Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's Official: John Travolta to Play John Gotti in "Three Generations"

John Travolta is set to play John Gotti Sr., the mobster known as the Dapper Don, in the indie pic Gotti: Three Generations.

Nick Cassavetes will direct the screenplay by Leo Rossi, which focuses on the relationship between John Gotti Sr., the head of the Gambino crime family who died in prison in 2002, and his son John Gotti Jr., who took over the family business for his father, served time in prison, but then successfully escaped conviction in four subsequent racketeering trials.

Marc Fiore is producing for his Fiore Films. Marty Ingels, the former comic turned talent broker, has come on board the project as executive producer.

Gotti Jr., who's given his blessing to the project, plans to join the producers, Travolta and Cassavetes at a press conference on April 12 at the Sheraton New York Hotel.

Travolta, repped by WME, last appeared in the action thriller From Paris with Love.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Top 10 Best Irish Mob Movies

You like your criminals bleeding green, pissing Guinness and eating a steady diet of catholic guilt, so you turn to the 10 best Irish mafia movies. Well done, lad. Here you will find some of the best crime films of our time, thrilling pictures with complex depictions of violence, morality and religion.


  • 1. “Angles With Dirty Faces” – This 1938 masterpiece is the original Irish mafia movie and surely one of the genre’s best films. “Angels With Dirty Faces” starts a volatile James Cagney and concerns the ultimate of all Irish moral battles: the church versus a life of violent crime, and the manner in which those two aren’t exactly mutually exclusive.
  • 2. “On the Water Front” – Marlon Brando’s performance will wow you, but there’s more going on here than generation-defining acting. One of the best Irish mafia films, “On The Water Front” tells a tale of the Irish mob’s infiltration of unions and the influence organized crime had on the fates and fortunes of the American working class.
  • 3. “The Departed” – Scorsese struck gold with this Irish mafia saga. An operatic film peppered with stellar performances and nail-biting intensity, “The Departed” digs beneath the skin of its characters like a tapeworm and doesn’t let up until the final shot is fired. This cat-and-mouse film details with mafia infiltration of the police and vice-versa.
  • 4. “Miller’s Crossing” – This early Coen Brothers masterpiece is based on noir novelist Dashiell Hammett’s ground breaking early novel “Red Harvest.” The film tells the tale of prohibition-era Irish gangsters in a manner that is both hushed and menacing.
  • 5. “State of Grace” – Opening opposite “Goodfellas,” this Irish mob movie didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of finding a broad audience. Despite this initial box office disappointment, “State of Grace” is easily one of the best Irish mafia movies. The film deals with the moral and religious turmoil of Irish criminals and features excellent performances from Sean Penn, Gary Oldman, and Ed Harris.
  • 6. “Gangs of New York” –“Angels” is the original Irish mafia movie and “Gangs of New York” is a movie about the original Irish gangsters. Though Leonardo DiCaprio comes across like a high school actor who’s trying his best to be worthy of standing next to Daniel Day-Lewis, the grandiose scope of the film and Day-Lewis’ jaw-dropping performance makes this one of the best Irish mafia movies of all time.
  • 7. “The Friends of Eddie Coyle” – This 70’s crime gem doesn’t laud or glorify the Irish mob as other films on this list do, but rather portrays with stark and very depressing honesty the way in which criminal organizations ruin the lives of well intentioned working class people with no opportunity for societal advancement beyond crime.
  • 8. “The Road to Perdition” – Sam Mendes turned his attention to Chicago’s Irish mafia circa 1930 in this stately and elegiac film. The film concerns the nature of love and relationships, particularly those between father and son, and the manner in which familial duty and desire often conflict with disastrous consequences.
  • 9. “The Public Enemy” – “Public Enemey” was James Cagney’s first film. The film is about organized crime and the American mafia underworld in a very board sense. It’s a great movie, and a number of colorful Irish characters drift in and out of its narrative.
  • 10. “The Town” – “The Town” concerns small time Boston Irish hoods. For its empathetic portrait of working class depression, anger, alcoholism and violence and the mob’s role in all of that, it is one of the best Irish mafia movies.

Thanks to Screen Junkies

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Museums Worse than the Mob?

Frank Cullotta knows having his character assassinated isn't the worst thing that can happen to a guy with his pedigree.

In his former line of work, names could hurt you, but it's the sticks, stones and bullets that do most of the real damage. Cullotta, the former Chicago Outfit hitman-turned-government witness, just received word he's depicted in less than flattering terms down at the Tropicana's new Mob Experience. Specifically, he says, the exhibit devoted to the life and death of his childhood friend Anthony Spilotro portrayed Cullotta's defection in a negative light.

On Monday, Cullotta tried not to weep openly and only briefly contemplated seeking therapy before thinking better of it. That plot line has already been used in "The Sopranos," and he probably didn't want to scare the psychologist. But that's the way it is these days in Las Vegas, where warring traditional mob factions appear to have been replaced by sparring mob museums. In this corner, wearing the black trunks, Jay Bloom's Mob Experience at the Trop. In that corner, wearing red trunks, the Oscar Goodman-inspired downtown Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, also known as the Mob Museum.

The Mob Experience has been faster on its feet and secured the cooperation and memorabilia of members of a number of mob families along with the faces of a number of gangster-movie stars. The Mob Museum, conversely, is focusing on creating a historically accurate depiction of the battle between organized crime and law enforcement. It also is gathering big-ticket items such as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre wall and Albert Anastasia's last barber chair.

Cullotta, 72, could give a graduate seminar in the Chicago Outfit and its role in Las Vegas during Spilotro's era. He also knows something about making money from mob imagery, participating in Martin Scorsese's "Casino" and co-authoring his autobiography Cullotta: The Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster, and Government Witness, with Dennis Griffin. (Cullotta, Griffin, Henry Hill, Andrew DiDonato and Vito Colucci will sign books at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Royal Resorts on Convention Center Drive. Bring your own bulletproof vest.)

That's the challenge for reformed wiseguys, killers and other characters who used to carry shovels and rope in the trunks of their Lincolns. How do you go reasonably straight and still earn a living?

By telling and selling your story, of course.

