Saturday, March 28, 2009

Allegations Surface of Mafia Rigged Football Games in 2003

Serie A footballers Franco Brienza and Salvatore Aronica and the retired Vincenzo Montalbano are under investigation for match-rigging while playing for lower-division Ascoli in 2003, Il Giornale di Sicilia newspaper reported Tuesday. Police in Palermo could charge them with sports fraud in connection with an investigation on alleged ties between the Mafia and the local football club, the report said.

In the spring of 2003, the Mafia allegedly rigged Palermo's game against Ascoli with the help of the three footballers as the Sicily club vied for promotion to the Serie A.

Marcello Trapani, a former attorney for a Mafia family now collaborating with police, said that Brienza, 30, now at Reggina, Napoli's Aronica, 31, and Montalbano, 40, received 200,000 euros (271,000 dollars) for rigging the game, in which, however, they did not play.

Trapani appears to have heard of the scam from Rino Foschi, a former sports director of Palermo, now at Torino, who is also under investigation.

Palermo won the game 2-1 through a last-gasp goal, but the win was not enough to secure promotion, which they obtained a year later.

The three footballers face no charges from the sports judicial authorities due to the expiration of the statute of limitations.

Thanks to Earth Times

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Will Leniency to Nick Calabrese End the Chicago Outfit's Foundation of Fear

Chicago Outfit hit man turned star government witness Nicholas Calabrese, who killed at least 14 men and wet his pants on his first murder assignment near Sox Park decades ago, stood in court to talk about fear.

"I chose my path in life," he told U.S. District Judge James Zagel before he was sentenced as the last man in the historic mob prosecution known as Family Secrets. "I was always with fear, and underneath that fear, there was a coward."

Not the Hollywood image of the Outfit hit man, but then Hollywood has always glamorized the mob. American audiences, so numbed by living in an increasingly bureaucratic culture, demand recognizable archetypes to fulfill escapist fantasies. It's Tony Soprano they want, the politically incorrect and unrepentant white guy who takes what he wants. But that's Hollywood, and Nick Calabrese is from Chicago, and he testified to wetting himself as a grown man, when he strangled Bones Albergo years ago with his brother Frank.

He's been afraid since he was a kid, afraid of Frank, afraid of failing at his work. That fear forced him to become meticulous in his planning of murders, so fussy about details that he sounded more like a grandmother at a quilting convention than some archetypal gangster.

That fear led him to become the first "made man" ever to testify against the Outfit, in the most significant prosecution of the mob in modern Chicago's history.

Outfit bosses Frank Calabrese, Joseph Lombardo and James Marcello have been sentenced, as have enforcer Paul Schiro and Chicago cop Anthony "Twan" Doyle. On Thursday it was Nick Calabrese's turn.

The families of his victims came up first, testifying tearfully about fathers who were shotgunned or strangled or tortured, never to see their kids grow up, graduate, marry and start their own families. Some wept, others spat out their hatred at Calabrese, and all asked Zagel to let him rot in prison.

It would have been the easy thing to do. Yet Zagel's job isn't about emotion, but rather about logic and the law, and he began to speak slowly, eloquently about leniency.

Not leniency to Calabrese, but leniency to all the other families of other victims unknown, future victims of other killers who might receive some small measure of justice if the law showed some mercy on Calabrese, to persuade men like him to testify in court.

"There is a phrase used in state courts, when individuals are charged with murder: 'Against the peace and dignity of the people of the state of Illinois,' " Zagel said. "And murder is a kind of war, and the organization you are involved in engages in that war, with faction against faction, and against the people."

Zagel noted that in another federal courtroom in April, Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose will go on trial for allegedly being an Outfit messenger, guarding Calabrese and sending the bosses information about murder sites visited by Calabrese and FBI agents when the investigation began.

I wrote about the beginning of Family Secrets before it was called Family Secrets, back on Feb. 21, 2003, when Calabrese was quietly swept into the federal witness protection program, when the Outfit began to tremble, and I listed some of the murders that would be solved. I knew the Outfit bosses were worried. What I didn't know was how easily they could penetrate the federal shield.

The Outfit "will not forgive or relent in their pursuit of you," Zagel said to Calabrese, adding that even when he's a free man, Calabrese will never draw a secure breath.

He was sentenced to 148 months in prison, but given the time he's already served, Calabrese will be out in about four years. He should be available to testify in other trials.

Without Calabrese's testimony, there would have been no prosecution, and the big bosses would be out on the street, ordering hits, spreading corruption, sending their political errand boys to carry messages to local governments.

Watching him sitting at the defense table, an old man in jeans, glasses and a gray sweat shirt, trying to keep his lips from quivering and losing, it became clear that while the Chicago Outfit relies upon corrupt politicians to protect it, the Outfit was built on what was obvious in Nick Calabrese's eyes:


Thanks to John Kass

Mob Hit Man Nick Calabrese, Admitted Killer of 14, Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison

It was a judgment day like none Chicago has ever seen.

Mob hit man Nicholas Calabrese, the admitted killer of 14 people, stood before a judge Thursday as the only made member of the Chicago Outfit ever to testify against his superiors. His cooperation solved some of the Chicago area's most notorious gangland killings and sent three mob leaders away for life.

Weighing Calabrese's terrible crimes against his unprecedented testimony in the Family Secrets trial, a federal judge sentenced him to just 12 years and 4 months behind bars, leaving relatives of Calabrese's many victims outraged and distraught.

One widow, Charlene Moravecek, collapsed moments after leaving the courtroom and was taken from the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse on a stretcher. She had earlier glared at Calabrese in court and called him "the devil."

Anthony Ortiz, whose father, Richard, was shot to death by Calabrese outside a Cicero bar, called the sentence pathetic. "To me, that's a serial killer," Ortiz said of Calabrese. "That's less than a year for every person that he killed."

Making the sentence even harder for the families to swallow is the likelihood that Calabrese, 66, will be released from prison in as little as four years. Under federal sentencing guidelines, he must serve 85 percent of his sentence, but Calabrese has been incarcerated in connection with the Family Secrets case since November 2002.

Bob D'Andrea, the son of mobster Nicholas D'Andrea, whom Calabrese admitted beating with a baseball bat, said he expected the judge to be somewhat lenient. But Calabrese won't receive his ultimate penalty in this life, he said. "If he believes in God, he knows what he has coming," D'Andrea said.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel, who had to balance rewarding Calabrese for his extraordinary cooperation with punishing him for the 14 murders, knew his decision wouldn't be acceptable to many relatives of the victims. He spoke directly to them in a slow, deliberate tone.

"None of this happened without Nicholas Calabrese," Zagel said of the landmark Family Secrets prosecution. The judge reminded the crowded courtroom that Calabrese had given families some sense of closure. Zagel said he also had to consider that other would-be mob turncoats must be given some incentive to provide information too.

Federal prosecutors left the sentence to Zagel's discretion but later expressed support for his decision. However, "pure justice" would have required that Calabrese be imprisoned for the rest of his life, said First Assistant U.S. Atty. Gary Shapiro.

Shapiro, a veteran mob-fighter, noted that Chicago has been "the toughest nut to crack" in the U.S. when it comes to turning mob insiders. "Here Judge Zagel has sent the word out that if you do what Nick Calabrese has done, you have the chance of not spending the rest of your life in prison," he said.

With images of many of his 14 victims flashing on a screen just a few feet away, Calabrese had refused to even look that way. He instead stared down at the empty defense table looking like he was trying not to cry.

Wearing a plain gray shirt and jeans, he finally walked to the lectern with a slight limp. He apologized for his wrongdoing and said he thinks about his crimes all of the time. "I can't go back and undo what I done," he told Zagel as his wife and children looked on. "I stand before you a different man, a changed man."

Calabrese's testimony had riveted Chicago in summer 2007 as he pulled back the curtain on murder after murder. He testified about wetting his pants during his first killing, fatally shooting friend and hit man John Fecarotta and taking part in the notorious slayings of Las Vegas mob chieftain Anthony Spilotro and his brother, Michael. At trial, five men were convicted, including mob bosses James Marcello, Joey "the Clown" Lombardo and his brother, Frank Calabrese Sr. Four of them were linked to 18 murders in all.

All of the victims' family members who addressed Zagel in court Thursday said they understood the significance of what Calabrese had done, but they still said they wanted him to pay fully. They recounted years of heartbreak, with the men violently taken from them missing holidays, weddings and births.

"I have waited half a life for the chance to come face to face with the person responsible for my father's death," said Janet Ortiz, the daughter of Richard Ortiz.

Peggy Cagnoni, whose husband, businessman Michael Cagnoni, was killed in a car-bombing on the Tri-State Tollway that Calabrese had said took a hit team months to pull off, called Calabrese "the ultimate killer."

"I feel you are truly heartless and deserve no mercy," she said. "You got caught in a trap and had nowhere to go."

