The Chicago Syndicate: Alphonse Indelicato
Showing posts with label Alphonse Indelicato. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alphonse Indelicato. Show all posts

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Mafia Book Not So Easy to Forget About: The Last Godfather: The Rise and Fall of Joey Massino

Sometimes "forget about it" means just that - forget about it.

In the case of The Last Godfather: The Rise and Fall of Joey Massino, forget about it - it's a must-read for mafia nuts everywhere.

The book has everything a fan of "The Sopranos" could possibly desire: murder, mayhem and a plethora of shady characters with colorful names like Benjamin "Lefty Guns" Ruggiero, Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano and "Patty Muscles."

The story concerns the rise to power and eventual downfall of Joseph Massino, a capo in the Bonanno crime family, one of the infamous five families of New York. After eliminating his rivals, Massino became capo di tutti capi, boss of bosses. At one point he had over 100 men and was involved in every conceivable racket, everything from "pump and dump" stock market schemes to good old loan sharking. After the FBI cracked down on organized crime in the '80s, he was the last don walking the streets.

And then it all came tumbling down, due in part to the infiltration of the family by FBI agent Joseph "Donnie Brasco" Pistone.

The Bonannos - named after Joseph "Joey Bananas" Bonanno - boasted an impressive track record of never having had a rat in their midst. During its nearly 100-year existence, members would often go to the electric chair before dishonoring the family. This was part of omerta, the conspiracy of silence, that made the Mafia so successful. But by the late '90s, the honor among thieves had largely dissolved. High-ranking members were ready to jump ship and sell out their compatriots rather than face brutally long stints in prison. One by one, Massino's capos turned on him, ratting him out for the murder of Alphonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato, an infamous mob murder dramatized in the film "Donnie Brasco."

If this sounds like a lot of back story, it isn't. The book jumps back and forth between courtroom testimony and an account of the family's activities in the late '70s and early '80s. The story involves hundreds of people and dozens of murders, and a dizzying amount of shadiness.

The book, while fascinating, is written rather poorly. It's sentences are clunky, and the author usually explains his rather elementary metaphors. This is mildly insulting to one's intelligence, but the story is fascinating enough to leave the bad writing as little more than a minor irritation. If you need something to while away the nearly eternal dead space between "Sopranos" episodes, this book has you covered.

Thanks to John Bear

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Joe Pistone - Legendary Lawman

Past issues of Legendary Lawmen have been key figures from our past. This month features a bit more recent individual. Many of you may already know him by his alias but may not know the story behind the man. Here is an individual that put his life on the line and his family on hold in an effort to bring down key figures within the mafia.

In 1969 Joe Pistone became an undercover FBI agent. In September 1976 he volunteered to infiltrate the Bonnano family and shortly there after, Donnie Brasco was born. Pistone would spend six years as a low-level jewel thief informing on the goings on inside the mob during some of the most volatile power struggles in organized crime. His story has been told in books, articles and in a major motion picture.

Joseph Dominick Pistone was born 1939 in Erie, Pennsylvania. Growing up in Paterson, New Jersey he graduated from Paterson State in 1965, receiving a degree in anthropology. Following a year as a teacher at Paterson School No. 10, Pistone secured a job at the Office of Naval Intelligence. From 1969 thru 1974 Pistone worked various jobs within the Bureau. In 1974 he was transferred to New York to work in the truck hijacking unit.

It was his ability to drive 18-wheeler and bulldozers that led him to work undercover infiltrating a vehicle theft ring. This assignment resulted in over 30 arrests and cemented Pistone's legend within law enforcement. Pistone was not only handy behind the wheel, he was also of Sicilian heritage and spoke Italian fluently. Of course growing up in Paterson, New Jersey didn't hurt matters either; he was already accustomed to the Mafia's idiosyncrasies.

During the 1970s there was a major influx of Sicilian mobsters coming to the United States which caused a great deal of tension with their U.S. counterparts. Pistone entered into the family while this rift was occurring. Many accusations and much finger-pointing went on during this time and Pistone soon found himself in the middle of being called out for stealing a quarter million dollars from the family. The penalty for such an infraction was death. After three sit-downs with the accuser (Tony Mirra) and his representatives, Pistone (Brasco) was found innocent of the theft.

