Friday, August 29, 2008

Not Guilty Plea from Junior Gotti

John A. "Junior" Gotti has pleaded not guilty to federal racketeering charges in Tampa.

The 44-year-old son of the former Gambino family crime boss was arraigned in federal court Thursday afternoon. He faces conspiracy charges that link him to three mob slayings, cocaine distribution and other crimes.

Dressed in a blue jail jumpsuit and shackled at the ankles, Gotti appeared with his attorneys but didn't speak during the five-minute hearing.

Prosecutors say Gotti was a chief in an arm of the Gambino crime family that operated in Florida and other states going back to 1983.

Gotti denies the charges and has said he has long been retired from organized crime. His attorneys said they plan to ask that the trial be moved to New York.

The New England Mafia is Not What It Used to Be

The New England Mafia just is not what it used to be.

In what would be an unusual move for a man of his rank, the family's reputed underboss, Carmen "The Cheese Man" DiNunzio, is accused of personally delivering a $10,000 bribe to a near stranger, a man who turned out to be an undercover FBI agent.

Some of his underlings have supplemented their incomes by shoplifting, and one aging soldier was spotted peddling electric toothbrushes on a street in the North End, State Police said.

The local Mafia, which traditionally denounced drugs, now tolerates addicts in its ranks. And some members of the old guard have turned down promotions or become inactive because they fear going back to prison or have lost faith after seeing Mafiosi around the country break omerta, the code of silence, and turn informant or government witness, police said.

"They don't have the strength and the power they once did because of the line people," said State Police Detective Lieutenant Stephen P. Johnson, who oversees organized crime investigations as head of the Special Service Section. "The crews they have out there is where they are lacking. . . . It's a different generation. They're not as smart about how they involve themselves in supporting the family."

Jeffrey S. Sallet, supervisory special agent in charge of the FBI's Providence office and coordinator of the New England division's organized crime program, agreed, saying that La Cosa Nostra, commonly known as the Mafia, "has less of a talent pool to pull from because of ethnic neighborhoods disappearing."

The New England Mafia does not wield as much power or make as much money as it did in the 1980s, before its ranks were depleted by waves of convictions, law enforcement officials said. There are about 30 made members of the Mafia in Greater Boston, compared with at least double that in the 1980s, Johnson said.

"They are a shell of what the organization was years ago," said Major Steven O'Donnell, deputy superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police.

Still, officials said the local Mafia remains a substantial threat and continues to rake in significant profits from illegal gambling and bookmaking. In Greater Boston, the mob has lost its grip on pornography and prostitution, but has been expanding its video poker business, State Police said.

"Are they making money hand over fist? No," said Johnson. "Do they get as much respect? No. But everybody is surviving."

The family's reputed boss of a dozen years is 81-year-old Luigi "Louie" Manocchio, who works out of Addie's Laundromat on Federal Hill in Providence and lives in an apartment upstairs, according to court affidavits.

Manocchio could not be reached for comment for this report. But in 1999, when he was given probation by a Rhode Island judge after admitting he had given his elderly mother a stolen dishwasher and refrigerator, his lawyer, John Cicilline, said he knew nothing about his client's alleged mob ties and said, "The only time I've ever heard that is in the papers," according to the Associated Press.

An FBI affidavit filed in federal court identifies DiNunzio, 51, of East Boston as the family's underboss, or second in command, since 2004. The 400-pound owner of the Fresh Cheese shop on Endicott Street in the North End is under house arrest awaiting two trials, one in Essex County on state extortion and illegal gambling charges and the other in federal court on the bribery charge.

A federal indictment returned in May alleges that DiNunzio paid $10,000 to an undercover FBI agent posing as a state highway inspector in December 2006, part of a conspiracy to secure a $6 million contract to provide loam for the Big Dig.

"I'm the Cheese Man," DiNunzio told the undercover agent on recordings later played in court, as he promised to make the deal go through. "You ask anybody about me. . . . We straighten out a lot of beefs, a lot of things."

DiNunzio's failure to insulate himself by dispatching an underling has raised speculation about a dumbing down in the mob.

"None of them are rocket scientists," said Johnson, noting that many of DiNunzio's predecessors were convicted, partly based on recordings of them saying foolish and incriminating things.

Sallet declined to comment on DiNunzio's motivation, but said: "The mob is all about opportunity. Any chance to make money, they are going to take it."

DiNunzio's lawyer, Anthony Cardinale, described DiNunzio as "a nice, nice guy" who was lured into what he believed was a legitimate deal by a longtime friend who was cooperating with the FBI and introduced him to the agent. "Carmen's downfall is he was a good friend of this guy, and he never suspected this guy would do this to him," Cardinale said.

Despite DiNunzio's legal predicament, law enforcement officials said he has a reputation as a fairly smart, low-key leader. "The leadership isn't stupid," Johnson said. "They don't attract the quality line people."

O'Donnell said the family has suffered from a lack of midlevel managers as some experienced mobsters have refused to take those jobs because they do not want the law enforcement scrutiny or the headaches they bring.

Today, the family is a mix of old soldiers who have recently returned to the streets after years in prison and young members who grew up in middle-class suburban households, law enforcement officials said.

Unlike the old guard, who grew up in poor, ethnic neighborhoods and were groomed by elder mobsters, the new generation tends to be less street-smart and is attracted by the glitz and glamour of shows such as HBO's "The Sopranos," State Police said.

"The guys now want to appear to be Tony Soprano," Johnson said. "They're flashy."

A couple of reputed Boston mobsters were secretly recorded in 2000 complaining that rivals had mimicked the Sopranos crew by leaving dead fish in doorways and on cars in an effort to intimidate them.

The reality is, "it's not a glamorous lifestyle," Sallet said. "You spend your life wondering about whether your friend wants to kill you or hurt you or whether some law enforcement officer wants to put you in jail."

And, he added, for every mobster who is making big money, there are others who are broke. "They call them brokesters," Sallet said. "A lot of them have gambling problems and are low-end scam guys."

But law enforcement officials cautioned that the Mafia is still dangerous, especially because so many of the region's most feared mobsters have recently been freed from prison.

"It has a very big potential to change drastically in New England over the next several years, or it can stay the same course," O'Donnell said.

Thanks to Shelley Murphy

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fannie Gotti, Mother of the Dapper Don, Dies at 96

The woman who spawned some of the most notorious and violent gangsters in mob history died peacefully of natural causes in a Long Island nursing home at age 96, her family said yesterday.

Philomena "Fannie" Gotti died of natural causes Tuesday night at a retirement home in Valley Stream, said "Dapper Don" John Gotti's widow, Victoria. "She was an amazing lady," Victoria Gotti told the Post. "One of those strong, strong old-timers."

The announcement of the gangland matriarch's death came just a day before her grandson, John "Junior" Gotti, will be arraigned on murder charges in Tampa, Fla.

His attorney said the death should not have any impact on today's court hearing. "We don't plan on bringing it up," lawyer Seth Ginsberg said.

Fannie Gotti, a Bronx native, was married to construction worker John Joseph Gotti. She gave birth to 13 children in 16 years, two of whom died in childbirth, according to the book "Mob Star" by Jerry Capeci and Gene Mustain.

Five of her seven sons would go on to become made members of the Gambino crime family, which her fifth child, John, violently took control of by assassinating the reigning boss Paul Castellano in 1985 in front of Sparks Steak House.

Another one of her brutal boys, Peter, 68, tried to whack Salvatore "Sammy Bull" Gravano, the turncoat who helped put the Teflon Don behind bars.

Vincent Gotti, 56, pleaded guilty earlier this summer to the botched rubout of Howard Beach, Queens, deli owner Angelo Mugnolo, in a fight over a woman. He's awaiting sentencing in Brooklyn federal court.

The late John Gotti, famous for his flamboyant style and swagger before he died in prison in 2002, scoffed at news articles that made his parents out to be Italian immigrants who scraped together meager savings to book passage to America.

"That was one of the things John got mad about," said a source. "The stupid reporters who thought his folks came from Sicily. They were born in The Bronx."

Victoria Gotti, John's widow, described her late mother-in-law as a "typical old-fashioned lady. She was a housewife, a stay-at-home mom."

She said that mom and mob-boss son got along swimmingly, although "I'm sure like any mother and child, they had their little tiffs now and again."

In later years, Fannie took a job at the Bohack supermarket chain, where she worked in the butcher department wrapping meat, Victoria said.

In June 1992, Fannie's husband died of cancer at 85. It was just two days after John was sentenced to life in prison for his career of murder and racketeering.

Fannie was living with her daughter, Marie, in Valley Stream before she moved into a nearby retirement home, Victoria said. Funeral arrangements had not yet been made, she said.

Junior Gotti was "as close as any of the kids could be" with his grandmother, Victoria said. He is accused of ordering three gangland slayings in the late 1980s and early 1990s and running a giant coke dealing operation out of bars in Ozone Park, Queens.

Ginsberg said he would soon file a change-of-venue motion with the Tampa trial judge to have the case moved back to New York.

Thanks to Stephanie Cohen

Guilty Pleas in Organized Crime Gambling Ring

Two men with reputed ties to organized crime pleaded guilty on Tuesday to participating in an illegal gambling ring run out of a wholesale produce market at Hunts Point in the Bronx.

