Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Shark Tales Return with an Update on the Family Secrets Mob Case, the Mitch Mars Golf Outing & a Job Offer for US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald

How is everyone out there? I have not written lately, with the birth of my son Rocco Joseph and my wife in law school, it's difficult to provide updates for The Chicago Syndicate.

First, I was featured in Gangland on The History channel last week in the Satan's Disciples episode. I represent many SDs who are from my hood on Taylor Street USA. I was named again in Who is Who in America by Marquis for 2008, the second time that I received this distinguished award.

Family Secrets is still alive. The post trial motions were denied and now its sentencing time. Frank (Calabrese Sr.) is set for December 11 2008 at 2pm. There is a lot of work to do on his sentencing and hopefully the world will learn the truth about the dirty rat son Frank Jr. and his friend at the press who helped spin the bullshit tale of he and his father.

Chicago Outfit Last SupperOn another somber note, the Mitch Mars golf outing was held. I played with two agents who testified in the case, one who found the infamous last supper photo which I said that the enterprise died with the last clam. The other agent was on the Sam Carlisi case when I went to trial with "The Hatchet". I drove the ball well and my short game was on at times.

Afterward, a lot of US Attorneys and media personalities arrived, as well as the Grand Pupa himself, Patrick Fitzgerald. I asked him if he would like a job after Obama wins! Just kidding folks.

I was one of three defense lawyers golfing, but others showed up for the dinner. I missed dinner as I was in clubhouse taking a shower and drinking at the bar. I needed a break from all those agents! The outing was fun and Marsha Mclellan had to give me a bag of balls! After dinner, I returned to be bothered by the media with questions about Frank and others. I remained mum much to the chagrin of others. I wanted to talk about the White Sox not law and clients.

Judging from the turnout, it's obvious that Mitch had a lot of fans. Like I have written before, he was ok with me, but he had his enemies. It was the second golf outing of the year I attended which honored a dead attorney. It was a bit eerie. There was lot of rumor about an upcoming indictment which is neither confirmed or denied, but will probably happen. The feds always have a trick up their sleeve. So, I eventually left and returned home in an elevated state.

The books are being written right now, at least 2 that I know of and maybe one more. It will be interesting to see the final copies.

Stay tuned for more developments regarding sentencing and the double jeopardy appeal. Frank still has a lot of fight in him and a chance to reverse this mess. We are still trying to figure out how you can call 3 eyewitnesses to a murder who described the scene and testified it was not Frank that killed Ortiz and Morowski. None of the witnesses knew who frank was at the time, but described the car and shooter to a degree which was not Frank.

Stay tuned!

Joseph "The Shark" Lopez

Junior Gotti Awakens Mob Ghosts in Tampa

The ghosts of Tampa's old-time wiseguys awakened this summer when Mafia scion John "Junior" Gotti came to town in handcuffs, accused of pulling the strings in a bunch of classic mobster crimes.

The federal indictment against him reads like a plot summary for "The Sopranos." The 44-year-old Gotti — son of the late "Dapper Don" of the notorious Gambino crime family — allegedly had his fingers in everything: whacking rivals, trafficking cocaine, bribery, kidnapping and money-laundering. Earlier convictions show Gambino crews have worked for years to get a foothold in the Tampa area's criminal underworld.

If the charges against Gotti are true, then he was a Johnny-come-lately to organized crime around here.

The fabric of the Tampa region's history is richly woven with stories of ruthless gangsters who first grabbed control of illegal gambling and liquor distribution during Prohibition, executed rivals with point-blank shotgun blasts, bribed public officials, controlled the narcotics trade and eventually broadened their influence across the Sunshine State and pre-Castro Cuba.

They were menacing, old-school mobsters who went by nicknames like "The Hammer," "Scarface," "Cowboy," "The Fat Man," "The Colonel," "Big Joe" and "Silent Sam."

Infamous in the city's lore is the "Era of Blood," when 25 gangsters were gunned down on the streets as Italian, Cuban and Anglo underworld factions battled for power from the 1920s to the '50s. And a Godfather-like legend surrounds Tampa-born crime boss Santo Trafficante Jr., who took over the Sicilian Mafia in Florida from his father in 1954 and built a criminal empire that was the envy of mob families across the country.

"Trafficante was the boss of Florida," says Joseph D. Pistone, a former FBI agent whose six years undercover with the mob were chronicled in the 1997 Johnny Depp movie "Donnie Brasco." "Miami was an open city, like Las Vegas. But if you operated in Tampa or other parts of the state, you had to go through Trafficante."

During his last two years with Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano's Bonanno family crew, Pistone came to Florida often to help broker an alliance with Trafficante, whose blessing was needed for the Brooklyn crew to operate an illegal gambling joint northwest of Tampa. The eventual FBI takedown of the Kings Court club in 1981 is depicted in "Donnie Brasco."

In another movie, "Goodfellas" (1990), New York gangsters played by Ray Liotta and Robert De Niro come to Tampa in 1970 and put the screws to a guy who won't pay his gambling debts. He finally agrees to pay up after they take him to the city zoo and threaten to feed him to the lions.

That all really happened — except for the lion part. Lucchese family soldiers Henry Hill and Jimmy Burke just gave the welcher an old-fashioned beating, ending up at a dingy north Tampa bar that still stands across the street from the Busch Gardens amusement park. But it's true that the beaten bettor had a sister who worked in the Tampa FBI office, which led to arrests and prison terms for the two wiseguys.

That's trivia that few but Scott Deitche remember. He literally wrote the book on Tampa's organized crime history — called "Cigar City Mafia: A Complete History of the Tampa Underworld" — and followed it up last year with a Trafficante biography.

Miami might be more associated with mob activity, but Deitche says organized crime in Florida is firmly rooted in Tampa, where Cuban, Spanish and Italian immigrants established communities in the city's cigar-making center of Ybor City in the early 20th century. One of the early rackets was bolita, a popular, low-stakes lottery game.

"You had drugs, prostitution, rum-running, bootlegging during Prohibition, some alien smuggling, but bolita was the main moneymaker," says Deitche over lunch recently at Ybor City's historic Columbia restaurant — a favorite dining spot of Trafficante and a host of mobsters over the years.

"Through bolita you got into corruption of the local government, corruption of the sheriff's department," he says. "So from there you really saw the emergence of the Italian Mafia, and the Italian Mafia eventually eclipsed all the other ones."

Howard Abadinsky, an organized-crime expert who teaches a class on the subject at St. John's University, says the growth of organized crime in Florida mirrored what was happening in society at-large. There was opportunity and money to be made in Florida, attracting not only aboveboard entrepreneurs but mobsters from the five New York Mafia families as well. Many bought houses and lived here for part of the year.

"The mob moved to Florida just like legitimate people," Abadinsky says. "There was plenty of money for everyone."

But it was the soft-spoken, even-tempered Trafficante — known as the "Silent Don" — who put the mob on the map in Florida. He also became the most influential Mafia figure in Cuba, running hotels and casinos, buying up property and laundering money through the island before Fidel Castro came to power in 1959 and kicked him out.

Trafficante, in public hearings, acknowledged cooperating with secret U.S. government efforts to kill Castro. And his name is often mentioned in a conspiracy theory surrounding President John F. Kennedy's assassination, but he vehemently denied having anything to do with it. He never spent a night in an American jail.

Trafficante's death after heart surgery in 1987 ended the Mafia's heyday in Florida, but the experts say it hasn't been snuffed out. A 2006 federal trial in Tampa exposed the activities of a Gambino crew led by capo Ronald Trucchio, who because of a deformed limb was known by the nickname "Ronnie One-Arm."

His crew was accused of a slew of wiseguy crimes, including trying to control the lucrative valet parking business in Tampa. He and three other Gambino associates were convicted of racketeering and conspiracy to commit extortion, with Trucchio getting life in prison.

Now comes Junior Gotti, who was arrested at his Long Island home in August and hauled to Tampa. His attorney scoffs at the charges, saying the feds have mounted an "epic quest" to take Gotti down after failing to convict him in three federal trials in New York. Gotti says he retired years ago from the criminal life and has pleaded not guilty to the Tampa charges. He remains jailed without bond pending a trial, which could happen sometime next year.

Abadinsky says the mob is still around, in Florida, New York and elsewhere, but it's a shadow of its former self. Gangsters today don't wield the power, control the unions or have the political connections of their predecessors.

While the "The Sopranos," the wildly popular HBO TV series about a New Jersey mob family, was a great recruiting tool for the Mafia, there are fewer young men willing to take up the life these days, Abadinsky says.

"The new guys," he says, "are whole lot less interesting."

Thanks to Mitch Stacy

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Former Head of Chicago Organized Crime Division, Now Chief of River Forest

Frank Limon may be new to River Forest, but he doesn't exactly feel like an outsider.

The way everyone pulled together during the recent flood made him feel at home almost immediately, he said after his appointment last week as the village's new police chief.

That kind of spirit fits in perfectly with his own hands-on management and community relations style developed during his 31 years as a Chicago cop, learning to look and listen as a detective, working with communities as head of the city's CAPS (Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy) program, and supervising as many as 600 officers. He served as a deputy chief responsible for most of the West Side and later as an assistant deputy commissioner and head of the Organized Crime Division.

But despite his numerous awards, including 10 department commendations, Limon said he is proudest of his role in helping to break up a drug ring two years ago that distributed tainted heroin that killed over 300 people (60 of them in Cook County alone) before the operation was shut down. "Based on our investigation here in Chicago, we were able to track it down to the lab in Mexico where it was being manufactured," Limon said.