Calabrese had decided to cooperate after investigators confronted him in 2002 with DNA evidence taken from a pair of bloody gloves he dropped while leaving the scene of the Fecarotta homicide in 1986.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Markus Funk called Calabrese a "walking, breathing paradox." Funk acknowledged that the unassuming Calabrese could sometimes be a cold, robotic killer but said he had shown remorse and had done as much or more than anyone before him to damage the Outfit.

Calabrese's lawyer, John Theis, sought a sentence of less than 8 years in prison, which effectively would have meant his immediate release. Calabrese will forever live in fear, Theis said, but should be given the chance to once again be with his family.

Zagel said he doubts Calabrese will ever truly be free. No matter how long he lives or in what protected place it will be, Calabrese will always have to look over his shoulder. "The organization whose existence you testified to will not forgive or relent in their pursuit of you," he said.

Thanks to Jeff Coen

Voters Have to Be Active to End Corruption and Clout in Illinois

Illinois is the punch line of lots of jokes. What's the difference between a prostitute and an Illinois governor? A prostitute has a 10 percent chance of being indicted, 40 percent less than the governor. People are not laughing at our governors. They are laughing at us. When are we going to start doing our jobs instead of waiting for the U.S. attorney's office and the FBI to clean up our mess?

Good job, again U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald on the trial of former Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Al Sanchez. Assistant U.S. attorneys and FBI agents proved once again that governmental bodies in Illinois too often work for those in power and not for the people.

The case of the prison-bound former City Hall patronage chief, Robert Sorich, was the same story. Honest and qualified applicants for City Hall jobs did not have a chance if they weren't connected. The hiring system was wired. Elaborate schemes were created to cover up the charade. Job interviews for the cloutless turned into interrogations. Outstanding reviews were ginned up for those who were connected. Bad government.

But is jailing those who implement bad governmental practices the answer? Are federal prosecutions the road to good government?

Certainly, there are crimes from which we need federal law enforcement to protect us. Assistant U.S. Attys. Gary Shapiro and the late itchell Mars and many others have pounded the Chicago mob and literally shifted the balance of power from the tyranny of the Tommy Gun to the rule of law. The people could not do that alone. The feds have also taken on the gangs in Chicago. To be sure, the public has a key role to play in keeping our kids out of gangs and not buying their life's blood: drugs. But Chicago gangs are too well-armed and organized for ordinary citizens alone to topple. We need the U.S. attorney's office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, law enforcement and others to help us.

There is a fundamental difference between public corruption on the one hand and gangs and the mob on the other: We choose corrupt public officials. We hand them the combination to the bank vault. Impeached ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich did not change his stripes immediately upon being re-elected. We knew who and what he was. Way before the second election, headlines of this paper detailed allegations of corruption.

Even the Safe Roads investigation broke before George Ryan was elected governor. (Yes, the U.S. attorney's office appropriately announced Ryan was not then a subject of the investigation, because he wasn't, but that is hardly an endorsement.) That Ryan was an old-time, pay-to-play pol was the worst-kept secret, even in Illinois. We once again looked the other way and chose him as our governor.

Public corruption is insidious because it crushes our faith in the system we hold dear. When those we choose use the power we lend them for their own selfish purposes, we throw up our hands and say the system is broken.

That is the easy but wrong conclusion. The system isn't broken. The system is the best in the world. Democracy is not just a concept; it is the right to choose. We fought and fight wars for democracy to triumph. Courageous African-Americans in the too recent past withstood fire hoses, beatings and worse for the cherished right to vote. Too often, we in Illinois have squandered our votes. As long as we elect the most effective fundraisers, we are destined to give power to those who provide the funds. As long as we equate "he's honest" with "he's ineffective" we will continue to get what we deserve.

Our U.S. attorney's office is the best in the nation at fighting public corruption. From Greylord, to the 1st Ward, to Silver Shovel, to Safe Roads, to the hiring scandals, the U.S. attorney's office has done its job time and time again. But good government cannot and should not be won in the criminal courts. It is time to stop looking to them to do our jobs. It is time to wake up and make honesty and integrity voting issues.

Thanks to Ronald S.Safer. Mr. Safer is a former federal prosecutor now in private practice in Chicago. During the 1990s, he headed the Justice Department's prosecution of Chicago's Gangster Disciples.

US Government Helping Out Organized Crime

New Jersey state Senator Raymond Lesniak thinks the US government is helping no one but criminals by imposing prohibition against sports gambling. The state lawmaker has filed suit to strike the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which prevents states from legalizing sports wagering.

Lesniak says the ban has not prevented sports betting in the least. He insists that no one could seriously claim that sports gambling is not occurring everywhere in the US.

"Rather than supporting thousands of jobs, economic activity and tourism, the federal ban supports offshore operators and organized crime," said the Jersey legislator.

The National Gaming Impact Study Commission says illegal sports gambling in the US may range as high as $380 billion annually. One of the plaintiffs in Lesniak's lawsuit, iMEGA, showed estimates that sports gambling could bring $10 billion to New Jersey business a year, with over $100 million in state tax revenue.

Proponents of legalized and regulated sports gambling repeat the arguments offered by those for online casinos: the goals of those who establish the bans would be far better served by regulation. By seeking to limit consumer exposure to criminals, the law actually chases out legitimate gambling operators, leaving the field to those outside the law.

And by seeking to protect games from corruption, they let corruption bloom undiscovered, away from the light and transparency of regulation. European sports leagues have cooperated for some time with Internet casinos to prevent match fixing.

Thanks to Carla Weitz

Michael Imperioli from The Sopranos to Host a Birthday Celebration in Las Vegas

Michael Imperioli from The Sopranos to Host Birthday Celebration in Las Vegas

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Did Cicero Police Officers Help the Mob Fight the FBI?

Federal authorities are investigating several Cicero police officers for allegedly trying to thwart FBI agents running surveillance on an Outfit associate and high-ranking member of the Outlaws motorcycle gang who ran a pawn shop in town, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

Cicero police allegedly ran car license plates, pulled over cars they suspected were driven by federal agents and tried to find hidden surveillance cameras around the business of Mark Polchan, according to recently unsealed court records. Polchan is awaiting trial on charges he bombed a business for the Outfit.

Cicero officers and Polchan also are accused by prosecutors of engaging in sexual acts with prostitutes in Polchan's business, called Goldberg's, which was under video and audio surveillance by federal authorities. Prosecutors brought the matter up to counter Polchan's claim that he is a good family man.

The Cicero police officers under investigation are not named in the court documents.

In one secretly recorded conversation between Polchan and one of the officers in 2007, the officer is quoting telling him, "Alright, I got good news. We ran all the f - - - - - - plates on all the f - - - - - - cars over here. They all came back to f - - - - - - people," meaning not federal agents.

At a court hearing sealed to the public, Assistant U.S. Attorney Markus Funk called the police running the license plates to see if they were federal agents "extraordinary," according to a transcript. Prosecutors had no comment Tuesday.

Cicero Town spokesman Dan Proft said the police superintendent was unaware of the allegations against his officers. The town will review them and likely refer them to the police department's internal affairs division, Proft said.

FBI agents interviewed three Cicero police officers in late summer or early autumn last year to question them because they had known Polchan for years, Proft said, but agents told the police superintendent they were not targets. Polchan apparently has deep ties with the Cicero Police Department, where his father was an officer.

Federal authorities have said more people will be charged in the Polchan case. Prosecutors have alleged Polchan rang a burglary ring out of his shop and did frequent business with the Outfit, including overseeing a 2003 bombing of a Berwyn business that ran afoul of the mob.

Polchan's attorney could not be reached for comment. The documents came to light as Polchan appeals a judge's decision to have him held without bond.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

History Lesson from Former Illinois Governor Touches on Mobsters

Dan Walker sent an e-mail from Mexico because he doesn't like newspaper reporters lumping him in with crooked governors.

Yes, that Dan Walker, governor of Illinois from 1972 to 1976.

The Internet is a magical thing that never ceases to amaze. Sitting in his home down in Rosarito Beach, Baja, Mexico, Walker, 87, read a column that appeared online March 17 in the SouthtownStar and obviously felt the need to respond.

"Phil, I read and enjoyed your good article about (Gov. Pat) Quinn and (former Gov. Richard) Ogilvie," Walker e-mailed. "I'd like to share with you a few thoughts since I lived through those days about which you wrote."

I wrote about Quinn's plan for an income tax increase and mentioned that Ogilvie had created the first state income tax while governor in 1969. In 1972, I noted, Ogilvie was defeated by Walker.

That election has been cited ever since by Illinois politicians as proof that voters will rebel against any elected leader who backs an income tax increase.

Walker suggested that he didn't win the election because of the tax hike but because of scandals in the Ogilvie administration.

"Perhaps you're unaware that I said publicly both at the time time he did it and during my campaign for governor that Dick Ogilvie deserved to be complimented for having the guts to give Illinois the income tax," Walker wrote. "I've said repeatedly, then and now, that the state could not have continued without it. I went on while campaigning, of course, to criticize Ogilvie for the way he spent the money that came in."

Walker reminded me that Ogilvie was the first governor to welcome William Cellini into his administration. Cellini, a Springfield wheeler-dealer, is under federal indictment in connection with pay-to-play politics in the administration of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, but he has been cutting deals with governors and lining his pockets with government dough for decades.

