Thursday, January 31, 2008

Cook County State's Attorney Candidate Lobbied for Reputed Mob Associate's Company

Larry Suffredin -- a self-styled reformer running for Cook County state's attorney -- lobbied for a landfill controlled by Fred Bruno Barbara, a businessman once charged with extortion and implicated in the mob bombing of a restaurant, the Sun-Times has learned.

Suffredin, a Cook County commissioner (D-Evanston), has come under attack by rivals for his work as a lobbyist on behalf of casino and drug-company interests. State records show he also lobbied for Kankakee Regional Landfill LLC -- a company tied to Barbara -- in 2005, 2006, and 2007.

"I don't think I've ever met Fred [Barbara] in my life," Suffredin said. "I didn't know he had an interest in it."

Barbara, 59, is a multimillionaire involved in trucking, waste hauling, banking, and other businesses. A friend of Mayor Daley's, Barbara at one time got more than 60 percent of his garbage-hauling business from city contracts. He has also been a consultant to the city's much-criticized blue bag recycling program. He has been arrested five times, including a 1982 arrest for extortion in an FBI sting. Barbara was acquitted in that case -- and has never been convicted of any crime.

During the Family Secrets mob trial last year, Outfit hit man Nicholas Calabrese said Barbara participated in the 1980s bombing of Horwath's Restaurant in Elmwood Park. Barbara is the grandson of Bruno Roti Sr., an organized crime boss, and the nephew of late Ald. Fred Roti, who allegedly represented mob interests on the City Council.

Documents on file with the state list Barbara as Kankakee Regional's manager as far back as May 31, 2006. The company's address is given as 2300 S. Archer Ave., the address of other Barbara businesses. At a hearing held last June, an official from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency identified Barbara as one of three partners in the landfill.

Barbara did not return calls seeking comment.

Kankakee Regional has been trying to build a 240-acre dump in Kankakee since at least 2004. But the project has faced opposition from local groups and from Waste Management, the trash-removal giant that has a competing proposal. Kankakee Regional has been granted a development permit to build infrastructure but not to accept waste, according to IEPA spokeswoman Maggie Carson.

The project has been approved by the Kankakee city council and the Illinois Pollution Control Board, but it is bogged down in litigation and has not opened. In June 2007, Attorney General Lisa Madigan sued Kankakee Regional for illegally dumping construction and demolition debris at the site. That suit and another are pending.

Tom Volini, one of the partners in the project, said the landfill is environmentally sound and the dumping was permitted by the city and under state law. "The issuance of the Illinois EPA permit is the best evidence of the soundness," said Volini, the brother-in-law of former 48th Ward alderman Marion Volini.

Suffredin -- who has made fighting political corruption central to his campaign for state's attorney -- said he "interacted with the Illinois EPA" and dealt with "hydrology issues" on the landfill's behalf.

Suffredin said he has not worked on the project in over a year, and pointed to a public filing made by his law firm, Shefsky & Froelich, stating it withdrew on July 27, 2007.

"Tom Volini is the only person I ever dealt with on this project," Suffredin said.

Suffredin said he was told "there was a falling out with the partners, and Tom was removed as the person in charge," prompting the Shefsky firm to stop representing the landfill. But in its own filing dated Aug. 23, 2007, Kankakee Regional lists both Suffredin and the Shefsky firm as its lobbyists. The company has not yet filed a lobbying disclosure form for 2008, according to the secretary of state's office.

Suffredin is competing in a tight race against five other candidates for the Democratic nomination to succeed state's attorney Dick Devine. The winner in the Feb. 5 primary will face Republican Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica. In a recent TV ad, Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool says of Suffredin, ''On the county board he's a reformer. He'll take on political corruption.''

Suffredin said he saw no problem with representing the Barbara-controlled company. "He's not been a client. He's been an owner of a client that I worked for ... If I had directly represented him, it'd bother me," Suffredin said.

Thanks to Eric Herman and Tim Novak

Black Hound New York - Valentine's Day Collection

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Chicago Outfit Stretches into Rockford

Stuart R. Wahlin has shared with us several articles that he has written that examine the reach of the Chicago Outfit into Rockford along with a current case with organized crime ties.

Chicago's Family Secrets Told in Rockford provides a recap of the Family Secrets Trial and includes information on a case in Rockford in which nine men were sentenced this past summer, between May and June, on federal charges of operating an illegal gambling business in Rockford since the 1980s.

Possible Organized Crime Link to Rockford Shooting investigates the police shooting death of 80-year-old Vaughn “Curly” Fitzgerald as he was apparently trying to foil an armed robbery on his property. It is widely believed a high-stakes “executive” card game was the target of robbers armed with handguns­-not the first such game Fitzgerald has allegedly played. Fitzgerald had gambling charges brought up against him in the past and he had been associated with reputed mafia figures at that time..

Winnebago County State’s Attorney the Office of Illinois Attorney General Fold on Card Game Robbery reveals how citing conflicts of interest, Winnebago County State’s Attorney Phil Nicolosi (R) and the office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) have opted out of prosecuting a case stemming from the incident that led to the death by police shooting of 80-year-old Vaughn “Curly” Fitzgerald. The recusals mean the case will be handled by a special prosecutor. There are also allegations that law enforcement officials may have been in attendance at the card game.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Chicago's FBI Joint Task Force on Gangs Featured on AMW

Dionne Garcia: After several years of hard work, the Chicago FBI's Joint Task Force on Gangs was able to indict 52 people in relation to the manufacture and distribution of PCP on the streets of the Windy City . Of all those indictments, only two people remain on the run. Agents say Dionne Garcia fled after being charged, probably with her common-law husband and their four children.

Chicago's FBI Joint Task Force on Gangs Featured on American's Most WantedJimmy Trindade: "Jimmy T" Trindade was a seasoned sportsman and an avid boater, but he hasn't been seen since leaving the Bahamas for Florida in 2006 at the helm of a 38' speed boat. The boat was found 11 hours after his departure, and his family, his friends, the FBI, and now Immigration and Customs Enforcement are trying to figure out what happened.

Roy Hyatt: Cops say Roy Stephen Hyatt is a convicted sex offender on the run who still has an appetite for children. Police are looking for him on charges of downloading, possessing, and possibly distributing child pornography.

Anthony Harris: Father of five daughters Jesse Brown was murdered on August 25, 2006 in a senseless crime has shocked a community and torn a family apart. Now Anthony "Tone" Harris -- the man cops say is responsible -- is on the run, and police need your help to find him.

Jose Lopez: Jose Orlando Lopez has been deported twice for crimes committed in the U.S., and authorities still can't seem to get rid of him. They say Lopez has so little respect for this country that he raped a stranger on a busy street in New York . Police believe he's running from his latest charges from 2004 to prevent being deported, again.

Special Ops: Coast Guard Feature: The U.S. Coast Guard broke drug interdiction records in 2007, seizing 355,755 pounds of cocaine with a street value of more than $4.7 billion. This week, AMW’s Tom Morris takes you to San Diego , Calif. for an inside look at what makes the Coast Guard so successful.

Joseph Garcia: In the border town of Laredo , Texas , walk a few steps and you could be in an entirely different country. But without going anywhere, Laredo teens face the temptation of crossing into another world: a world in which greed, money, and drugs reign supreme. Cops say a kid named Joseph Allen Garcia fell prey to the lifestyle's allure, and now they hope AMW will help them find him.

Brianna Denison: A man sought for questioning in 19-year-old Brianna Denison's disappearance has been located and cleared of any involvement in the case. Reno authorities say that the man came forward after seeing news reports about the investigation. Meanwhile, the search effort continues as search dogs have failed to find any indication of the missing teen: Reno cops say they were hoping to get a few more areas canvassed before a snowstorm began.

James Malave: Cops in New York and Pennsylvania have been working together to track down alleged killer James Malave. Now, all of their hard work has paid off: thanks to an AMW tipster, Malave is behind bars.

Kenneth Freeman: Accused child rapist Kenneth John Freeman, described by the U.S. Marshals as the 'King of the Child Exploitation Suspects', is now back in the United States, and AMW cameras were the only ones to catch a glimpse of the elusive fugitive. On November 29, 2007, Freeman's third wife, Maleka May Freeman, was sentenced to 6 months home confinement and 240 hours of community service as part of a 3 year term of probation for lying to two different law enforcement agencies on multiple occasions about knowledge of her husband's whereabouts.

Warren Villalta: Warren Villalta is no longer a free man. An AMW tipster led U.S. Marshals to Puerto Rico, where they found Warren Villalta hiding in a town near San Juan . Villalta is now behind bars in New Jersey.

Tatto Parlor Order Hit by Mob for Retaliation

A reputed hit man ordered a Chicago-area tattoo shop closed and its owner hurt because the daughter of a mob boss was tattooed there, court records allege.

The revelation came in the case of alleged mob killer Anthony Calabrese, scheduled to go to trial in February on charges he participated in three suburban robberies, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Friday.

The recent court filings provided another detail about Calabrese's alleged connections to organized crime, the newspaper said.

An informant told investigators Calabrese not only paid street tax to members of the Outfit mob but also did them criminal favors, a court filing said. One was the July 2001 strong-arm robbery of the Metamorphous Tattoo parlor in Lockport, authorities said.