He added that his experience working with multi-agency task forces should come in handy here in River Forest, "especially at a time when you have a lot of gangs being pushed out of the city. You have to make sure you have officers from different suburbs sharing information. For drug dealers and other criminals, there are no boundaries."

And because he realizes there are times when there never seem to be enough cops when you need them - even in a relatively low-crime climate like River Forest's - he'll rely heavily on the public to provide the extra eyes and ears he'll need to do his job properly.

Which is why Limon plans "face to face" meetings with as many different citizen groups as possible in the coming weeks and months.

One thing Limon said his officers and village residents will find out very quickly is that he never really stopped being a street cop.

"I never liked sitting in a chair. I like to ride out on the street. Hands on for me means going out on the street with the police officers. I need to know exactly what's going on. For me to show up on a search with the Organized Crime Unit was not unusual. Nobody was surprised to find the chief himself on the scene," he said.

"I believe police officers and their supervisors must work as a team," said the new chief, who started in law enforcement in 1977.

"If my partner at the time predicted that in 2008 I was going to retire as chief of Organized Crime and become chief of River Forest, I would have told him he was crazy," Limon said.

Thanks to Patrick Butler

Mob Boss Dies

Frank J. Valenti, Rochester's notorious mob boss who oversaw local organized crime during its heyday of gambling parlors, prostitution and extortion, died last Saturday at age 97.

While atop Rochester's organized crime mob hierarchy in the 1960s and '70s, Mr. Valenti was so infamous that the Democrat and Chronicle ran a regular update on his doings under the heading, "Spotlight on Rochester's Gambling Czar."

Mr. Valenti had been living in a nursing facility near Houston. His death was confirmed by four people, including retired law enforcers and people close to the family, who asked not to be identified. A death certificate was filed in Texas Wednesday.

Bart Maimone, who provided fuel to Mr. Valenti's construction business in the 1960s and '70s, said he would always remember Mr. Valenti as fair and generous, despite any criminal ties he may have had.

Once, Maimone said, he was prepared to go into business with a local company with organized crime ties and Mr. Valenti urged him not to. "He never wanted me to get involved with that," said Maimone, noting that he learned this week of Mr. Valenti's death.

Gentlemanly and handsome, Mr. Valenti fit a Hollywood stereotype of a gangster who could be both diplomatic and violently tyrannical.

That Mr. Valenti lived to almost a century may come as a surprise to those who saw him in 1964 when, for court appearances, he was disheveled, haggard and claimed he suffered from heart ailments and ulcers triggered by the constant attention from law enforcement. But Mr. Valenti often seemed able to appear on death's doorstep for court appearances, only to vigorously recover for meetings with his capos.

Mr. Valenti's travels read like a mob history. In 1957, he and his brother, Constenze "Stanley" Valenti, were two of the mobsters at the infamous Apalachin conference, a Mafia summit meeting held in Apalachin, near Binghamton.

Six years later, when mob turncoat and killer Joseph Valachi helped federal authorities detail the reach of organized crime, Frank and Stanley Valenti were two of the more than 300 Mafioso whom Valachi identified as central figures.

Mr. Valenti was considered to be "the most significant person" in organized crime in Rochester, said local lawyer and former district attorney Donald Chesworth, who was involved in mob investigations when he worked with the FBI in the 1960s.

With his charm, dapper attire and swept-back white hair, Valenti always seemed the center of attention within any crowd.

Rochester resident Diane Lamanna remembers meeting Mr. Valenti at a local restaurant/bar when she was a teenager. She was waiting for a friend when she struck up a conversation with him and complained about how she never had money. "He was polite," she said. "He was a total gentleman." After he left, Lamanna found a napkin he'd left her with a tip about a horse running in a race that evening. Bet on the horse, he'd written. She paid no attention. After she told her friends about the meeting, they informed her just whom she'd been talking to. And, sure enough, they checked and the horse had won.

Born in Rochester, Mr. Valenti ascended through the organized crime ranks as would-be challengers mysteriously disappeared or were slain.

"It was an interesting time and there were a lot of murders," said Hugh Higgins, an FBI special agent in Rochester during the mob era. "But they were killing one another."

Mr. Valenti moved to Pittsburgh in 1961 — "exiled" there according to news accounts — after a conviction on a voting fraud in Rochester. There, he became a prominent figure in organized crime, before returning to Rochester in 1964 and seizing control of gambling and prostitution. But Mr. Valenti apparently avoided drug trafficking, as that criminal enterprise began to grow, Mr. Higgins said. "It's a funny kind of world, but I think Frank had some morals."

The Rochester enterprise during the late 1950s and much of the '60s was linked to the Buffalo-based Maggadino crime family.

"They broke away from the Maggadino family and they were considered, quote, unquote, a 'renegade' group as far as La Cosa Nostra goes," said Richard Endler, a retired federal prosecutor. But Mr. Valenti also had connections with the powerful New York City-based Bonanno family.

Mr. Valenti was able to use that influence to instill fear in local bookmakers who always paid a portion of their illicit earnings to Mr. Valenti and his clan, said local lawyer Robert A. Napier, whose father, the late Robert C. Napier, defended many of those same bookmakers.

Napier said his father thought Mr. Valenti was able to use "more bravado than actual muscle" because of the Bonanno connection.

Constantly under police surveillance at his Henrietta home, Mr. Valenti grew wary of the law enforcement attention and in 1970 hatched a plot to direct police attention toward others. The ploy worked. "There were a bunch of bombings," Higgins said. "We always attributed it to civil rights leftist organizations. Turned out it was the mob."

Mr. Valenti groomed and schooled some young men who would become Rochester's organized crime leaders, including Salvatore "Sammy" Gingello, arguably the region's most famous Mafia underboss. "Valenti took Sammy under his wing," said former Rochester police Officer Ralph "Butch" Bellucco, who now has a private investigation business.

Mr. Valenti's basement was the site of initiation ceremonies, in which newcomers to the crime family agreed they would never spill Mafia secrets, would break laws only with the consent of their mob leaders, and would not sleep with a comrade's girlfriend or wife.

Some of those same neophyte mobsters decided to wrest control from Mr. Valenti when they decided he was pocketing too much of the illicit gains. In 1972, one of his closest associates was fatally shotgunned.

After a federal prison stint for extortion, Mr. Valenti moved to Arizona and stayed there for years. Meanwhile, Rochester erupted into violent gang wars between rival teams that, coupled with toughened law enforcement, destroyed the organized crime ranks. Mr. Gingello was killed in a 1978 car bombing.

Mr. Valenti was father of five daughters. His wife, Eileen, passed away years ago.

Thanks to Gary Craig

Mob's Rule: Pay, Quit, or Die

Whatever it took - that was the mantra of Don Herion, who busted Chicago mobsters for more than 40 years. Now in retirement, he's telling Hollywood moviemakers how to portray Chicago crooks and criminals.

In his day as a Chicago vice cop, Herion seemed like a one-man police force who happily labeled himself a vigilante who did "whatever it took."

Herion still sounds and swaggers like Clint Eastwood. But don't even think about calling him Dirty Herion. Long before Herion became a movie cop, mouthing off to Patrick Swayze, decades before he played a tough detective in a Tommy Lee Jones film. From the late '50s in Chicago until the new millennium, Herion was the real thing.

"Probably in 1957, I was in uniform and there was some gambling," said Herion.

Almost 51 years ago on Chicago's West Side, Herion vividly remembers an assignment that changed his life. He was told to stand in a pool hall, in uniform and watch for people illegally booking bets.

"There's guys walking through the back door and they're dressed like in the Goodfellas. 'Yo, how you doin'?' 'Fine, what's up wit' you?'" he said.

Herion says his police superiors at the time made it clear he was just window dressing and to look the other way, which he did. But he promised himself to someday get revenge on the pool hall. "And I got even with him, I took the phone booth out and locked him up and I got him three times after that. That's when I started not liking these people," Herion said.

"These people" are the hundreds of Chicago Outfit figures that Herion pursued with a passion during his 38 years on the Chicago police force and eight years with the Cook County Sheriff's Police.

Sometimes, just as the mob did, Herion made up the rules as he went. "Normally, you should have a warrant and all of that stuff, but I didn't even know how to type out a warrant," Herion said.

Herion's headlines and TV appearances reveal the story of a bygone era where Outfit gambling was rampant but rarely resulted in long jail terms. Back then, bookmakers either ended up in a car trunk after a gangland hit or subjected to Herion busting down their back door.

"You'd screw them up. You'd blow a joint on them. They'd have to find a new place, new phones. It disrupted it and they didn't like that," he said. And if you were a wagering customer, the mob had a rule, which is also the title of a book Herion has written. "You pay. You can quit or you're gonna die," he said.

Herion says as he turned the screws on the mob, Outfit assassin Butch Petrocelli once threatened to kill him. "He was telling me he knew where my kids went to school. And I said a few things to him and that if he had a dog I'd fry his dog," Herion said.

Petrocelli ended up murdered by fellow mobsters with a blow torch. Even as Outfit bosses were toppled in last summer's Operation: Family Secrets prosecution, Herion says mob tactics have changed. Violence is less common. A gambler who doesn't pay may not have his legs broken.

"They would put his wife out in the street hookin' or something," Herion said.