John Caggiano, who the authorities say is an associate in the Genovese crime family, admitted in State Supreme Court in Manhattan that he “knowingly advanced and profited from unlawful gambling.” In exchange for his plea to enterprise corruption, a felony, Mr. Caggiano, 59, will receive a sentence of one and a half to four and a half years in prison. He must also forfeit $176,000.

His co-defendant, Douglas Maleton, 60, admitted that he had been a runner for the numbers and sports-betting operation and pleaded guilty to attempted enterprise corruption, for which he will receive a one-year sentence. He must forfeit $591.

“Today’s pleas go a long way to ridding our public wholesale markets of organized crime,” said Michael J. Mansfield, the chairman of the city’s Business Integrity Commission, which was created in 2001 to help end mob influence in the trash-hauling companies and wholesale markets.

Mr. Mansfield also said Tuesday’s pleas were only part of the battle. “There are always going to be influences of organized crime in an organization that has the ability to generate $1.2 billion in sales,” he said.

Mr. Caggiano and Mr. Maleton were 2 of 11 men who were arrested in November 2006 as part of a gambling ring that the authorities said generated $200,000 a year in profits. All but one of the 11 men have pleaded guilty. Robert Russo, who the authorities contend is the head of the operation, is scheduled to go on trial next month.

Mr. Caggiano, the son-in-law of Dominick Cirillo, the former acting boss of the Genovese family, owned and operated C&S Wholesale Produce Inc., one of the terminal market’s biggest produce wholesalers. The authorities said that he ran the day-to-day operations of the ring, often conducting business from his headquarters at C&S.

The commission began investigating the company in 2004, Mr. Mansfield said. By 2006, after the Manhattan district attorney’s office brought charges against the 11 men, the commission began its own proceedings against C&S, Mr. Mansfield said. In May 2007, the commission expelled C&S from the market, finding that the company “lacked good character, honesty and integrity,” Mr. Mansfield said.

Robert M. Morgenthau, the Manhattan district attorney, said the investigation relied on “quite extensive electronic surveillance over a long period of time.”

The case was under Mr. Morgenthau’s jurisdiction because some of the operations were run out of an apartment in Lower Manhattan, the authorities said.

Justice Bruce Allen is scheduled to formally sentence Mr. Maleton on Oct. 10 and Mr. Caggiano on Nov. 3. Both men declined to comment.

Thanks to John Eligon

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The FBI's Community Outreach Program

Talk about a quick turnaround. In May, the FBI alerted their partner, Clear Channel Outdoor, about a fugitive wanted for armed bank robbery in Milwaukee. Clear Channel quickly featured the man on its digital billboards in and around the city. By the next morning, the fugitive had turned himself in. Apparently, he saw his mug shot on a billboard and, in his own words, “did not like that.”

It’s just one of the many recent operational successes for the FBI's Community Outreach Program. You know that they have special agents across the globe gathering clues and intelligence and solving cases. But did you know that they also have a network of community outreach professionals nationwide supporting their work every day?

They do, and they count on these professionals more than ever to build partnerships with all manner of civic, minority, religious, and ethnic leaders and organizations at national and local levels…to help us get our arms around evolving threats and demographic changes…and to strengthen our overall efforts to prevent crime and terrorism. That includes everything from developing anti-gang strategies to building trust with Muslim leaders.

The FBI's partnership—headed by their community outreach specialist in Philadelphia—led to the groundbreaking agreement with Clear Channel to feature FBI fugitives and emergency notices on its digital billboards in dozens of cities across the country starting late last year. Two more digital billboard providers—Adams Outdoor and Lamar Advertising—have since joined the initiative. So far, at least eight fugitives have been captured as a direct result of publicity from the billboard program.

Each year, their outreach professionals nationwide—who now number 65—come together with representatives from FBI Headquarters for a weeklong conference to build on successes like these. This year’s conference—held in Tampa in June and led by Brett Hovington, chief of the Community Relations Unit at FBI Headquarters—was particularly productive. The participants wrestled with tough issues, shared insights and best practices, explored the many tools available for successful outreach, and heard from a variety of experts and leaders, including FBI Deputy Director John Pistole and Assistant Director John Miller, head of the FBI’s Office of Public Affairs.

For the second straight year, one outreach partner—the FBI National Citizens’ Academy Alumni Association—held a simultaneous conference, getting into the weeds of finding ways to build a safer America by supporting our mission and participating in joint sessions with the community outreach professionals.

During his presentation, Miller summarized the importance of the FBI's community outreach specialists, calling them “unsung heroes” who “build bridges that our special agents can walk across” and who have their hands “on the pulse of the community” by reaching into schools, neighborhoods, corporate boardrooms, mosques, and churches. The work, he said, is vital and not always easy—including late night meetings and some “uncomfortable questions to answer.” Miller also praised the FBI's Citizens’ Academy alumni, who take their own time to support the FBI and “lead us to the next door and the next door and the next.”

For more information on the FBI's Community Outreach program, visit their “In Your Community” website.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Open City: True Story of the KC Crime Family 1900-1950

For 25 years, William Ouseley was considered public enemy number one ... if you were a mobster, that is.

The FBI agent earned the ongoing assignment to help take down the powerful crime families that had thrived in Kansas City for decades. And these weren’t simply small-time hoods. “The conception is driven by the media and the movies that they’re just some thugs that mainly kill each other and are involved in some basic criminal activities,” Ouseley says. “I don’t think people understand the impact organized crime has had on the underpinnings of our society: infiltration of business, infiltration of the labor unions, infiltration of politics and government.”

Ouseley, who retired from the FBI in 1985 as supervisor of the Kansas City Field Division of the Organized Crime Squad, got to see the toils of his labor justified through the prosecution, conviction and dismantling of the notorious Civella cartel. Now the longtime Lenexa resident has written his first book, “Open City,” which traces the birth and spread of organized crime in Kansas City. “After 21 years of working on the street, there were a lot of people encouraging me to tell the stories,” he says. “The history took me over, though. I found it was a book in itself. That’s why I only got from 1900 to 1953.”

Ouseley, a fit-looking 72-year-old with a prominent Bronx accent, encountered plenty of obstacles when assembling the project. “The most difficult thing about it is that everybody of any significance is dead,” he says. “I wasn’t too interested in people telling me tales that I had no way knowing if they were true. A second problem was that during the heyday of the mob and the machine, they cleaned out all the records from the police department. That was part of their power. So piecing together some of the history of these people and how they came to be was very difficult.”

The title “Open City” may at first seem like a reference to Roberto Rossellini’s famous 1945 film about oppression in wartime Italy. But Ouseley says he chose the name because of the freedom the mob experienced during their heyday in Kansas City. “I wanted to capture the fact that it was a wide-open, anything goes, captive city completely dominated by a corrupt machine and an organized crime family,” he explains. “It was a haven for the gangsters of the ’20s and ’30s. They all came up here for R&R. It was an open city in the negative sense.”

“Open City” revels in the “gangster era” that continues to be a source of fascination for true crime aficionados.

Through meticulous research, Ouseley traces the roots of crime societies in Southern Italy and Sicily, which became known as the shadowy Black Hand once they arrived in the Midwest.

What began as an insular gang extorting local businesses in “Little Italy” in the early 1900s developed into a formidable juggernaut during Prohibition, eventually allying itself with the political engine run by boss Tom Pendergast.

One hilarious story in the book tells of the State Line Tavern, which sat directly on the state line at 3205 Southwest Blvd. Gamblers moved to the west side of a white line that divided the building if Missouri police raided the joint, and to the east if officers hailed from Kansas.

The slow incursion by these organized crime factions paved the way for Kansas City’s most infamous mobster: Nick Civella.

“In the beginning when we learned what we were up against, it didn’t appear to be too significant in the national scene,” Ouseley says. “But we came to find out that Nick Civella was a major player nationally, mainly due to the fact that he owned Roy Lee Williams. With him having Williams, who became the IBT (International Brotherhood of Teamsters) president, we came to find out that Nick was one who had to be included at the table in many of the schemes that involved the use of unions and pension funds. The Las Vegas case that closed out my career sort of proved that.”

Ouseley’s expertise in this area led to a featured appearance on “60 Minutes,” in which he was utilized as the central expert during a story about a major Teamster figure from Cleveland who became an FBI informant.

At the age of 50, however, the agent decided to retire from the profession. He says, “There were a number of reasons. I had 25 years in. I had seen the demise of the Civella dynasty. The timing was right. I had to retire at 55 because it’s mandatory. With the big case that ended the whole saga, I wouldn’t say there was nothing left to be done, but the major portion had been done. Then my wife was after me to quit.”

After his stint with the bureau, Ouseley spent 15 years as the NFL security representative for Kansas City. (“The theory behind the department was to protect the integrity of the league,” he says.) After he left the NFL in 2000, he worked on his own as a security consultant, private investigator and public speaker.

Although he’s been away from the gritty drama of mob case work for more than two decades, he still keeps up with where organized crime stands in Kansas City.

“From what I understand it’s on a very low end,” he says. “The last of the ‘tough guys’ in Civella’s entourage — Carl DeLuna — died about two weeks ago. The last of the sons and grandsons of the racketeers, they have been pummeled with these cases. They’ve lost all of their main assets — the politics, the labor — and that was the substance of the mob. They’re semi-legitimate now. They run some of the topless bars and things like that.”