Ogilvie hired Cellini to be the state's first transportation director, and Cellini became embroiled in a scandal involving ties to state highway contractors who made large campaign contributions.

"Cellini cut deals with every governor of Illinois, Republican and Democrat, except me," Walker boasted in his e-mail. "My aide threw him out of his office when he came to make a bad proposition."

Walker proudly claims that during his administration, state support for public education reached its highest levels, financing 48 percent of the cost of a K-12 education, "just short of the 50 percent goal set in the constitution."

That's true, but I e-mailed in response that Walker's administration benefited from the hundreds of millions of dollars raised by the 2.5 percent income tax passed by Ogilvie to fund education.

In my column, I called Ogilvie a governor who built a reputation for honesty by taking on organized crime and the original Mayor Daley's political machine.

That apparently really hit a nerve with Walker.

"Phil, I too had the courage to do what was right when I was governor and tried to change the system, knocking down the excessive power of the rotten Chicago machine," Walker wrote. "And my political career ended because of that.

"Phil, I continue to wish that reporters would recognize what I tried to do. Most folks are entirely unaware of what I did as outlined above on education and fighting guys like Cellini and (in) other good government matters.

"I've made my mistakes (they've been well publicized), but I still get sick inside when I see my name coupled with those guys like Ryan, who went to jail for corruption in office."

Walker has a legitimate complaint on that last point. He served 18 months in a federal prison for bank fraud, but that happened years after he left office.

Yet, whenever anyone lists the Illinois politicians who have gone to prison on charges of corruption, his name appears along with those of Otto Kerner and George Ryan.

I asked Walker what he's doing these days, and he wrote back that despite rumors that he made a fortune from his banking days, he lives with his wife on their Social Security benefits "plus such stipends as my seven kids see fit to send me from time to time." He wrote that he lives a "pleasant life" and continues to love politics.

By the way, while mentioning Ogilvie, Walker also dropped the name of Richard Cain. I had completely forgotten about Cain, one of the most notorious figures in Illinois history.

Cain was recruited by Chicago mob chief Sam Giancana as a young man and eventually became a police officer, organized crime's guy on the inside. He ended up heading the Cook County sheriff's special investigations section when Ogilvie was sheriff.

Cain apparently did bring down some big-time mobsters, but some of them were guys the mob wanted to take out. In the meantime, he provided information to the mob on government investigations.

He eventually was whacked by hit men who entered a neighborhood restaurant, lined the patrons up against the wall and put a shotgun to Cain's head. The blast, according to reports at the time, blew off his face.

Illinois politics: If you don't know the history, you don't know the half of it.

Thanks to Phil Kadner

Congress Follows Playbook that Would Make a Mafia Godfather Proud

The House of Representatives passed a bill last week taxing the bonuses that were paid out to a number of AIG executives at 90 percent. I heard a congresswoman from New York say that congress was "acting in record time" to protect the major shareholders of the company, the American people, against the unbridled greed of the AIG executives.

After all, the government should be calling the shots now. It's what I would have done when I was on the streets.

Twenty years ago, I would have applauded the government's move to control the AIG bigwigs. When I was doing business for the Colombo Crime Family, I would often "bail out" a failing company. When the boss had nowhere to go, when no legit lender would lend him a dime, or when his suppliers were threatening to throw him into bankruptcy, he came to me. Mob guys looked for business opportunities like this every day. Great way for us to own a business.

Once the owner took my money, or used my name, I owned him. He wasn't about to get a pay hike when he owed me money. He wasn't buying a new car or taking any paid vacations either. I didn't care how hard he worked. And if he didn't toe the line, I would throw him out and take the company over.

From what I'm hearing, the government knew about the bonuses some time ago. Some of them even approved of the payouts. Some of them even got campaign contributions from the AIG exec's. So the tax thing was a good cover up. Good work, guys! It's a move right out of Machiavelli's play book.

You know Machiavelli? He's the Mafia's champion. As a former capo regime of La Cosa Nostra's Colombo Crime family, I am very familiar with Machiavelli. For almost 20 years, I lived and conducted business under his philosophy.

A Prince must have a mind disposed to turn itself about as the winds, able to do good when he can and evil when he must, Machiavelli wrote. StillMachiavelli's The Price, even though on the inside he is able to scheme, he should appear to him who sees and hears him altogether merciful, faithful, humane, upright and religious.

Sound familiar?

In his sixteenth century treatise entitled, "The Prince," Niccolo Machiavelli wrote those words advising his prince of the "virtues" he must exercise in ruling his kingdom. Seems like convicted money manager Bernard Madoff and some of the CEOs of AIG, Lehman Brothers, Countrywide Mortgage, Enron and a few dozen more of America's corporate honchos and now, the government itself has taken Machiavelli's advice to heart in the operation of their respective enterprises.

I would not be surprised to find a copy of "The Prince" on the desks of more than a few of Washington's elite. Would you? Their misguided and in some cases illicit leadership contributed significantly to the financial meltdown of the United States economy, the magnitude of which has not been seen for decades. If you think they will get off scot free, FUGGEDABOUTIT!

At the height of my operation, I was bringing $8 - $10 million a week into the Colombo Family coffers from business interests I had in the gasoline, entertainment, auto and gambling industries. Although I enjoyed success for a time, Machiavelli's business philosophy eventually brought me three racketeering indictments, $15 million in fines and restitutions, untold legal fees and a 10-year federal prison sentence.

Mob guys ought to be worried. First the government took a tip from them and realized there was big money in gambling. Now the government is taking control of businesses the same way. And they don't even have to worry about the racketeering indictments they slammed me and my former associates with for doing the same thing. They called it extortion when the mob did it. Seems like I left the life just in time. Too much competition!

Thanks to Michael Franzese, once one of the biggest mob money earners since Al Capone - and the youngest individual on Fortune Magazine's 50 Biggest Mafia Bosses. Michael's new book, I'll Make You an Offer You Can't Refuse: Insider Business Tips from a Former Mob Boss will be released on March 31.

Chicago Metra Train Updates via Twitter

Since we have so many Chicago readers, I wanted to pass along a free service that provides Metra train updates via Twitter.

You can read all about it and sign up at Tony Zale's site.

Anybody who has ever worked downtown in Chicago and waited for a Metra train will love this service which provides updates on train delays directly to your mobile phone.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Brother of Mob Boss to Testify Against U.S. Marshal

For months, Michael Marcello passed along key information about a top mob snitch during his 2003 prison visits to his half-brother, James "Little Jimmy" Marcello -- the Chicago Outfit's top boss.

The details about the key witness, mob killer Nicholas Calabrese, were allegedly coming from the man assigned to protect Calabrese from the mobsters who wanted him dead -- deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose.

Now, in a stunning reversal, Michael Marcello, once his imprisoned half-brother's eyes and ears on the street, will testify against Ambrose next month, a prosecution filing shows.

Ambrose is charged with leaking important information about Nick Calabrese to the Outfit. Marcello could provide key testimony about how the information allegedly made its way from Ambrose to Ambrose's friend with Outfit connections to reputed mobster John "Pudgy" Matassa to Michael Marcello to James Marcello. Matassa has not been charged in the case.

Michael Marcello pleaded guilty in the Family Secrets case in June 2007, admitting he ran an illegal video-poker business. He didn't agree to cooperate then and got 8½ years in prison.

It's unclear what prompted the turnaround. Prosecutors would not comment, and an attorney for Marcello did not return a message. Such cooperation often results in less prison time.

Prosecutors secretly recorded Michael Marcello's conversations when he visited James Marcello in prison.

The Marcellos were intent on finding out what Nick Calabrese had revealed about James Marcello's involvement in the 1986 killings of mobsters Anthony and Michael Spilotro.

James Marcello drove the Spilotros to a Bensenville area home, where the two men believed they were going to get promotions in the mob, according to testimony in the Family Secrets case. Instead, several mobsters, including Nick Calabrese, pounced on them and beat them to death.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

Monday, March 23, 2009

Chicago Glitterati to Host Fund-Raiser for Former Union Boss with Reputed Mob Ties

Sneed of the Chicago Sun-Times reports:

Former union boss Bill Hogan is going to get some help paying staggering legal bills from a federal legal battle.