Herion's colorful descriptions of mob lore have made him a valued Hollywood consultant. He consulted with Johnny Depp during the recent filming of Dillinger in Chicago. But for all his glory, the moment in time that 79-year-old Herion remembers most is that first gambling bust in 1957.

"From that pool hall, I never forgot it," he said.

In 2008, if Herion was still on the police force doing "whatever it took," he would probably have some explaining to do. But in retirement, Herion says he has come to realize being a vigilante doesn't make him Dirty Herion.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Legend of 'Machine Gun Kelly'

The Legend of Machine Gun KellyIt was 75 years ago today—September 26, 1933—that wanted gangster George “Machine Gun” Kelly and three others were captured by Bureau agents and local police.

That date might not have meant much to history except for the reporting that followed. As the legend goes, the surrounded and frightened Kelly shouted something like, “Don’t shoot, G-Men, don’t shoot!” Originally slang for all government agents, the term “G-Men” soon became synonymous solely with FBI special agents.

Did Kelly really say those words? Probably not—it appears to have been manufactured by the media. But it quickly grabbed hold of the popular imagination as Hollywood, the press, the American people, and even the FBI accepted it as fact.

Here’s the story behind the myth and how it grew. On July 22, 1933, George Kelly and his gang kidnapped Charles Urschel, a wealthy oil magnate. After Urschel’s family paid a hefty ransom, he was freed. Over the next few months, FBI agents—then a largely unknown group of investigators—tracked down those involved. Kelly was among the last of the gang to be located by the Bureau.

The FBI's earliest account of what happened was written between three and five days after Kelly’s arrest:

“Agent Rorer saw that Kelly…had proceeded into the front bedroom and was in a corner with his hands raised. He was covered by [Memphis Police] Sergeant [name withheld].”

And that was it, quick and quiet; Kelly wasn’t reported to have spoken at all.

When did the “Don’t Shoot, G-Men” storyline begin? It’s unclear. The earliest reference to such a story that we could find was in a Philadelphia newspaper story written many months later. Kelly, according to the reporter, said that he didn’t shoot because, “It was them G’s. Them G’s would have slaughtered me.” According to historian Richard Gid Powers, it was a few months after this version that writer Rex Collier first wrote the myth as we now know it.

By April 1935, the image of the FBI agent as “G-Man” had become part of the popular culture. The movie G-Men, starring Jimmy Cagney, appeared in theaters across the country and was widely successful. It spawned more movies, news stories, films, comic books, radio shows, and even toys and games about the FBI’s G-Men.
In 1956, when reporter Don Whitehead wrote The FBI Story with extensive Bureau help, he included the story as a key event in FBI history. Bureau fact-checkers didn’t question his account, thus tacitly accepting it. The storyline was even included in the FBI's 1985 revision of the official case write-up. In recent years, the FBI's has been correcting the story.

Good myths, though, die hard, and this one does make a great story!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Print Edition of Informer is Now Available

Tom Hunt, the publisher of Informer is very happy to announce that a print edition of Informer's first issue is on sale through MagCloud, a branch of HP doing top quality, groundbreaking work in the periodicals field. In addition to printing and sales, the MagCloud service provides an online preview and a "subscribe" option, which alerts interested readers by e-mail when a new issue becomes available.

In the future, print (ISSN 1943-7803) and electronic (ISSN 1944-8139) editions of Informer will become available simultaneously.

Informer, The Journal of American Mafia History - Vol. 1, No. 1, September 2008
The Mob's Worst Year: 1957, Part 1, by Thomas Hunt / Capone's Triggerman Kills Michigan Cop by Chriss Lyon / New Orleans Newspaperman Reveals His Role in 1891 Anti-Mafia Lynch-Mob / A Look Back: 100 Years Ago, 75 Years Ago, 25 Years Ago / Book Reviews: Frank Nitti; The Mafia and the Machine; The First Vice Lord; The Complete Public Enemy Almanac / Author Interview: David Critchley / Ask the Informer: Joe DiGiovanni of Kansas City / Current Events: John A. Gotti, James "Whitey" Bulger / Deaths: John Bazzano Jr., Frank "the German" Schweihs, Carl "Tuffy" DeLuna.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Godfather is Restored to Its Glory

The Godfather is remembered as a dark picture. But over the years it has become less dark than intended.

The opening scene of the best-picture Oscar winner is the ultimate example. Emerging from shadow is the face of Bonasera (Salvatore Corsitto), the father who asks Don Corleone (Marlon Brando) for a favor on the day of the Don's daughter's wedding. But when director Francis Ford Coppola saw the 1972 film on a screen for its 25th anniversary, he thought, "Gee, the picture doesn't look like I remember it looking. This very, very beautiful photography of (cinematographer) Gordon Willis over the years had faded."

The movie is back to its inky finest — thanks to an assist from Steven Spielberg — on The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration, available today on a new five-disc DVD collection with all three Godfather films and two discs of bonus features, as well as a four-disc Blu-ray set ($73 and $120, respectively; each film on individual DVDs, $20).

The Godfather was a victim of its own success. It earned $135 million in the USA, which in modern terms would make the film the No. 21 box-office earner of all time, according to boxofficemojo.com.

To meet demand, Paramount quickly made large numbers of copies to ship to theaters. As a result, "the negative was ultimately destroyed through the practice of printing it so much," Coppola says from Buenos Aires while editing the film Tetro.

A decade ago, Paramount stored all its Godfather film elements in a cold vault to help preserve them until a full digital makeover was possible. "No matter how seriously the studio wished to solve the problems at that time, it would not be possible until digital technology provided the tools," says Robert Harris of The Film Preserve, which eventually handled the restoration of both The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II (1974).

Fast-forward to 2005: Coppola, looking to renew the preservation effort, wrote to Spielberg when DreamWorks was acquired by Paramount. Could Spielberg, who had been involved in restoring Lawrence of Arabia, spur on the project? It was an offer Spielberg could not refuse. He took the request to studio chairman Brad Grey, who set into motion the two-year process, overseen by Paramount post-production executive Marty Cohen and done at Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging in Burbank, Calif.

No single usable Godfather negative remained that was suitable as a source. In the end, Harris and the preservation team gathered a bunch of backup film elements and an Italian-subtitled print used as a color reference.

Over months, the restoration technicians carefully scanned the material and then began cleaning up the footage in its digital form, 4K files (meaning the video is made up of 4,000 lines of horizontal resolution, more than four times the quality of HDTV).

In addition to digitally removing scratches and repairing damage — more than 1,000 man-hours of dirt removal was performed on The Godfather— the technicians were able to fix errors that were more than three decades old. The restaurant scene in which Michael (Al Pacino) shoots Sollozzo (Al Lettieri) and Capt. McCluskey (Sterling Hayden) had been filmed over two nights. But one night's footage had been incorrectly processed, resulting in less detail and a washed-out look — an error that has been corrected digitally.

"Without those innovations, we would not have been able to move forward with the same results," Cohen says. "This is about rebuilding to some degree and putting new paint on the house."

Coppola and Willis consulted on every step of the restoration, which is detailed in a documentary on the new collections. Thanks to the restoration, Willis has regained his title "Prince of Darkness," Coppola says.

"So much of his art was to have the blackness of the black be so vividly black that everything else stood out from it," he says. "The restoration achieved that again."

Thanks to Mike Snider

Walgreens Supports, But ebay Opposes Organized Crime Measures Before Congress

Companies including Walgreen Co. asked a U.S. House Committee on Monday to crack down on organized retail crime, but online retailers such as eBay Inc. said some of the measures proposed would unfairly hurt their business.

Unlike shoplifting, thieves in organized retail crime steal larger quantities of goods _ from baby formula to over-the-counter drugs _ to resell as part of larger crime rings. The FBI estimates organized retail theft costs retailers over $30 billion each year.

The hearing by the House Committee on the Judiciary was held to consider issues related to organized retail crime, such as the shift from items being resold at flea markets and pawn shops to them being auctioned the Internet.

Two bills in the House and one in the Senate that would address various thresholds and penalties for organized crime are under consideration.

Traditional retailers say the current laws aren't adequate to effectively track and prosecute large-scale cases. Walgreen said some criminals get a "slap on the wrist" due to lagging investigative resources and an unwillingness by authorities to take complicated cases. But online retailers, such as eBay, said they would be unfairly targeted in the proposed legislation and say they already work diligently to help track down criminals.

Former Head of Chicago Federal Organized Crime Strike Force Opposes the Merging of Mob Unit

The acting U.S. attorney for Pennsylvania's Eastern District announced last week that the office's organized-crime strike force will be merged into a unit prosecuting drug dealers.

This is shortsighted.

A little history: The public first became aware of the national scope of organized crime in 1957, when police in Apalachin, N.Y., raided the private home of Joseph Barbero and discovered a meeting of nearly 100 mob chieftains from across the country. It was a national meeting, and it exposed the broad geographic reach of organized crime.

Until then, organized crime had been regarded as confined to small, localized, ethnic areas. In response to the growing awareness to the contrary, the organized-crime strike forces were created in the 1960s. They comprised an independent, nationwide network of prosecutors, directed by the Department of Justice in Washington, with expertise in conducting investigations into the widespread networks of organized-crime families.

The strike forces were in the forefront of sophisticated federal law enforcement. They initiated the use of the investigating grand jury, the process of immunizing reluctant witnesses, electronic surveillance, and witness protection for cooperating accomplices.