Surprisingly enough, Ouseley claims that at no point during his FBI tenure did he fear his life was in danger.

“There’s sort of an unwritten rule there, and that goes toward the misconceptions that people have,” Ouseley says.

“This is the business of crime and corruption. As a business, their main objective is to further and protect their business interests. They know that to hurt an agent or a prosecutor or even a news person would be detrimental. They would get heat like they don’t normally get. If they killed an agent, we would shut them down. We would take the whole office and just shut down everything they did, even if we had to park a car in front of every gambling operation. But we would not have the ability to do that if left alone.”

Thanks to Jon Niccum

Friday, August 15, 2008

60 of 62 Mobsters Have Pled Guilty Since Fed Takedown in February

Even for an infamous gang of mobsters already weakened by federal prosecutions spanning decades, Feb. 7, 2008 was an unusually bad day for the Gambino organized crime family.

Hundreds of federal agents fanned out across the city and elsewhere in a roundup of 62 suspects from all walks of Mafia life, from reputed acting boss John "Jackie Nose" D'Amico _ a crony of former boss John Gotti _ to common street thugs.

At the time, authorities made headlines by hailing the takedown as one of the largest in recent memory and predicting it would further cripple a storied crime family formerly led by the legendary "Dapper Don."

Six months later and with far less fanfare, 60 of the defendants have pleaded guilty, with many taking deals that will put them behind bars for three years or less. Two of the pleas were entered Thursday and one case was dismissed last week, leaving a lone defendant charged with murder facing trial.

The U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn, which has a long history of prosecuting high-profile Mafia cases with lengthy trials and sentences, has called the case a success. But some defense attorneys suggest the many plea deals show the office overreached and became overwhelmed as the judge pushed for a speedy outcome. "There's no such thing as a 62-defendant trial," said one of the lawyers, Avraham Moskowitz. "So what's the point? The point is to make a splash."

Extortion charges against his client, a New Jersey construction official, were quietly dropped earlier this month after prosecutors conceded they didn't have enough evidence against him. But by then, the lawyer said, an innocent man had seen his reputation ruined by stories linking him to co-defendants with nicknames like "Tommy Sneakers" and "Joe Rackets."

"My client's experience suggests they brought an indictment without careful evaluation of the evidence," he said. "He had his name dragged through the mud for no reason."

Former mob prosecutors say there was nothing haphazard about the Gambino case. Instead, they say, it reflected a calculated shift in strategy favoring carpet bombing of the entire enterprise over strategic strikes against leadership.

"In my view, this is groundbreaking," said James Walden, a former federal prosecutor in Brooklyn who won major convictions against the Bonanno crime family. "They essentially took out the entire organization in one fell swoop" _ an approach designed to reap a new crop of cooperators and rattle those mobsters still on the street but under surveillance.

"It disrupts the family and creates an environment of insecurity," he said. "It causes people to get nervous and talk about things they normally wouldn't talk about."

Prosecutors in Tampa, Fla., took a separate shot at the Gambinos last week, naming John A. "Junior" Gotti in a murder and drug trafficking indictment linking him to three New York City murders from the 1980s and '90s. Three previous cases brought against the Gotti scion since 2005 ended in mistrials.

Randy Mastro, another ex-prosecutor who targeted mob ties to construction as a deputy mayor to Rudy Giuliani, said the two cases have demonstrated the government's resolve to combat a resilient foe. The Brooklyn prosecution, in particular, was "an innovative approach to an endemic historical problem," he said. "Whether it will work, time will tell."

The 80-count Gambino indictment charged the defendants with seven murders, three dating back more than a quarter century, "mob-tax" extortion of the construction industry and racketeering. Among the crime were the slaying of a court officer and extortion at a failed NASCAR track.

Authorities said the case was built with the help of an informant in the construction industry who made three years worth of secret recordings implicating many of the defendants. The arrests, they added, coincided with a smaller sweep of accused gangsters in Italy in a bid to sever the relationship between the Sicilian Mafia and the Gambino family.

On Thursday, reputed capo "Little Nick" Corozzo and co-defendant Vincent DeCongilio avoided a trial scheduled for next week by pleading guilty. The indictment alleged Corozzo ordered the Jan. 26, 1996, murder of a rival mobster. Corozzo now faces 12 to 15 years in prison for murder conspiracy _ by far the harshest term for any of the defendants _ and DeCongilio 12 to 18 months for lesser crimes.

According to prosecutors, Corozzo, 68, was part of a three-man committee of capos formed in 1994 to help "Junior" run New York's Gambino family while his father was in prison, serving a life sentence for murder and racketeering; the elder Gotti died behind bars in 2002.

In May, D'Amico, the acting boss originally charged with racketeering, pleaded guilty to extorting a cement company out of $100,000 and could serve less than two years in prison. The plea, his lawyer said afterward, shows "a lack of evidence and quality of evidence."

Thanks to Tom Hays

Reputed Mob Associate is Good Family Man and Neighbor, Bad Citizen

In the annals of Chicago organized crime, among "No Nose," "Joe Batters" and "The Lackey," mob underling Joe Venezia was never awarded a nickname.

Yesterday, the 65-year old Venezia may have earned his own mob moniker. Joe "The Family Man" Venezia.

That was the gist of Mr. Venezia's plea for mercy as he stood to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel. Venezia contended that he should get a break because he was a good family man to his wife and kids.

The government contended that Venezia was a good member of another family: the Chicago Organized Crime family, where he worked for an illegal video poker racket in the suburbs.

In the end, Judge Zagel brushed aside Venezia's standing in the Venezia family. "He is a good family man and a good neighbor," Zagel said. "He is not a good citizen."

With that, Zagel sentenced the aging hoodlum to 40 months in federal prison and three years of probabtion once he is released.

Venezia pleaded guilty to gambling and tax offenses that were leveled against him in the landmark Operation Family Secrets mob case, but he was not implicated in any of the 18 murders allegedly committed by some co-defendants.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie and Ann Pistone

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Joseph Venezia Says He Only Worked for the Mob and Was Not in the Mob

A low-echelon courier for the Chicago Outfit alleges that federal prosecutors are trying to throw the book at him because he is Italian.

Joseph Venezia of Hillside pleaded guilty to running a gambling business and hiding the his profits from the IRS. He was charged with more than a dozen Chicago hoodlums in the Operation: Family Secrets mob case.

In a court filing, Venezia attorneys state that the hoodlum "takes objection to the investigating agent's conclusion that he was an 'associate' of the Chicago Outfit. There is nothing other than his name ending in a vowel that distinguishes" him from other, non-Italian defendants, argue Venezia's lawyers.

Mr. Venezia, 65, was a runner for an Outfit gambling operation in Cicero. He admits having been "a route man who, among his other duties, collected the proceeds from the video poker machines. For this he was paid a salary of $2,400.00 per month. His tenure was from 1996 until his arrest."

Venezia is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Chicago. The motion filed by his lawyers in advance of sentencing asks for probation, downplaying his role in the Outfit scheme and characterizing him as little more than a gopher.

"He is not a member of the 'Chicago Outfit.' He had no dealings with any of the co-defendants other than the owner and employees of M&M Amusement," states Venezia's motion for mercy filed by attorney Kevin P. Bolger. M&M is a business owned by Mickey Marcello, another defendant in the case who pleaded guilty, and the brother of Chicago Outfit powerhouse James "Little Jimmy" Marcello, so named as a play off of his pasta-infused mid-section.

Venezia isn't the first Family Secrets defendant to raise the issue of an Italian bias by prosecutors. During last summer's trial, lawyers for "Little Jimmy" Marcello flashed a pickup truck-sized shamrock on a screen for the jury to see. The show and tell by Marcello's attorneys was intended to prove that the gangster was really an Irishman because of his mother's heritage.

Another defendant, former Chicago police officer Anthony Doyle, actually changed his moniker from the Italian family name he was born with to the Irish name he now sports. Doyle changed his last name at the time he took the police exam, apparently to better fit in with a department that has been historically well-populated by Irish-American officers.

In Venezia's case, the government is asking a lengthy prison sentence for his role in the mob scheme. Venezia computes the applicable sentence range as 18-24 months but wants Judge James Zagel to adopt a downward departure from the federal guidelines. "He has no criminal record, no history of violence and but for this indiscretion is a law abiding citizen. A period of probation would not deprecate the seriousness of the instant offense," according to Venezia's motion.

Further, his motion states that the mob messenger "is married to a women who is in poor health and is dependent on him for financial support as well as assist her in her every day activities. He is also supporting his hearing impaired step son & he has lost his elderly mother, but his son Frank has had a mental breakdown an attempted suicide. He was hospitalized for treatment and now depends on Joe for strength in getting through a most difficult time in his life."

Thanks to Chuck Goudie and Ann Pistone

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Domenico Cefalu, Reputed Gambino Underboss, Gets 2 Years in Prison

The Feds say Domenico Cefalu is acting underboss of the Gambino crime family. His lawyer says he's "under," all right - underpaid and underachieving.

At his sentencing on an extortion conviction on Monday, the two sides painted very different pictures of the 61-year-old Cefalu.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Brownell argued in Brooklyn Federal Court that Cefalu's sentence should reflect his high rank in the crime family as underboss. "These claims that he has very little contact with the [Gambino crime family] simply make no sense," Brownell said.

