Monday, January 31, 2011

Why Does It Cost $2 Million to Build a $1 Million Building in New York City?

Until last week, not many people in America had ever heard of Vincenzo Frogiero. But thanks to an FBI indictment, Mr Frogiero has now been immortalised across America by his mobster moniker, 'Vinny Carwash'.

An alleged member of the New York City Gambino crime family, Vinny Carwash was just one of 124 suspected Mafia members rounded up across the north-east US in the biggest one-day mob bust in American history.

Now awaiting trial on racketeering charges, Frogiero is incarcerated in Brooklyn with fellow wise guys whose nicknames seem straight out of a Hollywood casting call for The Sopranos: Johnny Bandana, Junior Lollipops, Johnny Pizza, Jack the Whack and Tony Bagels.

In a pre-dawn raid last week, federal agents in New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island swooped on the homes of over 100 alleged mobsters and arrested them on charges that include murder, loan sharking, extortion and labour racketeering.

Among those rounded up were leading members of the five Italian-American families affiliated with 'La Cosa Nostra' -- the Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, Bonnano and Lucchese families. Those arrested included family bosses, underbosses, consiglieri, hit men, soldiers and associates.

By far the biggest coup for the Feds was the arrest of 83-year-old Luigi 'Baby Shacks' Manocchio, the former boss of New England's Patriarca crime family and a 60-year-old Mafia veteran.

"It is a reminder that the Mafia is alive and well and that we ignore organised crime at our own peril," Professor Jay Albanese, a criminologist at Virginia Commonwealth University, told the Weekend Review.

The details contained in the FBI indictments read like plots straight from The Godfather or Goodfellas but federal authorities were quick to point out that, amusing nicknames aside, the Mafia in America today still poses a deadly and persistent threat.

"The notion that today's mob families are more genteel and less violent than in the past is put to lie by the charges contained in the indictments," said Janice Fedarcyk of the FBI's New York field office. "Even more of a myth is the notion that the mob is a thing of the past, that La Cosa Nostra is a shadow of its former self."

Ever since the birth of the American Mafia in the early 1930s, the north-east corridor between New York and Boston has remained the beating heart of the mob enterprise.

Despite a federal crackdown since the 1980s that has weakened the Mafia through mass arrests and stiffer sentences, La Cosa Nostra -- or 'our thing' -- has continued to prosper in the past decade. This is partly due to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 which saw the FBI divert resources and manpower away from the Mafia for the fight against al-Qa'ida and other terrorist threats.

Membership of the mob is still exclusively reserved for those of Italian extraction. Loyal members who meet the approval of their bosses have the opportunity to become 'made men' -- the highest honour that allows captains to shield themselves from direct criminal activity by having their legions of loyal soldiers do all the dirty work.

The lifestyle is fraught, dangerous and at times boring. "They are street people. They live on the street. They work on the street," said Jay Albanese. "They don't get up until late and they hang out at the restaurant all day just thinking of scams to make money."

"There is paranoia. There is distrust," he said. "You have bad guys killing each other because they don't trust each other. They say they have this blood loyalty and yet they turn each other in. It is really a cut-throat sort of an existence."

Just like Mafia bosses of old -- 'Scarface' Al Capone and his successor, Tony Arrcado aka 'Joe Batters' -- today's Mafioso are quick to dole out nicknames, but these aliases serve an important purpose when trying to confuse federal authorities who are inevitably tracking their movements by electronic surveillance.

"The nicknames serve a very utilitarian purpose," Professor Howard Abadinsky of St John's University told the Irish Independent. "It does confuse law enforcement and it does make it -- from a legal point of view -- very hard to specifically identify these individuals for prosecution purposes."

In recent years, federal authorities have boasted that the Mafia's grasp over New York institutions including labour unions, the waterfront, the Fulton fish market and the garment district has waned.

Experts point out that the organisation has been severely weakened through aggressive public prosecutions, a lack of recruitment opportunities and a declining sense of loyalty among the new guard. The FBI has also been successful at recruiting mob turncoats who are brave enough to disregard the Mafia's ancient vow of silence -- the omerta.

"In the old days you might be much more willing to do time for the group," said Prof Albanese. "People are more individual focused and out for their own profit now, and they're just not as willing to sacrifice for their group."

But despite these setbacks, the Mafia's unique ability to infiltrate business in America and to claim a piece of the action remains unrivalled among other organised crime groups, experts say.

Mobsters in New Jersey, New England and Rhode Island continue to profit from the "bread and butter" staples of Mafia enterprises: operating sports bookmakers, strip clubs, loan-sharking, and gambling operations.

Crime families such as the Genovese exert a tight control over New York's ports, using threats and violence to extort money from shippers and obstruct the flow of commerce. They control several key shipping and construction unions, charging kickbacks to unload ships and paying associates for "no show" jobs.

"If you didn't pay, your fish would sit there on the dock and rot," said Albanese. "It wouldn't be moved. If you didn't pay, you would be excluded from the [fish] market."

In a throwback to the kind of extortion and racketeering portrayed in On the Waterfront with Marlon Brando, the FBI indictments allege that members of the Genovese even tried to extort Christmastime payments from port workers in New York.

"To be shaking down waterfront workers in the 21st century really seems a throwback to the 1940s or 1950s," said Abadinsky. "You don't make a lot of money by shaking down longshoreman."

And the mob's ability to control key unions has also had a dramatic effect on New York's construction industry and property development.

