

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.

I think he needs a nice Marco Island vacation -- Tommy D. style.

"I've never heard of that," the mayor said when asked by reporters about a front page Tribune exclusive that the FBI was investigating allegations that city inspectors were used to pressure property owners in Daley's 11th Ward to sell their land to politically connected developers.

Reporters: Are you aware of the investigation?

"No," Daley said.

It's not the first time he's been pixilated by Fedzheimer's. He usually recovers, until some underling gets indicted, then it flares up again. But this case seems especially severe.

The Daley family runs the 11th Ward. If inspectors were used to muscle local property for his friends, you could bet the inspectors pensions' the Daleys would know.

One of the developers reportedly involved is his loyal political supporter, and second favorite developer, Thomas DiPiazza. Tommy D., as he's known on Rush Street, is no chumbolone -- Bridgeport slang for idiot or fool.

No chumbolone could buy a polluted lot for $50,000 and sell it to Daley's administration a few years later for $1.2 million.

Tommy D. is a friend and business associate of Daley's top political brain, Tim Degnan. And, as I reported a few weeks ago, Tommy D. was also in business with a top convicted Outfit bookie from the 11th Ward, Raymond John Tominello, known as Rayjo.

Tommy D. is also close to Fred Bruno Barbara, the renowned trucking boss and mayoral fashionista. They own the pricey real estate under the famous Tavern on Rush, in the city's Viagra Triangle. But the mayor wasn't asked about Tavern on Rush. He was asked about Thursday's Tribune story by reporters Laurie Cohen and Todd Lighty.

"I've never heard of that at all," said the mayor.

Fedzheimer's is heartbreaking. If the FBI keeps asking questions about DiPiazza, Degnan, and the alleged use of city inspectors to threaten property owners on deals backed by Tommy D. and Degnan, the Fedzheimer's might increase.

Daley might forget he's the mayor. And Tim Degnan might forget how to count.

So, as an amateur psychiatrist, I'd like to write a prescription. Let the FBI do its work, establishing what could someday turn into a racketeering case against somebody, and I'll prescribe a remedy for Daley and Degnan.

Degnan should go on a golf vacation, say to Ireland, and take the mayor's brother Michael and the mayor's former law partner and zoning lawyer Jack George along, to relax while smashing a little white ball.

I'll send the mayor to take the Tommy D. cure, in Florida, at Tommy D.'s gorgeous penthouses on Marco Island.

According to Florida real estate records, DiPiazza spent $5 million to purchase Penthouse 201 at the lush Madeira on Marco Island development on Sept. 18, 2006. That same day, Fred Bruno Barbara purchased Penthouse 202 at Madeira, for $5.5 million. Barbara didn't take any loans to buy the property, at least none leveraged against the penthouse. The penthouses were estimated between 7,000 and 9,000 square feet.

Also on Sept. 18, 2006, another DiPiazza/Barbara buddy and 11th Warder, city worker Charles Scalfaro, purchased Unit 1504 at Madeira, for $1.9 million. Scalfaro makes around $60,000 a year overseeing paving for the city's Department of Transportation. Collier County real estate records show that no loans were taken out to purchase Scalfaro's condo. Living on about $60,000 a year, no loan, Scalfaro must be a good saver.

One month later, the records show that Barbara and Scalfaro sold their Marco properties to a Tommy D. company. The records don't show how much was paid. A few days later, Tommy D. leveraged them, and another home he owned, for a $6.6 million loan from Cole Taylor Bank, records show.

It sure seems to be prudent investing. But, if the FBI wants to poke around in Florida, hey, it's a free country. I hope they take some sunscreen.

Marco Island is a nice place. My parents bought a retirement home there years ago, back when I covered City Hall and the mayor liked me. In those days, he was under stress, too, telling us how he was reforming the city, and I became worried for him. So I offered him the use of my folks' place, with a boat and pool, so he could rest.

Take the boat out, fish, catch some snook, drink beer, relax, I said. I wasn't taking. I was giving, to a reformer. He thought about it for a few days then politely declined. A few years later, my dad died and it was sold.

Today, any amateur shrink can see the Fedzheimer's gripping the mayor. He can't remember. He doesn't know.

Some quality time with Tommy D., and Freddie B., on Marco Island, reflecting on life's many mysteries might be just the thing.

Thanks to John Kass

America's Most Wanted: Featuring the Case of Stacy Peterson

America's Most WantedEdwin Pena: Police say Edwin Pena was the mastermind behind a computer hacking operation in which he stole almost $1 million without ever leaving his palatial Florida estate, without remorse or the fear of detection. They say he bought mansions, sports cars and a yacht, cavorted with beautiful women, and flaunted the cash he stole. More often than not, they say his victims -- companies that provide VOIP services -- had no idea they had been taken until it was all over. To help catch Pena, we’ve brought in Kevin Mitnick, a man police say is one of the world’s most notorious hackers. Tomorrow, Kevin is joining us in the office.