During the robbery, the tattoo parlor owner was beaten, but his hands were not broken, even though that was part of the plan drawn up because of the unnamed boss's underage daughter's tattoo was inked at the parlor, the court papers said.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

James "Whitey" Bulger Audio Recording and Transcript

The Bulger Fugitive Task Force (BFTF), comprised of agents and officers from the FBI, State Police, Department of Corrections, and Prosecutors from the United States Attorney's Office, is making recordings of fugitive James J. Bulger available. Bulger is on the FBI's Top 10 Most Wanted List.

Although these recordings were taken prior to Bulger's fugitive status, it is believed that they depict the unique sound of Bulger's voice and may be recognizable by anyone who may have come in contact with him.

The audio recordings were taken by the FBI during their criminal investigation of Bulger and are being released at this time as the BFTF believes the international exposure of the recordings will be beneficial to the future investigation.

The FBI is offering a $1,000,000 reward for information leading directly to the arrest of James J. Bulger.

Audio Recording of James Bulger: MP3 File

Transcript of Recording:


JB - James Bulger

JB: How you doing? Did he order any sandwiches? If he does, order me one (UI) see him in a little while (UI) did he come back from that thing? Wow. Hmm. Boy the cough medicine was strong. (Whistles) Did he have trouble after he takes this? Little bit, not bad. That stuff its devastating wasn't it? I'm gonna see if my brother, Jackie, wants any, still sick, you know. All right. I'll see you in 15. Bye.

JB: Could I speak to Jack? Thank you. Hi, Jack. Is there any rentals up at that place up across from, umm, Kelly's? Okay. Gonna find out now...I think that's the Ma- Marine Park they call it. Ah, what do they call it, "The Marine Park"? Yeah, is it the Marine Park they call it? Okay. You had one for sale recently? Or is it for sale now? What floor is it on (UI) first floor? They're no good. Yeah...Okay. Is there any others for sale up there, do you know? How, how long would it take you? I mean I asked you about the rentals, you never get back to me. Yeah, call me down the store here (UI) 3, 0, 3, 1. Jack, bye.

JB: (UI) cashing. Jack talking. (UI) Jack. Oh, that's good. Ah, it's not for me, it's for Patty. Uh, huh. How much is she looking for? Mmm, hmm. Mmm, hmm. Yeah. Find out what (UI). Yeah, I know where it is (UI), yeah. Yeah, get me the particulars and everything, Jack. Okay. Thank you. Bye.

JB: How you doing, Jack? Nothing much. What's new with you? A book. Oh. Ah, in that area where you are there, is there anything, any rentals? Would that, ah, Bob would know, wouldn't he? Yeah, would, would you? It's for Patty, you know. One bedroom is be fine. You know. Yeah, bye.

JB: How you doing? Nothing. Okay, Jack. Ah, did you need any cough medicine? Okay, cause I bought some stuff last night. It knocked me for a loop, you know. Okay. All right, Jack. Oh, good. All right I'll catch you later. Okay. Bye.

JB: How you doing? Who is there? Oh. What are you doing? You eating already? Okay, yeah, I'll see you in a little while. All right. Bye.

JB: Check Cashing, Charlie. You coming down? Hey, John, come on down here. I want to talk to you. Yeah, all right. Have you got the money for them checks? Bring it back and give it back to Glen. Yeah, no, this is Jim. All right. Well, well, he'll be here waiting for you. Well, he'll explain it to you when you get here. But give him the check or the money back, he'll give you the check. All right. Bye.

JB: Hello. Hello. Tammy is not here. There is no Tammy at this phone number. What number you calling?

JB: Hello. Check cashing. Yes, could you tell me what the, his hours are, please? The off- office in Quincy. Oh, okay, on, on a Tuesday, to- like today what hours? Oh, okay, all right. Wednesday. Okay. Thank you very much. Bye.

JB: Hello, ah, in Cohasset is he, what is his hours down there today? O-okay on Tuesday afternoon from what? Sure, yeah. Okay, okay, thank you very much. Bye.

JB: Check cashing. Just a minute. Hello. Could I have, ah, the, ah, address of the Cohasset, ah, office, please? Parking Way. Okay. Coming from Boston, do you know anything more about it than that? Yeah, to the, how to get there? No? Not at all? All right. Do you have a phone number for that office?

JB: Hi, is Patty there? Did he ever come in today? You don't have his phone number at home, do you? See if it's there some place on the desk. Beeper number. Give him a call on the beeper and find out where he is and then I'll call you back and I'll get the number. Okay, thanks.

JB: How you doing? Couldn't find his number (UI) there. No, I don't want to do that. Patty comes in and I'll call back at five. Thanks.

JB: Kevin, I mean Pat there? Oh, okay. Number. What's the area code? Okay. Thanks, Kev. Bye.

(End of recording.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Eliot Ness Amber Lager

Eliot Ness Amber Lager by the Great Lakes Brewing CompanyAs a fan of microbrews and brewpubs's I was not aware that Great Lakes Brewing Company had created a beer called Eliot Ness Amber Lager. It is described as an amber lager with rich, fragrant malt flavors balanced by crisp, noble hops.

Per the Brewery, Eliot Ness Amber Lager was named after one of Cleveland's most respected safety directors who frequented the Brewpub's bar during his tenure from 1935-1941 and, according to popular legend, was responsible for the bullet holes in the bar still evident today. Margaret Conway, the mother of owners Patrick and Daniel Conway, worked with Ness as his stenographer.

Of course, prior to that, he was most widely known for being an American Prohibition agent, famous for his efforts to enforce Prohibition in Chicago, as the leader of a legendary team nicknamed The Untouchables.

Judging by the accolades, I need to figure out where I can find some to sample.

Eliot Ness Amber Lager Awards:

* Gold Medal, 2007 World Beer Championships
* Gold Medal, 2006 World Beer Championships
* Gold Medal, 2004 World Beer Championships
* Gold Medal, 2003 World Beer Championships
* Silver Medal, 2001 World Beer Championships
* Gold Medal, 1998 World Beer Championships
* Silver Medal, 1997 World Beer Championships
* Gold Medal, 1996 World Beer Championships
* Silver Medal, 1995 World Beer Championships

Poll Results: Would a Casino Operated by the City of Chicago be Influenced by the Chicago Outfit?

Poll Results: Would a Casino Operated by the City of Chicago be Influenced by the Chicago Outfit?

48% Yes - The Mob would have their hands all over it.
22% Yes - But the Mob would only be on the fringes.
17% No - But it would still be influenced by typical Chicago Clout.
2% No - But I am pretty naive.
9% No - I think it will be regulated fairly.

One Last Shot at Glory for The Sopranos

It’s bound to be a major dramatic moment at the 14th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards: the announcement of the winner for performance by an ensemble in a drama series.

Contenders for the award are the casts of “Boston Legal,” “The Closer,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Mad Men” and “The Sopranos.”

“The Sopranos” closed its sixth and final season last year with the infamous “cut to black” ending, leaving it up to the viewer to decide what happened to Tony, Carmela, Meadow and A.J. Soprano.

“These are people who have become icons. They are legendary,” said Matt Roush, television critic for TV Guide. “There were so many great moments in the last season—Tony’s brush with death, Dr. Melfi firing Tony, Christopher’s death and Uncle Junior’s decline into dementia. A lot of great material sometimes got obscured by the final episode.”

“The Sopranos” won its second drama series Emmy last year. “It’s the last chance for the show to be honored,” Roush reminds.

“Mad Men,” an hour drama set in a Manhattan advertising agency in the early 1960s, scored major critical acclaim in its first season, winning Golden Globes this year for TV series, drama, as well as for star Jon Hamm, a winner as actor in a television drama. He is also in the running at the SAG Awards for his performance.

“Watching the show, you find it does resonate in your world,” said Mr. Hamm, who plays Don Draper, a dapper executive with a secret past at the fictional Sterling Cooper agency on Madison Avenue. “You work in an office with personalities and superiors and inferiors and people you have to manage and there are different rules, yet all the same stuff was going on in 1960.

“It’s a nostalgic and yet resonant sort of ethic. It’s not mean-spirited, and it depicts a world exploding into a modern aesthetic of midcentury ideas, with a very specific, very cool look and attitude.”

“The Closer” premiered in June 2005, and its star, Kyra Sedgwick, also is nominated for a SAG Award for her performance. “In some ways it looks like a star vehicle for Kyra Sedgwick, but the bench strength in all the other actors is amazing. They are almost overqualified and get to rise to the occasion,” said Mr. Roush. “There’s a lot of terrific, stylish acting, and so many colorful characters. There’s no question she’s the star, but there are a lot of meaty characters in and around her life.”

“Boston Legal,” spun off from “The Practice” in fall 2004, follows the personal and professional lives of the attorneys at the law firm of Crane, Poole & Schmidt.

“This is a show that Hollywood adores,” said Mr. Roush, pointing to its numerous Emmy Awards. “David Kelley writes colorful dialogue, and James Spader gets to wow everyone with Kelley’s writing. These are the most eccentric characters on television, and they milk those eccentricities, and the industry seems to love that. I guess it’s because they get those big scenes in the courtroom and get to indulge quirky characters.”