So that's why Cullotta is keeping his sense of humor about getting the cold shoulder from the Spilotro family exhibit. Although, he reminds me, the worst thing Tony would have received from Cullotta's testimony was a prison stretch. It was Tony's supposed friends, headed by Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, who in 1986 murdered him and brother Michael and buried their bodies in an Indiana cornfield. "I didn't give him a death sentence," Cullotta says. "If he would have went to jail, he probably still would still be alive."

In case you're wondering, Cullotta is a cooperating witness for the downtown museum. He was interviewed by museum personnel for about four hours, he says. Although Cullotta figures his books will be on display in the gift shop, "I'm doing it for free. If you think you're going to make a million dollars doing this, you're kidding yourself." But he's not joking about the irony of living long enough to see the way Las Vegas is courting the mob imagery.

"Usually it's the mob making money off legitimate people," he says. "These are legitimate people making money off the mob. They're worse than the Outfit."

A Cullotta pal took one look at the Mob Experience and suggested Frank the former hitman sue for defamation. Cullotta just laughed.

"Sue? With my character and my reputation?" the mob survivor cracks. "Are you out of your mind?"

Thanks to John L. Smith


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Anthony Arillotta Details Cold-blooded Mafia Murders

Mafia turncoat Anthony J. Arillotta took the witness stand for a second day in an ongoing mob murder trial in federal court in lower Manhattan on Thursday, detailing for jurors two cold-blooded murders and a third attempt on a union official’s life in 2003.

Standing trial are Arillotta’s reputed henchmen and confidantes, Fotios “Freddy” Geas, 44, of West Springfield, and his brother Ty Geas, 39, of Westfield, plus New York’s onetime acting boss of the Genovese crime family, Arthur “Artie” Nigro, 66, of Bronx, N.Y.

Arillotta, 42, of Springfield, was in 2010 charged along with the trio in a wide-ranging murder and racketeering indictment that includes the 2003 murder-for-hire of former Springfield mob boss Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno, the slaying of low level operator Gary D. Westerman, and the attempted murder of union official Frank Dadabo in New York the same year.

Arillotta testified he decided to turn prosecution witness almost immediately after his arrest in February 2010, and has pleaded guilty to the murders and attempted murder, plus a laundry list of extortions and drug and gun charges, in the hopes of escaping a life behind bars.

On Thursday, Arillotta spent several hours under direct examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark D. Lanpher, calmly recounting first the attempt on Dadabo’s life in May 2003. He told jurors that Nigro ordered the hit on Dadabo over a union beef and gave him two guns fitted with silencers to do the job, which Nigro labeled in mob terms: “a piece of work.”

After waiting quietly on a city bench in the Bronx early that morning, Arillotta said he and Ty Geas ambushed Dadabo as he headed for his car. Fotios Geas was waiting in a nearby car to whisk the shooters away, according to the witness.

“As soon as we seen him, we jumped up, got our guns and started walking fast ... When we got into the street, the target was opening his car door ... Ty was right up in his window, firing his gun. He started emptying his gun and the window shattered. I went to the left and fired into the car,” Arillotta testified.

“How did he look?” Lanpher asked.

“He looked, uh, dead,” Arillotta answered.

But Dadabo survived. Lanpher asked how Nigro reacted during a later conversation when the two discussed the failed murder attempt.

“He said we had to get better at head shots,” Arillotta told the jury.

That shooting, however, propelled Arillotta to a secret induction ceremony into the Genovese crime family in August 2003. He was taken to a small, almost empty apartment in the Bronx, and asked a series of questions by Nigro to pledge his allegiance.

“He asked: if my wife was lying in bed dying and he called for me, would I come? I said yes. He said he comes first before anything,” Arillotta recounted, adding that he offered up his trigger finger to be pricked with a needle.

Nigro wiped the blood on a blank piece of paper Nigro then lit on fire, offering it to Arillotta to cup in his hands.

“He said I’m never to talk to law enforcement and if I did I would burn like the paper. I wiped my hands with the ashes,” he said.

Arillotta had begun his ascension. He had been made.

For Bruno’s part, his stock had been plummeting and the order came down from Nigro that Bruno had to be taken out, Arillotta told jurors. During dinners at a steakhouse in the Bronx in 2003, Nigro complained to Arillotta that Bruno wasn’t turning in enough crime revenue to his New York superiors and drank too much. The final breach came when Bruno’s name cropped up in a pre-sentencing summary for a fellow gangster, Emilio Fusco, who was readying to be sentenced for racketeering and loan-sharking convictions.

According to the report, Bruno had in 2001 casually confirmed to an FBI agent that Fusco had been made while Bruno was in prison, infuriating Fusco - who promptly circulated the paper in the underworld. Felix Tranghese, another made Genovese member from East Longmeadow, brought the offending document to Nigro in New York, Arillotta testified.

“They said to kill him,” Tranghese reported upon returning to Western Massachusetts, according to testimony.

“How did you react upon hearing Felix report the order,” Lanpher asked Arillotta.

“I wasn’t too surprised ... I mean, it’s kinda harsh but that’s a big no-no,” he responded.
But, Bruno proved to be a difficult target, ducking proposed trips to New York and dinner parties during which he was supposed to be killed. Ultimately, Freddy Geas recruited his friend and former prisonmate, Frankie A. Roche, of Westfield, a tattooed fringe player whom Geas referred to as his “crash dummy,” due to Roche’s reckless nature.

Conveniently, Roche and Bruno were embroiled in a pre-existing dispute over a bar fight and there was a fair amount of machismo being traded between the men.

Fusco, who also is charged in the case but is waiting extradition from Italy, where he fled before his arrest, provided Roche with a .45-caliber pistol. Roche waited for Bruno on Nov. 23, 2003, outside Bruno’s standing Sunday night card game and emptied the clip into him in the parking lot.

Arillotta then gave Freddy Geas $10,000 to give to Roche to get out of town, he testified.
Perhaps the most grisly killing he described for jurors was the fatal shooting of ex-convict and Arillotta’s brother-in-law, Gary D. Westerman. Westerman was regarded as a slippery thief even among thieves, a police informant and he had married Arillotta’s sister-in-law, 30 years his junior - creating an uproar in the family.

After the Dadabo fiasco, a series of failed attempts against other rivals’ lives and before the Bruno killing, Arillotta said Ty Geas exploded on Nov. 4, 2003, during a meeting among the brothers and Arillotta behind a cigar shop.