  • To wit: A host of Chicago glitterati are planning a fund-raiser March 24 at O'Brien's restaurant, which will be headlined by actor James Belushi and former Chicago Bear Richard Dent and be hosted by -- amongst others -- William Marovitz, Jimmy Piersall, Lucy Salenger, Jerry Roper, Arny Granat, Marvin Zonis, Steve Lombardo, Phil Stefani, Grant DePorter, Teddy Ratner, Father John Smyth, Christie Hefner and retired union leader Tom Fitzgibbon.
  • Background: Hogan, who was expelled in 2002 and banned from associating with Teamsters, is battling contempt charges for continuing to speak to Teamster members. He claims his freedom of speech has been violated

That's an impressive list of Chicago establishment types coming to the aid of a someone who has ties to the Chicago Mob. Here's more from the Chicago Sun-Times of January 10, 2005:

  • the reputed mob associates who have belonged to Local 714, such as Hogan pal Nick Boscarino, Bill Hogan Jr. attended a 2001 private party in Las Vegas held by Rick Rizzolo, a Las Vegas strip club owner who may have ties to organized crime figures, and Rocco Lombardo, whom the FBI identifies as a Chicago gangster, documents show.
  • In an interview this past fall, Hogan acknowledged visiting that restaurant but not for a private party with those men, whom he said he doesn't know.
  • The Teamsters' investigative squad urged a government-sanctioned group called the Independent Review Board to investigate further and decide if another "trusteeship" is warranted.

Would you want to hand Card Check to these guys?

Thanks to Steve Bartin

Comparing Dick Cheney to a Mafia Godfather

The Mafia has its methods in politics and its role in economy. Its minds (agents) are planted in the State's essential institutions. They form lobbies. They are active in the media, cultural, and leisure fields (British historian Eric Hobsbawm). The reference of all the agents, employees and lawyers is the greater godfather. The godfather is the arbitrator of conflicts. He gives orders. He protects those who need protection. He mediates for the promotion or the dismissal of this or that person. Dick Cheney was the godfather during President George Bush's term. He planted neocons in his office, in the State Department, at the Department of Defense, in the judicial power, in newspapers, in research centers. At the time, mafia behavior came together with cowboy behavior.

Because a godfather would die rather than resign, Cheney - after taking his walking stick and leaving the White House - is acting like a governor in Africa or the Middle East; or like Marlon Brando in the famous movie, or like Al Pacino and Robert de Niro in its second part.

After former US Republican presidential candidate John McCain, Cheney is waging a campaign against President Barack Obama and his efforts towards a dialogue with America's enemies, and the 'axis of evil'; against his choosing Christopher Hill as US Ambassador to Iraq because of his lack of Middle East experience, as he said - and also because he was able to reach an agreement with North Korea to stop its nuclear activities. The godfather fears that he will repeat the same experience with Iran. He assures that he pressured Bush to adopt a more stringent stance against Tehran and Pyongyang.

Hill might not be any better than his predecessor Ryan Crocker in Iraq or Jeffrey Feltman in Lebanon, for in the end, he does nothing but represent his administration's policy. But the godfather does not like this policy. He is against the ambassador because he will supervise the liquidation of Bush's legacy (his own, in fact) in that country and the area surrounding it. Doesn't the Mafia try to preserve its legacy, unheeding of social, historic, or political developments? Isn't this what the US Mafia did in the 1920s when agrarian society turned into a society of industry and consumption? Isn't this what happened in Iraq after the State and society were disassembled? Isn't the demand for the privatization of the army and turning it into a security guard against the theft of the companies supervised by small godfathers similar to Mafia actions?

Domestically, the godfather did not pass over the defense of his legacy. He considered all the measures that violate the US Constitution such as torture in prison, phone tapping, and arrest without trial to be "necessary for collecting information that allowed us to foil attack attempts against the United States". He said that this is the law, despite the opposition of opponents. But Cheney still blames Bush for accepting a judgment that indicted his Chief of Staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby for perjury and disclosing secret intelligence information - although the sentence was commuted two and a half years. Bush refused to issue a pardon for Libby before he left the White House.

The godfather is disgruntled. He was not able to protect one of his men. He has nothing to console him in his isolation except memories and futile interference in the affairs of the administration. He is awaiting the time of revenge that might not come while he is alive.

Thanks to Mostafa Zein

GTA: Chinatown Wars

The Grand Theft Auto series makes a return in the Nintendo DS game, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. Developed by Rockstar Leeds, Chinatown Wars attempts to bring the notoriously controversial Grand Theft Auto series onto what many consider the kid-friendly DS. Has Rockstar Leeds kept the Grand Theft Auto gameplay intact?


In Chinatown Wars Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Warsyou assume the role of Huang Lee, a wealthy young member of the Chinese Triad crime syndicate in Hong Kong. Your original goal for coming to Liberty City was to deliver a family sword to your Uncle Wu. However, you are kidnapped and the sword is taken as soon as you arrive. The recovery of this sword is just a side-thought as Huang attempts to solve the mysterious murder of his father and take revenge on his killers.

The first question that was raised, since this was developed for the DS, was whether or not Rockstar Leeds had to filter out some of the content that is traditionally included within the series. This, however, is definitely not the case. Rockstar Leeds has managed to include every bit of profanity, violence and crude humor that has been prevalent in the series. Despite the level of vulgarity, it fits in with the overall idea that you are being absorbed into the world of organized crime.

This vulgarity is extended to the variety of weapons that players are given the opportunity to use. Everything from chainsaws to flamethrowers are available for players and each has its own delightful and chaotic use in the many in-game missions. These weapons help to provide a dynamic to the wide variety of missions that players must complete.

The in-game missions for Chinatown Wars range from having to defend an ally as he makes his way through the city to throwing Molotov cocktails from a helicopter. Many of these missions require the use of the touch screen and control the power and direction of your cocktail or have you complete a series of codes to arm an explosive that will be used to take out an enemies building.

The touch screen is also used in a variety of other tasks throughout the game. As you progress, you will find yourself stealing drug vehicles and then trading with a local dealer. The drug vehicles that are scattered throughout the map can be stolen and taken to a local safe house where you must cut open the dashboard with the stylus. Once the drugs are retrieved, you can then head to one of the many drug dealers through the map. Once there, you will open your bag with the touch screen and drag whatever drugs you are trying to sell over to the dealer’s bag. Of course, you can always just buy drugs on the cheap and sell them for profit once the price rises.

Despite the innovative use of the touch screen and the diversity of weapons, Chinatown Wars is not without its problems. The most prevalent of which is the in-game camera. As you wander around the city, you will find buildings constantly blocking your view. These moments aren’t limited to just your movement around the city, but also apply to missions which can be won or lost when your view is blocked. There were also moments when the game would get stuck on a mission. In one particular instance, you are supposed to destroy a helicopter; however this helicopter would not appear or would fly out of sight. This led to several frustrating reloads of the last saved game.


Chinatown Wars has some of the best graphics on a handheld that I have seen thus far. Liberty City was drawn in painstaking detail with just about everything else seemingly getting the same amount of attention. If there were one benchmark for how action DS games should look, Chinatown Wars certainly sets a new one.


Rockstar held nothing back when it came to the in-game audio. Chinatown Wars sounds exactly the vibrant city that it is. People scream as you steal their car or proclaim that they are still virgins when you shoot at them. With the addition of some great music, players are given an audio treat.


One of the most interesting aspects of Chinatown Wars is the city economy. As mentioned earlier, players can buy and sell drugs to various dealers and make huge profits as a result. The idea behind this is very reminiscent of Dope Wars and helps further push you into the dark underworld of organized crime.


Rockstar Leeds has managed to bring the look, feel and expansiveness of the Grand Theft Auto Series. There is no shortage of missions or things to do throughout Liberty City. The addition of the touch screen controls into the game further give the feeling that you are truly high jacking a car. Although this may sound terrible to some, it is necessary for a series that has been built on the dark, gritty world of crime. If you are looking for an escape to the dark side of life, Chinatown Wars is your avenue of release.

Thanks to Ryan Lodata

Talk-Show Host Charlie Rose Survives Botched Mafia Hit Attempt

Bring me the head of Charlie Rose!

No, not the PBS talk-show host. The other one the legendary Mafia-busting prosecutor.

UnfortunatelyFriends of the Family, bumbling mob cops Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa and the Mafia assassin they dispatched to Long Island didn't know the difference and nearly bumped off public television's dapper yapper.

So says "Friends of the Family," a new book about the mob cops by retired detective Tommy Dades and Brooklyn prosecutor Michael Vecchione, who cracked the case.

The authors write that the disgraced NYPD detectives gave bad information to their benefactor, Luchese underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, who dispatched a triggerman to the talk-show host's house, not knowing it wasn't the home of a Brooklyn federal prosecutor he wanted dead.

The killer never saw Rose and left, according to the book.

"It's a surprise it's all new to me," the TV host told The Post.

He confirmed that he's owned a home for years in Bellport, which is near the beach on eastern Long Island, about 20 miles west of Quogue.

Casso told FBI agents the house was in "the Hamptons," according to the book.

Casso was furious with Mafia-busting prosecutor Charles Rose, believing that Rose embarrassed him by leaking a story about Casso having killed his former architect for having an affair with the mobster's wife.

The bloodthirsty Casso did the unthinkable and put out a contract on the former assistant US attorney, who died of a brain tumor in 1998.

"Naturally, the only people Casso trusted to get Rose's address were the cops," the book says. "Casso was captured before he could make his move against Rose, but supposedly he did get an address for the prosecutor in the Hamptons. One of his people waited at the house for the prosecutor to show up, but for whatever reason Rose never got there.

"That was truly fortunate it turned out to be the wrong Charlie Rose . . This was the home of the TV show host, not the prosecutor."

