The Chicago Syndicate

Monday, November 23, 2020

Tony Meatballs, Louie Sheep and Joey Electric, Among 15 Reputed Mobsters with #Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra Indicted on Federal Racketeering Charges #Mafia

A superseding indictment was unsealed today against 15 defendants, including alleged members and associates of the South Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey-based criminal organization La Cosa Nostra (LCN), popularly known as the ‘mafia’ or ‘mob.’ The superseding indictment charges various crimes including racketeering conspiracy, illegal gambling, loansharking, extortion, and drug trafficking.


Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and Special Agent in Charge Michael Driscoll of the FBI’s Philadelphia Field Office made the announcement.

The defendants charged in the seven-count superseding indictment are: 
  • Steven Mazzone, aka “Stevie,” 56;
  • Domenic Grande, aka “Dom,” “Mr. Hopkins,” “Mr. Brown,” and “Dom14,” 41; 
  • Joseph Servidio, aka “Joey Electric,” 60; 
  • Salvatore Mazzone, aka “Sonny,” 55; 
  • Joseph Malone, 70; 
  • Louis Barretta, aka “Louie Sheep,” 56; 
  • Victor DeLuca, aka “Big Vic,” 56; 
  • Kenneth Arabia, aka “Kenny,” 67; 
  • Daniel Castelli, aka “Danny,” “Cozzy,” aka “Butch,” aka “Harry,” age 67;  
  • Carl Chianese, age 81; 
  • Anthony Gifoli, aka “Tony Meatballs,” 72; 
  • John Romeo, 58; 
  • Daniel Malatesta, 75; 
  • Daniel Bucceroni, 66; 
  • John Michael Payne, 33.

According to court documents, the Philadelphia LCN is one of a number of LCN organized crime families based in various cities throughout the United States. The purpose of the LCN in Philadelphia and elsewhere is to make money through the commission of various crimes, including illegal gambling, loansharking, drug trafficking, and extortion.

Like other LCN families, the Philadelphia LCN is operated through a defined hierarchical structure, including a Boss, an Underboss (Steven Mazzone), and Captains (Grande), who oversee “crews” consisting of “soldiers” and “associates.” As detailed in the superseding indictment, soldiers are members of the family who have been formally initiated through a ritual called a “making ceremony,” during which they swear allegiance to LCN above all else, take a vow of secrecy about the organization (the Code of Silence or “Omerta”), and agree to commit violence on behalf of the LCN if necessary. After this ceremony, these men (who must be of 100 percent Italian ancestry) are then referred to as “made members” of LCN. Associates are men who engage in criminal activity on behalf of LCN but who have not been formally “made,” either because they are up-and-coming and aspire to full membership, or because they are ineligible to be made because they lack fully Italian ancestry. Made members and associates who break Omerta are looked upon unfavorably as “rats” and may be targeted for death by other members of the group.


As described in the superseding indictment, the Philadelphia LCN sought to use its reputation and influence to exercise control over criminal rackets like sports bookmaking and loansharking operating in Philadelphia and southern New Jersey, particularly Atlantic City. During a period beginning in August 2015, 10 of the defendants allegedly conspired to conduct and participate in the affairs of the Philadelphia LCN through both a pattern of racketeering activity and through the collection of unlawful debts. The remaining five defendants are charged with allegedly committing a variety of other offenses, including conducting an illegal gambling business, conspiracy to make extortionate extensions of credit, and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, in partnership with other members and associates of the Philadelphia LCN.

As alleged in the superseding indictment, on Oct. 15, 2015, defendants Steven Mazzone, Grande, and Salvatore Mazzone participated in a “making ceremony” (as detailed above) in a South Philadelphia residence, during which several new soldiers were inducted into the Philadelphia LCN. The superseding indictment describes the various acts allegedly committed by the defendants and others as members of the group including the distribution of heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, methamphetamine and oxycodone pills; the disbursement and collection of tens of thousands of dollars of unlawful bookmaking and other debts ‘owed’ to the group at interest rates as high as 400 percent; and even an alleged conspiracy to kidnap or murder a drug dealer in order to protect the reputation of the Philadelphia LCN after the dealer sold members of the group fake drugs.