“(Ty) said ‘No one was getting killed! We’re about nothin,’ we’re weak. No one’s dyin’!’ He was all amped up, he got Freddy all amped up and he got me amped up,” Arillotta testified.

So, they set out to kill Westerman that night, the Geases luring him to a home in Agawam with a promise of cash and marijuana they could rob inside. Arillotta and Fusco waited in the shadows in the garage while the brothers led him around the house, according to testimony.

“I heard yelling and like, ‘Ouch! Ouch!” Arillotta told jurors. He had not heard the gunshots Ty Geas leveled at Westerman through a silencer, he later learned.

They leapt from the garage and saw the brothers dragging a seemingly unconscious Westerman across the grass toward a wooded area. Fusco grabbed a shovel and smashed it into Westerman’s face, Arillotta said. He responded in kind and began bludgeoning Westerman with a shovel from behind.

They dragged him toward an eight-foot hole that had already been dug, ironically, on Bruno’s orders weeks before because Bruno was mulling having Tranghese killed while the two were at odds. Fotios Geas checked Westerman’s pockets, took his watch and snapped his cell phone in half, according to testimony.

“Freddy pulled out a gun about five inches from Gary Westerman’s head and pulled the trigger, then Ty dragged him by his feet into the hole,” Arillotta testified, and the four began filling the hole. He added that the participants hardly spoke of the murder after, but that Freddy Geas once briefly marveled at the teamwork the murder required.

Seven years later, Arillotta led law enforcement officials to the spot where Westerman had been shot and buried, so a team of FBI agents and state police only had to dig one hole to unearth his remains.

Defense attorneys have not had a chance to cross-examine Arillotta, who will continue testifying in U.S. District Court on Monday. The trial was suspended until then.

Thanks to Stephanie Barry

Friday, March 18, 2011

Surviving Relatives of Mob Hits Feel Re-victimized by Mobster Books and Museums

The public's fascination with traditional organized crime didn't end with the Godfather movies, Casino, Goodfellas or the Sopranos on television.

Even after Chicago and New York crime families were decimated by federal prosecutions, there is a renewed public appetite for the mob. But some people aren't biting.

"It's something that never leaves your mind or your heart," said Bob D'Andrea whose father was killed by the mob.

"It destroys you, it destroys the inside of you, it destroys you as a person," said Joey Seifert whose father was also murdered by the mob.

Decades after their loved ones were murdered by the Chicago mob, sons and daughters and wives and parents say they continue to be victimized. Not by a pistol-whipping or the payment of protection money but by a new book by ex-Chicago Outfit thug Frank Calabrese Jr., who is beginning a promotional tour this week in the city where he turned on his own father and helped put him away for life. And they say they are revictimized by two mob museums opening soon in Las Vegas.

"What you see when you go there? You are going to see the mob guys laughing and holding their kids, like trying to humanize them. And they are not, they are monsters," said Seifert.

At age four, Seifert watched a masked mob hitman kill his father. It was Joey "The Clown" Lombardo.

Anthony Ortiz was 12 years old in 1983 when his father was killed in front of the Cicero tavern he owned, gunned down by the ruthless Outfit boss Frank "The Breeze" Calabrese Sr.

"To me, a mobster is just a glorified gangbanger, am I wrong or am I right? They beat people up, they take their money, they threaten them," said Ortiz.

It was the Calabrese crew that committed a 1981 hit on suburban trucking company owner Michael Cagnoni by a remote-controlled bomb on the Tri-state Tollway after Cagnoni refused to be extorted by Outfit bosses.

In her first ever interview, Cagnoni's widow, Margaret, says hoodlum-turned-author Frank Calabrese Jr. should not be turning a profit off victims' grief. "Frank [Jr.] was not an innocent person...To him, to go out and make money on our loses and our sorrow and profiting from victims' families is disgraceful. We suffered enough," Cagnoni told the I-Team.

"I didn't kill anybody. OK, so if they're mad that I'm going to profit off of my story with my dad, I don't know what to do. I feel bad for them. I feel sorry for their losses. I can relate to them," said Frank Calabrese Jr.

"If he is really sorry from what he did and wants to do good and show that he is making amends for his past. Why don't you show that you're sorry by donating, if you are going to write a book donate the profits to a worthy charity," said Cagnoni.

The I-Team asked Calabrese Jr. if he thought about donating his profits to a victims' fund. "I haven't. That's definitely a possibility. I talked to some of the victims' kids, and I'm trying to form a relationship with them because I want to hear their stories too," he responded.

"It would be nice if he did something nice like donate a part of the proceeds to the families, it's not like he wasn't in the business," said D'Andrea.

"His dad and his uncle are the ones who killed my dad. Why should anyone benefit from that?" said Ortiz.

"We all went through something similar, in different ways...Unfortunately all the mob that put us together," said Seifert.

And now, mob victim and mobster have something else in common; Joey Seifert has written his own book and screenplay. "It's more of a survivors' book, a family survival of this is what happened, how it shredded our family and how it brought us back together," said Seifert.

Relatives of several Chicago mobsters are paid consultants to the mob experience opening this month in Lase Vegas including such names as Spilotro, Giancana and Aiuppa.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Joseph "The Shark" Lopez Back on Mob Case

A new order came out yesterday and Attorney Joseph "The Shark" Lopez is not permanently banned for future appointments. This was after a review of a motion that Lopez and filed on March 15th and includes a letter from Frank Calabrese Sr. that was written to the judge.

Lopez will continue to still represent Calabrese on the SAMS issue.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Frank Calabrese Jr to Speak at Arlington Heights Library Tonight, The Union League Club on Friday

Ex-mobster Frank Calabrese Jr. will have the same level of security Thursday night that the Arlington Heights library provided Harry the Humpback Whale last Saturday.

Calabrese, the former organized crime figure turned informant, will speak to 200 people at 7 p.m. Thursday. He and his three co-authors are promoting his book, “Operation Family Secrets: How a Mobster’s Son Brought Down Chicago’s Murderous Crime Family.”

And despite threats of violence that caused bookstores in Oak Brook and Chicago to cancel his appearances, the Arlington Heights Memorial Library is going ahead — using the same two security staffers who help with crowd control at all their popular programs, said library spokeswoman Deb Whisler.