"People have asked, 'Why does it cost $2m to build a $1m building in New York?'" said Albanese. "Well ... if you were going to pour cement in NYC you had to get union people to do it and you have the mob controlling the unions, so kickbacks had to be paid."

Mafia experts have praised last week's operation but point out that the impact may be short-lived. Exactly two years ago a similar mass arrest of mobsters took place across the northeast but many of them received light prison sentences and soon returned to the streets.

Experts predict that with the top leadership gone, the remaining families will face immediate and perhaps brutal leadership contests. In addition, other organised crime groups -- Russians, Albanians, Asians and Mexicans -- are waiting in the wings, eager to turn a profit on abandoned Mafioso turf.

"For the day to day operations of a crime family, you don't require the boss and the shop management to be there," said Abadinsky. "The people have their assignments and they will carry them out. In the meantime, these people will be replaced."

In time, Vinny Carwash -- and his pals, Meatball, Mush, Hootie and Johnny Bandana -- may well be back on the streets. But if not, there will always be a new crop of eager soldiers to take their places.

"The removal of the current crop of Mafia barons will probably engender a new generation of mobsters," wrote Selwyn Raab in the New York Times. "There have always been, and always will be, ambitious, greedy, wise guys who are willing to risk long prison sentences for the power and riches glittering before them.

"The Mafia is wounded, but not fatally," he said.

Thanks to Caitriona Palmer

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mob Month Panel & Book Signing: From Medellin to the Mob: Meet Ronin of the Underworld Kenny “Kenji” Gallo

Mob Month: From Medellin to the Mob: Meet Ronin of the Underworld Kenny “Kenji” Gallo

1/31/2012 • 7 p.m. - 10 p.m.

Clark County Library
Room: Main Theater

Our final event features a panel discussion with Breakshot author Kenny “Kenji” Gallo about his life growing up as a mixed-race teenage dealer/distributor for South American drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, becoming a leading porn director/producer in California, partnering with West & East Coast mob families, and switching sides to become one of the most successful and notorious undercover operatives for the FBI. Joining the panel are Kenji’s former crime associate-turned-lawyer Ramon and Kenji’s ex-wife and adult film superstar Tabitha Stevens. Moderated by national TV crime commentator/author
Vito Colucci.

Book sales/signing will be available at each event. All seating will be on a first come, first served basis. Entry wristbands will be issued starting at 6 p.m. from the Theater box office on day of event only. For more information about any of our Mob Month events, please call 702-507-3458.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

John Travolta to Play John Gotti?

It's awesome casting ... John Travolta playing John Gotti in a new movie.

Travolta was at Amici restaurant (Italian, of course) in Brentwood last night, where he was coy about taking the role. But Marty Ingels -- the Executive Producer of the movie who dined with John -- was more direct, saying Travolta will play the lead role in the movie, titled "Gotti."

Sources tell us Travolta has not signed on the dotted line yet.

We're also told James Franco has been approached to play John Gotti, Jr. Awesome.

Our sources say Nick Cassavetes -- of "Alpha Dog" and "Notebook" fame -- is currently rewriting the script and will be the director.

Marc Fiore -- who purchased the rights to Gotti's story back in September -- was also at the last night's meeting and is Executive Producer on the film.

Thanks to TMZ

Convicted Reputed Mob Boss Won $250,000 Worker's Comp Claim

An alleged Illinois mob boss convicted of racketeering once filed a worker's compensation claim and was awarded $250,000, testimony in his trial revealed.

Prosecutors say reputed Cicero mob boss Michael Sarno, 52, while running his criminal operations, presented himself in the claim as a trade show carpenter injured while working at Chicago's McCormick Place convention center, Chicago's SouthtownStar newspaper reported Tuesday.

The injury claim was mentioned in Sarno's December trial where he was convicted of racketeering conspiracy and faces 25 years in prison.

"He was certainly mobile enough to threaten people and conduct his mob-related business with considerable vigor," former federal prosecutor T. Markus Funk, who investigated Sarno, said.

"While having two jobs is, of course, not unheard of, it would not be unfair to raise a skeptic's eyebrow about a claim that Sarno, on the one hand, worked as a brutal mob boss running a multifaceted criminal enterprise, and at the same time punched his union carpenter ticket, banging in nails and whittling wood," Funk said.

"Not to be uncharitable, but that, frankly, is a level of multi-tasking few on the street would -- for a variety of reasons -- credit him with possessing."

Thanks to UPI

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Former Chicago Police Officer Jon Burge Sentenced for Lying about Police Torture

The Justice Department announced last week that former Chicago Police Department Commander Jon Burge, 63, of Apollo Beach, Fla., was sentenced to 54 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for lying in a deposition in a civil case about torture and abuse of suspects by Chicago Police Department officers. Burge’s sentence was an upward departure from the recommended Guidelines’ sentence.

Burge was convicted last June of two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of perjury stemming from false answers he gave in a civil case in 2003. In those answers, Burge denied ever using, or being aware of other officers using, any type of improper coercion, physical abuse or torture with suspects who were in custody at Chicago Police Department’s Area Two. However, evidence at trial showed that Burge abused multiple victims in Area Two, suffocating them with plastic bags; shocking them with electrical devices; and placing a loaded gun to their heads.

In a 23-year career with the Chicago Police Department, Burge rose through the ranks to commander before being fired in 1993 over allegations of abuse. Special prosecutors were appointed in 2002 to investigate claims of abuse by Burge and others. A four-year investigation concluded that the abuse was outside the statute of limitations. It was a pending civil suit that was the basis for the federal charges in this case.