"It's a 'wow' revelation in the book," said Vecchione, who heads the investigation unit of the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office. "I mean, Charlie Rose!"

The 1992 incident wasn't the first goof by the corrupt former detectives, whom Casso paid $4,000 a month to help kill rival hoods and supply tips on turncoats and probes.

Caracappa and Eppolito, who were sentenced to life on March 6, were asked to find the address of Nicholas Guido, a conspirator who tried to knock off Casso in a botched hit.

The cops got the wrong information; this time, Casso's henchmen killed an innocent Brooklyn man also named Nicholas Guido.

The book says Casso told FBI agents that Eppolito, Caracappa and an unnamed uniform cop ripped off millions in heroin in a notorious heist of the French Connection evidence from the NYPD property office.

The book "Friends of the Family" comes out May 12.

Thanks to Brad Hamilton

Charles Carneglia Offers His Help

Just-convicted Mafia hit man Charles Carneglia was such a helpful guy. A source recalls once telling Carneglia about a wealthy New Jersey man who had threatened him. "Charles said, 'I'll take care of it,' " the source recalls. "He said, 'We plant a gun under the seat of the guy's car and then we call the state troopers and say he was waving it at us.' I said, 'This guy doesn't care about paying a gun fine.' Charles says, 'You're forgetting there's going to be a few bullets missing from the gun. The troopers are going to find them in the brain of the body in the trunk!' I said, 'Charles, thanks, but no thanks.'"

Thanks to Rush & Molly

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Genovese Crime Family Associate Pleads Guilty

A longtime associate of the Genovese organized crime family has pleaded guilty to securities fraud for selling $2.1 million of worthless stock, according to federal officials.

Frank Schwamborn, 48, of Farmingdale, took over a Ronkonkoma company, called World Cyberlinks, which had been set up to produce docking stations for Palm Pilots, but which did not actually make any products, officials said.

Schwamborn had the company transfer stock to a number of companies he had bought or set up in return for services, officials said. He took control of these companies using money he made selling cocaine, federal prosecutors said.

The companies never performed any services for the Cyberlinks company, officials said. But the stock transfers were backdated to get around the rule requiring that stock used to pay for services had to be held for a year before they could be resold, officials aid.

Among the companies, which prosecutors say are now out of business: Burdette Ltd., on the Isle of Man; Puritan Management of Bay Shore; FRF Holding of North Babylon, and Candles, a restaurant in Bay Shore that also was known as Park 70 Bistro and Giovanna's.

Schwamborn has been held in jail without bail awaiting trial on the charges because of a history of threats made against agents, police officers and state and federal prosecutors involved in the case and other investigations, officials said.

A postal inspector said in an affidavit at the time of Schwamborn's arrest that he was an associate of organized crime who had his own crew, which was "a collection of thieves, drug dealers, prostitutes, 'leg breakers,' and stockbrokers."

A number of stock investors, who were possible witnesses against Schwamborn, had been asked to move because of "credible death threats" by him, the affidavit said. Schwamborn has denied the allegations.

Schwamborn previously served 55 months in prison after a conviction for racketeering and money laundering in an other case related to the Genovese family, officials have said.

The Schwamborn investigation was conducted jointly by federal prosecutors and Suffolk prosecutors, postal inspectors and agents of the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation Division, officials said.

Federal prosecutors Burton Ryan and Charles Kelly declined to comment after the plea yesterday. Schwamborn's attorney could not be reached for comment.

Schwamborn faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sandra Feuerstein in Central Islip, as well as 5 years supervised release and a $250,000 fine. As part of a plea deal, Schwamborn also agreed to forfeit the $2.1 million he made in the scheme, officials said.

Thanks to Robert E. Kessler

Arrest Warrant Issued for Henry Hill

Arrest Warrant Issued for Henry Hill"Henry Hill."

San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Kyle Brodie matter-of-factly read the name Wednesday in a roll call of small-time suspects: the unlicensed driver; the work-release probationer.

"No answer," yelled the bailiff.

With that, the mobster-turned-FBI informant -- whose life inspired the movie epic "Goodfellas" -- was facing two $25,000 arrest warrants.

Once linked to an NCAA point-shaving scandal and a $5 million airport heist, Hill at age 65 is wanted for failing to appear on tickets alleging that he was drunk in public in San Bernardino.

"I would have been asking for his autograph," said Desiree Gallegos, 27, who was in the courtroom for a suspension of house arrest terms.

Reached by phone later in the day, Hill said he was unaware he needed to be present. He said he had visited the downtown court on Monday to advise the clerks that he would be having hernia surgery later this week and wanted a new date. "I was hoping the court would understand," Hill said from his San Fernando Valley home. "I did a few days in jail already."

The cases stem from two arrests in May 2008. In the first, a patrol officer saw an intoxicated man standing in the intersection at Redlands Boulevard and Club Drive. The second ticket came 10 days later, when a drunken man refused to leave the lobby of the Fairfield Inn on Harriman Place.

Hill said he was in alcohol rehabilitation at the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial VA Medical Center in Loma Linda at the time. He failed to appear for his first arraignment last July.

He was arrested in Los Angeles earlier this year and again booked at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga.

Because of jail crowding, he was released before his arraignment. "I don't remember much of all that, but I've been sober a month now," Hill said. "I don't want to drink anymore."

The Brooklyn native is a frequent caller to Howard Stern's radio showGangsters and Goodfellas: The Mob, Witness Protection, and Life on the Run, where he plugs his mob-related watercolor painting, with scenes like a rat with a handgun and three well-dressed men digging a hole in the ground.

The "Goodfellas" movie ends with Hill, played by Ray Liotta, entering federal witness protection. Drug trafficking charges were leveraged for his testimony implicating cohorts in murders and the 1978 heist of $5.8 million in cash from a Lufthansa Airlines vault at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

In real life, drug arrests caused Hill to be removed from the federal program in the early 1990s. He dabbled in restaurants and spaghetti sauce sales.

These days, when he's not collaborating on Mafia-related film, television and book projects, Hill said he works with the FBI as an organized-crime consultant and counsels young street gang members about the lifestyle.

The man who once masterminded gambling enterprises now plays bingo at San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino in Highland.

"Hollywood makes it up to be glamorous, but it's not," Hill said of his days with New York's Lucchese crime family. "You're either in jail for the rest of your life or you're dead."

Thanks to Paul Larocco

Al Capone Still Helping Chicago

The Sears Tower in Chicago was renamed after Willis Group Holdings after Sears' naming rights expired on the one hundred and ten story skyscraper. The building is very secure. Osama bin Laden didn't go near it for fear of angering the Capone family.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Real Life Tony Sopranos Seeing More Real Life Dr. Melfis

In scenes familiar from the television series The Sopranos, the so-called "men of honour" are no longer content to keep their problems within their families, researchers have found.

A study by Palermo University on the island of Sicily found clinical anxiety in 20 per cent of Mafia relatives and personality disorders in 17 per cent.

Dr. Jennifer Melfi on The SopranosGirolamo Lo Verso, a psychologist who led the research, said: "Psychiatric problems are steadily rising among the families, a sign that the monolithic culture of Mafia society is crumbling."

Dr Lo Verso's research, The Psychology of Organised Crime in the Mezzogiorno, studied the cases of 81 patients linked to Italy's three main Mafia organisations - Sicily's Cosa Nostra, the Camorra in Campania and Calabria's 'Ndrangheta.

Dr Lo Verso said: "These people are victims of terrible identity crises because they aren't used to seeing their world view challenged.

"They're like fundamentalists, but as soon as something happens that brings the security wall down, they have crises.

"That's why they go and see a psychiatrist and many say that they feel a lot better for speaking to someone about their problems."

Dr Lo Verso said that food disorders, anxiety and depression, sexual problems and a sense of inadequacy and shame at failing to live up to macho stereotypes were the most common problems encountered.

"In one real-life case, a homosexual son of a top ... boss rebels against his father's code and dares to come out of the closet, causing personal pain and wider clan uproar."

In the hit television series about New Jersey mobsters, Tony Soprano confided his depression and panic attacks over his "business" to a psychiatrist, while in the Hollywood blockbuster Analyze This, Robert De Niro's Godfather also talks over his anxities on a psychiatrist's couch.

Thanks to Nick Pisa

The Corleone Family of Kansas City

Shot point blank in the head six times.

That was typically how people died if they messed with the Kansas City Mafia.

That's right, the Kansas City Mafia, who ruled this town for more than 50 years.

While the term Mafia probably conjures images of New York gangsters and episodes of "The Sopranos," maybe images of Southwest Boulevard and the River Market would be more appropriate.

A tyrannical organization led by hard-boiled Italians, the Mafia dominated everything from beer to the political machine.

Even Harry S. Truman, our 33rd president, was ushered into the Senate with a little help from the mob.

A brand new local documentary "Black Hand Strawman" covers the history of the Kansas City gangsters in full detail.