Defense lawyer Joseph Ryan had a few "under" suggestions of his own. Cefalu is "underpaid" - earning a measly $42,000 as a salesman for a bakery supply company, Ryan said.

Then Ryan came up with "underachieving" because Cefalu only pocketed about $8,000 on the shakedown of a cement company. And don't forget "undercut," Ryan noted, because his client was pushed out of another Gambino scheme involving a NASCAR race track on Staten Island.

Just in case Judge Jack Weinstein didn't get the full picture, Ryan noted that Cefalu drives a 1999 sedan, lost his $1,700-a-month rental apartment in Bay Ridge after his arrest in February and will have to move in with his elderly mother when he's released from prison.

The judge didn't comment on Cefalu's rank, but hit him with two full years in prison, which is more than the minimum 21 months he faced.

Also sentenced yesterday were retired NYPD Detective Frank Vassallo to four months and ex-NYPD cop Ronald Flam, who got time served for illegal gambling with the Gambinos.

thanks to John Marzulli

Robert Maheu, Who Hired the Chicago Outfit to Kill Castro, Dies at 90

For one simple reason, nearly all of the notable and notorious from Robert Maheu's life couldn't make it to his funeral over the weekend.

They were dead.

At age 90, Maheu outlived the oddballs and Outfit members who made him a legend in law enforcement circles. Howard Hughes, the richest-man recluse with fingernails as long as his bank statement; Anthony "The Ant" Spilotro who ended up 6-feet under; Johnny Roselli, the crafty gangland killer; and Sam "Mooney" Giancana of Chicago mobdom fame. They were all Maheu associates who preceded him in death.

The one surviving celebrity from Mr. Maheu's storied past who might have shown up in the pews at St. Viator Catholic Church in Las Vegas on Saturday, didn't come.

Fidel Castro.

Of course Mr. Castro is preoccupied back in Cuba with his own health problems, those pesky reports of his personal demise and that continuing U.S. trade and travel embargo.

The fact is if Maheu's biggest professional project had succeeded, Cuba today would be more a popular tourist haven than the Bahamas and Castro would be a name carved onto an ornate Havana gravestone.

Maheu (pronounced May-hew) worked for the FBI during World War II in counter-espionage. He opened his own private-eye firm in 1954 and the Central Intelligence Agency was his best client, paying him a $500 retainer. The CIA handed him "cut-out" assignments that involved illegal tactics, which if exposed would be untraceable to the federal agency.

Maheu's most spectacular cut-out assignment from the CIA was to overthrow Cuban dictator Fidel Castro by murdering him. Thirteen million was budgeted to instruct paramilitary soldiers outside of Cuba for a guerrilla assault. Dozens of those rebels were trained in a Chicago warehouse, according to law enforcement officials cited in an ABC7 investigative report a few years ago.

As the soldiers-for-hire trained, Maheu recruited two top Chicago Outfit bosses, Johnny Roselli and Sam Giancana, to carry out the Castro assassination. Roselli and Giancana preferred a scheme to poison Castro.

Giancana was the perfect candidate to eliminate Castro. He had the power, the firepower and the persona. In his autobiography, Maheu recalls how the mob boss enjoyed playing gangster. Once, when a young tough walked up to him, the Outfit boss put him in place.

"Without even looking at the punk, Giancana grabbed his necktie and yanked him close. Sam stared right into the kid's eyes and said, 'I eat little boys like you for breakfast. Get your ass out of here before I get hungry.'"

Recently declassified CIA records reveal that the government covertly offered Giancana $150,000 for the gangland hit on Castro but that Momo, as he was sometimes called, refused the money and wanted to do the job for free. The Chicago Outfit and the New York Mafia had an interest in getting rid of Castro.

"They'd had a grudge against Castro ever since he'd forced them out of the Havana casinos," Maheu recalled in a 1992 autobiography. "It was even rumored that Meyer Lansky had put a million-dollar bounty on Castro's head. CIA Director Allen Dulles passed the ball to his deputy director, Richard Bissell. Bissell handed off to the CIA security chief. Colonel Sheffield Edwards. And then I received the call..."

"They used the analogy of World War II," Maheu wrote. "If we had known the exact bunker that Hitler was in during the war, we wouldn't have hesitated to kill the bastard. The CIA felt exactly the same way about Castro. If Fidel, his brother Raul, and Che Guevara were assassinated, thousands of lives might be saved."

CIA memos show that at least two assassination attempts were made on Castro in early 1961 with CIA-supplied lethal pills and organized-crime support, but both failed. Testimony and evidence presented at congressional hearings in 1975 revealed that the CIA tried to kill Castro at least eight times in the early 1960s.

The attempts all failed just like the bungled Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. Castro survived. Those who masterminded the plots against him didn't.

Except Robert Maheu. Until last week when he died of old age. "It's been a helluva ride," Maheu was quoted as saying in a fascinating story written in last November's Chicago Magazine by Bryan Smith, the fine freelance reporter.

Despite the morals and ethics that always tugged at his conscience, Maheu said that he might do it all again. "If I were called upon tomorrow again, and I thought it would save one American life, I think I'd be tempted."

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

The Other Side of Capone

The Other Side of Capone is an exciting new documentary that presents fascinating and little-known details about the legendary Al Capone. Through the use of re-enactments and archival footage gathered after exhaustive research, this film, narrated by Antoinette Giancana, begs the question: How could a man so notorious as a ruthless gangster also be capable of giving so much of his money away to the less fortunate, display unyielding loyalty to friends and associates, warmth to strangers and even forgiveness to his enemies. It is a compelling side of Al Capone that is not to be missed.

The latest news from this project is that filming is now complete and they are in contact with several networks regarding its airing.

Richard Basciano Not Related to "Vinny Gorgeous"

The New York Daily News has issued the following correction to the story directly below:

“An Aug. 3 article about the partnership of Jamie Masada and Richard Basciano in the Laugh Factory mistakenly reported that Basciano's brother is the former Bonanno crime family boss known as "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, who is serving a life sentence for murder. In fact, the two are not brothers. The News regrets the error.”

Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada has filed suit against his Times Square business partner, Show World owner Richard Basciano, claiming that he has been shaken down by the mob-connected adult theater owner (In actuality there is no specific claim in the civil action that the Laugh Factory was “shaken down” or that a New York crime family is shaking down the Laugh Factory). Masada alleges to have been threatened with a gun, coerced into contracts and even says that the club was told that "somebody could be killed" if a certain comedian was booked again.

The suit pits the new, cleaned-up Times Square against its seedier past. Basciano has Gambino crime family associates and is the brother Bonanno crime family boss "Vinny Gorgeous." (Per above correction, the Bascianos are not related.) Masada, on the other hand, was personally asked to bring the Laugh Factory to New York by former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in the wake of 9/11. "I thought, 'Yes, New York needs some laughs,'" Masada said when he agreed to bring the club to Times Square in 2003.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Filmstrip of Chicago Outfit Mob Bosses

Bob Cooley - Man vs. The Chicago Mob on The National Geographic Channel

The Chicago Mob, known as the Outfit was literally getting away with murder. Through rarely seen archival footage and interviews with former Mob associates and FBI agents, NGC takes you inside what took down the Mob. Be sure to watch the National Geographic Channel on Sunday, August 17th at 7:00PM Chicago time.

When Corruption Was King: How I Helped the Mob Rule Chicago, Then Brought the Outfit Down

The Godfather II Video Game to be Released in Early 2009

Electronic Arts is looking to pull gamers back in.

Publisher is developing "The Godfather II," a sequel to its 2006 videogame based on the classic Paramount film, for release in February.

Original "Godfather" game saw worldwide sales of more than 4 million unitsThe Godfather Video Game. A total solid enough that EA greenlit a sequel almost immediately after production on the final version of the game was done in late 2006. According to industry tracker NPD, the first game grossed $62 million in the U.S.

Follow-up will follow elements of "The Godfather Part II" film plot that take place in the late 1950s, but not the flashbacks to Vito Corleone's early life that starred Robert De Niro. As in the first game, players control a new member of the Corleone crime family who is rising through the ranks. "The flashbacks that are so great as a film experience don't really work for a game," said Nick Earl, senior VP-general manager for the EA Games label. "We've created our own story that weaves in and out with the film and hits its major touchpoints."

Most of the film's stars except, notably, Al Pacino, are providing likeness rights to EA. In addition, Robert Duvall, whose Tom Hagen plays a prominent role in the game as an adviser to the character, is recording original voiceovers. Director Francis Ford Coppola, who publicly criticized the first game, is again not involved.

Sequel makes "Godfather" the rare Hollywood license to turn into a videogame franchise, along with titles like "Harry Potter," James Bond and "Lord of the Rings." Paramount's long-term deal with EA allows the publisher to continue making more games if the sequel performs better than the original, as is common for successful videogame franchises. "So many movie-based games are just one-offs, so to create a franchise, especially off a property from the 1970s, is pretty phenomenal," said Paramount senior veep of interactive and mobile Sandi Isaacs, who noted that the "Godfather" games benefit from not having to match the release date of a new film.

Studio's homevideo and pay TV groups are already considering plans to re-release "The Godfather: Part II" next winter tied to the game.