Henry Calucag: New Details: For nearly twenty years, cops say Henry Jacinto Calucag has been committing major white collar crimes in the island paradise of Hawaii . After his arrest on multiple theft and fraud charges involving a murdered business associate and his property, Calucag sat expressionless as the jury handed down guilty verdicts on eight of the nine charges against him in June. However, his luck finally ran out in September of 2007 when he was sentenced to 30 years in prison with a 10 year mandatory minimum prison term.

Stacy After a second search of the home of Drew and Stacy Peterson on Tuesday night, Sgt. Drew Peterson was questioned Wednesday before a Will County, Ill. grand jury. The jury proceedings remain secret and no one knows if the questioning was directed at the recent disappearance of Sgt. Peterson's fourth wife or the unusual death of his third. Also on Wednesday, Will County Coroner Patrick O'Neil announced that he thought third wife Kathleen Savio's death should have been ruled "undetermined" and not "accidental." This, on the same day that AMW revealed documents about years of alleged abuse that Kathleen suffered at the hands of Drew Peterson. Meanwhile, more than 70 people showed up to volunteer with Texas-based Equusearch as they searched the woods near the Peterson home for a second day in a row. Stacy Peterson, the 23-year-old fourth wife of longtime Bolingbrook police officer Sgt. Drew Peterson, 53, has been missing since Sunday, October 28. She is the mother of two young children and the adoptive mother of two of Drew Peterson's other sons.

Hawaii Serial Killer: TROUBLE IN PARADISE: Cops say that the similarities in the brutal attacks of three Kauai women, which ultimately resulted in two murders, are astonishing. In every case, they were white, between 5'0" and 5'2" tall, and each woman weighed about 100 lbs. The women were in their late-30's to mid-40's, and all the victims lived similar Bohemian lives near the beach. Police in the island paradise of Hawaii have searched for a possible serial killer for years, and now hope that AMW viewers can help bring these tragic cases to a close.

Fairmount Park Rapist: After four years of silence, DNA evidence confirms that the Fairmont Park Rapist has struck again. Cops in Philadelphia have linked an August 11 attack to several others, including one that resulted in the death of a 21-year-old woman. Check out My Fox Philadelphia for continuing coverage and stay with for the latest in this case.

Donna Paradis: U.S. Marshals in Maine are searching for a 38-year-old pregnant mother of two who was last seen on October 23, 2007. Police say Donna Paradis was last seen at a local bank, but no one has heard from her since.

Mark Wahlberg to Play Max Payne of the Punchinello Mafia Family

Mark Wahlberg has been cast as Max Paynein a big screen adaptation of the popular Rockstar video game series. The Omen director John Moore (Behind Enemy Lines,Flight of the Phoenix)will helm the adaptation (screenplay by newcomer Beau Thorne) which will begin filming early next year. Wahlberg is currently filming Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones, and is also scheduled to Darren Aronofsky’s The Fighter in late 2008.

Wahlberg will play Max Payne, a former NYPD Detective with internal and external conflicts in a dark, sinister New York City. Three years after the murder of his newborn daughter and wife by a group of junkies, Max is now undercover agent in the DEA and embedded in the Punchinello Mafia family. I could easily hear producers calling this project “Sin City meets The Matrix” while pitching this to movie studios, although no one has described the film as such. Although, It seems perfectly logical to adopt a Sin City type style for this project.

Max Payne 2 The 2001 self-titled third-person shooter noir crime thriller video game followed up with a sequel, Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, in 2003. Inspired by the Hong Kong action movie genre (particularly the work of director John Woo), the game featured slow-motion violence and gunfights. Many gamers have drawn comparisons to The Matrix, although Max Payne went into development before The Wachowski Brothers went into production (however, the game came out two years after The Matrix, and the developers decided to call the slow motion effect “bullet time”). The game is also notable for doing away with cutscenes, instead opting to tell the story through “graphic novel” sequences.

What seems strange about this casting announcement, as my friend Alex at FirstShowing points out, is that Wahlberg has been very vocal saying that he won’t join a film that doesn’t have an incredible script. The creative talent involved in this project is less than to be desired. So it makes me wonder if there is a great screenplay behind this project.

Thanks to Peter Sciretta

Brief History of the Mafia

Half the guys I know can't remember anything that happened before lunch, and worse, they have no idea about their roots. They think that anyone over 50 is a dinosaur and lived in a different world. It was a different world for the older generation, but the rules of the game haven't changed much. Anyone who wants to take charge needs to understand the history of the mafia; otherwise he'll end up making the same mistakes and looking like twice the stronzo for his ignorance.

Wise guys didn't just spring out of the earth. Guys who practice the trade today are only the latest of a long tradition, and they offer the same primary service that the first guys did back in the middle ages: Protection from the real criminals -- the government. The men who started this racket didn't open up a strip club and kick their feet up. They were regular Sicilians who saw their country falling into disarray and decided that they weren't going to allow that to happen without having something to say about it.