The cast of “Grey’s Anatomy” won the SAG Award last year for dramatic ensemble.

“What it has is charisma, and one of the sexiest casts on TV,” Mr. Roush said. “The ensemble is one of the most watchable. They play flawed characters set in a hospital with life, death and love commingled, and played in a way that draws people in. The show has made stars of a lot of people: Ellen Pompeo, Katherine Heigl, T.R. Knight and Chandra Wilson.”

Four of the five actresses vying for SAG honors for their performance in a drama series have impressive credits on the big screen, and one was the first actress to sweep all the major television awards in one season, winning a SAG, the Emmy and a Golden Globe for her performance as a mobster’s wife.

That would be Edie Falco as Carmela Soprano.

“Carmela is one of television’s great characters. She’s just as ruthless as Tony, but in a different way. She remained great through the end, even when her role wasn’t as central to the action,” said Mr. Roush.

Ms. Falco and “The Closer’s” Ms. Sedgwick as Deputy Police Chief Brenda Johnson are up against a pair of contenders in first-season dramas: Glenn Close, who plays attorney Patty Hewes on “Damages,” and Holly Hunter in her first starring TV role as Oklahoma City police detective Grace Hanadarko on “Saving Grace.” They’re joined in the category by Sally Field, who portrays Nora Walker, the matriarch on “Brothers & Sisters,” which premiered in September 2006.

“Glenn Close’s role fits her like a glove, and she is devilishly entertaining in a wonderful star performance in a twisty show,” said Mr. Roush. “Holly Hunter is allowed to chew the scenery, and playing a self-destructive cop in a flamboyant role is one anybody would be thrilled to have. Sally Field is the premier mom on television, warm, funny and charismatic, yet as crazy as the kids.”

The male actors competing for the SAG Award are Mr. Hamm, James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan on “Dexter,” Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House on “House” and James Spader as Alan Shore on “Boston Legal.”

“Jon Hamm as Don Draper is magnetic and at the same time troubled. You worry about him but realize he’s staring into the abyss. Mr. Hamm brings that alive, delivering a very deep performance. It’s a home run,” Mr. Roush said.

“James Gandolfini created a character of incredible depth, the role of a villain who is as human as he is monstrous. You root for him, yet you fear him,” Mr. Roush continued. “Michael C. Hall pulls off an impossible feat: He makes you sympathize for a serial killer. The potential for disaster is huge, but he makes it appealing and thoroughly original. Hugh Laurie as House is a great character, so enjoyable to watch as he confounds patients and frustrates the staff. He’s an impossible person but impossibly appealing. James Spader plays one of the quirkiest characters on TV. People are drawn to him because he is so unpredictable. He nails it.”

Thanks to Hillary Atkin

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The ABA Journal, Family Secrets Trial Appeals and Connie's Pizza Included in Shark's Tales

Attorney Joseph "The Shark" Lopez returns with more Shark Tales. The ABA Journal's January 2008 issue included an article titled Full Court Coverage. It is a very nicely done piece that addressed the question: "What happens when defense counsel and ordinary citizens blog about high-profile trials?". Both Joseph R. Lopez and The Chicago Syndicate were interviewed for perspective on this subject.

One clarifying comment on the article. There is a quote that references the movie The Funeral that is attributed to Joe Batterz. That quote was actually from an article by Josh Casey in a special report for The Chicago Syndicate. Long time readers will recognize that we have had several writers submit their original articles for posting. We actually have a few more under development and have been approached by other attorneys as well about sending their comments from time to time. Stay tuned for that.

Below, "The Shark" brings us up to speed on the next moves in the Family Secrets Case and he provides us a with a restaurant review of a place that he gives a thumbs down.

This months American Bar Journal has an article about this blog, me, and the Family Secrets trial.

Still no word on Assistant U.S. Attorney Mitch Mars who has been on sick leave since October. Mitch was a fixture in the U.S. Attorney's office and great opponent. We all wish him well and hope he can return for round 2.

Shark is preparing a motion to question the anonymous jury under oath and in court under rule 606 of the federal rules. It's clear that something happened in the jury room and the only to find out is to ask the jurors; this case will be in litigation for many more years.

A lot of people I know will not eat Connie's Pizza anymore including myself. I do not like beefer pizza. If you want to beef, you could have told the truth Mr. Stolfe about you and Frank being friends. Instead you were like a coward on the stand. - Jo Shark

Friday, January 18, 2008

DEA Agents Say They are Not Villians, Sue "American Gangster" Filmmakers

A group of retired federal drug enforcement agents sued NBC Universal on Wednesday, saying the movie "American Gangster" falsely made them out to be villains in the story of a Harlem heroin trafficker played by Denzel Washington.

Shortly after the movie was released, the American Gangster Myth was brought to light and reporter Clarence Walker answered the question "What's the Real Story Behind Hollywood's Portrayal of Harlem Drug Kingpin Frank Lucas?".

The suit, filed in federal court in Manhattan, claims that the movie defamed hundreds of DEA agents and New York police officers by claiming at the end that Frank Lucas' collaboration with prosecutors "led to the convictions of three quarters of New York City's Drug Enforcement Agency."

Lucas became a government informant after his conviction in 1975, and his tips led to the prosecutions of several fellow drug dealers.

According to the lawsuit, no DEA agents or New York police officers were ever convicted as a result of tips provided by Lucas.

"This is absolutely off the wall," said Dominic Amorosa, who was a prosecutor in the federal case against Lucas in 1975 and now represents the DEA agents.

Amorosa said the filmmakers had unfairly blackened the reputation of agents who risked their lives to put away Lucas and other drug felons in the 1970s and 1980s.

"I don't know what these people were thinking, but they are going to pay for it," he said.

A Universal Pictures spokesman, Michael Moses, said in a written statement that the lawsuit is "entirely without merit."

"'American Gangster' does not defame these or any federal agents," he said, adding that the corrupt law enforcers depicted in the film were supposed to be New York police officers, not DEA agents.

In a Dec. 7 letter to Amorosa, NBC Universal Senior Vice President David Burg called the film a "fictionalized work," although at other times Universal spokesmen have said they have "every confidence that the material facts are conveyed truthfully."

A DEA spokesman in Washington, Garrison Courtney, confirmed that none of its agents were ever charged with wrongdoing in the case.

New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said he also wasn't aware of any NYPD officers ever prosecuted in connection with Lucas.

"Hollywood is famous for distorting reality," Browne wrote in an e-mail. He brushed off the idea that the department would get involved in the case. "If we sued every time the movies made reality unrecognizable, there would be time for nothing else."

Former DEA agents Jack Toal, Gregory Korniloff and Louis Diaz filed the class action suit on behalf of themselves and 400 other agents who worked in the city between 1973 and 1985. They asked for at least $50 million in punitive damages.

"Most of the movie is not true," said Toal, who identified himself as one of the agents who worked with Lucas after he became an informant. "If they had said, `this is based on a false story,' it would have been a lot better."

Korniloff said in the suit that he was a lead agent assigned to the case and was present when agents and police officers raided Lucas' home in Teaneck, N.J., in 1975 -- a scene depicted in "American Gangster."

In the Ridley Scott film, which was released in November and also featured Russell Crowe and Josh Brolin, corrupt narcotics agents shoot the drug dealer's dog, assault his wife and brazenly steal currency stashed in the house while making the arrest.

The suit said that in real life the search was carried out legally; nearly $585,000 in currency was seized in accordance with a valid search warrant.

Thanks to David P. Caruso

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Elvia Williams, Chief of the Maywood, Illinois Police Department (MPD) are asking for the public's help in identifying the individual(s) responsible for the October 23, 2006 murder of MPD Officer Thomas Wood.

A nine year veteran of the MPD, Officer Wood was found shot to death in his marked patrol vehicle near the intersection of 6th Avenue and Erie Street, at the end of his scheduled afternoon shift. Officer Wood was shot multiple times and was pronounced dead after being transported to Loyola Medical Center. Officer Wood, who was a canine officer for the MPD, was seated in the driver's seat of his vehicle with the engine running and the vehicle in gear. Robbery did not appear to be a motive as Officer Wood's weapon and wallet were still on his person.

Officer Wood was active in the MPD's effort to investigate and eliminate gang activity within the village and it is believed that his murder was related to these efforts.

Officer Wood was 37 years of age and is survived by his wife and five children.

A reward of up to $100,000 is being offered by the Village of Maywood for information that leads to the identification and arrest of the person or persons responsible for this crime.

In addition to joining Chief Williams in publicizing this reward offer, Mr. Grant also wants to announce that the FBI will be assisting the MPD, not only with the investigation into Officer Wood's murder, but will also begin investigating gang activity and drug trafficking in the western suburb.

Anyone having any information about the murder of Officer Wood is asked to call the Chicago office of the FBI at (312) 421-6700

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Internet Group Fights the Mob

When it came down to business, Cosa Nostra could always count on fear.

No more.

In a rebellion shaking the Sicilian Mafia to its centuries-old roots, businesses are joining forces in refusing to submit to demands for protection money called "pizzo."