“Burge abused his power and betrayed the public trust by abusing suspects in his custody, and then by lying under oath to cover up what he and other officers had done,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The department will aggressively prosecute any officer who violates the Constitution.”

“Today, we put to rest the decades of denials that torture of suspects in police custody occurred,” said Patrick J. Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. “This sentence delivers a measure of justice, which Burge obstructed for so long.”

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Weisman and April Perry from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois and Trial Attorney Betsy Biffl from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Largest Coordinated Mafia Arrest Takedown in FBI History

Early on morning of January 20th, FBI agents and partner law enforcement officers began arresting nearly 130 members of the Mafia in New York City and other East Coast cities charged in the largest nationally coordinated organized crime takedown in the Bureau’s history.

Members of New York’s infamous Five Families—the Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, and Luchese crime organizations—were rounded up along with members of the New Jersery-based DeCavalcante family and New England Mafia to face charges including murder, drug trafficking, arson, loan sharking, illegal gambling, witness tampering, labor racketeering, and extortion. In one case involving the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) at the Ports of New York and New Jersey, the alleged extortion has been going on for years.

More than 30 of the subjects indicted were “made” members of the Mafia, including several high-ranking family members. The arrests, predominantly in New York, are expected to seriously disrupt some of the crime families’ operations.

"The notion that today's mob families are more genteel and less violent than in the past is put to lie by the charges contained in the indictments unsealed today,” said Janice Fedarcyk, assistant director in charge of the FBI's New York Field Office. “Even more of a myth is the notion that the mob is a thing of the past; that La Cosa Nostra is a shadow of its former self.”

The Mafia—also known as La Cosa Nostra (LCN)—may have taken on a diminished criminal role in some areas of the country, but in New York, the Five Families are still “extremely strong and viable,” said Dave Shafer, an assistant special agent in charge who supervises FBI organized crime investigations in New York.

The operation began before dawn. Some 500 FBI personnel—along with about 200 local, state, and other federal law enforcement officers—took part, including key agencies such as the New York Police Department and the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General. By 11 a.m., more than 110 of the 127 subjects charged had been taken into custody.

The idea for a nationally coordinated LCN takedown originated at the Department of Justice last summer, said Shafer, a veteran organized crime investigator. “We have done big LCN takedowns before, but never one this big.”

Among those charged:

  • Luigi Manocchio, 83, the former boss of the New England LCN;
  • Andrew Russo, 76, street boss of the Colombo family;
  • Benjamin Castellazzo, 73, acting underboss of the Colombo family;
  • Richard Fusco, 74, consigliere of the Colombo family;
  • Joseph Corozzo, 69, consigliere of the Gambino family; and
  • Bartolomeo Vernace, 61, a member of the Gambino family administration.

The LCN operates in many U.S. cities and routinely engages in threats and violence to extort victims, eliminate rivals, and obstruct justice. In the union case involving the ILA, court documents allege that the Genovese family has engaged in a multi-decade conspiracy to influence and control the unions and businesses on the New York-area piers.

“If there’s money to be made,” said Diego Rodriguez, special agent in charge of the FBI’s New York criminal division, “LCN will do it.” He noted that today’s Mafia has adapted to the times. “They are still involved in gambling and loan sharking, for example, but in the old days the local shoemaker took the betting slips. Now it’s offshore online gambling and money laundering. If you investigate LCN in New York,” Rodriguez added, “it’s a target-rich environment.”

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Historic Mafia Crackdown Today

Federal authorities orchestrated one of the biggest Mafia takedowns in FBI history Thursday, charging 127 suspected mobsters and associates in the Northeast with murders, extortion and other crimes spanning decades.
Past investigations have resulted in strategic strikes aimed at crippling individual crime families. This time, authorities used a shotgun approach, with some 800 federal agents and police officers making scores of simultaneous arrests stemming from different mob investigations in New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
They also used fanfare: Attorney General Eric Holder made a trip to New York to announce the operation at a news conference with the city's top law enforcement officials.
Holder called the arrests "an important and encouraging step forward in disrupting La Cosa Nostra's operations." But he and others also cautioned that the mob, while having lost some of the swagger of the John Gotti era, is known for adapting to adversity and finding new ways of making money and spreading violence.
"Members and associates of La Cosa Nostra are among the most dangerous criminals in our country," Holder said. "The very oath of allegiance sworn by these Mafia members during their initiation ceremony binds them to a life of crime."
In the past, the FBI has aggressively pursued and imprisoned the leadership of the city's five Italian mob families, only to see ambitious underlings fill the vacancies, said Janice Fedarcyk, head of the FBI's New York office. "We deal in reality, and the reality is that the mob, like nature, abhors a vacuum," she said.
However, the FBI has gained a recent advantage by cultivating a crop of mob figures willing to wear wires and testify against gangsters in exchange for leniency in their own cases. "The vow of silence that is part of the oath of omerta is more myth than reality today," she said.
In the latest cases, authorities say turncoats recorded thousands of conversations of suspected mobsters. Investigators also tapped their phones.
In sheer numbers, the takedown eclipsed those from a highly publicized assault on the Gambino Crime Family in 2008, when authorities rounded up 62 suspects. All but one of the arrests resulted in guilty pleas.
Among those arrested Thursday were union officials, two former police officers and a suspect in Italy. High-ranking members of the Gambino and Colombo crime families and the reputed former boss of organized crime in New England also were named in 16 federal indictments unsealed Thursday.
The indictments listed colorful nicknames — Bobby Glasses, Vinny Carwash, Jack the Whack, Johnny Cash, Junior Lollipops — and catalogued murders, extortion, arson and other crimes dating back 30 years.
One of the indictments charges a reputed Gambino boss, Bartolomeo Vernace, in a double murder in the Shamrock Bar in Queens in a dispute over a spilled drink. Another charges an alleged Colombo captain, Anthony Russo, in the 1993 hit on an underboss during the family's bloody civil war.
Luigi Manocchio, 83, the reputed former head of New England's Patriarca crime family, was arrested in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He has long denied having mob ties. An indictment accuses him of collecting protection payments from strip-club owners. lso arrested was Thomas Iafrate, who worked as a bookkeeper for strip clubs and set aside money for Manocchio, prosecutors said. Iafrate pleaded not guilty Thursday in federal court in Providence, R.I.
Other charges include corruption among dockworkers in New York and New Jersey who were forced to kick back a portion of their holiday bonuses to the crime families. Members of the Colombo family also were charged with extortion and fraud in connection with their control of a cement and concrete workers union.
Most of the defendant were awaiting arraignment on Thursday in federal court in Brooklyn. If convicted, they face a wide range of maximum sentences, including life in prison.
Thanks to Tom Hays