Roots in Palermo and SicilyCharles Tyrwhitt
Sicily and Palermo became the cradle of the Mafia. They were outlaws then as much as they are today, but in Palermo their means of making money differed from modern times. Rather than run drugs or guns, they borrowed other people's cattle and stood guard over property -- unglamorous property, like lemon orchards. Not exactly the bling we think of in 2007. The point of it all was to help the weak persevere over the strong, to form a group that had greater loyalty than that of the godless state that threatened the little man and even the wealthy.

In the 1700s, the Sicilian Mafia delivered images of a "Black Hand" to families, which might be thought of as an invoice for continued protection. Households that received the Black Hand either had to pay a tax for continued protection against invaders or they themselves became enemies of the Mafia.

Ranks and religion
In Italy they invented the rules, the initiation rights and the methods of doing business that still work today. They knew how to toe the line and follow the orders of their bosses. The Cosa Nostra has maintained its ranks for several hundred years, but it wasn't until the 19th century that they became a force within greater Italy and the United States.

They kept their religion close to them as well. The Sicilians in particular remained more faithful to the Pope, rejecting the new order of Italy, the government power that put the church in a secondary role. Because the nation posed a threat to the common people, the early Mafia turned their focus to the church as their common bond and rallying point.

Working in the cracks
The weaknesses and failures of the powers-that-be always provide cracks for motivated men to score some dough. After the formation of Italy, the outlaws quickly became organized and started staking out territory. The corruption in the Italian government officials aided the Mafia in getting a foothold in power, since bribes and threats managed to turn the loyalty of many lowly-paid bureaucrats away from their state job. Compared to wise guys in the United States, the Italian Mafia took a more active approach to changing government to work in their favor -- and they still do this today, always jumping into the cleavage of the government to get a handful.

Expanding the business
Hard times can lead to new opportunities. The Italian-American immigrants saw great opportunity in the new world for making money, particularly through prostitution, gambling and alcohol. The Mafia set up shop in every American city and started plying the trade of the old world.

One man in particular made the Mafia in the United States what it is today. Lucky Luciano is at the root of the history of the Mafia, as he murdered his way to the top of the organization and owned New York for most of his life. He was the “king pimp” of the city and ruled the Mafia during the era of prohibition -- a virtual gift from the U.S. government that allowed guys like Luciano and Al Capone to become extremely wealthy. This was the golden era of the Mafia in the United States, with all of the kingpins at play. There was Dutch Schultz, a Bronx bootlegger who later set up shop in New Jersey; Bugsy Siegel, a hit man who became one of the founders of Las Vegas; Meyer Lansky, a businessman who set up gambling operations all over the world long before globalization was even a word; and, of course, Al Capone, who whacked his way to the top and then ran Chicago's extremely profitable bootlegging business.

Working with the enemy
In desperate times, even the boss has to bend his rules. But a good boss will only do it when there is an incentive for the organization beneath him. The Cosa Nostra quieted during the period leading up to World War II. However, during the war they provided assistance to the United States and the Allies, since Lucky Luciano struck a deal with the U.S. Navy, such that he would give the Allies intelligence about Sicily and Italy if he could avoid going to prison. The Italian mob ran the ports and hated Mussolini, so Luciano's deal was music to both sides.

Re-organize after a war
Luciano came to be known as the "Boss of Bosses," not only because he put the fear of God into people but also for the way he managed the system. After the bloody Castellammarese War, a mob turf fight, Luciano called the five families of New York together to look at ways to keep their squabbles out of the media. He invented The Commission, which was a gathering of leaders of the families. This coordination of the families made the whole stronger.

After World War II, the Mafia in Italy returned to its previous state -- rather than running from Mussolini, they were running businesses. A new commodity became a moneymaker for the Cosa Nostra in the U.S.: Drugs, particularly heroin, made their way to the States via ships from Turkey, Vietnam and other places where the poppies grew.

In the years since, the families have risen and fallen in New York. The most recent one to make waves was the “Teflon Don,” John Gotti, a guy who the Feds could never nail with a crime. Over the course of his time as boss of the Gambino family, he was accused of not paying taxes, murder, racketeering, obstructing justice, loan sharking, illegal gambling, and more loan sharking.

Learning from your past
Along the way, the mob has grown in income and respect, owing to guys who knew when and how to take risks, as well as how to keep their mouths shut. If there is one thing that the government will never have over the Mafia, it's loyalty. This is mainly because when it comes to getting screwed, the beat cop is always over a barrel by both sides. A regular Joe six-pack cop will take a pass on going head-to-head with wise guys since he usually has a family at home that he wants to live another day for. The Mafia doesn't want to run the country, but they are always ready to make sure the owners of the country always remain afraid of the streets. And that's a brief history of the Mafia.Charles Tyrwhitt

Thanks to Mr. Mafioso.

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