"Godfather" is one of several games based on movies from the 1970s and early '80s, including "Jaws" and "Scarface," to come out in the past few years, but it's the only one to get a sequel. Warner Bros. has had a videogame based on "Dirty Harry" in the works for several years.

Like the first "Godfather" game, "Godfather II" will take place in an open world similar to Rockstar's "Grand Theft Auto." However, the follow-up takes place in three different cities: New York, Miami and Havana. Gameplay elements include up-close action as well as a the ability for players to manage their organized crime family from a citywide perspective.

Game will also feature online multiplayer features with battles between mob families.

EA is developing "Godfather II" at its Redwood Shores studio for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, though for other consoles, the game may come out later in 2009.

Thanks to Ben Fritz

Sopranos Flip to the FBI at Newark's 100th Anniversary Celebration

They turned one of his lieutenants into an informant. They sneaked through the woods to hunt him down. And eventually, FBI agents put Johnny "Sack" Sacramoni, the New York mob boss, behind bars.

Then the gangster took an elevator ride to a fifth-floor parking garage in Newark and walked out to find himself surrounded by federal agents once again. This time there were hundreds of them. "I thought this was all over with you guys," he sighed to a round of laughter.

Johnny Sack, of course, was a character on the "Sopranos," HBO's hit show about a dysfunctional Jersey mob family. Vincent Curatola, a Bergen County resident, is the actor who played him. Curatola and several of his cast mates were featured guests at a luncheon in which the FBI's Newark Division celebrated the 100th anniversary of the bureau.

Each division around the nation marked the occasion in its own way to recognize the FBI's growth from a team of 34 investigators to an elite agency with more than 30,000 employees. In Alabama, there was a picnic. In Pittsburgh, an office party. In Philadelphia, a formal dinner. But in Newark, there was Johnny Sack (Curatola), Paulie Walnuts (Tony Sirico), Furio Giunta (Federico Castelluccio) and Uncle Junior (Dominic Chianese).

Weysan Dun, special agent in charge of the FBI's Newark division, invited the actors, saying it was a way to pay tribute to a significant part of the FBI's history and New Jersey culture. "Fighting organized crime is part of our legendary success," he said.

On the show, as in real life, the FBI agents and the mobsters were engaged in a protracted cat-and-mouse game. Today's odd pairing gave real-life crime fighters a chance to compare notes with the fictional wiseguys.

William Evanina, special agent in charge of the FBI's Trenton office, said plenty of New Jersey agents were fans of the show. "We waited to see every Sunday whether they would get it right," he said. He recalled watching his fictional counterparts execute a search warrant at Johnny Sack's home with their guns drawn. "That would never happen," he said -- a simple knock was more likely. "The majority of the stuff they got right. But obviously you've got to take liberties with television."

On another episode, an FBI agent who tipped off Tony Soprano to the whereabouts of an enemy cheered when the rival got whacked. "We're not as bad as they make us out to be. And I'm not sure the real organized crime figures are as good as they are made out to be. But it's great entertainment," said Edward Kahrer, assistant special agent in charge of the Newark division.

Sirico, a Brooklyn actor, joked that if his fellow wiseguys knew he was hanging around a bunch of G-men, "they'd probably whack me."

Chianese's character, Uncle Junior, once complained on the show that he had the feds so far up one part of his anatomy, he could "taste Brylcreem."

Curatola teased Chianese today as they readied to pose for photos with agents. "Did you make a deal with these people? Are you going to flip?" Curatola asked.

Seth Gilliam, who played Sgt. Ellis Carver on "The Wire," a Baltimore police drama and another widely acclaimed HBO series, also was on hand. "I'm the only celebrity here who played a cop. Everybody else is a mobster. Until the special agents came in the room, I felt a little outnumbered," he joked.

Former FBI director and New Jersey native Louis Freeh was the luncheon's keynote speaker. During his remarks, he acknowledged that television and movies have helped burnish the bureau's image for decades, turning the FBI into a "global icon" and name brand. "We certainly thank Hollywood," he said. "But the essence of the FBI is really a direct result of the quality and integrity of the men and women who have served there."

Thanks to Jeff Whelan

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Entire John "Junior" Gotti Tampa Gambino Crime Family Indictment

United States Attorney Robert E. O'Neill and Steven E. Ibison, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI), announced the unsealing of two related indictments charging six men with conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations ("RICO") statute, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d), and charging two of the six men with other crimes. The first case charges John A. Gotti, also known as “John, Jr.,” and “Junior,” a 44 year old resident of Oyster Bay, New York, with RICO conspiracy, and specifically alleges possession of, and trafficking in, more than five kilograms of cocaine, as well as the murders of three men: George Grosso (murdered December 20, 1988 in Queens, New York); Louis DiBono (murdered October 4, 1990 in the parking garage of the former World Trade Center in Manhattan, New York); and Bruce John Gotterup (murdered November 20, 1991 at the Boardwalk at the Rockaways in Queens, New York). GOTTI faces life imprisonment if convicted.

The second case includes four counts. Count One charges John A. Burke, a 47 year old New York state correctional facility inmate, James V. Cadicamo, a 33 year old resident of Tampa, Florida, David D'Arpino, a 33 year old resident of Howard Beach, New York, Michael D. Finnerty, a 43 year old resident of Oceanside, New York, and Guy T. Peden, a 47 year old resident of Wantagh, New York, with RICO conspiracy, and specifically alleges that: (1) BURKE and PEDEN possessed, and trafficked in, more than five kilograms of cocaine; (2) BURKE and PEDEN also participated in the murder of Bruce John Gotterup; and (3) BURKE and D'ARPINO participated in the murder of a man named John Gebert (murdered July 12, 1996 in the Woodhaven section of Queens, New York). Count Two charges D'ARPINO with murder in aid of a racketeering activity, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(1), relating to the murder of John Gebert. Count Three charges CADICAMO with conspiracy to kill and/or beat a man named Michael Malone to prevent MALONE from providing information to a federal law enforcement officer and from testifying as a witness in Case No. 8:04-cr-348-T-24TGW, a RICO conspiracy case tried in Tampa, Florida before U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew in the fall of 2006. Count Four further charges CADICAMO with conspiracy to retaliate against MALONE for his cooperation in the government's ongoing RICO investigations and for testifying in the 2006 RICO conspiracy trial in Tampa.

If convicted of the RICO conspiracy charge, BURKE, CADICAMO, D'ARPINO, FINNERTY, and PEDEN each face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. If convicted of Count Two, the murder in aid of racketeering charge, D'ARPINO faces an additional sentence of life imprisonment or death. If convicted of Counts Three and Four, CADICAMO faces additional prison sentences of up to 30 years and 20 years, respectively.

The GOTTI Case

According to the RICO conspiracy charge against GOTTI, from in or about 1983 and continuing through July 24, 2008, GOTTI and other members and associates of the Gambino organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (the “Gambino Crime Family”) constituted an enterprise (the “GCF Enterprise”) which engaged in an array of criminal conduct including murder, robbery, bribery, kidnaping, extortion, gambling, illegal drug trafficking, loansharking, collecting unlawful debts, jury tampering, victim and witness tampering, burglary, home invasions, aggravated assaults and batteries, and money laundering. The indictment specifies that GOTTI, the son of former and deceased Gambino Crime Family boss, John J. Gotti, occupied various roles in the GCF Enterprise during the period charged, including associate, soldier, captain, and de facto boss of the Gambino Crime Family, and served as a member of the committee of captains formed in the early 1990's to assist in the administration of the Gambino Crime Family.

The indictment further charges that GCF Enterprise members engaged in public acts and displays of violence – shootings, stabbings, baseball bat beatings, and murder – designed to create and maintain fear and dread in others so that the GCF Enterprise could defend and expand its unlawful dominion and influence in certain geographical areas and over certain:
  • (i) legal businesses, such as the business of operating restaurants, the business of operating bars/pubs, the business of providing bar security, and the business of providing valet parking services;
  • (ii) legal industries, such as the construction and trucking industries;
  • (iii) unions’ locals, and
  • (iv) illegal businesses, such as the business of illegally dealing in controlled substances, the business of illegal gambling, and the business of collection of unlawful debts.

Also per the indictment, GCF Enterprise members worked to establish and maintain GCF
Enterprise footholds, or operational bases, in various parts of the United States of America, specifically including the city of Tampa, Florida, in the Middle District of Florida.

The Special Sentencing Allegations section of the RICO conspiracy charge specifies some of the more egregious criminal activity alleged against GOTTI, including possession and trafficking in more than five kilograms of cocaine, and the murders of George Grosso, Louis DiBono, and Bruce John Gotterup. GOTTI is the first person charged for the murder of George Grosso, which was previously listed as an unsolved homicide and was investigated with the assistance of the NYPD Cold Case Squad.

The Criminal Enterprise Case

According to Count One of the indictment charging BURKE, CADICAMO, D'ARPINO, FINNERTY, and PEDEN with RICO conspiracy, from in or about 1983 and continuing through July 31, 2008, the five men, along with MALONE, and Pasquale J. Andriano, and others, constituted an enterprise (the "Criminal Enterprise") which engaged in an array of criminal conduct including murder, robbery, bribery, kidnaping, extortion, gambling, illegal drug trafficking, loansharking, collecting unlawful debts, jury tampering, victim and witness tampering, burglary, home invasions, aggravated assaults and batteries, and money laundering.