They moved federal law-enforcement agencies into the investigation of labor racketeering on the waterfront, and of the construction, hotel and resort, and casino-gaming industries. They initiated investigation of the misuse of union pension funds. Because strike-force attorneys were not burdened with the day-to-day cases that confront U.S. attorneys, they were able to concentrate on the many activities of the mob.

I'm not talking about prosecuting mobsters for killing one another. That is important, but the real danger of organized crime is the threat to the economic fabric of the country.

I'm talking about prosecuting organized crime as a sophisticated business, which requires experience and expertise in investigation and in the courtroom. The strike-force attorneys were successful because they had the time and skill to concentrate on this highly structured illegal enterprise.

The strike forces were merged into the U.S. attorneys' offices in the 1980s as a result of an internal bureaucratic struggle within the Department of Justice. Once that occurred, it was only a matter of time until those strike-force attorneys would be reassigned to whatever hot area needed support in the U.S. attorneys' offices.

I headed both the Chicago and Philadelphia federal strike forces and was the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia. I sat in both chairs a long time - a total of 15 years as a prosecutor.

My fellow U.S. attorneys often joked that they welcomed the assignment of special task forces to cover the latest crisis, because they would eventually absorb the new personnel and quietly assign them to local-office roles. This should not happen to the strike-force attorneys.

Organized crime's operation has not declined. It simply has become more sophisticated and taken on different forms, and there is a need to pursue organized crime in its modern, more sophisticated mode. Once established in any industry, it does not disappear with the prosecution of a few associates.

The strike-force attorneys do not work alone, but in tandem with units in other cities. Using this exchange of intelligence and skills, they have been able to make significant cases in numerous cities against the full scope of organized crime in national industries.

Joel Friedman, the former head of the Philadelphia strike force, went to Chicago in the 1970s to assist me in setting up a sting operation that he originated in New York. Such cooperative efforts aren't formed in an instant; they take months or years to forge.

Dismantling this machinery at this point destroys years of effort, as occurred when the Carter administration removed the agent operatives from the intelligence agencies. We are still paying for it.

I do not diminish the need for drug prosecutions. Drug dealers have been a major problem for more than 30 years. Numerous national task forces and drug czars have not diminished their influence and significance. Perhaps it is time to rethink the national law-enforcement strategy on drugs, but that's beyond the scope of this article.

Transferring the strike-force attorneys to a drug unit may aid that effort for a short while. However, in time, the strike-force attorneys will simply be removed from organized-crime prosecutions. They will be assigned to the next crisis area instead of devoting their skills to prosecuting the most sophisticated organized crime.

Thanks to Peter Vaira

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Mitchell A. Mars Foundation to Honor Prosecutor Who Fought the Mob and Won

Assistant U.S. Atty. Mitchell Mars, who fought the Chicago Outfit and won, died of cancer shortly after his historic prosecution of the Family Secrets case and mob bosses. A scholarship has been established in his name.

Mars was a great public servant. In a state where public servants are too often all about serving themselves and their friends, Mars was one of the good guys who fought for the public interest against the Outfit and their political puppets.

In his memory, his federal law-enforcement colleagues have established the Mitchell A. Mars Foundation.

If you wish to donate to the foundation, which will fund a Chick Evans Scholarship, you may go to www.mitchmars.org for further instructions

Genovese Crime Family Associate, John "Rocky" Melicharek Sentenced to Almost 15 Years of Federal Time

An associate of the Genovese Organized Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra was sentenced last Wednesday in federal court to 14 1/3 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to robbery, extortion and firearms charges.

John Melicharek, also known as “Rocky,” was an associate in the crew of Genovese Family captain, or “capo” Angelo Prisco.

One of the crimes with which he was involved was a home invasion in Orange County. Melicharek and his co-conspirators targeted the cash proceeds of the business owned by one of the home’s occupants. He helped plan the robbery, recruiting a break-in team, and procured guns for use during the robbery.

Melicharek then drove the break-in team to the victim’s home. The members of the team entered the home, tied up and assaulted the victim who was inside, and searched the home for cash and other valuables.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Convictions of Mafia Cops are Reinstated

The racketeering convictions of two retired New York City detectives who helped to kill at least eight men in their role as mob assassins were ordered reinstated by a federal appeals court. It ruled that a trial judge wrongly overturned the jury’s guilty verdicts two years ago.

The decision means that the two highly decorated detectives — Louis J. Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa — will now face sentencing for their convictions in one of the most spectacular cases of police corruption in city history.

The two men seem certain to spend the rest of their lives in prison. In 2006, after they were convicted of racketeering conspiracy, the trial judge, Jack B. Weinstein of United States District Court in Brooklyn, issued but did not officially impose life prison sentences for each man. Then, saying the five-year statute of limitations for racketeering had run out, the judge overturned the convictions despite what he called “overwhelming evidence” that the two men were “heinous criminals” who were guilty of the “most despicable crimes of violence and treachery.”

But in a 70-page opinion released on Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in Manhattan, concluded that Judge Weinstein’s view of the conspiracy was too narrow, and that it had continued to exist within five years of when the men were charged.

Although murders and other serious crimes that the men were accused of occurred in Brooklyn in the 1980s and 1990s, prosecutors used more recent and less serious charges — money laundering and narcotics distribution in Las Vegas in 2004 and 2005 — to bring the earlier acts under the umbrella of an ongoing criminal enterprise.

Judge Weinstein, in throwing out the men’s convictions, had found that the recent crimes were “singular, sporadic acts of criminality,” and could not be considered part of the earlier conspiracy, which included kidnapping, bribery and obstruction of justice. Because the older crimes dated back more than five years, the men, thus, could not be prosecuted for them.

“The government’s case against these defendants stretches federal racketeering and conspiracy law to the breaking point,” Judge Weinstein wrote.

Judge Weinstein had also decided that the earlier conspiracy ended when the two detectives retired and left the New York area and other co-conspirators were arrested. But Judge Amalya L. Kearse, writing for the appellate panel, said Judge Weinstein’s views of the criminal enterprise were too restrictive, given the evidence presented at the trial.

For example, Judge Kearse said, even after the two detectives retired in the early 1990s, one gave his pager number to Burton Kaplan, a former associate of the Luchese crime family who was the government’s key witness and testified about the services that both detectives had provided to organized crime.

She said the appeals panel concluded that the criminal enterprise had not ended before 2000, and thus the prosecution was not disallowed. Joining in the decision were Judges Robert D. Sack and Peter W. Hall.

Benton J. Campbell, the United States attorney in Brooklyn, whose office had appealed the case, said: “We are gratified by the decision of the Court of Appeals reinstating the jury verdict against the two defendants, who can now be sentenced for the extremely serious crimes that they committed.”

A police spokesman had no comment. Lawyers for each of the two men, who have been held without bond, did not respond to phone messages seeking comment.

Prosecutors charged that the two men, who both joined the police force in 1969, had taken thousands of dollars to carry out the mob murders and to leak law enforcement information, disclosing the identities of witnesses and compromising investigations.

In the first of the mob killings, in 1986, the two detectives, driving in an unmarked police car and using a siren, pulled a jeweler named Israel Greenwald over on a Long Island road, according to a government brief summarizing the trial testimony.

The detectives told Mr. Greenwald that he was needed in a lineup concerning an automobile accident. They then drove him to a garage, where he was shot to death.

Prosecutors said the detectives had first offered their services to Mr. Kaplan through a cousin of Mr. Eppolito’s who was also a mobster. Mr. Kaplan entered into an agreement with the detectives to pay them regularly. “The defendants were paid $4,000 a month for information, and tens of thousands of dollars for murders and kidnappings,” the government brief said.

At the trial, the jury also found that the men murdered a capo in the Gambino family in his Mercedes-Benz on the Belt Parkway; and that they kidnapped a Staten Island man, put him in a trunk, and delivered him to another mobster who tortured him for hours before killing him.

Judge Kearse, in the decision, cited the payments to the detectives as one factor that supported the prosecution’s view that the conspiracy spanned the entire period of the indictment, from 1979 to 2005. She said that the jury had been told the principal purpose of the enterprise, as the indictment charged, was to generate money for the detectives, through legal and illegal activities.

Judge Kearse also noted that prosecutors had told the jury that the two men had “received money for each crime in New York, and they broke the law for money in Las Vegas.”

Thus, she ruled, the jury could have inferred that the conduct was “sufficiently similar in purpose” to show that “the enterprise that began in New York continued to exist in Las Vegas.”

Thanks to Benjamin Weiser

Sopranos Actor to be Tried Separately for Murder of Off-Duty Cop

"Sopranos" actor Lillo Brancato will be tried separately from his allegedly trigger-happy cohort for the murder of an off-duty cop, a Bronx judge ruled Friday.

Brancato, who got his acting break as a teen in Robert De Niro's movie "A Bronx Tale," is slated to go on trial on Oct. 28.

Supreme Court Justice Martin Marcus ruled Brancato and pal Steven Armento will have separate days in court following a push by prosecutors to have the pair tried together.

The decision could benefit Brancato because the actor has claimed he had no idea Armento, 51, had a gun when the pair broke into an apartment next door to off-duty cop Daniel Enchautegui in search of drugs in December 2005.

When Enchautegui confronted them outside his home in Pelham Bay, the Bronx, Armento shot him, police said. Before he died, the officer returned fire, wounding Armento and Brancato.

"We want Lillo Brancato to be tried on his actions that night and the jury to make a decision based on his role or his lack of role," said his lawyer, Joseph Tacopina.