Directed and produced by Terence O'Malley, the film opens at the Screenland Theatre on Friday, March 20th - the 37th anniversary of the release of "The Godfather," an ironic date due to the fact the Mafia bought out entire theaters for that night in 1972 to prevent audiences from seeing it.

The Mafia thought it was "misrepresentative" of Italian culture.

What wasn't misrepresentative was O'Malley's film, which is full of information about the lives of the people involved with the Mafia.

The documentary covers the humble beginnings of the mob, when they were deemed "The Black Hand."

Back in 1912, the Black Hand was comprised of a small group of people from Kansas City's Little Italy, now recognized as Columbus Park, who occasionally shot at or threw bombs at enemies - usually people who were doing well financially.

If you got a threatening note on your front door with a scrawled-out drawing of a dagger dripping blood, you knew you were in trouble.

It was only later that members of the Black Hand became more organized and informally assumed the name of Mafia, which according to O'Malley, is actually an Italian acronym for Morte Alla Francia Italia Anelia!, or "Death to the French is Italy's Cry!"

"It occurred to me that nobody had ever given a serious treatment of K.C. organized crime on film before," O'Malley said. "I have always been drawn to storytelling, and have a very real sense of what the Italian culture is all about. That's why I made this film."

The documentary proceeds like a long list of Santa's wicked children.

Murder after murder ensues as O'Malley weaves together an intricate story of men like Joe "Scarface" DiGiovani who earned his name from a huge scar on his face inflicted by an explosion and Solly Weisman, a huge man who packed four revolvers and a switchblade at all times.

"Black Hand Strawman" covers nationally-recognized events such as the Union Station Massacre, or the Kansas City Massacre, of June 1933.

UMKC's own professor of Communications Studies Robert Unger was featured in the film speaking about the event, which he wrote a book about, titled "The Union Station Massacre: The Original Sin of J. Edgar Hoover's FBI."

"His book is the definitive source on the subject because he breaks the event down to such detail that the truth of what happened is revealed," O'Malley said.

Beyond the inclusion of UMKC faculty within the film, the director feels that UMKC students can connect directly with the subject.

"In many ways the history of organized crime in Kansas City tells the story of Kansas City in general," he said. "Organized crime is a reflection of the times, the culture, the community, the music and the politics of the day. UMKC students will walk away with an appreciation of this town's history they could never have had before."

Indeed, the film presents an astounding number of photographs taken throughout Kansas City's history.

Not only will the mug shots of criminals appear on screen, but also events such as the construction of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

While it may not have the technical resolution of "The Godfather," "Black Hand Strawman" has more heart in many ways.

It's the true tales of Kansas City's own people.

It's tales of the good times of the rise of the Kansas City jazz scene. And it's tales of the bad times of the death threats and street shootouts.

Fill some of your free time and see this film if you want to see the truth in the aptly named "Killer City" at the Screenland Crossroads, 1656 Washington St. Kansas City, Mo. 64108.

Just make sure to arrive early to score a seat in the row of red recliners.

Thanks to Corey Light

America's Most Wanted All-Star Contest!

The deadline for nominations in the AMW All-Star Contest is quickly approaching! If you or any of your family/friends know a deserving first responder – please let AMW know!

The All-Star site is up at

Nick Calbrese's Lawyer to Seek Mercy from Courts

A lawyer for Outfit hit man Nicholas Calabrese has asked a judge for mercy by noting Calabrese's decision to cooperate in the landmark Family Secrets investigation almost certainly saved lives.

Calabrese's choice to testify against mob leaders James Marcello, Joey "the Clown" Lombardo and his brother, Frank Calabrese Sr., undermined the Chicago mob's ability to carry out its work, lawyer John Theis wrote in a document filed Friday.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel is expected to sentence Calabrese next Thursday. Theis wrote in his memorandum that Calabrese will address the court as Zagel decides his fate.

"The fact that Defendant is and will be asking the court for a sentence which is reflective of his cooperation in this case is meant in no way to diminish his complete remorse and contrition for the pain and sorrow which he has caused many individuals and their families," the filing said.

Calabrese has admitted taking part in more than a dozen decades-old killings, including the infamous murders of brothers Anthony and Michael Spilotro. His testimony was the centerpiece of the Family Secrets trial in 2007, which resulted in convictions for the five men on trial.

Marcello, Lombardo and Frank Calabrese Sr. have since been sentenced to life in prison. Another defendant, Paul "the Indian" Schiro, was sentenced to 20 years for a murder in Arizona in which Nicholas Calabrese was the trigger man.

Prosecutors have told Zagel they would make no specific recommendation for what Calabrese should receive for his crimes, relying on Zagel's discretion. Calabrese has been incarcerated in the Family Secrets case since 2002.

The new filing indicates Calabrese will cite his extraordinary cooperation as a made member of the Outfit when he is sentenced. He decided to help the government for complex reasons, the filing said.

A heavy sentence would be a de facto life term for Calabrese, who is 67, Theis argued. In addition, his family will live in fear no matter what the judge does, the filing said.

Thanks to Jeff Coen


Benton J. Campbell, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced that a federal jury in Brooklyn returned a verdict today convicting Charles Carneglia of racketeering conspiracy, including predicate acts of murder, murder conspiracy, felony murder, robbery, kidnapping, marijuana distribution conspiracy, securities fraud conspiracy, and extortion. When sentenced by Senior United States District Judge Jack B. Weinstein on June 22, 2009, Carneglia faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

As established during the six-week trial, Carneglia was affiliated with the Gambino Organized Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra (the “Gambino family”) for over three decades. He rose to the rank of soldier and was a member of the inner circle of hit men used by the late Gambino family boss John Gotti to commit numerous depraved acts of violence, including several fatal shootings and stabbings. Carneglia disposed of some murder victims by dissolving their bodies in barrels of acid. At trial Carneglia was convicted of four murder predicate acts including:

* the 1977 stabbing murder of Michael Cotillo, a Gambino family associate, during a fight between two factions of the Gambino family in front of a Queens diner;
* the 1983 stabbing murder of Salvatore Puma, a Gambino family associate, over a dispute concerning the delivery of commissary money to an incarcerated member of Carneglia’s crew;
* the 1990 shooting murder of Gambino family soldier Louis DiBono, whom John Gotti ordered Carneglia to kill after DiBono refused to meet with Gotti when summoned; and
* the 1990 felony murder of Jose Delgado Rivera, an armored truck guard whom Carneglia and others murdered during a robbery of the truck as it approached American Airlines facilities at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Carneglia and another individual shot Delgado Rivera, and Carneglia then jumped on top of him and repeatedly pistol whipped him. Carneglia stopped beating Delgado Rivera only after one of Carneglia’s criminal associates, realizing that law enforcement would soon arrive, pulled Carneglia off the victim.

Carneglia was arrested on February 7, 2008, as part of a 62-defendant-takedown of the Gambino family that included the acting boss, acting underboss, consigliere, three acting captains, sixteen soldiers, and numerous associates, as well as members and associates of the Genovese and Bonanno organized crime families. To date, 60 defendants have pleaded guilty, and 58 have been sentenced.

“We sincerely hope that today’s verdict brings a measure of closure to the families of Carneglia’s victims,” stated United States Attorney Campbell. “They have waited years for this day because the Gambino family used violence and intimidation to silence witnesses and to protect its members. The verdict today also serves notice to La Cosa Nostra that we remain relentless in our quest to bring its members and associates to account for their crimes and to rid our city from the scourge of organized crime.” Mr. Campbell expressed his grateful appreciation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Department of Labor, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department, the New York City Police Department, the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, and to the many other members of the law enforcement community for their commitment and unwavering efforts in the investigation and prosecution of this case, and to the United States Marshals Service for its assistance during the trial.

The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Roger Burlingame, Evan M. Norris, and Marisa Megur Seifan.

April Issue of Informer: The Journal of American Mafia History

The City of the Big Shoulders has been on our minds, and the April issue of Informer: The Journal of American Mafia History is packed with interesting tales and little known information about Chicago's underworld:

- Richard Warner examines the life and times of Windy City Mafia boss Anthony D'Andrea.
- Thomas Hunt tells of some of Chicago's earliest Mafia leaders in the city's northwest section.
- Bill Feather provides a detailed chart of Chicago Outfit members in the 1920s-40s era.
- Crime Historian Arthur Bilek describes his law enforcement and writing careers.
- The Informer responds to a question on the Chicago Heights Mafia.
- On the occasion of its 80th anniversary, we reflect on the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.

... plus a review of David Critchley's groundbreaking history of the early New York Mafia, A Look Back, book notes and current events.

It's not too late to subscribe to Informer for 2009.
Electronic edition (PDF download) - Just $20 for the year.
Print edition (delivery to U.S., U.K. and Canada) - Now $58.
See for details or to sign up.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Blackhand Strawman: The History of Organized Crime in Kansas City

“Kansas City is like a lady of former ill-repute who is ashamed to talk about her past.” –Chuck Haddix.

Haddix, longtime host of KCUR-FM’s popular “Fish Fry” program, was referring to our fair city’s notorious history as a hub of organized crime and political corruption. It seems that a lot of people would rather ignore that sordid part of our heritage.