The indictment alleges that the Criminal Enterprise operated at times under the influence and control of the Gambino Crime Family and was directed by John E. Alite, who shared the resulting criminal proceeds with members of the Gambino Crime Family, including John A. Gotti, Charles Carneglia, and Ronald J. Trucchio. MALONE, ANDRIANO, TRUCCHIO, and ALITE were all charged in 2004 as defendants in Case No. 8:04-cr-348-T-24TGW, a RICO conspiracy case charged and tried in Tampa in the fall of 2006. ANDRIANO pleaded guilty prior to trial, as did MALONE, who later testified at trial and admitted his role in the RICO conspiracy and testified as to the details of the 1996 murder of John Gebert in Queens, New York. TRUCCHIO was convicted at the fall 2006 Tampa trial and sentenced to life imprisonment. Also charged and convicted in the case were Steven Catalano, Kevin M. McMahon, and Terry L. Scaglione. CATALANO and SCAGLIONE have since been sentenced to prison terms of 192 months and 57 months, respectively. ALITE, who was apprehended in Brazil in November 2004, was extradited to the United States in December 2006. ALITE's case remains before U.S. District Judge Bucklew, as do the cases concerning MALONE and MCMAHON.

It was revealed through testimony and evidence during the 2006 Tampa trial that ALITE was, at one time, a powerful associate of the Gambino Crime Family and had, at various times, an ownership or management interest in a number of valet parking service businesses operating in and around the Tampa Bay area, including Prestige Valet, Inc.

Club Mirage in Tampa.The current indictment also charges that Criminal Enterprise members invested some of their criminal income for the acquisition of interests in other businesses, or "Investment Enterprises," including window/glass businesses, valet parking service businesses, and bars\clubs, such as “Club Mirage,” a nightclub business located at 3605 West Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa.

The Special Sentencing Allegations section of the RICO conspiracy charge specifically alleges that BURKE and PEDEN possessed and trafficked in more than five kilograms of cocaine, that both men also participated in the murder of Bruce John Gotterup, and that BURKE and D'ARPINO participated in the murder of John Gebert. Count Two of the indictment charges D'ARPINO separately for his role in the murder of John Gebert. Count Three charges CADICAMO with conspiracy to kill and/or beat MALONE to prevent MALONE from providing information to a federal law enforcement officer and from testifying as a witness in the 2006 Tampa trial. Count Four further charges CADICAMO with conspiracy to retaliate against MALONE for his cooperation in the government's ongoing RICO investigations and for testifying.

The indictments are the latest results of a lengthy ongoing investigation coordinated by the Tampa and New York FBI Divisions, specifically the Clearwater, Florida, and the Brooklyn Queens Metropolitan FBI offices, and included the Miami and Philadelphia FBI offices, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, the Tampa Police Department, the New York City Police Department, the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, the FBI Legal Attache! to Brazil, the Brazilian federal police, and Interpol. The two cases were investigated by and will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jay G. Trezevant.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Details Emerge of the Chicago Outfit Connection to the Outlaws Motorcyle Club

Just as the mob reflects only a sliver of Italian America, federal authorities say hardened criminals make up only a small portion of the Outlaws motorcycle club, an element known in biker circles as the "one percent." But it is those Outlaws and their associates in the Outfit that authorities say have built a "Double O Alliance."

Prosecutors alleged that in 2003, the Double O Alliance bombed a videogame company in west suburban Berwyn.

C&S Coin Operated Amusements had been cutting in on the mob's illegal video poker racket, according to federal agents who say the bombing was a message from the mob.

Last week, the feds raided several Outlaw clubhouses in metro Chicago, seizing numerous weapons including a live grenade, police badges, a bulletproof vest and a stun gun. And they made two arrests. One man was 41-year-old Chicago Outlaw Mike Polchan, whose arm tattoo stands for "God forgives, Outlaws don't." The other was 84-year-old Samuel Volpendesto from Oak Brook. According to prosecutors, Volpendesto ran Outfit strip clubs and a call girl business.

According to federal charges, both men carried out the 2003 bombing of C&S Amusements. On a secretly recorded FBI tape played in court Wednesday, prosecutors say Volpendesto was heard describing the bomb had one long wick and a back up as well.

"You light both of them. In the event one don't work, you got at least a chance the other one will work," the recording says.

Volpendesto's family and his lawyer didn't want to speak publicly Wednesday, and Polchan's attorney declined an interview.

Prosecutors say a suburban Outfit member nicknamed "The Large Guy" ordered the Outlaws to bomb C&S. That would be the Chicago mobster - according to federal sources - Mike Sarno, the hoodlum who used to be known as "fat boy" before going to prison for mob crimes. Now out and all grown up at age 50, Sarno lives in the suburbs with a wife and kids. He is known as "The Large Guy."

When FBI and ATF agents raided Sarno's home last week, they seized a large quantity of cash, but he was not arrested. "No comment means no comment," Sarno said in response to questions.

The Outfit-Outlaw search warrants, executed at the same time last week, were no coincidence "It's been an ongoing effort from, perhaps, the beginning, for both the Outfit and the motorcycle gangs," said James Wagner, Chicago Crime Commission.

Their roots are in the same era. The Outfit grew from Al Capone's violent mob in the 1930s, just as the Outlaws motorcycle club was born in west suburban McCook in 1935.

The Outlaws' Chicago South Side club headquarters, at the corner of 25th and Rockwell, is non-descript. The front door on the corner though is solid steel. And there is a small bulletproof window. And if that wouldn't be enough to stop an attack, there is a sliding steel plate that can be drawn in front of the main door with its own bulletproof glass right in the middle.

The FBI says there are more than 250 Outlaw chapters worldwide and 38 affiliated gangs in metro Chicago. "You are going to have a small percentage who have a willingness to do other things than just ride a bike, and the Outfit will use that," Wagner said.

In the Berwyn bombing case, that 84-year-old defendant wants out on bond. He says he's suffering from cancer, heart disease, bad hearing, two artificial knees, poor blood flow, high cholesterol, carotid artery problems, herniated disc, sleep apnea and is on oxygen. Prosecutors want him behind bars and say he's "a career criminal who has not been slowed by Father Time."

Watch the Video Report from Investigator Chuck Goudie

Sneak Peek at Classic Gangster Era Journal's Latest Issue

On the Spot JournalThe latest issue of On The Spot Journal will be out soon. Some of the stories that they are currently investigating and putting together include:

Fred "Killer" Burke and Charles Skelly: A Fateful Meeting in Berrien County
by Chriss Lyon

Dutch Schultz's Missing Millions
by John Conway

Roy Gardner: Last of the Old West Badmen
by Robert E. Bates

The Last Days of the Brady Gang
by Richard Shaw

Plus Officer Memorials, News & Events, Book Reviews, etc.

And much more, including our FBI Centennial issue!

Be sure to check it out.

Pop Culture Portrayals of the Mob in Tampa

•"GoodFellas" (1990) Tampa is featured in one of the best gangster movies. The mobsters played by Ray Liotta and Robert De Niro are sent from New York to get money from a man in Tampa. The short segment begins with the pair beating the man in a car, then taking him to the "Tampa City Zoo" and holding him over the lion cages. "They must really feed each other to the lions down there, because the guy gave the money right up," says Liotta.

•"The Punisher" (2004) John Travolta plays a ruthless crime lord who orders the death of FBI Agent Frank Castle's family - and then pays the price when Castle becomes the hero, The Punisher. Part of that price is getting dragged through a parking lot off Ashley Drive in downtown.

•"White Shadow." This 2006 novel by former Tampa Tribune reporter Ace Aktins provides a fictional account of Tampa during the life of Charlie Wall, the local crime king who ran things in Tampa in the 1930s and 1940s, only to eventually be moved out by Santo Trafficante Sr.

•"Donnie Brasco" (1997). The title character, played by Johnny Depp, is actually the FBI agent Joe Pistone, who infiltrates the mob. A segment of the movie depicts a trip by Brasco and Lefty Ruggiero (Al Pacino) to Tampa, with shots of them at the beach and the dog track. The prosecutor on the case, Kevin R. March, was from Tampa.

•"JFK" (1991). Oliver Stone's labyrinthine film about the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963 mentions the mob as one of the possible suspects, and mentions Tampa mob leader Santo Trafficante Jr.

•"Ocean's Eleven" (2001). They're not exactly the mob, but Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) come to Derby Lanes in St. Petersburg to recruit Saul Bloom (Carl Reiner) for their team of thieves pulling off a heist in Las Vegas

Junior Gotti is not the Only Tampa Connection to Mafia Activity

Tampa again finds itself in the center of the latest chapter of mob intrigue.

Reported organized crime boss John Gotti Jr. was arrested in New York on Tuesday, and will be arraigned in Tampa on murder conspiracy charges stemming from an investigation that began in the Bay area.

As mob towns go <a href=Tampa is no New York, Chicago or even Philadelphia. But over the years Tampa has found itself with at least a tenuous connection to the latest news from the organized crime world.


In the 1940s, Sicilian immigrant Santo Trafficante Sr., a known member of the Mafia, took over organized crime in Tampa. The Tampa mob ran gambling, loansharking operations, drug trafficking, stolen property rings, strip clubs, fraud and political corruption, according to Scott Deitche, author of the book, "Cigar City Mafia."

