The Chicago Syndicate: Andy Gerardo
Showing posts with label Andy Gerardo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Andy Gerardo. Show all posts

Friday, February 06, 2009

38 Charge Indictment Announced Against the Genovese Crime Family and Alleged Acting Boss, Daniel Leo

Lev L. Dassin, Acting U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Joseph Demarest, Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office of the FBI, and Raymond W. Kelly, Police Commissioner of the City of New York (NYPD), announced the unsealing of a 38-count indictment (the Leo indictment) against 12 defendants, including Daniel Leo, the alleged former acting boss, and various members and associates of the Genovese Organized Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra. The Leo indictment charges the defendants with racketeering and other offenses, including violent extortions of individuals and businesses, loansharking, narcotics trafficking and operation of illegal gambling businesses.

Also announced was the unsealing of a second indictment (the Tassiello indictment), charging Genovese associate Thomas Tassiello, a/k/a “Tommy,” with racketeering, extortion and other charges. Shortly after Tassiello’s arrest today, FBI agents executed a search warrant at the New Jersey residence of Andy Gerardo, a member of the Genovese Organized Crime Family, which was used by members and associates of the Genovese Organized Crime Family in connection with their illegal activities.

Anthony Palumbo, Rocco Petrozza, Patsy Aversa, Joseph Petullo, Arthur Boland and Tassiello were arrested this morning at their homes by members of the Joint Organized Crime Task Force, which includes agents of the FBI and detectives of the NYPD. Felice Masullo, Anthony Masullo and Angelo Masullo surrendered earlier today in Magistrate Court. Daniel Leo, Charles Salzano, Joseph Leo and Vincent Cotona are in federal custody on other charges.

According to the Leo Indictment, unsealed today in Manhattan federal court: Daniel Leo, Charles Salzano, Rocco Petrozza, Felice Masullo, Patsy Aversa, Vincent Cotona, Joseph Leo, Joseph Petullo, Anthony Masullo and Angelo Masullo participated in racketeering offenses related to the affairs of the Genovese Organized Crime Family. Daniel Leo served as acting boss of the Genovese Family beginning in approximately 2005. During the time he served as acting boss, he supervised racketeering crimes of his own “crew” of Genovese Family members and associates, including Soldier Charles Salzano and associates Joseph Leo and Arthur Boland. Salzano and Joseph Leo are charged with various racketeering offenses, including loansharking and operation of an illegal gambling business.

Additional charges against defendants named in the indictment include making and collecting extortionate loans to small business owners and other individuals, including owners and operators of bartending schools in New York City and New Jersey, and threatening victims with physical harm if they did not repay the loans.

In 2006, Daniel Leo placed long-time Soldier and Acting Capo Anthony Palumbo in charge of the New Jersey operations of the Genovese Family. Palumbo and other New Jersey-based family members and associates under his supervision, including his driver Felice Massulo and Soldier Rocco Petrozza, are charged with, among other offenses, forcibly taking over a small business in Jersey City, N.J., to collect payment on a loanshark loan. Petrozza and associates Patzy Aversa, Vincent Cotona, and Joseph Petullo are charged with extortion of the owners and operators of this same business.

Felice Masullo – who served as Palumbo’s driver and was proposed as a member of the Genovese Family – is charged with his brothers, Anthony Masullo and Angelo Masullo, with racketeering offenses including the trafficking of cocaine and crack cocaine, loansharking, and operating an illegal sports-betting business.

According to the Tassiello indictment, unsealed today in Manhattan federal court: Beginning in at least 2004, through the date of the indictment, the defendant, Thomas Tassiello, a/k/a “Tommy,” used his status as an associate of the Genovese Organized Crime Family to make a string of extortionate loans to Manhattan-based small business owners and to threaten them with physical violence and other harm when they failed to make prompt repayment of their loans. In one instance, Tassiello took ownership interest in a Manhattan bar after its owner did not keep up with weekly interest payments on a series of loans totaling approximately $100,000.