Pistone was taken into the fold by Bonanno family capo Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano. He would eventually be tutored by Benjamin "Lefty Guns" Ruggiero, a Bonanno soldier. Ruggiero would eventually provide the FBI agent with details on the activities of other crews outside of the Bonanno family. Pistone was eventually invited into the family as a "made man". To accomplish this Pistone would have to kill someone at the order of Napolitano. Once again the agent got lucky; his target, Anthony Indelicato, would vanish before Pistone/Brasco would be able to carry out the killing. The year was 1981.

Following the order to kill Indelicato, Anthony's father Alphonse Indelicato, together with Phillip "Philly Lucky" Giaccone and Dominick "Big Trin" Trinchera were found murdered. Two days later, Napolitano and Ruggiero were informed that their longtime associate was in fact an undercover FBI agent. Ruggiero was arrested by the FBI and served 20 years in prison. Napolitano was subsequently murdered for allowing an undercover agent to infiltrate the family. On august 12, 1982, his body was found with several gunshot wounds and his hands were cut off. Pistone's testimony would help uncover an extensive drug distribution network that was being run out of New York City pizzerias. His relationship with Napolitano and Ruggiero would eventually lead to more than 200 indictments and over 100 convictions of mafia members.

In 1986 Pistone retired from the FBI and currently does lectures and training. Pistone would go on to write Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia (1987). This would eventually develop into the major motion picture staring Johnny Depp (as Brasco) and Al Pacino (as Ruggiero). Two subsequent books would later detail his experiences; The Way of the Wiseguy (2004) and Donnie Brasco: Unfinished Business (2007).

Thanks to Charles Bennett

Charles Bennett was born in our Nation's Capital and grew up in the Maryland suburbs. Mr. Bennett has been working in all aspects of the publishing industry since the late 1980s primarily in the fields of commercial photography and magazine production. Moving to California in 1992 to attend college resulted in B.F.A and Masters degrees. California also supplied Mr. Bennett with his wife. The two of them are avid sports persons and participate in shooting, scuba diving, surfing, running and bicycling. As a long time hobby Mr. Bennett has studied the legends of American law enforcement which led to his writing these columns.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Pizza Connection Mobsters Cooking New Dish?

Sicilian mobsters - with their infamous history of violence and drug trafficking across several continents - are re-emerging as major powers in the Big Apple, The Post has learned. And their ranks within New York's crime families are only expected to grow with the recent release of notorious "Pizza Connection" Mafiosi, including a convicted heroin trafficker once linked to "Mafia Cop" Louis Eppolito.

The hardened mobsters giving the feds the most agita include the heroin-trafficking Gambino brothers Rosario, John and Joseph, who were once the Sicilian mob's chieftains here. They had been cooling their heels in jail since the mid-1980s and 1990s, refusing to squeal in exchange for deals with the feds and reputedly waiting to reclaim their lucrative organized-crime slots.

Now they're free to get back in the game.

The Post has learned that the resurgence of the Sicilian-led mob has been so strong that the FBI and the Italian government have established a special "cooperative venture" that involves stationing U.S. agents in Rome and having cops from the Italian National Police working at FBI Headquarters in Washington.

The initiative - dubbed "The Pantheon Project" - guarantees that the FBI and its Italian counterparts share surveillance and intelligence on developing cases and track the connections between La Cosa Nostra in Sicily and the United States, officials said. "Despite convictions and crackdowns both here and in Sicily, the Sicilian mob is still part of the Mafia culture and have been reconstituting their power bases in the U.S. and abroad," a top Mafia expert said.

Given that the Sicilian Mafia's single greatest asset is its ability to move narcotics, federal agents believe that the jail-hardened Pizza Connection-era gangsters - who had been trafficking heroin through pizza parlors around the country - will likely return to the narcotics trade now that they're out. But they will be shifting their enterprises into moving huge amounts of marijuana.

Selling pot is just as lucrative as heroin, sources said, but the penalties are far less severe than the decades-long sentences meted out to the Gambino brothers and rising crime-family star Lorenzo Mannino, who once tried to get Frank Sinatra to help crooner Al Martino find work in Las Vegas - evoking images from the book and movie "The Godfather." Martino, incidentally, played Johnny Fontane, a character loosely based on Sinatra, in the movie.

"Mafia Cop" Eppolito, whose father and other relatives were mobsters, was related to Rosario Gambino, an old-world mob figure. In 1984, Eppolito was brought up on departmental charges for allegedly passing confidential NYPD files to Gambino, but beat the rap. He's now in jail for carrying out hits for other big mobsters.

The trio of Gambino brothers, all relatives of the crime syndicate's namesake, Carlo Gambino, have been freed. Joseph was deported back to his native Sicily.