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Roe Conn Selected for FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award

Local radio and television personality Roe Conn has been selected as the 2010 Chicago area recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award (DCLA), announced Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The DCLA is presented annually by FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III to a recipient in each of the FBI’s 56 domestic field offices. Established in 1990, the DCLA is designed to publicly recognize an individual or organization that has helped with crime prevention and educational programs within their community and which have furthered the efforts of law enforcement. In selecting Mr. Conn as the 2010 recipient of this prestigious award, Director Mueller noted his many contributions over the years in assisting both the law enforcement community and related charities and benevolent organizations. Said Director Mueller, “Mr. Conn’s unwavering support of law enforcement in general, and the FBI in particular, has earned him the respect and admiration of police officers and FBI agents throughout the Chicago area. He has used the public airways as a means to educate and inform his listeners, while at the same time remaining an objective journalist.”

In announcing this award, Mr. Grant noted the dedication and personal involvement exhibited by Mr. Conn in assisting the Chicago FBI during the past several years. Mr. Grant added “Our employees were honored to have Roe Conn serve as the master of ceremonies at our 100th anniversary celebration in July of 2008. In addition, his frequent on-air discussion of FBI investigations and related issues has earned him a great following in our office.”

Mr. Conn serves on the board of directors for the USO of Illinois and has been active in supporting the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation and the Chicago Crime Commission, which demonstrates his ongoing dedication to aiding law enforcement.

Mr. Conn follows acclaimed journalist and documentarian Bill Kurtis, who was the 2009 Chicago DCLA recipient.

An awards luncheon honoring Mr. Conn is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. tomorrow at Harry Caray’s Restaurant, 33 West Kinzie in Chicago. Mr. Conn will also be invited to attend an awards ceremony, to be held in Washington, D.C. in March, at which time DCLA recipients from across the nation will be personally honored by Director Mueller.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sonny Franzese, 93 Year-Old Mobster, Sentenced to 8 Years in Prison

Convicted mob boss John "Sonny" Franzese is so old, he knew Frank Sinatra in his heyday. He's so old, his recent extortion trial became nap time — even when his turncoat son took the witness stand against him. But a federal judge decided Friday that Franzese is not so old that he can avoid prison.

Franzese, 93, was sentenced to eight years in prison for extorting Manhattan strip clubs and a pizzeria on New York's Long Island.

The jailed Franzese appeared alert while sitting in a wheelchair in federal court in Brooklyn. But when asked if he wanted to speak, he managed only a fragmented mumble: "I never got a fair ..."

Federal prosecutors had sought at least 12 years behind bars for the underboss of the Colombo crime family — in effect, a life term. To bolster their argument, they had an FBI agent testify Friday that Franzese bragged about killing 60 people over the years and once contemplated putting out a hit on his own son for becoming a government cooperator. "For him to die in prison is not an inappropriate response to the life he's led," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Christina Posa.

Defense attorney Richard Lind argued that because of Franzese's advanced age and array of chronic illnesses, a long sentence was pointless. He labeled the talk of gangland carnage "pathetic boasting."

Sentencing a nonagenarian wasn't easy, U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan said. But he also said he needed to send a message that "you can never escape the consequences of a lifetime of organized crime."

The sentencing was the latest chapter of a criminal career dating to the Great Depression. Franzese's first arrest, for assault, came in 1938. Prosecutors say he was kicked out of the Army four years later after displaying "homicidal tendencies."

In 1947, court papers say, he raped a waitress in a garage. In 1966, he beat a murder charge accusing him of killing a rival and dumping the body — cement blocks chained to the feet — into a bay.

Franzese was convicted in 1967 in a bank robbery, sent to prison and paroled in the late 1970s. Though never convicted of another crime, authorities say he rose to second in command of the Colombos, one of New York's five Italian crime families.

According to Mafia lore, Franzese was a big spender and a regular at the Copacabana nightclub, where he hobnobbed with Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. He also once had a stake in the classic porn film "Deep Throat." But in court papers, the government said Franzese's true legacy was something more akin to "Goodfellas."