"Mr. Brancato is very different than his codefendant. He didn't have a gun, he didn't shoot anyone ... he got shot," said Tacopina.

Armento will be the first of the twosome to stand trial before Marcus on Sept. 29.
Armento's hospital statements, meanwhile, will be used during his trial despite a bid by his lawyer to have them tossed because he was heavily medicated during interviews with cops - a claim that was debunked by doctors.

Thanks to Chrisena Coleman

Angelo Prisco, Captain with the Genovese Crime Family, Indicted for Multiple Crimes

MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York; MARK J. MERSHON, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”); and WEYSAN DUN, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the Newark Office of the FBI, announced that ANGELO PRISCO, a Captain in the Genovese Organized Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra, has been charged by Indictment with various crimes including racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, robbery, extortion, firearms crimes, stolen property crimes, and operating an illegal gambling business. 

According to the Indictment filed in Manhattan federal court: From at least the 1970s through the present, PRISCO was a Soldier, and later a Captain, in the Genovese Organized Crime Family. As a Captain, PRISCO supervised, oversaw and profited from the criminal activities of his own crew of Genovese Family Soldiers and associates, operating in the New York City area and in New Jersey.

PRISCO committed various crimes on behalf of the Genovese Organized Crime Family. He oversaw and took part in a conspiracy to commit a string of home invasions and other armed robberies, during which the intended victims were robbed of cash proceeds of their businesses and other property. PRISCO also oversaw and participated in the extortion of Manhattan-based construction business; possessed, sold and transported stolen property; and operated an illegal gambling business.  If convicted, PRISCO, 69, of Tom’s River, NJ, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Mr. GARCIA praised the work of the FBI’s New York  and Newark Field Offices; the Orange County, New York District Attorney’s Office; the Westchester County, New York District Attorney’s Office; the New York State Police; the Morris County, New Jersey Prosecutor’s Office; the Rockaway Township, New Jersey Police Department; and the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation. 

Assistant United States Attorneys ELIE HONIG and LISA ZORNBERG are in charge of the prosecution.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

200 Mafia Suspects Arrested in International Operation that Spanned Italy, the U.S., Mexico, Panama, and Guatemala

More than 200 mafia suspects were arrested Wednesday in an international operation conducted by authorities in Italy, the United States, Mexico, Panama and Guatemala, Italy's anti-mafia department said.

The bust included the arrests - six in the US and 10 in Italy's southern Calabria region - of 16 alleged members of a notorious crime family of the 'Ndrangheta, the Calabrian version of the mafia, the Rome-based National Anti-Mafia Directorate said in a statement.

Authorities also seized more than 15 tons of cocaine and 57 million dollars in cash, the statement said.

The operation was led by the Italy's Carabinieri paramilitary police's special anti-organized crime unit ROS with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

US authorities in Washington said 175 of the arrests were of individual suspected of participating in the drug smuggling ring, including three alleged leaders of the Gulf Cartel. The three men, Ezequiel Cardenas-Guillen, Heriberto Lazcano and Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sanchez, have been charged with conspiring to ship drugs into the United States from Mexico, the Justice Department said.

Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni congratulated the Carabinieri for their work saying the operation also 'shows the excellent co-operation' that exists between the Italian law enforcement agencies and those of other countries.

Authorities believe that Aquino-Colluccio 'Ndrangheta crime family members, based in Italy, the United States and Latin America, controlled a large cocaine-smuggling ring together with the so- called Cartel del Golfo (Gulf Cartel), a Mexican drug trafficking organization.

A major breakthrough in the investigation came when 'Ndrangheta boss Giuseppe Coluccio - one of Italy's top 30 most-wanted criminals - was arrested in Toronto and extradited to Italy in August. Coluccio is suspected of drug-trafficking, blackmail and establishing a criminal alliance involving the 'Ndrangheta and the Sicilian Cosa Nostra mafia.

Far less known than the notorious Cosa Nostra, the 'Ndrangheta has grown in recent years to expand its activities beyond its heartland in Calabria, the 'toe' of boot-shaped Italy.

The August 2007 killing of six Italians in Duisburg, Germany, believed to be part of a feud between to 'Ndrangheta crime families, made international headlines.

Merging of Federal Organized Crime Strike Force Into Narcotics Unit Questioned by Former Prosecutors

The Organized Crime Strike Force, a prosecuting unit within the U.S. Attorney's Office that has a 20-year record of success in making cases against the Philadelphia mob, is being folded into a larger unit that will also focus on drug dealing and gang violence.

The changes are expected to take place in about a month, according to Laurie Magid, the acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and Linda Hoffa, head of the office's Criminal Division. Both said the move would enhance the unit's ability to make cases.

Critics, including former prosecutors and FBI agents, said the consolidation could hinder the development of intelligence-based investigations and marginalize the fight against organized crime.

Magid said she wanted the same expertise that has been used against organized crime employed in cases against major drug gangs.

"Our commitment to fighting organized crime is in no way diminished," she said yesterday shortly after announcing the changes at a regularly scheduled staff meeting.

Magid, the former first assistant U.S. attorney, was named interim head of the office in July when Patrick Meehan, her boss, resigned.

"The strike force is not being disbanded," added Hoffa. "Far from it. We're putting together a stronger and larger team."

Nine federal prosecutors who work in the strike force unit are being transferred to new offices and will report to Thomas Perricone, currently the supervisor of the narcotics and dangerous drugs section. Perricone, who joined the U.S. Attorney's Office in 1994 from the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, will head a newly formed narcotics and organized crime section.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Troyer, who was the supervisor of the strike force, will return to prosecuting cases under Perricone and will hold one of two senior litigation counsel posts created under the new structure. Troyer declined to comment last week.

Two former prosecutors who worked some of the biggest mob cases in Philadelphia history questioned the move, as did James Maher, a retired FBI agent who supervised an organized crime squad that in the 1980s and 1990s worked with the strike force to decimate one of the most violent Mafia families in America.

"That wasn't by chance, it was because of the commitment," said Barry Gross, a former federal prosecutor who worked dozens of mob cases during a career that spanned three decades.

A member of the prosecuting teams that convicted mob bosses Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo, John Stanfa, Ralph Natale and Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, Gross said he was "surprised and disappointed" by the change.

Louis Pichini, a former strike force prosecutor who directed the 1988 racketeering prosecution of Scarfo and 16 of his top associates - a case that gutted the local mob family - said "the acid test will be in the implementation" of the proposed changes.

Pichini, who also headed the criminal division before leaving the U.S. Attorney's Office, said it was important for "the unit to maintain an identity and expertise" and to be given the time to develop long-term cases.

If not, he said, prosecutors working there would be interchangeable with prosecutors from any other section, and the expertise and mandate of the strike force would be lost.

Strike forces were set up in the 1970s to develop broad-based cases and intelligence in the fight against traditional organized crime groups like La Cosa Nostra and the Sicilian Mafia. Over the years, their targets have been expanded to include Russian and Eastern European crime cartels, Asian criminal organizations, and ethnic gangs like the Latin Kings.

In the Eastern District, the strike force left its biggest mark attacking the South Philadelphia-based mob that once dominated the local underworld.

Perricone said yesterday that he had "tremendous respect" for those accomplishments.

"Having grown up in South Philadelphia and seeing what the mob can do, I can tell you that not on my watch will I allow resources to be taken away," he said. But critics question whether what is being called an expansion is in fact a dilution of a unit that had a clear agenda and a defined focus.

One current federal prosecutor, who asked not to be identified, said that without a supervisor to advocate and promote strike force cases, investigations could get bogged down or marginalized in the internal politics and bureaucracy of the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Sources in both the U.S. Attorneys Office and the FBI have said that an ongoing investigation into reputed mob boss Joseph Ligambi and his top associates had gone "off track" twice because of bureaucratic squabbling.

Maher, who headed the FBI's organized crime squad in Philadelphia for nearly two decades, called the strike force "one of the most important weapons" in the war against organized crime. "Agents working the cases had attorneys who spoke the same language," Maher said in an e-mail response to questions about the consolidation.

He pointed out that the local mob family is built around "people who have grown up with one another in evolving relationships. ... To combat those relationships, you need agents and attorneys who don't need to learn them all over again when a case starts to develop."

Strike forces were once separate entities from U.S. Attorney's Offices. They were consolidated into those offices but remained separate units. Now they may be the victims of their own successes as well as the changing priorities of the Justice Department.

Traditional organized crime has taken a series of prosecutorial hits in most major cities and experts say that the American Mafia in 2008 is an organizational shell of what it was just 30 years ago.

In addition, the emergence of violent ethnic drug gangs, the proliferation of illegal weapons, and the need to focus on terrorism and its related threats have led federal prosecutors in other cities to reassign assets and resources, and consolidate strike force operations.

Thanks to George Anastasia

Monday, September 15, 2008

Chief of Chicago Police Department's Organized Crime Section Retires

Another high-ranking Chicago police official is retiring from the department, among a half-dozen to leave since Supt. Jody Weis took office in February.

Frank Limon, chief of the organized crime section, which oversees both gang and narcotics divisions, said goodbye to colleagues Friday, though his last official day is Monday.

Limon, 54, said his retirement would allow him to spend more time with his wife and two children and to pursue other opportunities.

A 30-year veteran, Limon had been a deputy chief for the Grand Central area, an assistant deputy superintendent and commander of the Wood District. As chief of organized crime, he oversaw several major operations, including an investigation into fentanyl-laced heroin traced to Mexico that left at least five dead in Chicago.