Calabrese, however, does travel with a personal bodyguard. Co-authors Keith Zimmerman, Kent Zimmerman and Paul Pompian are also expected to be there. And while Harry the Humpback drew more than 700 people, Calabrese’s talk is limited to 200 because of space. All 200 tickets have been handed out, Whisler said, so don’t show up at the door without a ticket.

Calabrese, 50, returned to the Chicago area this week to promote his book about the Chicago Outfit. But two Borders appearances were scrubbed after phoned-in death threats, so Calabrese kicked off his tour Tuesday on a slightly smaller stage at Elmhurst College. About 100 people attended.

Calabrese isn’t worried that his life, or those of his audience, are in danger at the Arlington Heights library.

The library hasn’t been threatened, Whisler said Wednesday, and Calabrese doubts the calls Borders got were really from the mob, anyway.

“If they wanted to do something to harm me they wouldn’t call,” Calabrese said.
“You take everything seriously but in my experience, a phone call is not something those involved in organized crime do,” he said.

Kate Niehoff, the library’s programs manager, booked Calabrese a few months ago because his book is popular with library patrons.

“When I contacted (Calabrese’s) co-authors, I assumed Frank wouldn’t be a part of the program but they followed up a month later and said Frank wanted to come,” Niehoff said. “I guess he’s a big fan of downtown Arlington Heights.”

Calabrese confirmed it’s true — he does like the development in downtown Arlington Heights.
In his book, Calabrese talks about growing up as the son of a violent mobster, his own entrance into the Outfit at 18, and the chain of events as he worked to put his father, Frank “The Breeze” Calabrese Sr., away for good.

Calabrese Sr. is presently in a maximum-security prison for the rest of his life, for murdering at least 13 people. It was through Calabrese Jr. wearing a wire that the convictions were possible, authorities say.

Calabrese is speaking at the Union League Club on Friday before returning home to Arizona this weekend.

Being back in Chicago has been “mentally exhausting” for Calabrese, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2002 and walks with a cane today.

“I live a normal life, I work two jobs and like to spend time with my kids,” he said. “I’m a plain Joe now.”

Calabrese may embark on a national book tour later, he said.

Thanks to Shelia Ahern

Attorney Removed from Family Secrets Trial Appeal by Chief Judge

Update: The Shark is back on the Case.

Chicago mob boss Frank "The Breese" Calabrese Sr., sentenced to life in prison for seven gangland slayings in 2007's Operation Family Secrets, has lost his appeals lawyer.

Attorney Joe Lopez, who represented Calabrese in the landmark mob case, was to handle his appeal. On March 4th, the chief judge for the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Frank Easterbrook, ruled that he will appoint another attorney because Lopez "left his client in a lurch."

After requesting numerous extensions to file his opening brief, Lopez missed the final deadline offered by the court. When the court asked Lopez why he should not be relieved from representing Calabrese, Lopez responded that he had delegated the opening brief to attorney Robert Caplin, who was retained as trial council.

Caplin told the court that due to economic strains, he could not put the brief ahead of paid work. Judge Easterbrook called the men "unprofessional" and as a result relieved Lopez and Calplin as appellate lawyers on the case. Both men will be ineligible for future appointments and will be placed on a list of lawyers who, when handling paid appeals, will not be allowed more than two extensions of time to file openings.

The court will appoint a replacement to represent Calabrese, 74, who is been held in solitary confinement or "special administrative measures" (SAMS) since 2008.

Thanks to Ann Pistone and Chuck Goudie

Politicians Reputed to Have Helped the Mob in Chicago

Chicago’s most famous mob informant is accusing some Illinois politicians of helping the mob thrive in Chicago and get protection from the police.

Frank Calabrese Jr. told CBS 2’s John “Bulldog” Drummond that the mob gets help from some local public officials.

Asked if the Chicago Outfit was getting a pass from some local politicians or protection from police officers, Calabrese said, “Yeah. The outfit couldn’t survive without politicians.” He admitted that his father, convicted mob hitman Frank Calabrese Sr., used to make payoffs to several politicians.

“There was a lot of politicians. There was a lot of deals done,” Calabrese Jr. said. “One politician that I’ve talked about before was (former state Sen.) Jimmy DeLeo. The reason I talked about him is because I was directly involved with that.”

Calabrese also claimed that former Illinois Department of Transportation worker Ralph Peluso was “our go-to guy with Jimmy DeLeo.”

Calabrese also said he was friends socially with DeLeo and once took a trip to Florida with DeLeo.

“I was down in Florida with him, but we were in a large group. It wasn’t just me and him. And what my father wanted me to do was, you know, get these guys close. You know, find out their weaknesses,” Calabrese said. “Everybody has weaknesses. Whether it’s women, whether it’s drugs, whether it’s gambling; people have weaknesses. Find their weaknesses. It was: they loved to find the bad politicians and find their weaknesses and make them need them.”

Calabrese said he never personally saw DeLeo take part in any illegal activity, but stood by his claim that DeLeo helped out the Outfit.

His allegations are part of his new book, Operation Family Secrets: How a Mobster's Son and the FBI Brought Down Chicago's Murderous Crime Family, the story of his decision to cooperate with federal investigators in a prosecution of 18 long-unsolved mob murders that put his father and other mob leaders behind bars for life.

DeLeo stepped down last year as an assistant Democratic floor in the Illinois Senate. Peluso was fired from his state transportation job six months ago.

Peluso got that job after he backed out of testifying at the Family Secrets mob trial, where his name was mentioned many times in testimony.

Neither DeLeo nor Peluso could be reached for comment regarding Calabrese’s statements.

Thanks to John “Bulldog” Drummond

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mafia Princess Dethroned in Las Vegas

The Las Vegas Mob Experience is pleased to announce that Carl Manno, grandson of infamous Chicago crime boss, Sam Giancana, and son of the self proclaimed Mafia Princess, Antoinette Giancana, has joined the project as a consultant representing the Giancana family.

Last week, the Las Vegas Mob Experience terminated its consulting agreement with Antoinette Giancana, daughter of Sam Giancana, citing her gross misconduct and breach of contract. Problems with the Princess however, were brewing for months before she was finally given the boot.

Ms. Giancana alienated all of the other "family" members involved in the project, as well as the operational staff, to the point that several months ago, being deemed too difficult to work with, she was instructed not to return to the company's corporate headquarters.