And they're getting away with it, threatening to sap an already weakened crime syndicate of one of its steadiest sources of revenue.

The Mafia has a history of bouncing back from defeat, but this time it is up against something entirely new: a Web site where businessmen are finding safety in numbers to say no to the mob.

At the same time, businessmen ranging from neighborhood shopkeepers to industrialists are being emboldened by arrests of fugitive bosses, and the discovery in raids of meticulous Mafia bookkeeping on who paid the "pizzo" and how much.

"This rebellion goes to the heart of the Mafia," said Palermo prosecutor Maurizio De Lucia, who has investigated extortion cases for years. "If it works, we will have a great advantage in the fight against the Mafia."

These latest gains build on other successes in the fight to break Cosa Nostra's stranglehold on Sicily. In the last two decades, the syndicate has been battered by testimony from turncoats, who helped send hundreds of mobsters to prison in the late 1980s, and a fierce state crackdown a decade later after bombs killed two Palermo anti-Mafia prosecutors.

The number of rebels on the Web site is still tiny compared to Palermo's businesses overall, but their movement has helped to chip away at the Mafia's psychological hold on Sicilians — long conditioned to believe that defiance would bring ruin or a death sentence. And any consistent crumbling of that culture of fear could ultimately lead to Cosa Nostra's undoing.

The businesses are openly defying the Mafia by signing on to a Web site called "Addiopizzo" (Goodbye Pizzo), which brings together businesses in the Sicilian capital that are resisting extortion.

The campaign was launched in 2004 by a group of youths thinking of opening a pub. They started off by plastering Palermo with anti-pizzo fliers, reading "An ENTIRE PEOPLE WHO PAYS THE PIZZO IS A PEOPLE WITHOUT DIGNITY," and eventually brought their campaign online where it struck a profound chord with Sicilians fed up with Mafia bullying.

Confindustria, the industrialists' lobby, has also boosted the movement with a threat to expel members who pay protection money. Its Sicilian branch has gone through a list of pizzo-paying companies found in a raid on a top Mafia boss' hideout, and this month began summoning heads of those companies to demand to know if they indeed had been paying and should be drummed out of the politically influential lobby.

In one case, the director of a private clinic said her institution wound up on Cosa Nostra's list because a mobster was treated there, although it apparently was unclear during his hospitalization that he was a Mafioso.

At the same time, authorities are ratcheting up the pressure on business owners, aggressively prosecuting those who refuse to testify against the Mafia in clear-cut cases of extortion. Under Italian law, a businessman who denies paying up despite flagrant evidence — such as being caught on a surveillance tape — can be charged with "aiding and abetting" Cosa Nostra.

"Now it is a bigger risk for us to pay than not to pay," said Ugo Argiroffi, an engineer who recently added his Palermo construction company, C.O.C.I. to Addiopizzo's list ( in Italian with an English link).

While the nearly 230 businesses on the list are only a fraction of Palermo's thousands of stores, offices and factories, a similar group has sprouted up in Catania, Sicily's second-largest city.

Perhaps most significant, the rebellion has taken root in strongholds of the most ruthless Mafia clans — places such as Gela, a drab, industrial coastal town. Some 80 Gela businessmen in recent months have denounced extortion attempts.

It is a dramatic turn since the early '90s, when a Gela merchant who denounced extortion was slain by the Mafia, and a Gela car dealer, whose showroom was repeatedly torched, had to move his family and change his name after he testified in court.

In another prominent case, Libero Grassi, who had a Palermo clothing business, was gunned down by the Mafia in 1991 after he made a futile public plea for other merchants to join him in denouncing extortion.

Prosecutors trace the extortion rebellion back to the scramble for power after Bernardo Provenzano, the alleged "boss of bosses," was captured last year near his hometown of Corleone.

For years, Provenzano — who reputedly took the helm of Cosa Nostra in 1993 — had employed an extortion strategy of "let them pay a little but make everyone pay," according to Piero Grasso, a former Palermo prosecutor who is now Italy's national anti-Mafia prosecutor based in Rome.

The Mafia chief feared excessive greed and violence would draw a fierce police crackdown, Grasso said in an interview. But in the struggle to succeed Provenzano, Palermo area boss Salvatore Lo Piccolo ruthlessly dispensed with the low profile.

Under Lo Piccolo, according to Grasso, the small army of henchmen who shake down merchants was doubled, from 500 to 1,000 men, judging from entries in confiscated extortion ledgers.

The extortionists received monthly "salaries" worth $3,000, generous by Sicily's standards, plus an extra month's pay as a Christmas bonus, Grasso said.

A rash of arson attacks on businesses this past year apparently reflected Lo Piccolo's determination to press extortion demands.

The strategy appears to have backfired: The harder the Mafia squeezed, the more their victims resisted. Crucially, no businessmen or their relatives have thus far been killed for their defiance, although some may have lost Mafia-wary customers.

In one high-profile case, Vincenzo Conticello, owner of Antica Focacceria San Francesco, a landmark Palermo restaurant that specializes in sandwiches stuffed with calf's spleen and lung, spent $1.8 million buying supplies from "friends" of a gangster who had elbowed into his business.

Eventually the restaurateur got fed up and went to police. At the trial, he pointed out the three gangsters who had extorted him and in November they were jailed for 10 to 16 years. Conticello was granted police protection.

When Mafia boss Lo Piccolo was arrested in November outside Palermo, police found a list of hundreds of names of those who paid the "pizzo" plus a breakdown of how the money was divvied up — a treasure trove of information on how the mob operates.

In December, police scored another coup when they shot dead Daniele Emmanuello, the reputed boss of the Gela area's extortion rackets, as he fled from a farmhouse hideout.

Emmanuello didn't take time to change out of his pajamas, but he did swallow some handwritten notes. Authorities are examining them for more information on the pizzo racket.

Until now, the money figures had been largely guesswork. But taking advantage of the confiscated Mafia ledgers, Antonio La Spina, a University of Palermo sociology professor, has pieced together the clearest picture for a report given to The Associated Press before its publication this week in a book called "The Costs of Illegality."

His researchers calculate the pizzo payments averaging $1,200 a month add up to nearly $260 million in Palermo province alone.

"For a street vendor, 'pizzo' ranges from 50 to 100 euros a month, a neighborhood bread store 150-250 euros, a simple clothing store 250 euros, a jewelry store, 1,000 euros, your local mini-mart 500 euros," said Attilio Scaglione, one of the researchers. A euro is worth roughly $1.50.

These days, the Mafia appears to be trying to pick symbolic targets rather than punish the pizzo-refusers en masse.

At Rodolfo Guajana's company, a wholesaler for hardware stores across Sicily since 1875, attackers this summer punched a hole in the roof, poured in gasoline and torched the warehouse.

Guajana believes the Mafia attacked him because it was known that his family had a history of refusing to pay.

"What happened here was the Mafia was saying to all merchants: `What happened to Guajana can happen to you if you don't pay,'" said Guajana.

Across the island in Agrigento, industrialist Salvatore Moncada described himself as proof businessmen can stand up to mobsters.

He has repeatedly refused demands made of his 180-employee company, Moncada Costruzioni Srl, Italy's fifth-largest producer of wind energy. In one case, Moncada's testimony helped jail a mobster who demanded $7,500.

At one point, Moncada wore a wire to a meeting with a mobster. "I was sweating a little bit," he recalled. But no threats were made and the gangster wasn't arrested. But Moncada said he can understand why some businessmen decide it pays to pay off the Mafia.

A pizzo of 2 percent of a contract's value is a lot less than the price of a 24-hour guard, he said. "In the end you say, 'Sorry, I'll pay and that's that.'"

Cafe Belmondo, LLC

Monday, January 14, 2008

Film Rights to Mobster's Memoir "Unlocked: A Journey From Prison to Proust" Optioned by The Sopranos Dr. Melfi

Like so many wiseguys before him, Lou Ferrante finally got pinched. After years of hijackings, beatings and other violent crimes, he was busted for armed robbery and sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison. Life behind bars was a shock to the smart-aleck kid from Queens who had joined the Gambino crime family. But even more shocking was how he spent his time.

While other prisoners slept, Ferrante would rise early to daven, reciting prayers of his newfound Jewish faith. He wore a yarmulke in the exercise yard and followed kosher dietary laws. He spent months in an upstate prison writing a Torah commentary but shoved it under his mattress when the Sabbath began on Friday night.

Desperate to pass the days, Ferrante began reading books for the first time in his life. He took up writing and cranked out a 1,200-page novel that he now admits is terrible. As his sentence ended, he told anyone who would listen that he was a changed man and that Judaism was his rock.

"I figured that with Judaism, you don't go through a middleman, you go right to the top guy and talk to him," Ferrante said, sounding like a cross between Joe Pesci and Paulie Walnuts. "That's how I used to handle business on the streets. It made a lot of sense."

Released from prison two years ago, the 38-year-old Ferrante began writing a book about his experiences. That memoir, "Unlocked: A Journey From Prison to Proust," will be published in March by HarperCollins. When he sent a copy of it to "Sopranos" star Lorraine Bracco -- contacting her through friends of a friend -- he hoped simply to get a blurb. But she called him immediately after reading it and made a pitch for the film rights.