Limon's successor has not yet been named, a spokeswoman for the department said.

Thanks to

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Family Secrets Mobsters Seeking Gifts of Leniency and Mercy During Holiday Season Sentencing

It's not even October but several top Chicago Outfit bosses are already thinking about Christmas and hoping they'll receive gifts of leniency.

In rat-a-tat succession this December, five mobsters who were convicted in the milestone Operation: Family Secrets prosecution last year are now scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel.

The pre-Christmas list of defendants who will stand before Judge Zagel begins with Anthony "Twan" Doyle, a former Chicago police officer. Doyle is to be sentenced Monday, December 8. Doyle's sentencing and the others will take place in Zagel's courtroom on the 25th floor of the Dirksen Federal Building, 219 S. Dearborn in downtown Chicago.

An Italian-American who was born "Passafume," the ex-cop changed his name to the Irish "Doyle" when he joined the Chicago Police Department. He was convicted of being the Outfit's "go-to guy" during some of his 21 years on the police force. The jury found that Doyle was part of a racketeering conspiracy that used violence to achieve its goals.

Next up in court will be Paul "The Indian" Schiro, who is due to be sentenced Wednesday, December 10. Schiro was convicted on racketeering charges.

The following day, Thursday December 11, lead defendant Frank "The Breeze" Calabrese, Sr. will be sentenced. It was Calabrese Sr.'s son and brother who both turned government witnesses and brought down the elder's Outfit street crew like a house of parlay cards. Nearly one year ago, a federal jury blamed "The Breeze" for nearly a dozen gangland murders and on Dec. 11 Calabrese Sr. is will face a sentence that will likely keep him locked up for the rest of his life.

The pre-holiday sentencing will continue the following week, on Monday December 15, when Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo will appear before Judge Zagel. Lombardo was also convicted of racketeering in connection with the old, unsolved mob murders, including those of notorious Las Vegas boss Anthony "Ant" Spilotro and his brother Michael. The Spilotros were found buried in an Indiana cornfield in 1986 after a dispute with their Outfit superiors. "The Clown" is known for his courtroom antics, such as peering out from behind a homemade newspaper mask, wise-cracking with lawyers and judges and once leading news crews on a downtown chase through a construction site. He is likely to be less jovial on Dec. 15, when he faces what will be tantamount to a life sentence.

The final sentencing for the five major Family Secrets defendants will be Wednesday, December 17. James "Little Jimmy" Marcello will also face the potential of life in prison for his role in mob killings and the collection of Outfit "street tax." The mob crew strong-armed protection money from businesses, ran sports bookmaking and video poker businesses as well as loan sharking operations. They rubbed out some of those who might have spilled their secrets to the FBI.

Admitted mob hitman Nick Calabrese, brother of Frank "The Breeze," will be sentenced Monday, January 26, 2009. Nick Calabrese had a hand in at least 15 gangland hits before turning informant. His cooperation was key to the original indictment of 14 Outfit bosses and soldiers and the success of the prosecutions.

Several lower-echelon members of the mob crew have already been sentenced. Also, Judge Zagel has denied defense motions for new trials.

Sentencing Dates

Anthony Doyle Sentencing Dec 8

Paul Schiro Sentencing Dec 10

Frank Calabrese Sr. Sentencing Dec 11

Joseph Lombardo Sentencing Dec. 15

James Marcello Sentencing Dec 17

Nicholas Calabrese Sentencing Jan 26, 2009

Frank Schweihs -- Died before trial.

Already Sentenced

Michael Marcello -- 8 1/2 years prison
Nicholas Ferriola three years in prison
Joseph Venezia -- 40 months prison
Dennis Johnson -- 6 months in prison

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Reputed Gambino Vinne Artuso Goes to Trial

A federal prosecutor and veteran of organized crime investigations opened his bulging binder and began questioning Thursday as the trial of an alleged Gambino crime family member, Vincent "Vinnie" Artuso, and four others got under way.

Artuso - a South Palm Beach resident identified by prosecutors as an affiliate of the late mob boss John Gotti - looked on, seated closest to the witness box, the other defendants and their attorneys seated the length of the defense table.

Artuso, 64, and the four men - described in a federal indictment as nonmember associates of the Gambino family - all face a gauntlet of racketeering, mail and wire fraud, and money laundering charges. Federal prosecutors have alleged the men conspired in the sale and leasing of four office buildings to conceal money and defraud people. Artuso is depicted in the indictment as the leader of the South Florida crew of the Gambino family who directed the enterprise.

Assistant U.S. Attorney William Shockley questioned at length William Larry Horton, a former defendant in the case who has since pleaded guilty, according to a court record.

Under friendly questioning, Horton testified about how, as a vice president with security firm ADT in Boca Raton, he had access to buildings to broker the deals. Horton testified he violated his company's policies with defendant Gregory Orr, never bidding out the lease and sale of the ADT-owned buildings, just artificially setting low prices with Orr.

"Your game was the only game in town. Is that right?" Shockley asked.

"Yes. That's right," Horton said.

On trial with Artuso and Orr are Artuso's son, John Vincent; Robert M. Gannon; and Philip E. Forgione. The trial is expected to last about three weeks.

Another veteran mob prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Brian McCormick, also is prosecuting the case in front of U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks.

Artuso is represented by Assistant Federal Public Defender Peter Birch. Birch told jurors in his opening statement that Artuso had nothing to do with the purchase of properties and nothing to do with organized crime. He said the government is attempting to connect Artuso to organized crime using a 20-year-old photo of him and Gotti and relying on the testimony of Lewis Kasman of Boca Raton, the self-proclaimed adopted son of Gotti.

Thanks to Susan Spencer-Wendel

Friday, September 12, 2008

Chicago Outfit and New York Families Stretch their Connections Beyond Las Vegas to San Diego

On August 31, the Union-Tribune printed an obituary on the death of Allard Roen, one of the original developers of Carlsbad’s La Costa Resort and Spa. He was living there when he died August 28 at age 87.

The U-T’s obituary was a typical, dutiful encomium. It did not mention the background of one of Roen’s major partners in La Costa and other projects, Moe Dalitz. He was among the 20th Century’s most notorious gangsters, as the Senate Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, known as the Kefauver Committee, pointed out in 1950 and 1951. In fact, a book that is now a best seller, T.J. English’s Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba and Then Lost It to the Revolution, notes that Dalitz, then 47, attended the famed Havana Conference at Cuba’s Hotel Nacional in late December 1946. According to English, a select group of 22 dignitaries caucused to strategize the American mob’s plan to make Cuba a Western Hemisphere vice haven. The group included Giuseppe (Joe Bananas) Bonanno, Vito (Don Vito) Genovese, Meyer Lansky of Murder Inc. and the Bugs and Meyer Mob, Charles (Lucky) Luciano, Luciano’s sidekick and “Prime Minister of the Underworld” Frank Costello, Carlos Marcello, Santo Trafficante Jr., Joe Adonis, and Tony (Big Tuna) Accardo, former bodyguard for Al (Scarface) Capone and later head of the Chicago mob. The book points out that Dalitz had been a partner with Lansky in the Molaska Corporation.

Timothy L. O’Brien, author of Bad Bet : The Inside Story of the Glamour, Glitz, and Danger of America's Gambling Industry, writes that Dalitz had run “the Cleveland branch of Charlie ‘Lucky’ Luciano and Meyer Lansky’s nascent Mafia.” Decades later, Dalitz was known as the caretaker “of underworld investments in Las Vegas.”

A Federal Bureau of Investigation official said in 1978, “The individual who oversees the operations of the La Cosa Nostra families in Las Vegas is Moe Dalitz,” according to James Neff’s Mobbed Up: Jackie Presser's High-Wire Life in the Teamsters, the Mafia, and the FBI.

After Prohibition’s repeal knocked out his bootlegging business, Dalitz went into the illegal casino business in southern Ohio and Kentucky. He then became the Big Boss in Vegas, arranging casino financing from the mob-tainted Teamsters Central States, Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund and keeping track of the books at such spas as the Desert Inn, where Roen was also a key figure. In the late 1940s, Dalitz resurrected crooner Frank Sinatra’s sagging career by giving him gigs at the Desert Inn.

Roen, who in the 1960s pleaded guilty in the United Dye and Chemical securities fraud, joined with Dalitz, Irwin Molasky, and Merv Adelson to build Las Vegas’s Sunrise Hospital with Teamster funds. They tapped Teamster funds for other investments. That Central States fund was essentially a piggy bank controlled by Jimmy Hoffa.

The fund played a key role in San Diego. It loaned $100 million to San Diego’s Irvin J. Kahn, a mobbed-up financier who used the money to develop Peñasquitos. He also got a concealed loan of $800,000 from a tiny Swiss bank named the Cosmos Bank, which made other mob-related loans before being closed up by joint action of the United States and Switzerland in the 1970s.

But the Central States Teamster fund’s big investment was La Costa. The interim loans were made by U.S. National Bank, controlled by C. Arnholt Smith, named “Mr. San Diego” by the Downtown Rotary Club and “Mr. San Diego of the Century” by a reporter for the San Diego Union. Following the interim loans, the Teamster fund would assume the U.S. National loans. There was a cozy relationship. Frank Fitzsimmons, who became head of the Teamsters after Jimmy Hoffa was exterminated, used to come down to watch the Smith-owned minor-league Padres play. And Fitzsimmons would play golf in San Diego with politician Richard Nixon.