An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Did a Trump Supporting Mob Boss in Philadelphia Rig the Election for Biden? Despite the Lack of Evidence, Some Say Hell Yes

No, the Philadelphia mob did not stuff the ballot box for Joe Biden.

"Never, never," the city's former Mob boss, Ralph Natale told Fox News. "They were told if you do one thing it will be the end of us for all time. This is their chance to become human beings."

Natale, born and raised in the South Philadelphia neighborhood that is the city's mafia home base, ruled the Philadelphia mob in the late 1990s. He flipped and testified for the government against his reputed successor, Joe "Skinny Joey" Merlino in 2000, after pleading guilty to racketeering, murder, and drug conspiracy charges. He also admitted to eight gangland murders. He says organized crime may resort to almost every crime imaginable but putting the fix in for Biden is not one of them.

"The Dems won the election fair and square," he said.

The prospect that the mafia interfered in the election to tip it to the President-Elect in the key state of Pennsylvania, was first raised on the internet by a Buffalo, N.Y. website and then amplified by several of President Trump's supporters. Jordan Sekulow, the son of top Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow, retweeted the claim that Merlino helped fake 300,000 illegal ballots for Biden, at $10 each, for a $3 million underworld score that handed the state to the Democratic nominee.

Besides Natale, authorities and Merlino's lawyer say the story is not true.  "This claim published by a disreputable website has been thoroughly debunked," Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner spokesperson Jane Roh told Fox News.

"Joey is a Trumper and any allegation of fixing this is just completely fiction. Maybe they should write a movie script, this is not reality," Merlino's attorney John Meringolo told Fox News. He says his client supports President Trump because "he is against cooperating witnesses and against making uncorroborated deals with snitches, which is what the president is against."

President Trump's personal lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who is also heading the campaign legal efforts, was asked about the possibility of mob election interference during an interview on the Fox Business Network. He said that "although there is an allegation of a mobster involved, but I think it's a far-fetched one."

South Philadelphia is largely composed of seven Wards, and the president won only one of them: Ward 26, with 54.9% to Biden's 44.3%. In all, the neighborhood went for Biden by a margin of about 76.49% to the president's 22.53%.

One source close to the Philadelphia mobsters told Fox News that the unusual voting block overwhelmingly backs the president because "he is a no-nonsense type of guy."

Natale has another view, noting that Biden, who was born in the state, has long been a strong union supporter. "Biden, Biden is a beautiful man. Quiet, he's nice. He has had suffering in his life, and he is not a braggart,” he said.

In fact, Natale gives the president-elect the highest compliment a made guy can give another one: "he's a man's man."

Natale was not only a member of the Angelo Bruno Philadelphia crime family for decades, but was also the head Bartenders Union Local 170, and says he helped the mob-run the Atlantic City casinos starting when gambling was first legalized in 1976. As a top union official...and mobster, he says he routinely dealt with elected officials and politicians. He was instrumental in helping federal prosecutors nail Camden New Jersey Mayor Milton Milan in 2001 on charges of taking mob payoffs, laundering drug money, and stealing campaign funds.

"They are so easy to bribe they will take an Indian penny. That's why they become politicians."

Natale detailed his life in his recent book, "Last Don Standing: The Secret Life of Mob Boss Ralph Natale."

Natale is now working with producer Dan Pearson of Dan4Entertainment (D4E) on telling the story of his mob days for Hollywood, who says "when you peel back the onion, politics and the mob are one in the same."

As someone who has been on both sides of the law, Natale predicts that President Trump will end up being indicted for what some have alleged could be business fraud charges by New York State prosecutors when he leaves office. "He's almost really broke, you'll see what is going to happen within six months," Natale says. "I think he is afraid that he will get arrested when is not president anymore. He is what he is. He has conned people...he is just a big liar."