"This story has shades of 'Goodfellas' and 'Shawshank Redemption,' " said Bracco, who played Dr. Jennifer Melfi, the shrink to gangster Tony Soprano on the HBO show. "And for whatever reason, these mob stories always seem to find me. This is the first book I've ever optioned for a film, and I'm very excited about it."

Bracco, who also played the wife of gangster Henry Hill in "Goodfellas," can't help but see the irony: Here she is, helping a real-life mobster redeem himself after playing a similar role on television. To fully explore Ferrante's tale, she said she'll be seeking creative advice from David Chase, who created "The Sopranos," and Nick Pileggi, the author of "Wiseguy" and "Casino."

"Imagine all the things he [Ferrante] has been through, the changes he underwent in prison," the actress said. "And then think about the fact that it's not just a great movie story, it's true."

Some may be tempted to dismiss Ferrante's book, because the image of a tough guy reading the Talmud invites obvious jokes. (Alternate titles might include "From Meatballs to Matzo Balls" or "The Mobster Who Became a Mensch"). But to hear Ferrante speak seriously about his life is to hear the story of a man who once brutalized others -- and vows to change. He's just moved into a new home in upstate New York and hopes to make a living as a writer.

Unlike most mob memoirs, "Unlocked" doesn't dwell unduly on criminal exploits, nor does it name many names. Although the author spent time with both John and Peter Gotti, they are rarely mentioned. Instead, he tries to provide some insight into his own behavior, something rarely found in Mafia tell-alls, according to Pileggi, who wrote a blurb for the book. Indeed, Ferrante makes no excuses for his violent behavior and begins his memoir with the story of a truck hijacking in which he and his crew terrorized an innocent driver who begged for his life.

Let the therapy begin: "He wasn't just robbing money, he was robbing the souls of other people," said Bracco, describing Ferrante's past. "When you stand with a gun and tell someone what to do, you're putting fear into their lives. You're destroying something. It's almost like a molester stealing the soul of a child."

It took nearly a decade in prison for Ferrante to realize that his career in organized crime was a physical and spiritual dead end.

He saw other prisoners slowly losing their minds behind bars and said he turned to reading, writing and religion as an escape from daily life. But what he found was the cornerstone of a new identity.

"I thought about my life," he wrote. "Why did I end up here, living with animals? I beat men up. I shoved guns in their mouths. I even bit people. I lived like an animal on the street. I didn't realize it until I was placed in this zoo. I hated myself for being one of them."

The path back to self-respect included religion, and Ferrante explored several. Shedding Catholicism for Judaism took guts, because fellow Italians viewed him as a traitor and wondered if he was snitching on them to the feds. Others saw him lose the protection of a larger group and decided he was ripe for attack.

"In jail, most American Jews are not considered dangerous," he observed. "The dozen or so I did time with were all there for nonviolent crime. I don't think anybody ever checked into protective custody saying, 'I'm scared for my life; the Jews are after me.' "

When he was finally released, Ferrante's friends were impressed with his new interest in writing. A few, including screenwriter David Black ("Law & Order"), introduced him to other authors and agents, but none was interested in his novel. They all urged him to tell his own story. Reluctant at first to revisit the past, he finally relented.

Ferrante sent a few early chapters to literary agent Lisa Queen, whom he had met through a mutual friend. She was impressed with the fluid, poetic quality of his writing and signed him up on the spot. "I sold the book about two weeks later, and it all happened very quickly," Queen said. "The book was obviously true to life. But he is also quite funny. Humor helps him tell his stories."

Like the time, shortly after his release, he ran into a Mafia big shot who was slurping matzo ball soup in a kosher diner. Ferrante realized the guy was high on the list of mobsters with whom he couldn't associate, according to his probation guidelines.

"The guy gives me a big hug, but my first question is whether he thinks he's being watched by the feds," Ferrante recalled. "He said he probably was. So I tell him: 'I'm going to have to report this whole thing to my probation officer.' That much I understood. But why he was there in a kosher restaurant, I couldn't begin to tell you."

Thanks to Josh Getlin

Beyond Wiseguys: Italian Americans and the Movies

DON’T get her wrong: Rosanne De Luca Braun loves “The Godfather.” Ditto, “The Sopranos.” But she has devoted much of the last seven years to exploring why certain Italian-American stereotypes — especially the gun-toting, cannoli-loving mobster — loom so large on screen, and in the national psyche.

The result of her labors is the documentary “Beyond Wiseguys: Italian Americans and the Movies,” which will have its Long Island premiere on Jan. 20 at the Cinema Arts Center in Huntington. Dominic Chianese, who played Uncle Junior in “The Sopranos” television series, is scheduled to make a guest appearance at the theater.

Running 57 minutes, “Beyond Wiseguys” interweaves celebrated movie and TV scenes with interviews with scholars and members of the film and TV industries. Among those appearing are the directors Martin Scorsese, David Chase and Spike Lee, the actor-director John Turturro (who was co-executive producer of the documentary with Ms. Braun), and, from the acting ranks, Marisa Tomei, Paul Sorvino, Ben Gazzara, Isabella Rossellini, Susan Sarandon and Mr. Chianese.

Some tell of having endured typecasting or of fighting ethnic clich├ęs. Yet Ms. Braun, 59, of Sicilian and Calabrian descent herself, says she is not merely beating a drum against intolerance. “I’m not anti mob movies,” she said recently over lunch in her condominium overlooking Long Island Sound in Northport. (She shares it with her husband, Edward Braun, the chairman of the technology-instrument company Veeco.)

“I don’t relate to the fact that these are ‘stereotypes,’ ” Ms. Braun said. “I relate to the characters. And in the case of a great work of art, I don’t view it as Italian-American — it’s American.”

Nevertheless, “Beyond Wiseguys” has its roots partly in community concern over negative screen images. In 2000, Ms. Braun, then director of marketing and development at the Cinema Arts Center, worked with its co-directors, Vic Skolnick, Charlotte Sky and Dylan Skolnick, to organize an Italian-American film festival devoid of “made” men, rubouts and the like.

Such films proved hard to find, though. The depiction of Italian-Americans as voluble, emotional and sometimes murderous had remained “largely formulaic,” Ms. Braun said, from the earliest days of the movie industry.

That was true, she said, even though “we found an endless supply of Italian-American craftsmen working behind the scenes in Hollywood from Day 1 — set designers, composers, writers, costume designers,” making their mark in often sophisticated ways.

Convinced she was “really onto something,” Ms. Braun left her job in 2000 to work on the idea. She sent her outline to Mr. Turturro.

In the film business, “I was nobody,” Ms. Braun explained. “I knew I was going to need a name attached to open some doors for me.”

Mr. Turturro soon signed on. The issue of ethnic sterotyping is something he deals with daily on a professional level, he said through an assistant.

It worked. “I could have said, ‘This is Daisy Duck,’ as long as I said, ‘John Turturro,’ ” said Ms. Braun, who rounded up interview subjects and, over time, raised “about $350,000.” (”Beyond Wiseguys” got its major financial backing from Italian-American sources, including LiDestri Foods of Rochester, a maker of pasta sauce and other products, and the National Italian American Foundation, but they had no editorial input, she said.)

When it came to making the film, two veteran documentary makers, Steven Fischler and Joel Sucher, collaborated with Ms. Braun, a neophyte.

Given the documentary’s many strands, Ms. Braun said she would most like viewers to take away the sense that Hollywood’s Italian-American sagas, at their best, transcend stereotype: “They’re filled with the aroma, and the real experiences, of Italian family life and Italian history,” she said.

Thanks to Karen Lipson

A Tony Soprano Wedding

James Gandolfini and his girlfriend of a couple of years, former model Deborah Lin, are engaged.
Sopranos alum James Gandolfini and his girlfriend of a couple of years, former model Deborah Lin, are engaged, sources reveal exclusively to

"James popped the question while in the Bahamas over the holidays," an insider tells us. "They're thrilled."


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Mob Economics 101: Hauling Trash

The Italian government called in the army on Tuesday to clean up the mounting piles of waste in the city of Naples. Residents blame the authorities for not doing more to stop the Camorra, the region's Mafia group, which controls garbage collection and has caused the city's constant waste problem for more than a decade. Organized crime appears to have a hand in trash collection all over the world, from Naples to Tony Soprano's northern New Jersey. Why are gangsters always hauling garbage?

It's Mob Economics 101: Find a business that's easy to enter and lucrative to control. Criminal organizations make lots of money from drugs, human trafficking, and counterfeit goods, but creating a monopoly on garbage collection is attractive because the business itself is legal, and public contracts return big profits. Compared with something like running a casino or grocery store, the logistics of taking trash from Point A to Point B are a no-brainer. Anyone with a truck and a couple of strong guys can make good money, and there's always a demand for the service.

Here's how it works: The mob organizes the trash-hauling businesses in a given city to prevent competition from driving down prices. They fix prices, rig bids, and allocate territories in such a way that customers can't choose who picks up their garbage. The Camorra, a larger and older group than the Sicilian Mafia, have controlled the industry in Naples for about 25 years. The mob harasses non-Camorra garbage collectors and extorts money from them; meanwhile, its own companies do a shoddy job. The country's Mafia groups have also illegally dumped toxic, industrial waste in Naples and other parts of the country.