After Tassiello became aware of a federal investigation into his loansharking operation, he instructed his victims to provide false and misleading information to a federal grand jury and special agents of the FBI.

Tassiello is also charged with the operation of an illegal gambling business that engaged in sports bookmaking and illegal lottery schemes, and the transportation across state lines of stolen property.

Tassiello is charged with two counts of racketeering, six counts of conspiracy to make and collect extortionate loans, one count of interstate transportation of stolen property and one count of operating an unlawful gambling business. If convicted of all the charges contained in the indictment, Tassiello, 61, of New York City, faces a maximum sentence of 70 years in prison.

All of the defendants who were arrested today appeared before a U.S. Magistrate Judge. Daniel Leo, Charles Salzano, Joseph Leo and Vincent Cotona are expected to be arraigned on Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009, at noon.

Mr. Dassin praised the work of the Joint Organized Crime Task Force in the investigation, and added that the investigation is continuing.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys David B. Massey, Avi Weitzman, John T. Zach and Steve Kwok are in charge of the prosecutions. he charges contained in the indictments are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Real Sopranos Were More Brutal and Less Stylish Than Tony's Crew

"The Sopranos," the HBO series now in its final season, won fame by depicting a Mafia crew whose members had begun assimilating into middleclass suburban life -- moving into McMansions, raising kids who attend Ivy League schools, discovering the psychiatrist's couch (or armchair).

Interestingly, it was HBO, nearly 20 years ago, that first gave us a look at what the real mob was like when it started to go suburban -- and the picture is nothing like "The Sopranos." The now-forgotten "Confessions of an Undercover Cop," a fascinating 1988 documentary, traced the decline and fall of the very Jersey crew that inspired "The Sopranos" -- the crime family of Ruggerio "Richie the Boot" Boiardo, whose gang was less introspective, even more violent, and a lot less glamorous than Tony's fictional mob.

"Sopranos" creator David Chase had learned about this Jersey mob as a child. Visiting relatives in Newark's predominantly Italian-American North Ward, he met a cousin with "fuzzy connections to a prominent mob family in Livingston," an exclusive suburb where Boiardo had moved. Though Chase says in a 2002 interview in New Jersey Monthly that "90 percent of [the show] is made up. . . . it's patterned after this [family]."

Boiardo, known simply as the Boot around Newark, began running numbers while working as a milkman before Prohibition, and he quickly figured out that crime paid better than dairy. He moved up the racketeering ranks and during Prohibition competed with another prominent Newark mobster, Abner "Longy" Zwillman, to smuggle booze through Newark. Working independently, the pair supplied much of the eastern half of the United States.

There was little mystery about the Boot's rise. Like the fictional Vito Corleone, he was brutal and had a knack for surviving. He earned his nickname from his habit of stomping his enemies to death, and he consolidated his power in Newark after withstanding a hit by a rival gang that left him full of bullets but defiantly alive. The Boot, moreover, passed his viciousness on to his son Anthony "Tony Boy" Boiardo and recruited other like-minded hoods. Not only did these guys dispose of their enemies as sadistically as anyone in "The Sopranos," but rather than brood over their bad deeds as some characters in the TV series do, the real Sopranos recounted their nastiest killings with relish.

In one FBI surveillance tape, for instance, Tony Boy declares, "How about the time we hit the little Jew." An associate adds, "As little as they are, they struggle." Then Tony Boy finishes describing the scene: "The Boot hit him with a hammer. The guy goes down and he comes up. So I got a crowbar this big. . . . Eight shots in the head. What do you think he finally did to me? He spit at me." In another tape, the mobsters recall with equal delight locking a victim in a car trunk and setting it afire. "He must have burned like a bastard," one mobster says.

As in "The Sopranos," the Boot joined the flight of Italian Americans out of Newark to the Essex County suburbs, where he built an opulent walled-in retreat in Livingston. But unlike Tony Soprano's modern McMansion, the Boot's estate was more like some European fortress, described by Life as "Transylvanian traditional" in its architectural style, with busts of famous Romans dotting its grounds. Another particularly noteworthy feature: a large furnace, rumored to be where the Boot's crew disposed of his enemies' remains.