President Trump and his campaign have continued to push unsubstantiated and false claims about the election in Philadelphia, which have caused Natale to pine for days gone by. "I remember when I was a little boy, every Italian home in South Philly had a picture of FDR, in a frame, and they put it in the dining room. They loved Franklin Delano Roosevelt, you know why? He called it as it was. He saved this country's life."

Thanks to Bradford Betz and Eric Shawn.


Monday, November 09, 2020

Friends of the Family The Inside Story of the Mafia Cops Case #MafiaCops

On March 10, 2005, two highly decorated detectives, Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, were indicted for providing information to the Lucchese crime family, a $4,000-a-month deal that resulted in at least eight murders - two of which they committed themselves - as well as an incredible assortment of other crimes. For more than a decade they had gotten away with it - until the day Detective Tommy Dades answered his telephone.

Friends of the Family: The Inside Story of the Mafia Cops Case, is a look deep inside the most notorious case to rock the NYPD: The story of Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, the two police detectives who moonlighted as mob hit men. As told by Tommy Dades and Michael Vecchione—the cop and District Attorney investigator who solved New York’s coldest case—along with co-writer David Fisher, Friends of the Family is shocking true crime in the tradition of Nicolas Pileggi’s Wise Guy: Life in a Mafia Family, and Underboss: Sammy the Bull Gravano's Story of Life in the Mafia, by Peter Mass—a chilling, in-depth examination of what the New York Daily News calls “the worst betrayal of the badge in the NYPD’s history.”


Thursday, November 05, 2020

Will the Winner of the 2020 Presidential Election Focus on Attacking MS-13 Gangsters who Behead, Dismember, and Bury their Victims in a Shallow Graves?

Chief U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar sentenced MS-13 associate Luis Cruz Rodriguez, age 23, of Frederick, Maryland, to 10 years in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, after Cruz Rodriguez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering. The guilty plea was entered on November 3, 2020, and Chief Judge Bredar imposed the sentence immediately following the plea.

MS-13 is a national and international gang composed primarily of immigrants or descendants from El Salvador. Branches or “cliques” of MS-13, one of the largest street gangs in the United States, operate throughout Frederick County, Anne Arundel County, Prince George’s County, and Montgomery County, Maryland. Cruz Rodriguez admitted that from at least January 2017, he was an associate of the Fulton clique of MS-13 and agreed with members of MS-13 to conduct and participate in the gang’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, including conspiracy to commit murder, extortion, and drug distribution.

At all times of this conspiracy, members of MS-13 were expected to protect the name, reputation, and status of the gang from rival gang members and other persons. To protect the gang and to enhance its reputation, MS-13 members were expected to use any means necessary to force respect from those who showed disrespect, including acts of intimidation and violence. MS-13 had mottos consistent with its rules, beliefs, expectations and reputation including “mata, viola, controla,” which translates as, “kill, rape, control,” and “ver, oir y callar,” which means, “see nothing, hear nothing and say nothing.”

MS-13 members are required to commit acts of violence both to maintain membership and discipline within the gang, as well as against rival gang members. Participation in criminal activity by a member, particularly in violent acts directed at rival gangs or as directed by gang leadership, increase the respect accorded to that member, resulting in that member maintaining or increasing his position in the gang, and opens the door to a promotion to a leadership position. One of the principal rules of MS-13 is that its members must attack and kill rivals, often referred to as “chavalas,” whenever possible.

According to his plea agreement, in April 2017, Cruz Rodriguez conspired with MS-13 gang members to murder Victim 14. According to court documents, the MS-13 members believed Victim 14 was a member of a rival gang. Cruz Rodriguez was present when gang members were talking about how to kill Victim 14, and who would participate in the murder. On the day of the murder, Cruz Rodriguez drove other gang members to a secluded area of Frederick, Maryland, where the MS-13 members were going to kill Victim 14. Cruz Rodriguez was aware that he was transporting gang members so that they could participate in a murder. At the spot in Frederick, MS-13 gang members murdered Victim 14, dismembered him, and buried his body. After the murder, Cruz Rodriguez (who was not present during the murder) traveled back to the site of the murder and picked up gang members who had participated in the murder.