Criminal organizations elsewhere in the world also find profit in trash schemes. In parts of Taiwan, gangs dig into the riverbank for gravel and sell it to construction companies. Then, they fill up the holes with waste they've collected. Georgian crime bosses swooped in when the city of Tbilisi privatized waste transport. In New York City, La Cosa Nostra more or less dominated trash collection from the 1950s until Rudy Giuliani seized control of the industry as mayor in the 1990s. It all started when members worked their way into the Teamsters union, which included garbage truck drivers; this allowed the mob to dictate which companies the drivers would work for, effectively pushing out non-Mafia operations. (The Mafia also controlled the construction sector through unions.)

For a large crime organization, the garbage racket provides relatively little in the way of revenue compared with traditional criminal enterprises like gambling, loan-sharking, and narcotics. This is especially true in Italy, where the mob operates in many industries. The Camorra is thought to make $70 billion a year, much of it from drugs, contraband cigarettes, and DVDs, as well as public sector contracts in construction and cleaning. Another Italian group, the 'Ndrangheta, traffics 80 percent of Europe's cocaine. The Mafia is so pervasive in Italy that, according to a large trade association, it controls one out of every five businesses in the country.

Thanks to Michelle Tsai

Alternative Sopranos Ending in Dallas

Monday, January 07, 2008

Beating by Reputed Mob Killer Caught on Tape

Reputed mob killer Anthony Calabrese was upset with his alleged partner in crime, Edmond Frank. The hulking Calabrese wondered if Frank was ratting him out to the cops.

So Calabrese and another man allegedly began beating Frank. And all of it was captured on a secret audio recording made by the FBI.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Frank pleaded as he was beaten at Calabrese's car detailing shop in the south suburbs, according to a 17-page government transcript of the conversation obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

"C-------er," Calabrese swore at Frank.

"F---ing did everything for you, you're gonna act like that to me," Calabrese said.

"I'm sorry, Tony," Frank replied.

The beating began after Frank enraged Calabrese by refusing to say what hotel he was staying at, according to the transcript of the January 2002 conversation. Frank said he didn't feel safe giving Calabrese that information.

Calabrese had Frank strip-searched but didn't find any hidden recording devices.

"The recording device worn by Frank was in fact secreted elsewhere," a government filing notes, without specifying where the device was.

Calabrese allegedly threatened to kill Frank's wife and child and suggested his wife could be gang-raped, according to the transcript.

Frank walked out of the confrontation alive, but FBI agents took him to a hospital, where he was treated for his injuries from the beating.

Even after Frank left Calabrese's shop, the secret recorder was still running, and Frank could be heard complaining about his injuries.

"My head's killing me," Frank said.

"Are you dizzy?" an FBI agent asked him.

"My head hurts; it's numb over here," Frank complained.

Federal prosecutors T. Markus Funk and Joel Hammerman want to introduce the secretly recorded conversation at Calabrese's trial next month on charges he took part in the armed robberies of three suburban businesses.

The prosecutors argue the beating and intimidation shows Calabrese's guilty state of mind.

Calabrese's attorney, Steven Hunter, is fighting introduction of the tape, saying it has nothing to do with the armed robberies and will prejudice the jury against his client.

Calabrese, 47, is no relation to Frank Calabrese Sr., who was found responsible for seven Outfit murders in the recent Family Secrets mob trial in Chicago.

Still, Anthony Calabrese is a suspected gunman in the Outfit murder of Anthony "The Hatch" Chiaramonti, a top mobster slain in 2001 at a Brown's Chicken & Pasta in south suburban Lyons, according to a federal court filing.

He is also a suspect in the 1997 attempted murder of the ex-wife of his friend, Randall Re, in west suburban Naperville, authorities said. Re is also a suspect in the case, which Naperville police continue to investigate.

Calabrese has not been charged with either crime. But he effectively faces life in prison if convicted on the armed robbery charges under federal sentencing guidelines. Federal authorities hope to use that leverage to find out from Calabrese who allegedly hired him for the Chiaramonti murder and the Re shooting, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Calabrese has ties to the Chicago Outfit and a motorcycle gang, sources said.

"I know him as a businessman," said attorney Joseph Lopez, who represented Calabrese in a case in which Calabrese was sentenced to more than seven years in prison for his role in a baseball-bat attack on a man in Florida.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

Bits and Pieces, Inc.

NBA Ref Bob Delaney Went Undercover to Fight the Mob, Put 30 Gangsters Behind Bars

In my two decades as an NBA scribe (scribe, incidentally, being the gently derisive term that Steve Nash uses to describe ink-stained wretches), I've always felt a kinship with the referees. We are both a peripheral part of a game dominated by millionaires (though the zebras are less peripheral) and we both attract attention mainly when we do something wrong (though they get more attention).

I was closer to the older generation of retired refs (Jake O'Donnell, Eddie T. Rush, Bernie Fryer and the late Earl Strom to name a few) and remain closer to the more senior members of the current crew, especially Joey Crawford, Steve Javie and Dick BavettaCovert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob. There is a reason for this beyond the obvious fact that we are chronological contemporaries: The league has gradually discouraged contact between refs and the media, preferring that the striped-shirts be just that -- background scenery to the main event. That's a shame because many of these guys are fascinating personalities who bring unique life experiences to the job.

In the case of Bob Delaney, a 20-year veteran, that is a vast understatement. In fact, few personalities in the world of sports, or the world in general, have a more captivating back story than Delaney, whose league-desired anonymity will diminish -- if not disappear entirely -- with the Feb. 4 release of his autobiography, Covert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob.

With the help of co-author Dave Scheiber, a fine Florida-based journalist, Delaney, a former New Jersey state trooper, tells his tale lucidly and, best of all, understatedly. Delaney/Scheiber followed a cardinal rule of writing: The better the material, the more it should speak for itself. The writerly touches belong, I suspect, to Scheiber, but the blood-chilling drama about his time spent undercover with New Jersey Mafia types comes from Delaney's soul, his memory and, to be sure, a mountain of audio tapes that helped bring down the jaw-breakers and law-breakers who formed his social circle during three years of undercover work in the mid-1970s.

Delaney resists what would've been the simplistic notion of tying his current occupation to his previous one. Well, dear reader, after dealing with guys who would put a slug in my chest as easy as they'd say hello, I'm here to tell you that calling a technical on Rasheed Wallace isn't so difficult. Delaney is an excellent official but others are just as good, and they didn't spend three years wearing a wire around stone-cold killers. But it's beyond obvious that you learn quite a bit about composure and demonstrating grace under pressure when your every waking breath is spent wondering if your next breath is your last one.

"The development of your off-court personality is a reflection of your on-court personality," Delaney said on Thursday when we chatted by phone about the book. "I'm sure the situations I dealt with during my undercover years help me as an official because I understand how to function when I'm under pressure."

No ref is immune from criticism -- Delaney describes an incident in Madison Square Garden when his own mother hooted at him for blowing a foul call Patrick Ewing, her favorite player -- but his street cred with players and coaches is demonstrably apparent.

"I used to argue with Bob a lot," Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "Then I found out what he used to do and thought, 'I don't think he's going to be too affected by what I'm saying over here on the sideline.' "

A few years ago, Grant Hill, then with the Orlando Magic, jokingly patted down Delaney during a timeout and asked, "You still wired, Delaney?" The ref answered, "Yeah, I'm wired, and the last time I wore a wire, 50 people went to jail."

Several years ago during a TNT game Delaney was working, the announcers spotted Kobe Bryant talking to the referee after a foul call and theorized that the Los Angeles Lakers' star was giving Delaney "an earful" about the call. "In reality," Delaney said, "Kobe was asking what it was like wearing a wire all the time, and saying, 'That had to be wild.' "

It was wild. Kobe should read the book.

Before getting the whole story in Covert (the title comes from the surname that Delaney adopted during the joint state police-FBI sting operation), I knew a little bit about his background and that informed my observations of him as a referee. I couldn't help but wonder what Delaney was thinking when, say, the fifth guard on a bad team would berate him for making a traveling call. After what he had been through -- facing the prospect of death and, almost as bad, starting to "lose sight of the line where Bob Delaney ended and Bobby Covert began," as he writes in the book -- how can he take a call in a basketball game seriously?

But he does, and that is one of the messages (I'm not going to call them lessons) of Covert: that sports is an endless proving ground where professionalism matters. Delaney describes a moment early in his officiating career when he made an end-of-the-game call that, hours later, upon further review in his lonely hotel room, he found to be wrong. The fact that he blew a "gamer," the officials' term for a call that decides an outcome, put a knot in his stomach and cost him a night of sleep.

"In my profession," Delaney writes, "there's no worse feeling in the world."

Delaney's undercover life was spent in that same agitated state, wondering if he'd be found out the next day, worrying that he was losing what he describes as "the tug of war within," trying to ingratiate himself to the very people he was trying to bring down, thereby experiencing some form of the Stockholm syndrome. I can't imagine what a life it was, but it's all laid out in Covert.