The main reason Franzese dodged arrest in other murders is that he became good at making bodies disappear, the papers said. Investigators caught him on tape in 2006 describing his favorite recipe for that: Dismember victim in kiddie pool. Cook body parts in microwave. Stuff parts in garbage disposal. Be patient.
"Today, you can't have a body no more," the latest court papers quote him saying. "It's better to take that half an hour, an hour, to get rid of the body than it is just to leave the body in the street."

The FBI arrested Franzese in a mob takedown in 2008. A jury found him guilty last year on racketeering and other charges last year.

At trial, prosecutors used John Franzese Jr., a former Colombo associate turned paid informant, to help convince jurors that his father's frail appearance was deceiving. The defendant briefly dozed off when his son began testifying.

"I'm not talking about my father as a man," Franzese Jr. testified. "I'm talking about the life he chose. ... This life absorbs you. You only see one way."

Thanks to Tom Hays

Friday, January 14, 2011

Charges Increased to Racketeering on Reputed Elderly Mobsters

Federal prosecutors have upgraded charges against three elderly reputed mob associates who allegedly plotted last year to rob a bank and the home of a late Chicago mob boss.

Joseph “Jerry” Scalise, Arthur Rachel and Robert Pullia now face racketeering charges, which often carry stiffer sentences on conviction.

The men, all in their 70s, were arrested last April on charges they plotted to rob an armored truck company. The racketeering charges also allege the three targeted the family home of deceased Chicago mob head Angelo “the Hook’’ LaPietra for a home invasion.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Does Carmine "Junior" Persico Run Local 6A of the New York Cement and Concrete Workers from Prison?

Twenty-five years after the historic Commission case exposed the Colombo crime family's stranglehold over the union representing workers on all major New York construction projects, Local 6A of the New York Cement and Concrete Workers is still a family affair - in more ways than one.

Today, the grandson of a mobster who was convicted of racketeering at the Commission trial is Local 6A's key official. And the crime family's boss who was found guilty at the same trial, Carmine (Junior) Persico, is still the ultimate power behind the union, according to the special counsel for the Laborers' International Union of North America.

The imprisoned-for-life Persico has controlled the union through several underlings over the years, says LIUNA special counsel Robert Luskin. They include onetime "street boss" Thomas (Tommy Shots) Gioeli and capo Dino (Big Dino) Calabro - two longtime Persico loyalists who allegedly whacked Junior's longtime nemesis William (Wild Bill) Cutolo in 1999.

Tommy Shots has remained loyal since his 2008 indictment for Cutolo's murder. But Big Dino has been cooperating with the feds for some time. And one of the many subjects Calabro spilled his guts about, says Luskin, was the large cast of characters - including his brothers, Vincenzo and Giuseppe - who helped him run the union for the Colombos and reap the benefits as well.

Numerous Colombo wiseguys, their relatives, friends, and cohorts affiliated with other crime families were handed no-show and seldom-show jobs, says Luskin.

They also shared in payoffs from contractors and a variety of other schemes, including a "coffee boy" scam, according to Luskin. In that rip-off, which occurred at every job site, all workers were forced to buy any food and drink they wanted - whether at lunch or during any breaks - from a mob-selected vendor who kicked back $250 a week to the Colombos.

In a complaint filed two weeks ago, Luskin asked LIUNA's Independent Hearing Officer to oust all the current officials of the Flushing, Queens based local and replace them with a trustee to "eradicate the corrupt influence of organized crime."

The complaint states that the day-to-day mob front man at Local 6A is business manager Ralph Scopo III, whose grandfather, Colombo soldier Ralph Scopo Sr. ran the union in the 1980s. Scopo III, 40, earned $160,600 in 2009 as the key official of the 1047 member union. Scopo's brother, Joseph, 35, is the union's recording secretary.

Back in 1986, Ralph Scopo Sr. and Persico were found guilty of racketeering and sentenced to 100 years. Scopo's sons, Ralph Jr. and Joseph, followed him into the crime family and took over his union - with Ralph Jr. serving as president and Joseph as vice president - until both were bounced from their union posts a year later.

Joseph Scopo's stock in the crime family rose until he was killed during the bloody Colombo war in 1993 - the same year his dad died in prison. But Ralph Scopo Jr. and the Colombo crime family still run the union, and steal from its members regularly, through Ralph Scopo III, and a host of puppets they control, according to Luskin. And like their father and late grandfather before them, Scopo III is controlled lock, stock and cement mixer by the still imprisoned Mafia boss, Junior Persico, according to Luskin.

Luskin painted Scopo III, his father, and a host of other Local 6A officials as lying, money-hungry leeches who have been stealing money from hardworking laborers for at least nine years - the same way the late Scopo Sr. did in the 1980s.

Since the Local 6A probe moved into high gear two years ago, nine union officials and members, including Calabro's brothers, have been ousted or resigned rather than answer questions about their mob connections from LIUNA's lead investigator, former FBI mob buster Bruce Mouw.

In 2002, when Big Dino first met Scopo Jr., the longtime labor racketeer praised his abilities as a moneymaker, and set the stage for the way things would operate for the next six years, until Calabro was arrested and detained without bail, according to the complaint. "I'm in charge of Local 6A and control everything that happens in that local," he told Big Dino. "My son is a delegate and he runs the Local. If anybody need a job, just let me know and I'll take care of it through my son."