According to Jay Bloom, Managing Partner of the Mob Experience, "Ms. Giancana was always resentful of the fact that The Las Vegas Mob Experience highlighted numerous famous individuals related to the history of organized crime and the role they had in the building of Sin City. She wanted this attraction to be the Sam Giancana show, with her as the spokesperson and shining star."

Bloom went on to explain that the attraction is not about one person, "We are privileged to have the involvement of the family members of many relevant historical figures including Meyer Lansky, Benjamin 'Bugsy' Siegel, Tony 'The Ant' Spilotro, Al Sachs, Jimmy 'Blue Eyes' Alo and Allen Smiley."

Mr. Manno, when asked about his mother's conduct stated "I have spent my life apologizing for my mother's erratic and unpredictable behavior, and I find myself having to do it again here."

Mr. Manno went on to say that he is "Excited to be a part of this extraordinary project at Tropicana Las Vegas, joining the other family members in bringing additional artifacts and personal stories about my grandfather."

They say, that in the Mob, one should never assume their status is secure because there is always someone waiting to take the place of the fallen.

The Las Vegas Mob Experience opened its doors to the public for previews on March 1, 2011, with its formal Grand Opening scheduled for March 29, 2011.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Anonymous Threat Results in Cancelled Mob Book Signing for Frank Calabrese Jr.

Two Chicago area book signings scheduled at Borders Books involving former Chicago mobster Frank Calabrese Jr. were canceled after an anonymous threat, a Borders official said today.

“We can confirm that our Oak Brook store received a voice mail threatening violence should Mr. Calabrese’s scheduled book signings take place,” said Mary Davis, spokeswoman for Borders. “Given the controversial nature of the content of the book, we viewed this as a legitimate threat. The safety of our employees and our customers is of the utmost importance and that is why we made the decision to cancel Mr. Calabrese’s events.”

Oak Brook Police Chief Thomas Sheahan said that a male caller who disguised his voice threatened anyone responsible for the Frank Calabrese Jr. book signings. According to Sheahan, the unidentified caller said that “no rats can sign books here.”

“We take any threats seriously,” Sheahan said. “This is an ongoing investigation, and we’ll take appropriate action.”

Calabrese is a co-author of “Operation Family Secrets: How a Mobster's Son and the FBI Brought Down Chicago's Murderous Crime Family.”

Calabrese volunteered to help the FBI bring down the infamous Chinatown Crew run by his father, Frank Calabrese Sr. The son’s offer to cooperate with federal authorities led to his uncle, admitted Outfit hitman Nicholas Calabrese, becoming the FBI’s main witness in the storied trial that led to life sentences for Outfit bosses and the solving of more than a dozen mob murders.

“My publicist told me that Borders had canceled because they’re concerned about their employees and patrons,” Frank Calabrese Jr. said today. “I want people to know that this stuff still exists. There was a threat that if I did my book signing at the Oak Brook store, that patrons and employees of Borders would be harmed.

“Somebody doesn’t want people to read my book, or somebody doesn’t want me in Chicago talking about this stuff. …People get scared. Even a big corporation like Borders.”

Calabrese Jr. has recently opened up about the relationship between the Outfit and the city’s political class, and has been naming names.

Now living in another state, Calabrese Jr is in Chicago on a publicity tour. The Tuesday book signing was scheduled for the Border’s store at 1500 16th Street in Oak Brook . Wednesday’s scheduled signing was at the store at 150 North State Street in downtown Chicago. Davis said both events have been canceled.

Thanks to John Kass

Excerpt from Frank Calabrese Jr's 'Operation Family Secrets'

I set myself up in the corner of the prison library at the Federal Correctional

Institution in Milan, Michigan, and banged out the letter to FBI Special

Agent Thomas Bourgeois on a cranky old Smith-Corona manual typewriter. My mobster father, Frank Calabrese, Sr. — who was serving time with me in FCI Milan — had taught me to be decisive. So when I typed the letter, my mind was made up.

I didn't touch the paper directly. I used my winter gloves to handle the sheet and held the envelope with a Kleenex so as not to leave any fingerprints. The moment I mailed the letter on July 27, 1998, I knew I had crossed the line. Cooperating with the FBI meant not only that I would give up my father, but that I would have to implicate my uncle Nick for the murder of a Chicago Outfit mobster named John "Big Stoop" Fecarotta. Giving up my uncle was the hardest part.

When I reread the letter one last time, I asked myself, What kind of son puts his father away for life? The Federal Bureau of Prisons had dealt me a cruel blow by sticking me in the same prison as my dad. It had become increasingly clear that his vow to "step away" from the Outfit after we both served our time was an empty promise.

"I feel I have to help you keep this sick man locked up forever," I wrote in my letter.

Due to legal and safety concerns, it was five months before Agent Thomas Bourgeois arranged a visit to meet with me at FCI Milan. He came alone in the early winter of 1998. In 1997 the FBI and Chicago federal prosecutors had convicted the Calabrese crew, netting my father, Uncle Nick, my younger brother Kurt, and me on juice loans. Bourgeois seemed confused and wanted to know what I wanted.

I'm sure Bourgeois also wondered the same thing I had: What kind of son wants to put his father away for life? Maybe he thought I was lying. Perhaps I had gotten into an argument and, like most cons, was looking to get my sentence reduced. Yet in our ensuing conversation, I told Tom that I wasn't asking for much in return.

I just didn't want to lose any of my time served, and I wanted a transfer out of FCI Milan once my mission was accomplished. By imprisoning us on racketeering charges, the Feds thought that they had broken up the notorious Calabrese South Side crew. In reality they had barely scratched the surface. I alerted Bourgeois that I was not looking to break up the mob. I had one purpose: to help the FBI keep my father locked up forever so that he could get the psychological help he needed. The FBI didn't know the half of his issues or his other crimes.

When asked by Bourgeois if I would wear a wire out on the prison yard, I promptly replied no. I would work with the FBI, but I would only give them intelligence, useful information they could use, and with the understanding that nobody would know I was cooperating, and I would not testify in open court. Outfit guys like my dad called that "dry beefing." Frank Calabrese, Sr., was one of the Outfit's most cunning criminals and had been a successful crew chief and solid earner for the Chicago mob for thirty years.

He could smell an FBI informant a mile away. If he hadn't talked about his criminal life in the past, why would he do so now?