The Union-Tribune’s recent panegyric to Roen mentioned that in 1975 Penthouse magazine ran an article charging that La Costa was a hangout for mobsters, and the founders sued for libel. Here’s how the U-T summed up the result: “A 10-year court battled ensued until La Costa accepted a written apology from the magazine.” This is a rank distortion. A joke.

“San Diego leadership has a tendency to fall in love with people with big bucks who come into town,” says Mike Aguirre, city attorney. The La Costa founders “were one of the first big-bucks boys who rode into town, and the welcome wagon was driven by C. Arnholt Smith.” The U-T then, and to this day, protects the roughriders who bring their sacks of money to San Diego.

Aguirre was one attorney representing Penthouse in the suit. He and his colleagues parsed every sentence in the article. The Penthouse trial lawyer rattled off to the jury the names of those who had shown up at La Costa, including Hoffa, Dalitz, Lansky, and many other hoods. And here is the key: the jury exonerated the magazine, agreeing that it had proved that everything it said was true.

It turned out that the judge, Kenneth Gale, had formerly been a lawyer for Jimmy “the Weasel” Fratianno, a notorious mob hit man who had begun cooperating with the government. Fratianno was to testify for Penthouse about the mobsters who habituated La Costa. Gale wouldn’t let the magazine’s lawyer question Fratianno. Judge Gale had also previously represented an infamous union racketeer, as related by Matt Potter in a 1999 Reader story.

After Gale threw out Penthouse’s victory, the magazine thought it could win a retrial, but after ten years and $8 million in legal expenses, Penthouse issued an innocuous statement, saying that it “did not mean to imply nor did it intend for its readers to believe that Messrs. Adelson and Molasky are or were members of organized crime or criminals” (italics mine). Note that Dalitz and Roen were not included in that statement. The magazine praised Dalitz and Roen for their “civic and philanthropic activities.”

Then La Costa owners lauded Penthouse for its “personal and professional awards.” It was a détente sans sincerity.

Dalitz died in 1989 at age 89, leaving a daughter in Rancho Santa Fe. She is involved in many peace and politically progressive activities. Her attorney was once San Diego’s James T. Waring, who didn’t last long as Mayor Jerry Sanders’s real estate czar.

The information on Waring ran in detail in the Reader in early 2006. San Diego’s leaders, always friendly to moneybags, didn’t appreciate the story.

Thanks to Don Bauder

Mystery of Juror Excused from Family Secrets Mob Trial Revealed

The Chicago Mob is an illicit business, notorious for its myths, mystery and folklore.

One baffling moment in the recent history of the Outfit now has an explanation. The incident occurred last year near the end of the Operation: Family Secrets prosecution of five members of the Outfit.

One juror, an alternate, was excused from the panel without explanation by trial Judge James Zagel.

In a ruling on defendants' post-trial motions Wednesday, Judge Zagel, for the first time, disclosed the reason for the juror's dismissal. She seemed to be frightened of the mob.

Zagel wrote that the female juror's posture and demeanor "revealed at best discomfort and perhaps anxiety or panic." When she asked the judge if any threats had been made against her during the trial, he excused her. None of the defense attorneys objected at the time.

There have been numerous cases the past 75 years in which the Outfit tried to buy justice and influence judges and juries when hoodlums were on trial. Mob bosses have also been known to silence witnesses and intimidate jurors.

For those reasons, the names of jury members impaneled in the Family Secrets case were not made public, and they were anonymous. But, considering the well-documented history of Outfit intimidation and violence against those working for justice, we now know that at least one juror seemed unwilling to take the risk.

The five members of the Chicago Outfit were all convicted last year in the government's landmark mob case and Wednesday were all denied new trials by Judge Zagel.

In a written order handed down by Zagel, the guilty verdicts for murder, conspiracy and racketeering will stand against Outfit bosses Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, Frank "The Breeze" Calabrese Sr, James "Jimmy the Man" Marcello and Outfit soldier Paul "the Indian" Schiro. Mob associate and former Chicago police officer Anthony "Twan" Doyle was found guilty of racketeering. His post-trial motion was also denied.

Judge Zagel said in his order that the motions were being denied "because there was ample evidence to support the jury's verdict" and that the jury was within its right to believe government recordings and witness testimony.

Specifically, Zagel noted Joe Lombardo's testimony on the witness stand worked against him and that Lombardo's advertisement in a newspaper stating he was no longer in the Outfit was "nothing more than a stunt."

The defendants argued that Judge Zagel should have granted a mistrial when he received a note during the trial from a juror saying that other members of the jury had formed opinions about the case before all the evidence had been heard. The defendants' motion stated that "some [jurors] also mentioned that they would be very upset if they had to deliberate for more than a few days while waiting on a decision that should already be made or close to being known." After receiving the note, Judge Zagel questioned each juror, dismissed two of them and says that he stands by his determination that the rest of the jury was not tainted.

Lombardo, Marcello, Schiro and Doyle also argued they were entitled to a new trial because a juror observed Calabrese threaten to kill Assistant US Attorney T. Marcus Funk, during closing arguments. Zagel stated jurors were able to differentiate between the defendants, so it would not have clouded their judgment.

Zagel acknowledged that Funk did "misstate some of the evidence in his closing argument." But the judge denied Schiro's motion for a mistrial because Funk and co-council Mitch Mars pointed out the mistake.

Zagel said he disagreed with several of the defendants' complaint that media coverage leading up to and during the trial tainted jurors and that the identities of the jurors should not have been anonymous.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie and Ann Pistone

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Future FBI Special Agents in Training

For some teenagers, summer camp means horseback riding, mountain hikes, and telling stories around the campfire. But for a group of teens who recently participated in the FBI's “Future Agents in Training” program, camp was all about getting an inside look at what it’s like to be an FBI special agent.

The program, now in its second year, is a weeklong summer camp based at the FBI's Washington Field Office and is designed to provide a fun, hands-on experience for students 16-18 years of age interested in FBI career opportunities.

In 2007, 30 students from D.C. schools and various Washington-area Middle Eastern organizations participated. This year, the program was expanded, drawing more than 200 applicants nationally, 41 of whom were accepted.

“It has been a phenomenal success,” says Joseph Persichini, Jr., Assistant Director in Charge of the Washington Field Office who was instrumental in creating the program and hopes it will serve as a “pipeline for youth into the FBI.”

Persichini says he was very impressed with the teens who participated, citing their intelligence and high level of motivation at a relatively young age. The course is a “fantastic opportunity” for such focused young people, he adds.

Rocco Settonni is a good example. When the 16-year-old from Cleveland, Ohio read about the summer program on the FBI's website, he informed his mother that he was going to apply and that he had every intention of being accepted.

“He was going to make it happen come heck or high water,” his mom Margie recalls. “Rocco is a determined young man.”

“My personal career goal is to work as a special agent, focusing on intelligence/counterintelligence or counterterrorism,” Rocco wrote in a 500-word essay required as part of the competitive application process. He explained that to reach his goal of one day becoming an agent, he was also “very willing to learn to speak Farsi, Pashtu, or any other language vital to the defense of the United States.”

Elliott Styles, a high school sophomore from Baltimore, Maryland, wrote in his essay: “Basically what I really hope to achieve from this program is to learn the everyday life of an FBI agent.”

Elliott and his classmates were not disappointed. During the weeklong course they collected evidence, helped solve a mock bank robbery, saw how a polygraph test is administered, and spoke with agents in the field—including George Piro, who interviewed former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein after the dictator’s capture in 2003. There was also a private tour of the Capitol, a graduation ceremony at the end of the week, and a meeting with FBI Director Robert Mueller at their training facility in Quantico, Virginia.

By giving young people a realistic look at how the FBI operates, the Future Agents in Training Program is “planting a seed” for the future, Persichini says. And if 30 or 40 students participate every summer and go back to their friends, families, and communities to talk about the positive experience they had, everyone benefits.

“If that one week changes their lives, reinforces their commitment to the FBI or to public service in general,” Persichini says, then the program “is worth its weight in gold.”

Nicholas Ferriola, Son of Former Chicago Mob Boss, Sentenced to Prison

The son of a former Chicago Outfit boss was sentenced Tuesday to three years in federal prison for profiting from illegal sports gambling and extorting businesses on behalf of the mob.

Nicholas Ferriola admitted that from at least 1999 until he was indicted in March of 2007, he profited up to $160,000 a month from running gambling operations as part of the Outfit's 26th street crew. His father Joseph "Joe Nagal" Ferriola, a convicted felon, headed the Chicago mob from 1986 until he had a pair of heart transplants and died of cardiac failure three years later.

At Tuesday's sentencing hearing, the younger Ferriola was ordered by Judge James Zagel to forfeit more than $9 million and pay $6,000 in fines. Federal officials believe Ferriola made more than $9 million dollars during his career with the Chicago outfit, a figure Ferriola disputed. According to filings by the US attorney's office, Ferriola was pulled over when Chicago Police in 1999, suspected of driving under the influence. Officers found $15,000 in Ferriola's pants pocket. He was a high school drop out with no verified employment history and had no explanation for the cash. Weeks later, the government caught a conversation on tape, between Ferriola and a senior member of the Chicago outfit, Frank "The Breeze" Calabrese, discussing profits. Ferriola told Calabrese he is "making a hundred thousand" dollars each week. Calabrese Sr. told Ferriola to be careful when he's talking about money.