Calabro met Scopo III two years later, when his father brought him to a regular monthly get-together that Scopo Jr. had with Big Dino at a "bagel store on Route 109 in West Babylon" to talk business and split the money they brought in that month.

"During this meeting, Scopo Jr. gave Calabro $10,000 as his monthly share from the shakedown" of one contractor, the complaint said. "Calabro kept $1,000 for himself; Scopo Jr. took $1,500 for himself, and the remaining $7,500 went to the Colombo Family Administration."

A few years later, according to the complaint, Big Dino and the father and son Scopos attended a sitdown to settle a dispute at a World Trade Center jobsite with a union foreman who had been "criticizing the Scopos." The elder Scopo "told Calabro that his son Ralph was there in case he decided that (the union worker) needed to be physically assaulted," the complaint said.

When Ralph Scopo learned about Calabro's cooperation, and LIUNA's investigation, he and his fellow union officials assumed they would eventually be bounced as corrupt, according to the complaint. So they decided to grab as much union cash as they could, and took vacation time checks - as many as eight weeks worth - before they were due, let alone earned.

Questioned about this last year, Scopo admitted that the LIUNA probe "was in the back of his mind," the complaint said. "Why save vacation time if the Local is placed into trusteeship?" he added.

Scopo did not return a request for comment that Gang Land placed to his union office.

Thanks to Jerry Capeci

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chicago Crime Commission Report Traces Expanded Legalized Gambling to Organized Crime

In its rush to locate more funds for its government, the legislature in President Barack Obama's home state of Illinois is pushing legislation almost guaranteed to put a smile on the faces of organized crime figures and corruption-prone politicians.

If some of members of the Illinois General Assembly have their way, the "Prairie State" will soon become the "Gambling State," paving the way for nearly 90,000 gambling positions in Illinois, challenging Nevada and every other state in the country for the amount of gambling available.

Additionally the bill, which does not provide any additional regulatory personnel, will certainly lead to Crime Syndicate infiltration and political corruption, according to a report from the well-respected Chicago Crime Commission.

"I would caution the members of the Illinois General Assembly to think long and hard before they vote for the legislation. It is beyond my comprehension that the Illinois Senate has passed this bill. I would strongly encourage a sober review by the Illinois House and urge them to reject this dangerous legislation," according to Arthur J. Bilek, Executive Vice President of the Chicago Crime Commission.

"If passed, this legislation, more than any other in my memory, would change the complexion and perception of the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois...and not in a positive way," he continued.

The Gaming Act bill provides for a massive expansion of gambling across the entire state of Illinois, including 15 land-based casinos and 6 race track-based video gambling casinos called "Racinos" in addition to the estimated 50,000 video poker machines already approved by the General Assembly last year.

"The almost unbelievable number of new gambling activities provided by the bill will enable the always ingenious Crime Syndicate to seek out myriad ways to enrich itself by getting into the legal gambling game," Bilek added. "The investigative arm of the Gaming Board will be overwhelmed by the large number of new gambling activities," he said.

The bill mandates the Gaming Board to approve or deny licensees within 60 days of applications. With the number of new casinos, the number of new gambling positions and the dozens of changes and amendments to the existing gambling statutes, it will be virtually impossible for the Board to maintain the present integrity of Illinois gambling. "Interestingly, the bill is silent on adding or funding new investigators or staff for the Gaming Board," Bilek commented.

To date, the Crime Syndicate has been kept out of legal gambling in Illinois through the unflinching efforts of the current Illinois Gaming Board.

"Pure and simple the bill is a set-up for disaster. If passed, law enforcement can expect the entrance of the Crime Syndicate into legalized gambling through a variety of ruses and deceptions," Bilek warned. "Federal prosecutors should plan for a constant stream of federal corruption indictments against government officials, gambling operators and members of the Crime Syndicate," he added.

Specifics in the legislation include:

  • A giant casino in Chicago with 4,000 gambling positions, run by a separate, independent government entity called the Chicago Development Authority and not by the Illinois Gaming Board
  • .Four new casinos – Park City, Rockford, Danville and south suburban Cook County.
  • Six "Racinos" with video poker and electronic slot machines at the six race tracks in Illinois. The three tracks outside of Cook County would be allowed 900 gambling positions. Each of the three tracks in Cook County would be allowed 1,200 gambling positions.
  • A provision that allows all casinos to be land-based.
  • Dozens of other changes and amendments that advance the proliferation of gambling activities in Illinois.

Thanks to Jim Kouri

Monday, January 10, 2011

Onofrio Modica, Gambino Mobster, Pleads Guilty

A Gambino mobster copped a plea that could get him 10 years in jail because otherwise prosecutors wouldn't cut deals with his buddies, his lawyer said Thursday.

"He's a standup guy," lawyer Gerald McMahon said of client Onofrio (Noel) Modica.

Modica, 48, pleaded to accessory to murder, gambling and attempted jury tampering in the 1992 trial of the late John Gotti.

His lawyer said he wanted to go to trial, but the government forced his hand by refusing to offer deals to a half-dozen other Gambino soldiers.

"The government made us an offer he couldn't refuse," McMahon said.

Modica was one of 14 mobsters busted in a gambling ring in April and charged with extortion, jury tampering and murder.

Plea deals with everyone - except Gambino boss Daniel Marino, who pleaded guilty last month - hinged on Modica taking a deal, McMahon said.

He admitted he agreed to hunt down the addresses of anonymous jurors for Gotti's 1992 trial. Gotti ended up calling off the juryfixing plan.