When Trafficante Jr. took over, the man authorities called Florida's "boss of bosses" testified in front of a 1978 U.S. House panel that he was involved in a plot to kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro. He denied knowledge of any mob plot to kill President Kennedy.

In 2006, four alleged members of the Gambino crime family went to trial in U.S. District Court in Tampa on charges of racketeering and extortion. Authorities said the group, led by Ronald "Ronnie One Arm" Trucchio, committed robbery, extortion and murder from New York to Miami. They reportedly ran valet parking businesses at restaurants, hospitals and strip clubs. In 2007, Trucchio was sentenced to spend life behind bars.

The city's sometimes unseemly criminal landscape has wooed Hollywood filmmakers as well.

The 1990 crime classic "Goodfellas" featured a scene at Lowry Park Zoo in which Henry Hill, played by Ray Liotta, and James Burke, played by Robert De Niro, terrorized a local bar owner who refused to pay a gambling debt by dangling him over the lion cage. The "Goodfellas" depiction is pretty close to the real thing, according to Deitche.

Apparently, the owner of Char-Pal Lounge at 3711 E. Busch Blvd. asked Hill and Burke to come to Tampa to persuade Gaspar Ciaccio to pay his $13,000 debt, Deitche said. They dined at the Columbia Restaurant before tracking down Ciaccio.

Hill and Burke apparently beat up Ciaccio in the back room of the Char-Pal and then threatened him at the lion cage at Busch Gardens, said Nicholas Pileggi, who adapted his book "Wiseguy" into the screenplay for "Goodfellas."

"It all really happened," said Pileggi, who came to Tampa to take pictures of the area and interview people for his book.

The reason organized crime appeared to flourish in Tampa seems as varied as the experts who have studied it.

Pileggi said Tampa's organized crime spun off from Prohibition days in the 1920s and '30s.

Many of Florida's elected leaders and law enforcement officers either didn't enforce the laws or were in cahoots with bootleggers, Pileggi said. "There was an infrastructure of corruption," he said.

Deitche focuses on the large influx of Spanish-speaking immigrants.

Mob bosses in New York and Chicago generally didn't speak Spanish, so the Trafficantes leveraged their links with Cuba and Latin America to dominate organized crime in Florida for more than three decades, he said.

Authorities credit the Trafficante family with creating a mob language known as "Tampan," a hybrid of Italian and Spanish created to confuse police.

Howard Abadinsky, an organized crime expert and professor of criminal justice and legal studies at St. John's University, said the reason the mob moved into Tampa and South Florida had more to do with the shifting economy. The mob bosses followed the money, he said.

They saw thousands of retirees from the East Coast and rustbelt states flee to sunny Florida for the winter, bringing their money and spare time.

Tampa's growing population would have been irresistible for organized crime families with ties to garbage hauling unions, shipping interests, gambling, bars, strip clubs and other ventures. "They are always on the prowl for opportunity," he said.

Deitche, Abadinsky and others agree on thing: High-profile, organized criminal activity has been on the decline for decades. Criminal investigations are credited with part of the decline. But mostly, the old-time mob bosses have died off.

Trafficante Jr. died March 17, 1987, after heart surgery in Houston.

"Since then, it's sort of subsided," said Bill Iler, who worked for the Tampa Police Department from 1966 to 1986, much of it investigating organized crime. "All the old guys hooked up with the Mafia are about dead now."

Thanks to Baird Helgeson

Victoria Gotti Defends Her Brother, Junior Gotti

Just hours after John "Junior" Gotti was indicted on charges linking him to cocaine trafficking and three slayings, Victoria Gotti Victoria Gotti Defends Her Brotheris now coming to her brother's defense, speaking to CBS 2 in New York. She says the government is not just after her brother, but her entire family, and especially her father, despite his passing.

"It's obvious. If they could take my father out of the grave, and retry him and win again and again, they would," she said.

Once again, Victoria has to stand up for her brother, on the verge of yet another trial. Only this time, John A. Gotti will be tried for murder. Three murders, the government says. Two of the dead the feds say were allegedly part of drug deals with Gotti that go back 17 years ago. But a third, Louis Di Bono, was an associate of Gotti's father.

"What you have here is you have the Gambino crime family reaching out to Tampa, Florida, so you have a number of New York related gangsters and mobsters coming down to the Tampa area, and this indictment relates to their trying to get a foothold here," said Robert O'Neill of the U.S. Attorney's Office. But Victoria Gotti says there's more to the story than meets the eye.

"I don't know, I feel like saying, you know, it's this vendetta, but I'm so tired of hearing it myself from other people that you try to convince yourself its not, and you try to convince yourself these are supposed to be the good guys and it's just not working for me," she said. "If they were to come back at him, they would look like absolute fools," she said.

Victoria Gotti also said about the witnesses against her brother, like Mikey "Scars" DiLeonardo and Sammy Gravano, if they know so much, then what they were doing back then?

With charges as serious as murder, it wouldn't be surprising to find out that someone was wearing a wire and that there are tapes.

Watch the Pablo Guzman's entire video with Victoria Gotti.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

John Alite Expected to be Key Witness Against Junior Gotti

The last time John Alite was arrested, he made it clear he didn't want to go back to prison.

John Alite Expected to be Key Witness Against Junior GottiThe longtime friend of Junior Gotti had done three years on a gun rap and three months for smuggling a mobster's sperm out of the pen.

Now he faced serious time in a racketeering case and was fighting extradition from Brazil while his associates were on trial.

"I've lost everything," he moaned on a smuggled cell phone to the St. Petersburg Times from a Rio lockup in 2006. "I don't get to watch my son play baseball. I don't get to watch my daughter go to school. ... Am I bitter? Yeah, I'm bitter. Who wouldn't be."

He was also afraid.

By his account, he had two choices - both of which could get him killed: Sing to the feds about Gotti or wait for trial in a U.S. prison.

In the end, sources told the Daily News, he picked the former, and Alite, 45, is poised to be a key witness in the government's latest attempt to convict Gotti.

His friendship with Junior goes back 25 years to when Gotti was the swaggering son of a mob boss and Alite was a tough college dropout basking in reflected Gambino glory.

Alite wasn't Italian - his family is from Albania - so he claims he was never taken into the fold. But others tell a different story.

One mob informant has said that in the mid-'80s Alite helped Junior rob Howard Beach, Queens, drug dealers and resell the product.

In 1989, the two were busted, along with crony Steven Kaplan, for brutalizing three people outside a Long Island nightclub.

Alite allegedly touched off the brawl by hitting on someone's wife - but the case never went to trial because the victims developed a sudden memory loss and were unable to identify their attackers. The next time Alite got into trouble, he wasn't as lucky, and notched a conviction for aggravated assault.

The felony made it illegal for him to carry a gun, so when he was stopped on a New Jersey bridge with a .38 in 1995, he went to prison for three years.

Inside, he met wiseguy Antonio Parlavecchio, who persuaded him to help smuggle out his sperm so he could impregnate his wife. Alite got three months in the pen for bringing sperm collection kits to a corrupt guard at the federal prison in Allentown, Pa. "Her biological clock was ticking," he later explained. "She wanted to have a baby. I couldn't believe I got sent to prison for something like that."

His next indictment was more conventional.

In 2004, Alite was charged with running a Florida-based crew for the Gambino family that dabbled in robbery, murder, gambling and kidnapping.

During his co-defendants' trial, he was portrayed as a ruthless thug who used his mob connections and violence to intimidate rivals of his valet-parking front. "John Alite is capable of doing some pretty nasty things," one business partner testified.

From the Rio prison, Alite denied he'd done anything worse than raise his voice and insisted he was being persecuted for ties he cut long ago. "Was I friends with John Gotti? Yes," he said. "Am I friends with him now? No."

Safe to say, that's truer today than ever.

Thanks to John Marzulli and Tracy Connor

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Feds Claim Outlaw Biker Ordered by Chicago Outfit to Blow Up Video Gambling Operation

The Chicago Outfit ordered an Outlaw biker to blow up a Berwyn gambling operation because it competed with the mob’s own $13 million video gambling machine business, prosecutors charge in a filing this afternoon.

Mark Polchan, 41, and Samuel Volpendesto, 84, were arrested last week in connection with the 2003 bombing.

No one was injured in the Feb. 25, 2003, explosion, but the device blew out several windows and destroyed the ceiling and wood frame above the doorway of C & S Coin Operated Amusements, 6508 W. 16th St. The business leased coin-operated vending and video machines.

In a filing that seeks to keep the two behind bars pending trial, the feds revealed a series of recordings that allegedly captured Volpendesto on tape talking about the 2003 bombing that took out part of a building. The filing also alleges an extensive and wide-ranging criminal history on the part of Polchan, purportedly a high ranking member of the lawless Outlaws biker gang, from involvement with the mob, to coercing a witness to recant his story in a murder case.

“Disturbingly, the investigation has revealed that Polchan used his connections not only (with) the Outlaws and the Outfit, but also with various corrupt police officers, to advance his and his associates’ criminal objectives,” prosecutors wrote.

Prosecutors say despite his age, Volpendesto is a risk of flight and a danger to the community. They describe him as knowledgeable about bomb-making and say he admitted on recordings he took part in previous bombings. In 1990, Volpendesto was charged after beating a suspected stool pigeon at a Cicero strip club. In 2006, he was arrested for assaulting his wife,” according to the filing.