Ferriola, 33, is considered by federal law enforcement to be a low-level hoodlum compared to his co-defendants in last summer's Operation Family Secrets trial. Outfit bosses Frank Calabrese Sr., Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo and James Marcello were among five Outfit bosses found guilty of 18 mob hits that went unsolved for years. The gangland killings included the murder of Tony "Ant" Spilotro, the Outfit's Las Vegas boss and the inspiration for Joe Pesci's character in the movie "Casino". Ferriola was not accused in any of the murders.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie and Ann Pistone

Get a Free Issue of "Informer: The Journal of American Mafia History"

INFORMER: The Journal of American Mafia History was initially scheduled for release on Sept. 26. But the journal is available for FREE download NOW.

You should be able to access Informer by clicking the Download button at this web location: http://www.box.net/shared/1tqtm2ydfr

Contents of Issue 1
- The Mob's Worst Year: 1957
- Capone's Triggerman Kills Michigan Cop
- Newspaperman Reveals Lynch Mob Role
- A Look Back: 100 Years, 75 Years, 25 Years
- Ask the Informer: KC's DiGiovanni
- Book News and Reviews
- In the News
- Deaths

Informer would like to thank the following advertisers for participating in the journal launch: The First Vice Lord: Big Jim Colosimo and the Ladies of the Levee by Art Bilek; The Mafia and the Machine: The Story of the Kansas City Mob by Frank R. Hayde; Deep Water: Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia by Thomas Hunt and Martha Macheca Sheldon; Niagara Falls Mobtours; On the Spot Journal of Crime and Law Enforcement History edited by Rick Mattix; The American Mafia History website. We also would like to thank our early subscribers for their support.

For additional information on Informer Issue #1 visit the website: http://mafiainformer.blogspot.com/.

There is no charge for this first issue. However, Informer's quarterly electronic issues will be available only to subscribers starting with the next issue in January. Subscriptions are now available at a special price through the website above.

John Edwards Now in Trouble with the Mob?

RICO and The Mob

The act of engaging in criminal activity as a structured group is referred to in the United States as Racketeering. In the U.S., organized crime is often prosecuted federally under the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), Statute (18 U.S.C. Part 1 Chapter 96 §§1961-1968.

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly referred to as ―RICO, was enacted in 1970 to address the infiltration of legitimate businesses by organized crime. RICO is a federal statute found at Title 18 of the United States Code. Section 1962(c) of RICO prohibits persons ―employed by or associated with any enterprise engaged in, or the activities of which affect, interstate or foreign com-merce, to conduct or participate, directly or indirectly, in the conduct of such enter-prises affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity.

It is easiest to understand the United States RICO Act when you realize that it was designed to be used to prosecute the Mafia. In the context of the Mafia, the defendant person (i.e., the target of the RICO Act) is the Godfather. The activities that are considered racketeering are criminal activities in which the Mafia commonly engages, e.g., extortion, bribery, loan sharking, murder, illegal drug sales, prostitution, etc.

The pattern of criminal activity has been occurring for many years and even possibly for generations. This creates a pattern of criminal activity in which the Mafia family has engaged. These criminal actions possibly done over a span of 10 years or more, constitute a pattern of racketeering activity. The purpose of the RICO Act is to hold the Godfather criminally liable for the actions of his own criminal network.

The government can criminally prosecute the Godfather under RICO and send him to jail even if the Godfather has never personally killed, extorted, bribed or engaged in any criminal behavior. The Godfather can be imprisoned because he operated and managed a criminal enterprise that engaged in such acts. The victims of the Mafia family can sue for damages civilly. They can potentially recover their economic losses that they sustained by the actions of the Mafia family and their pattern of racketeering.

The section of the RICO Act that permits civil recovery is section 1964(c). The persons who could potentially recover civil damages might be the extorted businessman, or the employers whose employees were bribed, or debtors of the loan shark, or the family of a murder victim.

Thanks to Dr. Janet L. Parker D.V.M.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Life and Times of a Mafia Insider - Tough Guy: A Memoir by Louis Ferrante

Hear the words "Mafia boss" and you think: olive-skinned with dark, slightly bloodshot eyes and a sharp suit. Louis Ferrante fulfils some of those preconceptions.

He is New York Italian, powerfully built, and was wearing a black shirt when interviewed for HARDtalk by Sarah Montague.

He worked for John Gotti of the infamous Gambino crime family, which pulled off some of the most lucrative heists in American history. But he is younger than you would think, given that he ran his own "crew" and did nine years in jail before deciding to change his life and become a writer.

Ferrante's moment of truth came when a prison guard at the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center described him and his kind as "animals".

Two months in solitary forced him to ponder the question: was he an animal? If so, why was he one? "I thought about the people I'd victimised... and I realised I did deserve to be in a zoo," he recalls.

For the first time in his life he started reading books, looking deeper into himself and searching for some answers. He set himself the challenge to read the entire prison library.

"Prison was the greatest thing that happened to me, because it gave me time to look inside myself, the solitude that I needed to take a closer look at everything around me; to analyse myself."

He educated himself and converted to Judaism.

Given his experience behind bars, Ferrante believes the prison services should be about giving inmates the opportunity to change their lives. But before his own transformation, Ferrante's "greatest aspiration" was always to be a member of the Mafia.

He started off as a kid, sawing the tops of meters to get the coins, and hijacked his first truck as a teenager, using a gun.

"I was 17 years old. I liked girls. I liked to drive fast cars. I liked hamburgers and French fries.

"And I'd just realised that I liked to hijack trucks".

A common misconception about the Mafia is that you have to have a genetic link to a "family" in order to be a member. Not so, says Ferrante. The most famous Mob bosses were not born into "the Life".

Lucky Luciano, Thomas Lucchese, Carlos Marcello and Vito Genovese all started out as petty thieves, graduating to bigger crimes as the years passed. So did John Gotti and so did Ferrante.

Whether he is accurately described as a "boss" is debatable.

His memoir, Tough Guy, more modestly describes him as a "Mafia insider". But he was on the list being passed around the five Mafia families and was on the verge of being "made" when he was arrested for racketeering.

"I had a dozen good men under me... I was already equal to a made man, since I answered directly to the heads of my family."

In a legitimate business he would be considered middle management.

At the height of his criminal career Ferrante had the trappings of wealth. "I'd drop $10,000 at the tables in Atlantic City, pick up a $500 tab at a steakhouse, and hand out hundreds to anyone with a story."

He made his money robbing trucks, selling on bent goods bought with fake credit cards made from stolen numbers, dealing with anything from high quality white goods to government bonds.

In an early mistake he robbed a truck load of cheap underwear. "I was stuck with 500 boxes of brassieres I couldn't sell as slingshots".

But mostly his jobs were highly lucrative.

His book enables you to check what you think you know about the New York Italian underworld with reality.

You have to be Italian to be "made"? True.

Under no circumstances do you take your beef with another gangster to his home, involving his family. Also true.

He consorted with characters like Bert the Zip, Tony the Twitch and Barry the Brokester, who always maintained he could not pay you because he was broke.

Bobby Butterballs he leaves us to work out for ourselves.

He maintains that there is honour amongst thieves:

"Jimmy and I had no contract, no lawyers, no bill of sale; a handshake sealed the deal. Try that in the straight world".

And he would have you believe that he was a nice cuddly gangster. He maintains he never murdered anyone. But that was perhaps more by luck than judgement.

Ferrante glosses over quite how much he injured people, and he admits in his book that he beat someone up and left him not knowing whether he was alive or dead.

Collecting money, he says, was easy for him. "I collected $20,000 from a guy who owned a dress company in a garment centre. I threatened to hang him out the window. He paid, even though his office was on the first floor."

When HARDtalk presenter Sarah Montague asked him how he asserted himself in prison he used elliptical phrases like: I would have to "declare myself" or "express myself".

Writing his life story cannot have been an easy decision. The Mafia are not keen on insiders discussing their modus operandi.

He has changed the names to protect the innocent and conceal the guilty, and says as a matter of honour he has never ratted on his former associates.

Thanks to Bridget Osborne

Thursday, September 04, 2008

FBI Raises Reward for Whitey Bulger to $2 Million

The FBI is raising the reward for Top Ten fugitive James “Whitey” Bulger to 2 million dollars and has released new age-enhanced photos to help catch him.

James Bulger is wanted for his role in numerous murders in the 1970s and 80s. He was head of an organized extortion and drug ring in the Boston area.

The newly enhanced images show Bulger with and without a mustache and glasses. The images supplement surveillance video and audio the FBI has already released in hopes the public might recognize the fugitive.

In the video from 1980, Bulger is chatting with another man at the Lancaster Street Garage and at the Howard Johnsons in Boston, Massachusetts.

Born in 1929, Bulger has been known to alter his appearance using disguises. He’s traveled extensively in Europe, Mexico and Canada. He’s an avid reader with an interest in art and is know to frequent historic sites. He stays fit by walking on beaches and in parks with a female companion.

In January the Bulger Fugitive Task Force released audio recordings of Bulger taken before he was a fugitive. The hope is that someone will recognize the unique characteristics of his voice and report it.

[James Bulger Audio recording: “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.”]

James Bulger goes by at least a dozen aliases. He has a violent temper and is known to carry a knife at all times. He should be considered armed and extremely dangerous.

New Wanted posters announcing the 2 million dollar reward have also been printed in Italian, German, Portuguese and Spanish.

If you have any information on Bulger’s whereabouts, contact your local FBI office or the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

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