"Do you think they have been rehabilitated by prison?" a federal official asked sarcastically. Federal officials suspect these Gambinos, as well others due for release soon, will return to doing what they know best. "Narcotics is something they understand, they have the network and, as importantly, they have the respect," the federal source said.

Numerous Sicilian gangsters and associates - many targeted recently by the FBI and federal prosecutors - not only trace their heritage to the lush mountains of towns like Borgetto and Castellammare Del Golfo, their fathers and close relatives are key "Godfather"-like figures running the Mafia in their native land.

For example, Sicilian brothers-in-law Vito Rappa and Francesco Nania are presently under federal indictment for paying $70,000 to bribe a U.S. immigration official to keep Nania from being deported. The case also snared Gambino crime-family members, including mob captain George DeCicco, 78.

According to federal court records, Rappa's father is the "official head of the Mafia based in the Borgetto region of Sicily."

Nania, a fugitive wanted for mob-related crimes in Italy, is the son of an "influential member of the Mafia based in Partinico, Sicily," a long-established mob stronghold in Italy, Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf's prosecutors wrote in a detention memo.

And then there is Vito Rizzuto - dubbed the John Gotti of Canada and a leading figure in the Bonanno crime family. The 70-year-old Rizzuto is related by marriage to the godfather of the agrarian town of Cattolica Eraclea, where Rizzuto was born.

Rizzuto accepted a 10-year, plea-bargained sentence last week for his role in the spectacular 1981 rubouts of Bonanno captains Alphonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato, Philip "Philly Lucky" Giaccone and Dominick "Big Trin" Trinchera. The slayings were a murderous trifecta immortalized in the movie "Donnie Brasco" and carried out to stem an internal coup.

Despite these indictments and convictions, law-enforcement sources say the Sicilians still hold sway over a string of key New York spots.

Dominic "Italian Dom" Cefalu is currently considered the reputed underboss of the Gambinos, the largest crime syndicate in the nation, sources say. Cefalu, 60, a convicted heroin trafficker, was "made" by John Gotti 17 years ago.

Thanks to Murray Weiss

Friday, May 04, 2007

Godfather of Montreal Pleads Guilty

Friends of ours: Vito "Godfather of Montreal" Rizzuto, Bonanno Crime Family, Dominick "Big Trin" Trinchera, Philip "Philly Lucky" Giaccone and Alphonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato, Joseph Massino

A Canadian mobster who helped rub out three reputed New York Mafia captains in 1981 pleaded guilty Friday to racketeering under a deal calling for him to serve just 10 years in prison.

Vito Rizzuto, dubbed the "Godfather of Montreal" by the Canadian press, entered his plea at a federal court in Brooklyn a day before the 26th anniversary of the social-club slayings.

It took some coaxing from the judge to get the 61-year-old to break his long silence about one of the more spectacular gangland hits of the 1980s.

Prosecutors said Rizzuto came to New York at the behest of the Bonanno crime family to help execute three captains in the clan suspected of plotting a coup.

The plea bargain required Rizzuto to admit his guilt and describe his role in the crime. But in court on Friday, Rizzuto hesitated to get specific, initially admitting only that he had engaged in racketeering.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis demanded more detail. "Why should I accept a specific sentence when I don't know what he did?" Garaufis said. "Was he the driver? Was he one of the shooters?"

Rizzuto held a hushed conference with his attorney, then finally stood before the judge. "My job was to say, 'It's a hold up!' So everybody would stand still," Rizzuto said. He said his accomplices then opened fire, killing Dominick "Big Trin" Trinchera, Philip "Philly Lucky" Giaccone and Alphonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato.

That was enough, barely, for the judge, who accepted the deal and the 10-year term.

The sentence is a light one by today's standards, but prosecutors said their options were limited. Rizzuto was charged as part of a racketeering case, and under federal law at the time of the killing, faced a maximum of only 20 years if he went to trial and was found guilty.

The law has subsequently been changed to permit a life sentence, but the change does not apply to old crimes.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg D. Andres said the age of the case, which would have complicated the prosecution, made the light term acceptable.

Rizzuto was one of about 100 alleged Bonanno family members snared in an investigation that crippled the organization and ultimately led its boss, Joseph Massino, to plead guilty to orchestrating a series of murders, including the 1981 slayings.

Massino got life in prison. Children discovered Indelicato's body shortly after the killings. Investigators acting on a tip returned to the vacant lot in 2004 and dug up Giaccone and Trinchera.

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