“And a mere five years ago, (Volpendesto) set off a bomb that could have very easily killed or maimed innocent individuals,” prosecutors wrote. In a series of recorded conversations with a cooperating individual, Volpendesto was captured saying: “we blew part of that away.”

If convicted of the three counts against them, the two would face a sentence of 35 years to life in prison.

Thanks to Natasha Korecki

Indictment of "Junior" Gotti Includes Conspiracy Charges Tied to Cocaine Trafficking and 3 Murders

John A. "Junior" Gotti has been indicted on conspiracy charges in Florida, linking him to large-scale cocaine trafficking and the slayings of three New York men in the late 1980s and early 1990s, federal officials said Tuesday.

Federal prosecutor Robert O'Neill announced the indictment of the 44-year-old Gotti and five other men at a news conference. He said the indictment showed that the men were "trying to gain a foothold" in the area.

"What should be noted today is whether you violate the federal law today, tomorrow, or 20 years ago, the FBI and its law enforcement partners will pursue the matter to its logical conclusions," said Steven E. Ibison, special agent-in-charge of the Tampa FBI office.

Indictment of Gotti — the son of the late Gambino family crime boss John Gotti — was arrested at his Long Island home and is expected to appear later Tuesday in Manhattan federal court. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

The conspiracy indictment against Gotti accuses him of being a chief in an arm of the Gambino crime family that operated in Florida, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania since about 1983. That enterprise was involved in everything from murder and kidnapping to witness tampering and money laundering, and had its fingers in legal and illegal businesses and union locals, federal authorities said.

It says he was involved in the slayings of George Grosso in Queens, NY, in 1988; Louis DiBono, who was killed in the parking garage of the World Trade Center in Manhattan in 1990; and Bruce John Gotterup, killed in 1991 at the Boardwalk at the Rockaways in Queens. It also accuses him of possession and trafficking of more than 5 kilograms of cocaine.

A second indictment charges Gotti associates John A. Burke, 47, who is in prison in New York; James V. Cadicamo, 33, of Tampa; David D'Arpino, 33, of Howard Beach, NY; Michael D. Finnerty, 43, of Oceanside, NY; and Guy T. Peden, 47, of Wantagh, NY.

Both indictments were handed up last month.

In 1999, Junior Gotti pleaded guilty to racketeering crimes including bribery, extortion, gambling and fraud. He was sentenced to 77 months in prison and was released in 2005.

Gotti also was tried three times in Manhattan on racketeering charges for an alleged plot to kidnap Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa. The trials in 2005 and 2006 ended in hung juries and mistrials.

Federal prosecutors announced at the time that they were giving up — and Gotti said he had long since retired from his life of crime.

"They tried very hard to convict him up here. They spared no resources and it didn't work," said Gotti's attorney, Charles Carnesi. "It's tragic for him and his family to have to continually go through this. It's almost laughable."

Federal authorities in Florida successfully convicted other suspected members of the Tampa-area Gambino enterprise in 2006, including Michael Malone, Charles Carneglia and Ronald "Ronnie One Arm" Trucchio. The former alleged boss of the Tampa enterprise, John E. Alite, is awaiting trial in Tampa after being captured and extradited from Brazil.

Thanks to Christine Armario and Thomas Hays

Junior Gotti Said to Have Been Arrested on Murder Conspiracy Charge

Junior Gotti Said to Have Been Arrested on Murder Conspiracy ChargeA law enforcement official says John A. "Junior" Gotti has been arrested on a murder conspiracy charge.

The official says the charge stemmed from a federal investigation originating in Tampa, Fla. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the charge had not been officially announced.

Gotti has had three criminal trials end in mistrial. He is expected to make an appearance in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday for a removal hearing.

A call to his attorney seeking comment was not immediately returned.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

On the Spot Journal Brings You The History of Crime and Law Enforcement in the Twenties and Thirties

On The Spot is a quarterly journal created for researchers, authors and historical enthusiasts in general of the 1920s & 1930s. Each journal will include the most current factual information available on crime and law enforcement of the twenties and thirties era.

Check out some of their reviews:

At long last: A true-crime journal by a writer and long-time researcher with a phenomenal memory who locates and evaluates original sources instead of repeating the mistakes perpetuated in books that are based on earlier books. His contributors are scrutinized for accuracy, and into his clutches have been falling more and more descendants of prominent outlaws and gangsters, all pleased by his nonjudgmental accounts of their family's black sheep who are as much a part of history as...well, let's say J. Edgar Hoover, whose G-men brought them down.
-- William J. Helmer, author or coauthor of The Gun That Made the Twenties Roar, Dillinger: The Untold Story, Public Enemies, Baby Face Nelson, The St. Valentine's Day Massacre, and The Complete Public Enemy Almanac.

On the Spot Journal is a fascinating, informative true crime periodical for anyone who is intrigued by the "Public Enemy Era", when roving gangs of bank robbers and bootleggers criss-crossed America's landscape. The Journal's articles cover a vast range of topics, from the adventures of John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd to the early years of the Mafia. With its copious illustrations, Rick and Linda Mattix have done a wonderful job of creating an accessible yet detailed contribution to criminal history. As the underworld flip side of The Bonfire of the Vanities, On The Spot is a crucial resource for all those who are interested in the not-too-long ago era of bathtub gin, flappers, Tommyguns, and irresistible lawlessness.
-- Daniel Waugh, author of Egan's Rats: The Untold Story of the Prohibition-Era Gang that ruled St. Louis

On the Spot Journal is both an educational and fun resource on the early days of crime and crime prevention. The only one like it of its kind. The only thing more fun than contributing to it is reading it.
-- Patrick Downey, author of Gangster City: History of the New York Underworld 1900-1935 and Bad Seeds in the Big Apple: Bandits, Killers & Chaos in New York City 1920-1940

On the Spot certainly is. The articles are almost as good as being there when the incidents described took place. The magazine is a veritable history of crime in the United States with emphasis on organized crime and the John Dillinger era. I would recommend that every true crime fan subscribe at once. The articles are great, authentic and in luscious detail. The photos are a great addition to the text.
-- Arthur J. Bilek
Adjunct Professor of Criminal Justice, Loyola University and author of The First Vice Lord: Big Jim Colosimo and the Ladies of the Levee

Nicholas “Little Nicky” Corozzo, Reputed Gambino Crime Family Capo, Pleads Guilty

Reputed Gambino organized crime family “capo” Nicholas Corozzo has admitted to operating a highly sophisticated illegal gambling enterprise in Queens County and elsewhere that booked nearly $10 million in wagers over a two-year period on professional and college basketball and football, professional baseball and hockey and other sporting events, according to the Queens district attorney’s office.

District attorney Richard A. Brown said that Nicholas “Little Nicky” Corozzo, 68, of 2430 Legion Street in Bellmore, Long Island, appeared Friday before Acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Barry Kron and was arraigned on a 29-count indictment charging him – together with 25 other reputed members of the Gambino crime family – with promoting illegal sports betting in Queens County and elsewhere and with being involved in traditional gambling wire rooms located in Woodhaven, Queens, and non-traditional computerized wire rooms in Costa Rica.

“As a result of this prosecution, we have closed down a highly lucrative gambling operation that benefitted the Gambino crime family to the tune of millions of dollars each year”, Brown said. “Illegal gambling has always been the bread and butter moneymaker for organized crime because of the huge profits that it generates which can then be used to fund other more insidious forms of criminal activity, such as labor racketeering, drug trafficking, prostitution, auto theft, insurance fraud and loan sharking. This case sends a clear signal to all who involve themselves in illegal gambling that law enforcement will keep up the pressure and not allow them to operate.”

Corozzo pleaded guilty to the top count of the indictment –enterprise corruption. Justice Kron set bail at $1 million and indicated that Corozzo likely faced a sentence of up to five to 15 years in prison. The next court date is Dec. 1.

District Attorney Brown said that Corozzo had been named in the state indictment, as well as a federal indictment, in February 2008. The federal indictment charges him – together with 61 other reputed organized crime family members – with racketeering, conspiracy, extortion, loan sharking and embezzlement. Corozzo specifically is charged with respect to a January 1996 double murder of an organized crime family associate and his friend in connection with a drug-related homicide. That case is presently pending.

The District Attorney noted that Corozzo remained a fugitive from justice for approximately four months until his surrender to federal authorities on May 29 after his story was featured earlier in the month on the television show, “America’s Most Wanted.” Since his surrender, he has been held in federal custody without bail. He was returned to federal authorities following his appearance today in state court.

Other reputed Gambino soldiers and associates who have also pleaded guilty in the state gambling case include reputed soldiers Blaise Corozzo (Nicholas Corozzo’s brother) and Louis Scida, and reputed associates Todd Segarra, Neil Allstatt, and Frank Mancini, all of whom have pleaded guilty to the crime of enterprise corruption. Altstatt and Scida are expected to be sentenced to one and one-third years to four years in prison and Segarra, Mancini and Blaise Corozzo are expected to be sentenced to one to three years in prison.

Reputed soldier Michael Scarola pleaded guilty to first-degree promoting gambling and is expected to be sentenced to two to four years in prison.

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