By the time "Confessions" takes up this gang's story in the mid-1980s, Boiardo had recently died, as, unexpectedly of a heart attack, had his son and heir apparent, Tony Boy, leaving what remained of the crew to their lieutenants. Most of these hoodlums had also by now decamped to Newark's suburbs -- places like North Caldwell, Roseland and Bellville, all mentioned frequently in "The Sopranos." But unlike Tony's crew, the real Sopranos still used Newark's decidedly unglamorous and gritty North Ward as their base of operations.

The investigation at the center of "Confessions" begins by chance, when a retired East Orange, New Jersey cop named Mike Russell is driving down Bloomfield Avenue in North Newark and sees two young guys attacking an older one. Russell goes to the aid of the older man, driving off the attackers. He discovers that the guy he helped is Andrew "Andy" Gerardo, now head of Boiardo's old gang. Gerardo invites Russell into his hangout, a coffee shop on the avenue just a few steps from a monument to Christopher Columbus and the Italian American contribution to America. There, Russell meets other key members of the crew, who treat him like a hero and befriend him.

Russell then contacts a friend in the state police, who asks him to begin surveillance on the crew. Incredibly, the mobsters invite Russell to move his oil delivery business into a storefront adjoining their Newark headquarters, figuring he's friendly, and from there the investigation takes off. But unbeknownst to the state police, Russell enlists a cameraman and begins his own videotaping of the Jersey crew, which provides most of the material for the HBO documentary.

The footage illustrates the gap between Hollywood and mobster reality. Like most celluloid gangsters, Tony Soprano's crew carries itself with a certain "mob chic," evident in everything from Silvio's elaborately coiffed jet-black mane to Paulie's meticulously delineated gray sideburns to the expensive Italian suits that Tony and the boys favor. Their headquarters is the baby boomer's fantasy of bad-boy living, the Bada Bing strip club. But the real-life evil is more banal. The Boot made his headquarters inside a candy shop on Roseville Avenue in North Newark, transformed by the time of "Confessions" into a rinky-dink pizzeria and dimly lit adjoining cocktail lounge called the Finish Line. One look inside the Finish Line and it's clear that for this real mob crew, style took a back seat to earning money.

Most of the action that Russell investigates takes place in even less glamorous social clubs around North Newark -- little more than storefronts sporting linoleum floors, faux wood paneling, folding chairs and card tables. From these motley locations, the crew ran nightly card games that netted about $1 million a week. The earnings were big, though these games were nothing like those in "The Sopranos," where mob-run gambling sessions take place in hotel suites and occasionally feature big name "guest" players like Lawrence Taylor.

"Confessions" makes it clear that few real mobsters could ever score a bit part on "The Sopranos" or any other gangster show -- they simply look too ordinary. The "Confessions" crew runs around North Newark in Bermuda shorts, white T-shirts and knee-high socks, or in cheap polyester slacks and Ban Lon shirts -- a look that would never get you a photo shoot in Vanity Fair or on the cover of Cigar Aficionado, where James Gandolfini, who plays Tony Soprano, has appeared.

The investigation recounted in "Confessions" resulted in 48 indictments and more than 30 convictions or guilty pleas for gambling, loan sharking and racketeering, which effectively broke the back of the Genovese family in Jersey. At the end of "Confessions," we see the crew making a "perp" walk as they head to court, and it's clear just how unsympathetic and crude such mobsters really were -- nothing like the strangely appealing Tony Soprano. As the reporters badger them for a statement, one of the crew's top soldiers tells the newsmen: "Fugettaboutit. Go get a job." That's about the level of sophistication of the real mob.

Hollywood will no doubt continue to find new and innovative ways to package the Mafia, as Chase did brilliantly in his series. But for a sobering dose of reality, get your hands on a copy of "Confessions of an Undercover Cop."

Thanks to Steven Malanga

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