In July 2017, investigators recovered Victim 14’s body from a clandestine grave in Frederick, Maryland. The body had suffered from sharp force traumas and had been severed into seven pieces and decapitated.

The murder of Victim 14 was intended to maintain and increase the status of MS-13 and to allow Cruz Rodriguez and other MS-13 members and associates to maintain or increase their status within the gang.

A total of 30 defendants have been charged in this case with participating in a racketeering conspiracy and/or other crimes related to their association with MS-13. A total of 20 defendants, including Cruz Rodriguez, have pleaded guilty to crimes related to their participation in MS-13 gang activities.

Anyone with information about MS-13 is encouraged to provide their tips to law enforcement. The FBI and Homeland Security Investigations both have nationwide tiplines that you can call to report what you know. You can reach the FBI at 1-866-STP-MS13 (1-866-787-6713), or you can call HSI at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Multimillion Dollar Sports Betting Pyramid Scheme In Las Vegas Busted #OnlyVegas

Two Las Vegas residents made their initial court appearances in U.S. District Court for charges in connection with a multimillion dollar investment fraud scheme, announced U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich of the District of Nevada and Special Agent in Charge Aaron C. Rouse of the FBI.

A federal grand jury returned a 14 count indictment, charging John Frank Thomas III, 75, and Thomas Joseph Becker, 72, both of Las Vegas, with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 13 counts of wire fraud. Thomas is also known as “John Frank,” “Johnathan West,” “John Frank Rodgers,” “John Marshall,” and “John Edwards.” Following their arrests, Thomas and Becker made their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy J. Koppe, who scheduled a jury trial for January 4, 2021.

“Nevada has earned a worldwide reputation as the gold standard in gaming integrity,” said U.S. Attorney Trutanich. “Our office will continue working with our law enforcement partners and the gaming industry, including the FBI, to maintain Nevada’s reputation — which reflects the efforts of hardworking Nevadans across our state — by investigating and prosecuting violations of the law, and by helping enhance compliance programs.”

According to allegations in the indictment, from September 2010 to August 2019, Thomas and Becker maintained — and advertised to investors as supposed investment funds — the following entities: Sports Psychometrics; Vegas Basketball Club; Vegas Football Club; Einstein Sports Advisory; Quantum Sports Advisory; Wellington Sports Club; and Welscorp, Inc. Thomas and Becker made false representations to investors that they would use their sports betting skills and strategy to make sports bets with the investors’ money:

  • For example, Thomas and Becker told investors that their “‘special insights’ and ahead-of-the-curve strategies… can generate an Average-Profit-Per-Bet of +140% per $100 bet… and possibly as high as +180% or plus $180 per $100 bet. In essence, unlimited riches.” 
  • Similarly, they advertised a “perfect investment opportunity,” offering “quick access to funds – funds that can be withdrawn by wire or transfer in only one day” and “exceptionally high yield – we achieved a +10.75% ROI per betting day during 2014 Football Season.”

Thomas and Becker also allegedly misrepresented to investors that their accounts were multiplying in value due to successful sports betting, when in fact no such betting occurred. And when investors tried to cash out their investments, Thomas and Becker ignored their calls and emails, and made various excuses for why they could not distribute the money, ranging from purported medical reasons to issues with banks and sportsbooks. To the extent any investors were paid out, those payments came from money deposited by other investors, rather than successful sports bets.

Thomas and Becker induced more than 600 individuals to deposit money —from less than $10,000 to over $500,000 — into their purported investment funds, for a total of at least $29 million. The estimated loss amount to investors is alleged to be at least $9 million dollars. Thomas and Becker spent investors’ funds on personal expenses, including dining, housing, home improvement, and transportation.

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