I searched my soul to make sure I wasn't doing this out of spite or because Dad had reneged on taking care of me and Kurt financially in exchange for doing time. This couldn't be about money! After Agent Bourgeois's first interview with me at Milan, he reported back to Mitch Mars, an Assistant U.S. Attorney and Chief of the Chicago Organized Crime Section. Mars wanted to know if there was enough to present the case to a grand jury and gather a bigger, more inclusive case against "the Outfit," Chicago's multitentacled organized crime syndicate, which dated back to the days of "Big Jim" Colosimo and Al Capone.

As I lay in my cell bunk, I thought about my refusal to wear a wire. Suppose I gave the Feds information, but my father got lucky and walked? I'd be screwed, Uncle Nick would be stuck on death row, and after my dad's sentence ran out he would bounce right back out on the streets to continue his juice loan business and murderous ways.

What if what I was doing was wrong? How could I live with myself? I loved my dad dearly, and I love him to this day. But I was repulsed by the violence and his controlling ways. I had to decide between doing nothing and cooperating with the Feds, two choices I hated.


I knew that if I did nothing, my father and I would have to settle our differences out on the street. One of us would end up dead, while the other would rot in prison. I would be incriminating myself, and I didn't want an immunity deal. If I needed to do more time to keep my dad locked up forever, so be it. After I sent the letter, I was determined to finish what I started. I contacted Agent Bourgeois one more time to tell him I had changed my mind. I would wear the wire after all. All the deception my father had taught me I was now going to use on him.

My father's own words would become his worst enemy.

Monday, March 14, 2011

CRIME BEAT RADIO PROGRAM TO AIR SPECIAL TWO-PART PROGRAM: EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS WITH LEWIS KASMAN, CRIME BOSS JOHN GOTTI’S “ADOPTED SON,” AND KASMAN’S COUNSEL, JOEL M. WEISSMAN, NOTED FLORIDA LAWYER

This coming March 17th and 24th, the radio show, CRIME BEAT: ISSUES, CONTROVERSIES AND PERSONALITIES FROM THE DARKSIDE, will feature a special two-part program focusing on Lewis Kasman, John Gotti’s so-called 'Adopted Son', and his lawyer, Joel M. Weissman, one of the country’s top divorce lawyers. Kasman, at one time a millionaire garment executive, became one of the closest confidants of the late John Gotti, the notorious Gambino crime boss known as the ‘Dapper Don'. When John Gotti died in prison, Kasman brought the body home in private Lear jet, planned the funeral and gave the eulogy at Gotti’s funeral.

Lewis Kasman’s story is fascinating because he gained unprecedented power within the Gotti Mob. The Dapper Don entrusted Kasman with the authority to pay gambling debts, lawyer fees and assorted bills relating to Gambino crime family matters. After Gotti was sentenced with a life sentence in a federal penitentiary, Lewis Kasman hid millions of illicit dollars in a toy chest in his attic and later became a government witness in 1996. Feeling the heat from the Feds, Kasman agreed to wear a wire and recorded 130 tapes with top mobsters inside the Gambino ranks, as well as Gotti’s own family. The court sentenced Kasman to probation as the reward for his invaluable secret work. Kasman is credited with saving the lives of noted crime reporter Jerry Capeci and a federal worker at Springfield, Missouri.

In reflecting on the years he spent with John Gotti, Lewis Kasman told Crime Beat, “If I was to characterize my relationship with Gotti, I suppose I would say it was blind allegiance. I have many regrets.”

Weissman represented Kasman in a high profile divorce that the tabloids covered. In addition to discussing his representation of Kasman, Weisman will talk about his successful career as one of the best criminal and divorce lawyers in the United States.

Joel Weissman will appear on the Crime Beat radio program March 17th from 9-10 p.m. EST, while Lewis Kasman’s appearance is scheduled for March 24th from 9-10 p.m. EST. Listeners can access the program by going to www.artistfirst.com, clicking on the “Live Weekly Show Schedule” and then clicking on the “Crime Beat” link. See also artistfirst.com/crimebeat.

CRIME BEAT is hosted by award-winning crime writer Ron Chepesiuk (ronchepesiuk.com) and broadcast journalist and freelance writer Willie Hryb. Ronald Herd 11, the popular Internet radio host and regular listener of Crime Beat, said Crime Beat “sounds like an organized crime greatest hits collection...I am loving it!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Former State Sen. James DeLeo Tied to Chicago Outfit According to Frank Calabrese Jr.

In the Family Secrets Trial, the late prosecutor Mitchell Mars told jurors the Chicago Outfit could not exist without the help of another Chicago institution -- politics. Now, the former gangster who brought down the mob is talking about the intersection of politics and the outfit.

FOX Chicago's Dane Placko sat down with Frank Calabrese Junior, who says the Outfit knew how to get political clout.

"I went out there and tried to corrupt people. With girls, drugs, whatever. I was a bad person. I ain't like that no more," Calabrese Junior said.

Former ganster Frank Calabrese Junior, now living in Phoenix, is spilling mob secrets in his new book, Operation Family Secrets. It's the story of his wrenching decision to cooperate with the government and put his father, Frank Calabrese Senior, and other mob leaders behind bars for life.

Calabrese Junior said his father taught him how to capitalize on politicians' weaknesses. His father showed him early on how the Outfit would seek out and compromise politicians at City Hall and in Springfield with women, gambling or drugs.

According to Calabrese, it was important to "make them want you to protect them. Find out their weaknesses. Find out their vices. And that's what I did."

Calabrese says his dad always told him to avoid being seen in public with politicians. But there was one exception. "He wanted me to strike up friendships with a lot of politicians, and I did. I'll give you an example. Jimmy DeLeo," Frank Junior said.

Former State Sen. James DeLeo resigned his seat after 18 years last summer.

Frank Jr. said his dad told him to get close to DeLeo, and he got close enough that they vacationed and partied together in Florida.

DeLeo has not been reachable for comment.

"Ralph was the go-to guy between us and Jimmy DeLeo," Calabrese added, referring to Ralph Peluso, a top bookmaker and enforcer in the Calabrese crew. He was mentioned more than a dozen times in the Family Secrets trial, and was even scheduled to testify on behalf of the government. Peluso backed out at the last minute.

Months later, Peluso got a management job with the Illinois Department of Transportation. Peluso was fired in August after FOX Chicago News began asking how someone with an Outfit background got that job.