Terence O’Malley, the local lawyer and filmmaker who enjoyed success with his documentary “Nelly Don: A Stitch in Time”, hopes to change all that.

O’Malley’s exhaustively researched documentary “Blackhand Strawman: The History of Organized Crime in Kansas City” opens on March 20th at the Screenland Theatre at 17th and Washington, KCMO.

O’Malley is a Kansas City native with a degree in English from Loyola University, one in Radio and Television Production from KU, as well as law degree from Washburn University in Topeka. His résumé also includes extensive experience as a TV reporter, pianist, and a stint as the press secretary for the governor of Alaska.

His eclectic background gives him a unique perspective as a filmmaker.

O’Malley received unprecedented access to film, photos and other documentation from family members of the very criminals that his movie profiles.

“I’d essentially proven myself to be a bona fide storyteller with ‘Nelly Don’, so that when people heard that I was endeavoring to tell the story of organized crime in Kansas City, they understood that I was probably the right guy”, O’Malley explained. “They thought, ‘Okay, he’s a good guy, he understands. We’re going to take a chance on him because we think that he is going to treat the story with the gravitas and the respect that it deserves.’”

The film incorporates this privately collected information with archived data, news footage and interviews with experts on the subject.

It was while working on his film about Nell Donnelly, the famous Kansas City dressmaker, that O’Malley became fascinated with local gangsters.

In 1931, Donnelly was the victim of a kidnapping and Missouri U.S. Senator James A. Reed recruited notorious KC crime boss Johnny Lazia to find her. “When I was researching ‘Nelly Don’, I realized, ‘Holy Cow! She was rescued by the mob, by the Mafia.’” O’Malley said. “It started fomenting in my head that nobody had ever given a serious treatment to organized crime in Kansas City before.”

The film chronicles this dark history from the turn-of-the-century when many Sicilian immigrants arrived in Kansas City, up until 1986 when the grip of crime boss Nick Civella was finally broken.

The movie’s “Who’s Who” of notorious ne’re-do-wells includes Lazia, Democratic Party boss Tom Pendergast, Charlie “The Wop” Carollo, Anthony “Fat Tony” Gizzo, Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd, Frank “Jelly” Nash, and Nick and Corky Civella, to name but a few.

O’Malley found them all to be fascinating individuals.

“Charlie Carollo was probably a mathematical genius because he kept all of the books for all of the Pendergast sin businesses in his head,” O’Malley explained. “Pendergast didn’t own those businesses (bootlegging, gambling, prostitution, loan sharking, etc.), but he got a cut of everything that was going on.”

Anthony Carollo, Charlie’s son, was taken with O’Malley when the filmmaker knew the name of the band (the Coon-Sanders Orchestra) that played at a function for his parents in the 1920s.

Impressed by O’Malley’s knowledge, Carollo called his sister in Kansas City and said, “Give him anything he wants…give him all the access he wants.” As a result, O’Malley was able to include heretofore-unseen film and photos.

“Same story with the Lazia family,” O’Malley said. “Vince Bianchi is the great-nephew of Johnny Lazia. I had a long conversation with him about the project and told him that I was interested in the characters in more than just a two-dimensional context. “I wanted to explain how these people got to where they were. They weren’t just gangsters. It wasn’t so much about perpetrating crime as it was a mode of survival.”

Having won the trust of the families, O’Malley then went about the business of educating himself on the subject. He was aided in his inquisition by a noted group of experts.

In addition to Haddix, on-screen contributors include:

Although these authorities contributed, the actual filming was a one-man affair. O’Malley estimates that he’s spent between two and three thousand hours over a three-year period working on the movie.

“I did the camerawork at the same time that I interviewed everybody. I did all of the writing, all of the research, the field production (acquiring and digitizing the imagery), selected the music, did the narration and I did all of the editing.”

The big-screen incarnation opens on March 20th and the DVD will be available in time for Father’s Day. A companion book is set to be published in November.

“The reason “Blackhand Strawman’ is being released on March 20th is because that date coincides with the 37th anniversary of the release of ‘The Godfather’ in Kansas City,” O’Malley pointed out.

The KC Italian community, concerned about the “The Godfather” and its potential for impugning Italian-Americans, purchased all of the tickets for the film’s 1972 premier at the Empire Theatre…and then refused to attend. The movie played to an empty house while a party was held down the street instead.

O’Malley was quick to mention that most Italian-Americans were victims of organized crime, not participants.

“The overwhelming majority of Italian-Americans were not criminals or murderers by any stretch. I wanted to set that as a tone or theme so that people could enjoy the film for the stories it contains without denigrating or besmirching the Italian-American community.”

He did admit some trepidation in pursuing the project.

“I talked with people in law enforcement, and the message to me was that I have nothing to fear,” O’Malley said. “I am no threat to their ongoing criminal business enterprises. They’re not going to worry about someone like me.”

And what about those contemporary mobsters?

“That’s why I terminated the film in 1986. I didn’t want anyone to believe that this was any type of exposé on the status of organized crime in Kansas City today…because I really don’t know.”

Thanks to Russ Simmons

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Chicagoland Antique Advertising, Slot Machine & Juke Box Show

The Chicagoland Antique Advertising, Slot Machine & Jukebox Show is being held April 3rd - April 5th at the Pheasant Run Resort.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Credit Crisis Creating Booming Business for Mob Loansharks

When the bills started piling up and the banks wouldn't lend, the white-haired art dealer in the elegant tweed jacket said he drove to the outskirts of Rome and knocked on the rusty steel door of a shipping container.

A beefy man named Mauro answered. He wore blue overalls with two big pockets, one stuffed with checks and the other with cash.

The wad of bills he handed over, the art dealer recalled, reeked of the man's cologne and came at 120 percent annual interest.

As banks stop lending amid the global financial crisis, the likes of Mauro are increasingly becoming the face of Italian finance.

The Mafia and its loansharks, nearly everyone agrees, smell blood in the troubled waters.

"It's a fantastic time for the Mafia. They have the cash," said Antonio Roccuzzo, the author of several books on organized crime. "The Mafia has enormous liquidity. It may be the only Italian 'company' without any cash problem."

At a time when businesses most need loans as they struggle with falling sales, rising debt, and impending bankruptcy, banks have tightened their lending to them.

Italian banks, which for years had been widely criticized for lending sparingly to small and medium-size businesses, now have "absolutely closed the purse strings," said Gian Maria Fara, the president of Eurispes, a private research institute.

That is great news for loan sharks. Confesercenti, the national shopkeepers association, estimates that 180,000 businesses recently have turned to them in desperation.

Although some shady lenders are freelancers turning profits on others' hard luck, very often the neighborhood tough offering fat rolls of cash is connected to the Mafia, the group said.

"Office workers, middle-class people, owners of fruit stands, flower stalls are all becoming their victims. . . . We have never seen this happen," said Lino Busa, a top Confesercenti official. "It is as common as it is hidden."

Many analysts say organized crime is already the biggest business in Italy. Now, Fara said, the untaxed underground economy is growing even larger.

"Certainly I am worried," he said. "The banking system doesn't work, and the private one that is operating is often managed by organized crime."

The consequences for Italy and its 58 million people are huge, Fara said. "Stronger organized crime means a weaker state."

Nino Miceli, an adviser to Confesercenti, said the Mafia's goal is to take over the struggling businesses.

When the loans, typically at interest rates in triple digits, are not repaid, the threats of violence begin, and restaurants, grocery stores, and bars become the property of criminal gangs.

"As we sit here in this cafe," he said over an espresso near the Colosseum, "do we really know who owns it?"

With a burgeoning portfolio of properties and businesses, the Mafia becomes more entrenched in the economy and has more outlets to "clean their money," Miceli said.

Confesercenti estimates in a new report that organized crime syndicates - including Camorra in Naples, Cosa Nostra in Sicily, and 'Ndrangheta in Calabria - collect about 250 million euros, or $315 million, from retailers every day.

Some of that money is the classic "pizzo," or protection money demanded of business owners. Miceli said his auto dealership was burned down when he refused to pay. But the mob's booming business, he and others agreed, is loan-sharking.

In Vigevano, a northern city of 60,000 near Milan, a group called Free Vigevano has helped nearly 100 people who had become entangled with the mob.

One of them, a 40-year-old salesman, said he got his desperately needed $15,000 - but at 30 percent monthly interest.

The salesman said he blames banks for pushing people like him into the arms of the Mafia.

"If they would be a bit more open with their credit, many people wouldn't fall into this trap," he said. "They only give money to those who already have it."

Thanks to Mary Jordan

Reputed Bonanno Caretaker Hitman Sentenced to Life in Prison

The former caretaker of a historic Staten Island mansion has been sentenced to life in prison for killing a man before dismembering his body and burning the pieces in a furnace.

Thirty-year-old Joseph Young was sentenced Friday in the grisly mafia slaying at the Kreischer Mansion He was convicted of murder in aid of racketeering following a trial in October in Brooklyn federal court.