And when I put it down, I was glad that the same era that gave us Tim Donaghy, a weasel of a law-breaker, has also given us Bob Delaney, a stand-up guy in a difficult profession.

Thanks to Jack McCallum

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Executioner, John Martorano

There are few men alive today with the underworld credentials of John Martorano, and even fewer who are out of prison and walking the streets. For more than a decade, Martorano was the chief executioner for Boston's Winter Hill Gang, a loose confederation of Irish and Italian-American gangsters run by James "Whitey" Bulger.

Martorano, a former Catholic altar boy and high school football star, became a cool and calculating killer. But as correspondent Steve Kroft reports, he is perhaps best known as the government witness who helped expose a web of corruption and collusion involving the mob and the Boston office of the FBI.

For years, he was one of the most feared men in Boston, and this is why: Martorano says he never kept count of how many people he killed. "Until in the end, I never realized it was that many," he tells Kroft.

Asked how many, Martorano says, "A lot. Too many."

"Do you have a number?" Kroft asks.

"I confessed to 20 in court," Martorano replies.

"You sure you remembered 'em all?" Kroft asks.

"I hope so," Martorano says,

Martorano had to remember them all. It was part of a deal he cut with the federal government that put him back on the streets of Boston after only 12 years in prison -- a little more than seven months served for each of the 20 people he killed, many of them fellow gangsters, and many of them at close range after looking into their eyes.

Asked if he always killed people by shooting them, Martorano tells Kroft, "I think I stabbed one guy."

"But you like guns," Kroft remarks.

"Well, it's the easiest way I think," Martorano says.

Martorano says he did not get any satisfaction out of the fact that people were afraid of him. "But everybody likes to be respected for one thing or another," he admits.

His manner is unemotional and detached, and he speaks with the brevity of a professional witness, which he has become. His testimony helped wipe out one of the largest criminal enterprises in New England, for which he served as chief executioner. But Martorano is no psychopath, and he doesn't much like the term "hit man."

"The hit man is…that sounds to me like somebody that's getting paid to a paid contract. I mean, you could never pay me to kill anybody," he says.

"A lot of people would say you're a serial killer," Kroft remarks.

"I might be a vigilante, but not a serial killer," Martorano says. "Serial killers, you have to stop them. They'll never stop. And they enjoy it. I never enjoyed it. I don't enjoy risking my life but if the cause was right I would."

Martorano says he "always" felt like he was doing the right thing. "Even if it was wrong, I always tried to do the right thing."

If you believe Martorano -- and the Justice Department does -- he killed out of a sense of loyalty and duty. He sees himself as a stand-up guy, a man of his word, which is why he decided to talk to 60 Minutes.

It goes back 50 years, when Martorano was a star running back on the Mount St. Charles Academy football team in Rhode Island. One of his blockers was the late 60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley. He promised Bradley he would sit down with him and tell his story, but Ed died unexpectedly before Martorano got out of prison.

"I never thought I'd be sitting here with you, I thought I'd be here with Ed. But I'm sitting here because Ed wanted me to sit here and I'm honoring that," Martorano explains.

"I know one of the questions that Ed wanted to ask you. In sort of the way that Ed asked those questions, I think he wanted to be sitting here and say, 'What happened Johnny?' Why was it do you think that you went in different directions?" Kroft asks.

"Well, I think it was mainly the influence of my father and his principles and his values that he pushed onto me," Martorano explains.

His father owned an after hour's club called Luigi's in a rough Boston neighborhood known as the "Combat Zone." It was a hangout for hoodlums who would become Martorano's role models, and many of them shared his father’s simple Sicilian values.

"He was the oldest son, and he taught me 'You're the oldest son and this is your heritage. You've got to take care of your family and be a man. I don't care what else you are, you’ve got to be a man,'" Martorano says.

It was the code he lived by and killed for. The first time it was an ex con, Robert Palladino, he thought was going to implicate his brother Jimmy in a murder. Palladino was found under an expressway with a bullet in his head.

Martorano says he didn't see anything wrong with it. "I saved my brother’s life, somebody got hurt, that had to be," he says.

Asked if it felt like a duty, Martorano says, "An obligation."

"Was the next time easier?" Kroft asks.

"Well, it's sort of like a lawyer trying his first case. It's difficult but the next case is easier. Then it gets easier, I guess, as you go. 'Cause it's you know, doing this is harder than that," Martorano says.


"'Cause it's hard for me to do. I never did it before," he says.

By the 1970s, his circle of friends and family had expanded to include the Winter Hill Gang, led by the notorious Irish mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger and Stevie "The Rifleman" Flemmi. Martorano was their partner in a business that included gambling, loan sharking, extortion and murder. Martorano's specialty was conflict resolution.

"We had a lot of problems with people. And you know, you just killed them before they kill you. It's kill or get killed at times," Martorano explains.

"I mean, on one occasion, you walked into a crowded bar…and shot somebody. In broad daylight…with the policeman across the street," Kroft says.

"Correct," Martorano admits.

"That's pretty confident," Kroft remarks.

"Well, I felt confident," Martorano says. "You put a disguise on and you just get to feel invisible.

Martorano remembers what the disguise was. "I had a yellow hard hat, a white meat cutter's coat, full length and a beard and mustaches and sunglasses," he recalls.

Asked what he did afterwards, Martorano says, "I went home and changed, back to work."

They operated out of an old body shop, long since abandoned, but Whitey Bulger's chair is still there, and so is his old office.

"I think that's the trapdoor for the cellar. Used to leave that open all the time. Just to intimidate people. Try to get the truth out of them," Martorano remembers. "People would look down there and just wonder."

"Anybody go down there and never come up?" Kroft asks.

"I think so, yeah," Martorano says.

By 1978 Martorano had already killed 18 people, and facing an indictment for fixing horse races, he fled to Florida, where he was living a quiet life under the name "Richard Aucoin." He was only there a few years when Bulger and Flemmi called, asking him to carry out a murder that made headlines across the country, the assassination of a wealthy corporate executive in the parking lot of the exclusive Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa.

The victim was Roger Wheeler, the CEO of Telex Corporation and owner of World Jai Alai, a profitable sports betting business that Bulger was trying to muscle in on. Martorano says the logistical information to carry out the hit was provided by a former Boston FBI agent named Paul Rico.

"How did you manage to get into the Southern Hills Country Club to kill Mr. Wheeler?" Kroft asks.

"There was no gates. We drive in. Waited for him to finish playing golf. I had an update when he was gonna -- his tee time. So, I just waited for him to finish," Martorano remembers.

"You knew what he looked like?" Kroft asks.

"I had his description from Rico," Martorano says.

Martorano says he shot Wheeler once in the head.

Martorano says it wasn't the first or the last time he would get useful information from an FBI man. One of the FBI's top organized crime investigators in Boston, a corrupt agent named John Connolly, helped them out for years. Martorano says it was Connolly who told them that an associate of theirs named John Callahan was about to rat them out on the Wheeler murder. Callahan would become Martorano's 20th and final victim.

"Do you think that John Connolly knew that you were gonna kill Callahan?" Kroft asks.

"Sure," Martorano says. "He said it, 'We're all going to go to jail the rest of our life if this guy doesn't get killed.'"

"And this an FBI agent telling you this?" Kroft asks.

"This is an FBI agent telling it to Whitey, telling it to me," Martorano says.

Martorano has already told this story under oath, and is expected to tell it again to a jury in Florida this spring when Connolly goes on trial for complicity in that murder. He's already serving a ten-year sentence for obstructing justice. In the end, it was a Massachusetts State Police investigation that began to unravel the Winter Hill Gang. In 1995, Martorano, Flemmi and Whitey Bulger were all indicted for racketeering. Bulger, who was tipped off by Connolly about his impending arrest, went underground and is still a fugitive. And in a Boston courtroom, Martorano was about to learn something that would change his life forever.

He knew that Bulger and Flemmi had been getting information from the FBI. But he didn't know they had been also been providing it. For decades, his partners were top-level FBI informants, snitching on the Italian mafia and on Martorano and other gang members. They had violated his code of loyalty, especially Whitey Bulger.

"I'll go along with a lot of things, but not -- no Judas, not no informant," Martorano says. "I never informed or ratted on nobody. And if I could've killed him, I would've killed him. But he wasn't there and that's what I think he deserves."

Martorano decided to strike back the only way he could, using words as his weapon. "I gave him back what he gave everybody else," Martorano says.

"You became an informant?" Kroft asks.

"Nope, I became a government witness," Martorano says. "Not an informant, or a rat. I became a government witness."

Asked what the difference is, Martorano tells Kroft, "One's got the courage to stand on the stand, the other ones' are doin' it behind your back, and droppin' dimes. And how can I be rattin' on a guy who's the rat for 30 years? I'm tryin' to stop him from rattin' anymore."

Bulger, who is still on the FBI's "Most Wanted" list, is now facing 19 murder charges as a result largely of Martorano’s testimony, and Flemmi is in prison for life. His cooperation helped solve nearly 40 murders, including the 20 he confessed to -- and it helped uncover secret mob graves -- all in return for a sentence of just 14 years.

"In some ways, he got away with murder," Kroft tells Donald Stern, who was the U.S. attorney who eventually signed off on the agreement.