Calabrese said Peluso had long been his family's connection to the northwest side's powerful 36th Ward Democratic Organization. FOX Chicago News was unable to find Peluso for comment.

"I knew Ralph was close with the 36th Ward. Everybody in the 36th Ward. So it didn't shock me when he got a job like that. But it's funny because they waited right till after the trial to put him in that spot," Calabrese said. But getting jobs was never a problem for the Outfit, Calabrese said, especially jobs on the public payroll. He himself worked for Chicago's water department for several years and even used his expertise to fish a gun out of a sewer that had been used by his Uncle Nick during a hit.

While the Chicago mob was badly damaged by the Family Secrets convictions, Calabrese says lawmakers in Springfield just handed gangsters a get out of jail free card with the expansion of video gambling. "I mean, I laughed when I seen that. I mean, really. Why? I could go back there and show you how fast I could get in the middle of it," he said.

Lawmakers approved putting tens of thousand of video poker machines in bars, restaurants and truck stops as part of a $31 billion public works bill. That bill is tied up in the courts, but if it goes through, former FBI organized crime director Tom Bourgeois said it could be the jackpot the Outfit needs to re-organize. "You're just providing an avenue for organized crime to re-root itself and find ways to become more powerful. It's just too easy to do that and of course, the legislation provides opportunity for very little oversight," Bourgeois said.

Calabrese says he's already heard some of his old friends from Chicago are lining up for a "video poker payday."

"It's math 101, okay? I'm not gonna go in there and put my name on a license and buy a bar and ask for three machines. I'm coming to you who's totally legit and say you're gonna buy the machines from this guy, and this is what you'e gonna pay him and that guy's gonna help me in some way," he said.

Thanks to Dane Placko

Thursday, March 10, 2011

"Kill the Irishman" Movie Chronicles the Mob in Cleveland, AKA Bomb City USA

A quick rundown of well-known Mafia cities brings to mind places like New York, Chicago and Las Vegas. But Cleveland? Fuhgeddaboutit …But there was a time — back in the 1970s — when the Ohio city was a raging mobster battleground. And when it came time to take out a rival, locals did more than bring a gun to a knife fight; they came on big and loud with all manner of explosives, earning Cleveland the moniker Bomb City, USA.

At the center of it all was not an Italian but a charismatic Irish American, Danny Greene, who spent part of his childhood in an orphanage, grew up to be a dockworker, rose to union boss and went head to head with the Mafia for control of the city's underworld economy of gambling, racketeering and loan-sharking. His story is chronicled in the new film "Kill the Irishman," starring Ray Stevenson, Christopher Walken, Val Kilmer and Vincent D'Onofrio, which opens Friday.

"Cleveland would not be on your typical organized crime radar," said Rick Porrello, author of the book on which the film is based and now chief of police in the Cleveland suburb of Lyndhurst, where Greene was killed in 1977 by a car bomb. "But there were some pretty heavy hitters in the Midwest."

"That was a huge draw to me, that it was a mob story very powerfully and very conspicuously not set in Bensonhurst or Little Italy," said Jonathan Hensleigh, director and co-writer of "Kill the Irishman."

Stevenson, also in the upcoming "Thor" and "The Three Musketeers," takes on the title role. Needing to cast actors who could stand up to the 6-foot-4 Stevenson, Hensleigh half-jokingly referred to "Kill the Irishman" as "a movie of big men." Among the supporting players are Kilmer as a cop, Walken as rival mobster Alex "Shondor" Birns and D'Onofrio as Greene ally John Nardi.

Linda Cardellini and Laura Ramsey play Greene's wife and mistress, respectively, and the supporting cast is littered with character actors familiar from mob movies and TV shows such as "Goodfellas" and "The Sopranos."

The project got its start when Tommy Reid, a producer on the film, was attending Ohio State University in the mid-'90s. The New Jersey native heard stories from his college buddies about the rough streets of Cleveland but didn't believe them at first. After Reid landed in Los Angeles, a friend sent him a news story about Porrello's book and Reid optioned it even before it was published in 1998. (Reid also directed a documentary, "Danny Greene: The Rise and Fall of the Irishman," slated to be included on the DVD of "Kill the Irishman.")

Hensleigh, who previously directed "The Punisher" and worked as a screenwriter on movies such as "Die Hard: With a Vengeance" and "Armageddon," said Greene's story "was the classic cliché of life being stranger than fiction." After finishing Porrello's book, he recalled, "I said, 'I just have to do this.'"

Greene exhibited a bravado and media savvy that made him irresistible as a movie character. After Greene survived a bombing that essentially leveled his house, he put two mobile homes on the empty lot, one to live in and one to work in. He would then sit on a bench out front, essentially daring anyone to come and get him.

"As screenwriters, we're constantly asked to take characters who are actually quite despicable in real life and make them attractive," Hensleigh said. "But Danny Greene really was. He actually did put orphans through school and would buy 50 turkeys for the poor at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It doesn't get any better than this as a dramatist."

Though all involved would have preferred to film in Cleveland, the movie was ultimately shot in Detroit because of Michigan tax breaks. Said Hensleigh: "If we were to try to film in one city where we could replicate 1970s Cleveland, it would be Detroit."

"The landscape is part of the story," said Stevenson. "It was a slice of Americana, very particular. Without romanticizing it, this was among the last flurries of larger-than-life criminals walking the streets. The cars never got bigger, the mustaches, the lapels never got bigger."

As Hensleigh researched Greene, the sheer volume of newspaper articles and archival news footage he discovered made him realize the Irishman was, for locals at least, already verging on modern folklore. His film may just finally bring this regional antihero to a broader audience.

"For the folks who grew up around here, they all are very aware of it," said Clint O'Connor, film critic at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "What struck me was why wasn't this movie made 30 years ago? It's great stuff, there's so much in this whole saga. I think part of it is the whole Cleveland thing. If it had happened in New York or Vegas or Chicago, Martin Scorsese would have already made the definitive film."

Thanks to Mark Olsen

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Playboy Show to Have Ties to Mob

Actor Jeff Hephner just got his big break, landing the lead role in NBC's drama pilot Playboy. Playboy Mens Logo TeesThe project, from 20th TV, Imagine TV and writer-executive producer Chad Hodge, is set at the Playboy Club in Chicago in 1963. Hephner went through rigorous auditioning process, beating a number of better known actors for the role, the last major part in the pilot to get cast. And he certainly has the right last name for it that sounds exactly like the moniker of the king of the Playboy empire, Hugh Hefner.