Prosecutors say a reputed member of the Bonanno crime family paid Young $8,000 to kill Robert McKelvey in 2005. The mobster has already pleaded guilty to ordering McKelvey's death, allegedly over a debt.

Young has also been convicted of setting a home on fire and robbing an illegal massage parlor at gunpoint in New Jersey.

Mob Mug Shot Collection Exceeds 10,000 Photos

When mobster Lucky Luciano was being photographed by New York City police in 1936, he probably had no idea his mug shot would one day be sought after like a Babe Ruth baseball card. But to collectors like John Binder of River Forest, that's a valuable piece of... art?

These unglamorous shots and lineup photos are being accepted as art with more than just collectors seeking them. Binder said when the photos were taken, there was some consideration of composition and lighting, and the pictures were developed on photographic paper before police departments started using Polaroids and later digital cameras. Thus, he said, the art world has become more accepting of these photos as art, and there have been exhibitions in Los Angeles and New York.

"The art world has expanded dramatically in the last few years," Binder said. "The early ones used much better photography."

Binder, author of The Chicago Outfit, has amassed more than 10,000 mug shots and lineup photos of a range of crooks, from everyday petty criminals to mob bosses. Some get displayed in galleries, some get sold or traded, some never leave his collection, which includes some of the most infamous organized crime figures in history: Charles "Lucky" Luciano, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegal, Sam Giancana, Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, John "No Nose" DiFronzo, Tony "Big Tuna" Accardo, and Frank "The Enforcer" Nitti.

His interest in mug shots and lineup photos began in the 1990s, when he started researching who the other people were in a photograph of Al Capone. It led to more research into the world of organized crime in Chicago and New York, which led to him purchasing crime photos.

"It's just a general interest in history," he said. "The photographs are interesting in their own right."

He started his collection with the purchase of 10,000 photos from a collectibles dealer, who bought them from a retired police officer's family. Binder has added to the collection with one or two photos at a time from various sources. He has one of the biggest collections of its kind in the United States.

He admits it's an esoteric collection. It's not like someone can just walk into a shop and say, "I'm looking for a mug shot of a ruthless criminal."

Binder said collectors of crime photos rely on word of mouth and, if they're lucky, someone will let them dig through their old photos. Sometimes police departments will have stored old mug shots and lineup photos, and put them up for sale on Ebay.

Binder sold an original 1927 Bugsy Siegal mug shot for well over $1,000, and has sold several photos of lesser-known criminals to cops and attorneys who want to use them to decorate their bars or offices.

"There is a price for most of what I have," he said. "But, some of the good stuff I keep for my own private collection."

But, he doesn't have everybody.

Wanted: An original Al Capone mug shot.

Thanks to J.T. Morand

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Will Bernie Madoff Admit to Mob Ties at His Sentencing?

Faced with a possible 150 year jail term, Bernard Madoff is thought to be considering whether he should plead guilty to other uncharged offences. This could be a way of improving his privileges during his sentence.

Criminals pleading guilty to crimes often ask for other crimes to be taken into consideration because they know that law enforcement agencies and the District Attorney's office are keen to clear up unsolved crime without extensive detection and court costs. It means the criminal cannot be charged with those offences later, and in some cases it makes the difference in the category of prison facility, or the prisoner's cell furnishings.

Bernard Madoff has not yet said which crimes he is likely to admit to, but speculation by the press includes running the Mafia, responsibility for the Enron fraud, hiding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the Iran Contra scandal and the assassination of Kennedy.

If he were to plead guilty to these crimes his 150 year sentence would be carried out in his own home, except for times when he wanted to go out.

Thanks to Roy Turse

Does Al Capone Have a Grandson Who is a Real Estate Investor in Boston?

A Boston real estate investor believes so strongly that his grandfather was a famous Chicago gangster that he’s legally changed his last name to Capone.

Christopher Capone, formerly Christopher Knight, wants to prove Al Capone is his grandfather. He’s been trying to obtain DNA samples from known male descendants of the man known as “Scarface.” But the 37-year-old says if he’s not able to do so, he may request exhumation of the mobster’s remains from Mount Carmel Catholic Cemetery in the western suburb of Hillside.

Chicago attorney David M. Hundley filed a legal motion on behalf of Christopher Capone in Cook County Circuit Court on Thursday. He asks that the cemetery and the Archdiocese of Chicago guarantee the body remains undisturbed pending possible disinterment.

Is John DiFronzo Now the Undisputed Boss of the Chicago Mob

With last month's life sentences for several top hoodlums, Outfit investigators say John DiFronzo is now the undisputed boss of the Chicago mob.

He's been called "No Nose" ever since part of his nose was sliced off while jumping through a window during a Michigan Avenue burglary.

After the I-Team was told by numerous organized crime sources that John "No Nose" DiFronzo holds a regular luncheon meeting at a west suburban restaurant, we took a look for ourselves. (Video of the meeting.)

A train whistle signals the approach of noon in west suburban River Grove. Also like clockwork on this Friday is the arrival of John DiFronzo to the Loon Cafe.

The 80-year-old convicted mob boss has driven his shiny new pickup truck a few blocks from the Grand Avenue home where he has lived for years.

He is the first one at the restaurant for "Lunch with No Nose."

"Mr. Difronzo's been there on a regular basisThe Chicago Outfit. The earlier story was that he was in there like clockwork every Tuesday night. It was his local watering hole just like a lot of guys in Chicago have their local wateringhole. Rumor has it that he's in there a bit more frequently these days," said John Binder, author of "The Chicago Outfit (IL) (Images of America)."

His nose long since re-cast from the old days and more likely to be called "Johnny Bananas" to his face, DiFronzo is the first to arrive.

His brother Peter shows up next. The owner of a suburban waste-hauling firm, Peter DiFronzo is a convicted warehouse thief who did time at Leavenworth. Mob investigators say, like his brother, Peter is a fully initiated "made" member of the Chicago Outfit and believed to be his brother's most trusted lieutenant and advisor.

Then comes Marco "the Mover" Damico, a one-time bricklayer and DiFronzo protoge. Damico is a convicted mob capo with a 50-year criminal history of gambling, racketeering and toug guy intimidation. "Marco at one time was running the Elmwood Park Street Crew. I wouldn't be surprised if they found him a higher stature position if one was available right after he got out," said Binder.

Next to arrive, another DiFronzo brother, Joe, a former juice loan boss, once convicted of running the nation's largest indoor marijuana farm.

Other DiFronzo chums walk in, until the table for nine is full, for what could be a command performance.

"Anybody in the Outfit would go when they're called. It's a very hierarchical organization. A lot of these guys would spit in the face of the devil walking through the doors of Hell," said Binder.

For decades the Chicago mob has been conducting business at restaurant dining tables. One of the most famous photos in Outfit history was snapped in 1976 and was later found by the FBI during a raid. It shows a group of mobsters at a table.

Except for Joey "the Clown" Lombardo who was just sentenced to life in prison, the crime syndicate leaders seen together in the photo are all dead.

But now, there is a new family photo, taken by the I-Team just last Friday as John "No Nose" DiFronzo dishes out pizza to the Outfit's upper crust.

After the two hour pizza and wine meeting, DiFronzo was first to leave.

GOUDIE: "John...
DIFRONZO: How ya doin' buddy?"
GOUDIE: "How was the meeting?
DIFRONZO: What meeting?
GOUDIE: The pizza lunch.
DIFRONZO: Oh, yeah. that was good. That was good."
GOUDIE: You come here a lot?
DIFRONZO: No, first time.
GOUDIE: Mr. Damico in there?
DIFRONZO: I have...I don't even know who he is.
GOUDIE: I thought I saw him going into your lunch.
DIFRONZO: No, I haven't seen him. He hasn't been around."

DiFronzo was not charged during the landmark Family Secrets trial in 2007 that took down major mob bosses and solved more than a dozen gangland murders. But key witness and hitman Nick Calabrese testified that DiFronzo had a hand in the grisly, 1986 murders of Las Vegas mob boss Anthony Spilotro and his brother Michael. During a sentencing hearing last month, Park Ridge dentist Dr. Pat Spilotro challenged the government to arrest DiFronzo for his part in killing of his brothers.

GOUDIE: "Pat Spilotro said he wanted to know why the government hadn't picked you up in connection with Family Secrets.
DIFRONZO: I, uh--don't know anything about it...sorry.'

"From the federal government's point of view, the jury believed Nick Calabrese, they believed everything he said. The government convicted everybody. One of the things Nick Calabrese said was that John Difronzo was one of the guys beating on the Spilotros. He's the one guy left still alive who was identified by Nick Calabrese who hasn't been indicted and tried," said Binder.

GOUDIE: Are you concerned that you may end up in Family Secrets two?
DIFRONZO: I'm not concerned at all...bye bye...nice talkin' to you."

The pleasantries may soon be finished for John DiFronzo.

In two weeks mob informant Nick Calabrese is scheduled to be sentenced . But Calabrese' work as a government witness will probably not end. His next appearance could come against the man they call "No Nose."

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

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