Thanks to Scott Shifrel

Once Upon a Time in America on Blu-Ray

Drama about the rise and fall of Jewish-American gangsters in New York at the beginning of the century through the 1960s.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Book Claims That Lucky Luciano, the Inspiration for The Godfather's Don Corleone, Was a Fake Gangster

The gangster who inspired 1970s blockbuster The Godfather was a "fake", a historian has claimed.

Experts believed Charles "Lucky" Luciano was the father of organised crime and hailed him as the model for legendary mafia boss Don CorleoneLucky Luciano: Mafia Murderer and Secret Agent, played by Marlon Brando in the Francis Ford Coppola movie based on the Mario Puzo book.

Luciano was widely credited for running New York's notorious underworld, and was linked to extortion rackets, punishment attacks and gangland murders. But according to new research, his reputation was largely fabricated by the US government to justify the expense of tracking him down.

The revelations emerge in a new book, Lucky Luciano: Mafia Murderer and Secret Agent - 74 years after his imprisonment, and 48 years after his death. US author Tim Newark said the claims will shock other biographers who had painted Lucky as the archetypal gangster.

Mr Newark said: "The myth of Lucky Luciano is incredible. For decades, he has been portrayed as the father of modern organised crime, no less. "But after delving into the archives, I realised the real Lucky was in some respects, a fake."

Luciano was born in Sicily, in 1897 but moved to New York at the age of ten to dabble in crime. But Mr Newark said: "The sad truth is Lucky was a has-been without the money or power to pull off what he was said to. Even if he had, the Mafia wouldn't have worked with him because of his very public reputation."

Thanks to Raanan Geberer

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Photo of Lucchese Crime Family Tree

Lucchese Crime Family
For a larger view, right click on image to open in a new tab.

Monday, January 03, 2011

George Barone, Mafia Hit Man Reputed to Have Killed Over 20, Dead

One of the Mafia’s most feared hit men has died at the age of 86.

George Barone is suspected of personally murdering at least 20 people during his reign of terror on New York’s mob-run waterfront. But he eventually turned ‘rat’ to put many of his old organised crime colleagues behind bars.

The gangster became an informer after his own Genovese family put a price on his head. He was one of only three members of the ultra-secretive family ever to break ‘omerta’, the mob’s traditional code of silence.

It emerged today that Barone died of natural causes on Tuesday while in witness protection. The former Second World War hero, who served with the Marines on Iwo Jima, returned to become a founder member of the Jets - the street gang later immortalised in the musical West Side Story. But in real life Barone was more about killing than choreography.

When he was quizzed over how many people he had ‘whacked’, Barone famously told prosecutors: ‘I didn’t keep a scorecard. A lot. Many.'

Infamously gruff but co-operative at the same time, Barone last year said: 'I’m 85. I don’t remember the specifics. I was in a war [referring to the Second World War]... I killed a lot of people. 'And I was in a war on the West Side of New York. A lot of people were killed on both sides.'

He worked as an enforcer for the Genoveses and was said to have been a broker when the family split New York’s docks down the middle with the rival Gambinos.

The Gambinos received Staten Island and Brooklyn; the Genoveses got New Jersey and Manhattan, he later testified.

Barone helped bring untold millions into the Genovese coffers. He even landed the son of boss Vincent 'The Chin' Gigante a lucrative industry job
He was a man of terrifying brutality but also a man of honour - serving a seven-year jail term in the 1980s without spilling any details of the Mafia operations. But he decided to flip in 2001 after Mob boss and one-time friend Gigante put a contract on his head. ‘I went bad,’ he said.

Barone earned a grudging respect from his federal handlers. FBI spokesman James Margolin told the New York Daily News: ‘George Barone’s criminal conduct cannot be ignored, but neither can the immense value of his expert insight and testimony.'

Barone said he was edged out of the Mob by a new generation of gangsters who tried to strip him of his union control and then plotted to kill him
He said: 'They’ve been trying to kill me for years now. They haven’t made it yet and they’re not going to.' And he was right.

Thanks to David Gardner

Las Vegas Mob Moss, Davie Berman, Started in North Dakota

The mob boss of the Las Vegas syndicate, who built the city into the gambling capital of the U.S., grew up in North Dakota.

Davie Berman learned how to be tough and enterprising at his father’s farm near Ashley when he reasoned that he would need to become the primary breadwinner for the family because his father’s farming venture failed.

Berman ran the Las Vegas gambling enterprises for the mob from 1947 until his death in 1957. Most of the people who knew him at the casinos liked him and thought of Berman as a very successful businessman. After Berman died, it was said that he had “the largest funeral Las Vegas had ever seen.”

Donald “Davie” Berman was born Jan. 16, 1903, to David and Clara Berman in Odessa, Russia. In 1905, David Berman was threatened with conscription into the Russian army and fled to America. After working at a laundry in Manhattan, he learned that a special fund had been set up to help young Jews get land grants in North Dakota. He sent for his wife and three young children.

In the winter of 1907, the family arrived at Ashley. for? It looks like Siberia.” On Dec. 26, 1907, the Bermans took possession of their 160 acres between Ashley and Wishek. David Berman knew nothing about farming, and it seemed like everything he tried had failed.