"In some ways, he did get away with murder," Stern agrees.

"The only thing worse than this deal was not doing this deal. 'Cause if we didn't do this deal, no one would receive any punishment for these murders. Corrupt law enforcement arrangements would not have been uncovered and prosecuted. And the cancer in law enforcement that existed in Boston for a number of years would have remained there," Stern says.

"So you're saying it changed the landscape of organized crime in Boston?" Kroft asks.

"It did," Stern replies.

When Martorano was released from prison last spring, he decided to return to Boston. He says he feels safe here now. Most of his enemies are dead, in jail, or on the lam.

"In some cases, regret can take over a person's life. I don't get the sense that that's the case with you," Kroft remarks.

"Well, maybe that's just not my temperament or my personality. Maybe it is, but you can't see it. Or maybe I can't express it the way you want it, but I have my regrets," Martorano says.

"You seem cold," Kroft says. "You killed 20 people and that’s all you have to say about it?"

"I wish it wasn't that way. I mean, I wish there was none. You know, you can’t change the past. I’m trying to do the best I can with the future and explain it as best I can. I regret it all, I can’t change it," Martorano says.

"You still a Catholic?" Kroft asks.

"Sure," Martorano says.

"I mean, you can burn in hell for killing one person," Kroft points out.

"I don't believe that," Martorano says. "At one point, maybe a couple years ago, I sent for a priest and gave him a confession. It was maybe 30 years since my last confession. But I went through the whole scenario with him, and went through my whole life with him, and confessed. And at the end of it, he says, 'Well, what do you think I should give you for penance?' I says, 'Father, you can justifiably crucify me.' He laughed and says, 'Nope. Ten Hail Marys, ten Our Fathers, and don't do it again.' So I listened to him."

"Anything that could get you to kill again?" Kroft asks.

"Not that I can think of," Martorano says.

Not even Whitey Bulger?

Says Martorano, "Well, there’s a bounty out on him."

Thanks to Steve Kroft

Saturday, January 05, 2008

AMW Fugitive Attending Mobster Funerals?

AMW Fugitive Attending Mobster Funderals?Joseph Quartieri: In the 1990's, AMW profiled elusive fugitive Joseph Quartieri a number of times. He was wanted for trying to kill a police officer in 1979, and then escaping from jail. AMW received a number of tips, but nothing led to Quartieri. Now, investigators believe he may have been sighted -- at mobsters' funerals.

Investigators in New York and New Jersey keep an eye on the mob -- a close eye. And whenever there is a funeral of a well-known mob member, you can bet cops are watching. When John Gotti was buried in 2002, police were quick to identify nearly everyone who was there to lay the infamous Gambino crime boss to rest. But when investigators looked over the surveillance photos, there was one man they couldn't identify. They had a hunch it could be someone they had been hunting for years, but they weren't able to positively identify the guy.

Then, in 2006, police shot a photo of the same man at a different mob-related funeral. This was the funeral for the mother of a known mob member in New York City who police don't want to identify. Again, investigators say they spotted the same guy and again they have a hunch they know who it is. But, without someone positively identifying the guy, police can't make a move.

Police think the guy showing up at the funerals could be Joseph Quartieri. In 1979, Quartieri is accused of breaking into a jewelry store on Long Island and shooting at a police officer who responded to the call. Quartieri was charged with the attempted murder of the cop, and with robbery. Police knew Quartieri to be a low level associate of the Gambino crime family and a man with an extensive criminal record. In fact, the then- 32-year-old man had already been arrested 24 times and served eight years in prison. But, shortly after he was locked up for this robbery, police say he broke out of the Nassau County jail and hasn't been seen since.

AMW first profiled Quartieri in 1993, and has re-run his profile several times since. But nothing has led directly to this guy. It's as if he disappeared.

Police believe one of the following three scenarios to be true. Number one, the guy in the photos is their fugitive, Joseph Quartieri. Number two, mobsters had Quartieri killed because he had become a "liability" because he was a wanted man. Or, scenario number three, Quartieri is on the run and possibly out of the country. Regardless, investigators need the public's help to identify whoever the man in the surveillance photos is.

Camping World


Following eight weeks of trial, a federal jury in Central Islip, New York, returned a verdict convicting Colombo organized crime family acting boss Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico and administration member John "Jackie" DeRoss of murder in aid of racketeering and witness tampering. Specifically, Persico and DeRoss were found guilty of orchestrating the May 26, 1999, murder of Colombo family underboss William Cutolo, Sr.

The evidence at trial established that Persico and DeRoss murdered Cutolo because they believed he was about to take control of the Colombo family from Persico, and to serve as retribution for Cutolo's actions during the bloody Colombo family war in the early 1990s. During the war, Cutolo, on behalf of the faction loyal to Vic Orena, tried to wrest control of the Colombo family from Alphonse Persico and his father, the family's official boss, Carmine "The Snake" Persico. As part of the murder plot, Persico summoned Cutolo to a meeting on the afternoon of May 26, 1999. That afternoon, an auto mechanic dropped Cutolo off at a park near 92nd Street and Shore Road in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, the designated place for the meeting with Persico. Cutolo was never seen or heard from again, and the government's evidence indicated that Cutolo's body most likely was dumped into the Atlantic Ocean. That evening, DeRoss kept watch over Cutolo's crew at the Friendly Bocce Social Club in Brooklyn, where the crew was awaiting Cutolo's arrival for their traditional Wednesday evening dinner. When Cutolo failed to show up, DeRoss feigned surprise and directed Cutolo's son, William Cutolo, Jr., to telephone his father. Early the next morning, May 27, DeRoss, on Persico's orders, arrived at Cutolo's home and began questioning Cutolo's widow, Marguerite Cutolo, about the location The United States Attorney's Office Eastern District of New York United States Attorney's Office Eastern District of New York

Persico and DeRoss were also found guilty of tampering with witnesses Marguerite Cutolo (Cutolo's widow), Barbara Jean Cutolo (one of Cutolo's daughters), and William Cutolo, Jr. The trial evidence included a recording William Cutolo, Jr., secretly made of DeRoss threatening the Cutolo family in March 2000, several months after it was publicly disclosed that Persico was a target of the FBI's investigation of the Cutolo murder. During the meeting, DeRoss ordered the Cutolo family to provide false, exculpatory information to a private investigator hired by Persico. DeRoss told the Cutolo family that, if they did not assist Persico, Marguerite Cutolo could be "hurt," as could the "little . . . kids," referring to Barbara Jean Cutolo's seven and five-year-old daughters. Marguerite and Barbara Jean Cutolo both testified at trial that, as a result of DeRoss's threats, the Cutolos withheld information about the murder from law enforcement authorities for years, including Cutolo, Sr.'s statement to Marguerite Cutolo on May 26, 1999, that he was going to a meeting with Persico.

Persico was the second acting boss of an LCN crime family convicted in 2007 of murder charges in the Eastern District of New York. On July 31st, Bonnano organized crime family acting boss Vincent Basciano was convicted of racketeering murder and is awaiting sentencing. "Law enforcement's campaign against organized crime will continue until our communities are free from its corrupting influence," stated United States Attorney Benton J. Campbell. Mr. Campbell praised the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the agency that led the government's investigation.

When sentenced by United States District Judge Joanne Seybert, each defendant faces a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. The government's case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys John Buretta, Deborah Mayer, and Jeffrey Goldberg.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Mob Boss Joseph Bonnano's Son, Salvatore, is Dead

Salvatore (Bill) Bonanno, the oldest son of the late New York City crime chieftain Joe Bonanno and author of a book about growing up in a Mafia family, has died. He was 75.

Los Angeles literary agent Mickey Freiberg confirmed in an e-mail to The Associated Press that Bonanno yesterday in Tucson. The cause of death was a heart attack, according to Bonanno's nephew Anthony Tarantola.

Bonanno, who escaped mob hits and eventually the mob itself, wrote "Bound by Honor: A Mafioso's Story" in 2000. His Web site describes him as an author, movie producer and lecturer. The book was an attempt to make sense of myths about the Mafia in America, the site says.

Bonanno was made a member of the Mafia by his early 20s, according to the site.

He was the subject of Gay Talese's book "Honor Thy Father" and co-produced a 1999 miniseries based on the autobiography of his father, known as "Joe Bananas."

In 1968, Bonanno was imprisoned on contempt, credit card and other white-collar charges, according to his own biography. Between his first stint in prison and 1993, he spent 12 years behind bars for several convictions.

Bonanno served for decades as his father's adviser before becoming an author.

Bonanno's father died in 2002. Joe Bonanno was never convicted of anything worse than obstructing justice, but had admitted to belonging to "the Commission," an organized-crime board of directors of sorts in New York and other major American cities.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Sopranos Locations Map

Just as I have with the Chicago Outfit Locations Map, I have started to create a map of famous locations from The Sopranos. With the holidays past us and a lull in news, I should have more time to spend on both of these maps. Eventually, I will add location maps for each of the 5 New York Families as well as for mob spots in Las Vegas. Clicking on the blue markers will bring up information on each site. Feel free to send me additional locations for inclusion.

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Mafia Library

Crime Family Index