Playboy centers on Nick Dalton (Hephner), described as "the ultimate playboy." He is an attorney in Chicago and a Keyholder at the glamorous, exclusive Playboy Club. A fixer who knows how to make problems disappear, he has mysterious ties to the mob. The pilot, directed by Alan Taylor, co-stars Laura Benanti, Amber Heard, Naturi Naughton, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Leah Renee, David Krumholtz and Wes Ramsey. Hephner, repped by Paradigm and the Group Entertainment, is recurring on CW's Hellcats and has also done arcs on NBC's Mercy and Fox's The O.C.

Thanks to Nellie Andreeva

Sunday, March 06, 2011

FBI to Host Foreign Language Job Fair in Chicago

The Chicago Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will be hosting a foreign language career fair on Saturday, March 12, 2011. The fair will be held at the offices of the Illinois Medical District, located at 2100 W Harrison Street in Chicago. Persons interested in a contract linguist position with the FBI are invited to attend anytime between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Free parking is available at the facility and at the southwest corner of Leavitt and Harrison Streets.

The FBI is looking to add to its foreign language program individuals fluent in Chinese (all dialects), Korean, Turkish, Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Somali, Spanish, and Hebrew. However, positions are available for persons with any foreign language fluency. Applicants need to have United States citizenship, as well as a high level of fluency in English along with foreign language(s) ability. Applicants are asked to bring a resume and be prepared for an on-site foreign language assessment interview.

As a vital partner in today’s law enforcement and intelligence communities, the FBI continues its mission to safeguard America and its people. The FBI’s expanding role continues to create many new opportunities for linguists in a growing number of languages.

Contract linguists, through their language expertise, help in the continuing effort against cyber crime, terrorism, foreign counterintelligence, corruption, kidnapping, civil rights violations, and other crimes under FBI jurisdiction.

Contract linguists translate documents or audio into English, serve as interpreters for investigative interviews, and provide translation during visits by foreign dignitaries. The possibilities are as wide as the sense of accomplishment.

The Contract linguist position pays $27.00 to $41.00 per hour. Successful applicants will work for the FBI at its Chicago Field Office. Full-time language analysts, as government employees, come from the ranks of the contract linguists.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Nine Gangsters Charged in Operation King Gone Southeast Side Drug Probe

Eight individuals, all suspected members or associates of the Almighty Latin Kings Nation (ALKN) street gang, operating primarily on Chicago’s southeast side and northwest Indiana, were arrested today by agents and officers assigned to the FBI’s Joint Task Force on Gangs, culminating a nearly two-year investigation which targeted illicit drug sales. One additional defendant remains at-large and is now the subject of a nationwide manhunt.

The arrests were announced today by Robert D. Grant, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Terry G. Hillard, interim Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department (CPD).

Four of those arrested were charged in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, which was unsealed earlier today and which charged the current Chicago residents with conspiracy and distribution of a controlled substance, both of which are felony offenses. Five others were charged with violating state drug or firearms laws in charges filed in Cook County Circuit Court.

The federal complaint identifies PAUL JASSO, also known as “Guero,” age 42, of 9708 South Ewing in Chicago, as a ranking member of the ALKN who headed up an independent drug distribution operation that distributed user quantities of illegal narcotics, primarily powder cocaine, in various Chicago neighborhoods, including the Bush, Hegewisch, and the East Side, along with Calumet City, Illinois and Hammond and Whiting, Indiana.

PAULINO BOSANKO, age 23, of 13243 South Brandon in Chicago; and SANDRA BARRON, age 38, and DAVID RUIZ, age 52, both of 9832 South Avenue L in Chicago, were also charged along with JASSO, and are identified as confederates in his drug operation.

Those arrested on state charges, all of who are alleged to have worked for JASSO, are identified as JOSEPH BARRON, age 27, of 8357 South Baltimore, Chicago; JOSEF NERI, age 28, of 8357 South Baltimore, Chicago; CHARLES SCHILL, age 20, 10517 South Green Bay Avenue, Chicago; and LORETTA FLORES, age 44, of 787 Buffalo, Calumet City, Illinois.

A fifth state defendant, identified as EDWIN TEVENAL, Jr., age 30, of 10849 South Avenue H, Chicago, avoided capture and remains at-large.

This investigation, which was code named Operation King Gone, was investigated by the Chicago FBI’s Joint Task Force on Gangs, which is comprised of FBI special agents and officers from the Chicago Police Department, Gang Investigations Unit, and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office also assisted with the investigation.

Investigators utilized court authorized electronic surveillance of several telephones, used by the defendants in connection with their drug operation, along with controlled purchases of illegal narcotics, both of which helped lead to the filing of the charges announced today. During the course of the investigation, eight weapons were recovered.

All of those arrested on federal charges are scheduled to appear before Magistrate Judge Morton Denlow in Chicago, at 3:00 p.m. today, at which time they will be formally charged. If convicted of the charges filed against them, all four face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years’ incarceration to a maximum of life in prison.

Those arrested on state charges are scheduled to appear in bond court at dates and times to be determined. If convicted, they face possible sentences of up to 30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Using Sulphuric Acid in Mob Murders

Forensic scientists this month cast doubt on the claim by some Mafia members that they’ve used sulphuric acid to dissolve the corpses of their victims in less than a half hour.

Massimo Grillo, of the University of Palermo, in Italy, told fellow attendees at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences that Mafia songbirds had given testimony like the following, reports ScienceNews: “We put the people in acid. In 15, 20 minutes they were no more—they became a liquid.” Indeed, tanks of acid have been found at Mafia hideouts, and they had supposedly been used to dispose of the bodies of victims.

It’s unclear, however, whether prospective targets of the Mafia should take comfort from the work Grillo was reporting on. Lab tests, using pig carcasses, showed that sulfuric acid plus water could dissolve muscle and cartilage within 12 hours. It took an additional two days to turn bone to dust.

The upshot seems to be that it’s more or less true that the mafia can make you literally disappear. But there may be some residual dust left, and it will take longer than you may have heard.

Thanks to Christopher Shea

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