Davie Berman excelled in school but was frequently in trouble because of fights. In January 1910, their house burned down, and the Bermans sold their farm for one dollar and moved to Ashley. David Berman got a job at the creamery, but the family continued to live in poverty. Davie Berman said they should move to Sioux City, Iowa, because he had learned that young boys could sell newspapers. In 1912, the family packed their belongings into a buggy and moved to Iowa where they hoped to make a new beginning.

Davie Berman got a job as a newsboy and, to increase his earnings, slept in the print shop of the Sioux City Journal so that he could get an early start hawking newspapers. He organized the Jewish boys selling papers so that they could keep other boys from selling papers in their territory.

At the time, Sioux City was called Little Chicago because “gangsters from Chicago used to move there when the heat was on at home.” Davie Berman soon noticed that gamblers had a lot of money, and he became friendly with them. He helped talk people into participating in card games and learned how to cheat with marked cards and loaded dice. By the age of 14, he organized a group of young people to beat up individuals who did not cover their losses at gambling.

With Prohibition, Berman got into bootlegging. He drove his car north on Highway 75, now I-75, to Winnipeg, Manitoba, and loaded up with whiskey. On his return south, Berman would make deliveries in Minnesota and the Dakotas. By the age of 16, “he was the biggest bootlegger in all of Iowa.” He also hired people to make home brew on which he slapped fake labels for resale.

While still a teen, Berman turned to robbing banks. He moved his operation from Sioux City to Chicago and then to New York City. In 1927, Berman was arrested for a post office robbery in Wisconsin. He refused to name any of those involved in plotting the heist and was sentenced to 7 ½ years in Sing Sing Prison.

When he was released from prison, Berman was called to a meeting with gangsters Meyer Lansky, Frank Costello, Moe Sedway and Lucky Luciano. In appreciation for keeping quiet, Berman was offered $1 million. He turned the offer down and instead said he wanted permission “to run Minneapolis.” His request was granted.

By the mid-1930s, Prohibition was abolished, and Berman focused his attention on bookmaking and other forms of gambling. The top mob boss of Minneapolis, when Berman arrived, was Kid Cann. As his operation grew, Berman eclipsed Cann. When World War II broke out, Berman tried to enlist but was turned down because of his criminal background. He then traveled to Winnipeg and enlisted with the 12th Manitoba Dragoons regiment. At the conclusion of the war, Berman returned to Minneapolis to resume his gambling operation.

In 1945, Hubert Humphrey was elected mayor with a pledge to break up the rackets. Berman knew where he wanted to move next. In 1940, he had made a trip to Las Vegas and saw that it held great potential for gambling. In 1945, Berman purchased three downtown clubs — the El Cortez, the Las Vegas Club, and the El Dorado (later called the Horseshoe).

He was also working with Bugsy Siegel to build the new, elegant Flamingo. After the Flamingo opened, the mob suspected that Siegel was skimming off the top. On June 20, 1947, Siegel was assassinated at the Beverly Hills home of his mistress, Virginia Hill. The murder was never solved. The next day, Berman and his associates walked into the Flamingo and took over operation of the club. Later, Berman sold the Flamingo and purchased the Riviera.

On June 18, 1957, while on the operating table at a Las Vegas hospital for a glandular operation, Berman suffered a heart attack and died.

Thanks to Curt Eriksmoen

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Al Capone International Airport

Chicago's Election Board said Rahm Emmanuel can run for mayor despite the fact he leased his house two years ago and doesn't meet the one-year residency requirement. Just because something's illegal doesn't stop it in Chicago. This is the town that once came within two votes on the City Council of naming their international airport after Al Capone.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Tips to Master Mafia Wars

Mafia Wars is a massive multi-player online role-playing game (MMORPG) in which millions of players build their own “mafia family” online and take over the online mafia world and other mafia families. However, getting good at the game can be extremely hard if a player does not have some sort of strategy or plan. Mafia Wars mastery can definitely be achieved, but it will take some time and effort to build up your mafia family and accumulate sufficient items. Before we go into the Mafia Wars mastery tips, let’s first discuss how you can set up an account so you can start playing.

Mafia Wars can be played on either MySpace or Facebook – you choose which one you’d like. Just go to their games section and search for Mafia Wars. Creating an account is self-explanatory and very simple, so just follow the instructions on the screen when you get there.

Now that you have your account set up, let’s talk about some Mafia Wars mastery tips. One of the most crucial steps when playing Mafia Wars is to use the cheat codes. No, this is not considered cheating; the game actually has a built-in option if you’d like to use cheat codes. The best-of-the-best are all using the cheat codes option, so if you want to be able to compete, you’d better use it too! There are lots of places online that have cheat codes, but the link below will guide you to all the cheat codes you need.

Another crucial aspect in Mafia Wars mastery is recruiting other members into your mafia family. This step is overlooked too often, which is why these people end up being bad players. The more mafia family members you have under you, the more power you have, the more money you can make, the more items you can buy, and the more other Mafia Wars players you can beat.

There are two common strategies that many Mafia Wars players use. One is saving all your money, and the other is spending it all. There are obviously benefits and drawbacks of each, but you will actually build your mafia family quicker and more easily if you accumulate just enough money to step up your items to the next level. Don’t try to save millions of dollars to go from having one car to 50 cars. Rather, accumulate goods gradually throughout the game. Just as a solid house is build brick-by-brick, your Mafia Wars family should be build slowly but surely.

The two key aspects of Mafia Wars mastery is in recruiting and in using the cheat codes.

Thanks to Tony McGuiagano

Mafia Library

Crime Family Index