The Chicago Syndicate: Dominic Cefalu
Showing posts with label Dominic Cefalu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dominic Cefalu. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mafia Parade from Prison to the Streets to Last Throughout 2009

Prison doors will swing open this year for some of the city's toughest mobsters.

By an odd coincidence, some of the heaviest hitters from New York's fabled Five Families all have release dates in 2009.

"You have proven earners, people who have served in upper- and middle-management roles and people with international criminal-enterprise connections," said a law-enforcement source. "That sounds like a triple threat."

The Gambino family, still reeling from the takedown of the Gottis, will see the biggest injection of experienced blood.

Perhaps most influential is Domenico "Italian Dom" Cefalu, the 61-year-old acting underboss, scheduled for release on Nov. 3. Cefalu, whose specialty is drug trafficking, is said to have been personally inducted into the family by the late "Teflon Don" John Gotti in 1991.

Another Gambino heavy out this year is George "Big Georgie" DeCicco, 79, with a Dec. 1 release date. The old John Gotti capo ran a loan-sharking operation.

DeCicco's nephew, Joseph "Joey Boy" Orlando, 59, gets sprung June 24. The Gambino soldier was reportedly caught on tape boasting of eight hits. "I've got eight under my belt, and I don't give a [expletive] who become the ninth," he allegedly said.

The Bonannos are also getting an injection of experience.

Capo Anthony Rabito, 74, who goes by the monikers "Fat Anthony" or "Mr. Fish" will be sprung June 28. He was previously convicted of drug smuggling after being swept up in the 1970s "Donnie Brasco" undercover probe.

Another Bonanno with old-school experience is Salvatore "Toto" Catalano. The 67-year-old soldier is getting out Nov. 14 after serving 29 years. He was a key player in the "Pizza Connection" case in the 1980s, when the mob was importing heroin from Sicily and using pizzerias as fronts. One source says Catalano is fearless and has leadership skills to quickly command a crew.

The Lucheses will have a top strategist back on the street.

Consigliere Joseph "Joe C." Caridi, 59, is out Nov. 28 after a 2003 conviction for extorting a Long Island seafood restaurant. Known as the "Tony Soprano of Long Island," Caridi could bounce right back into the extortion business.

Acting capo John "Johnny Sideburns" Cerrella, 68, will be sprung the same day.

The Genovese crew will see the return of some old-timers.

Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianniello - still a capo at a spry 88 - will be released April 3 for a 2007 racketeering and tax-evasion conviction. The decorated WWII vet is highly respected by younger Genovese crew members.

Just slightly younger is 85-year-old capo Lawrence "Little Larry" Dentico, who is getting out May 12 from a four-year sentence of running a gambling ring.

The Colombos will welcome back acting consigliere Benedetto Aloi on March 18. One source called Aloi a "time-honored figure" in the Colombo family.

Another old-timer getting out late in the year is Salvatore Lombardino, 76, who was convicted in connection with the murder of suspected informer James Randazzo.

Lombardino honored the code of omerta and never spoke to authorities, even racking up an extra contempt-of-court sentence for refusing to testify.

Thanks to Murray Weiss

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Domenico Cefalu, Reputed Gambino Underboss, Gets 2 Years in Prison

The Feds say Domenico Cefalu is acting underboss of the Gambino crime family. His lawyer says he's "under," all right - underpaid and underachieving.

At his sentencing on an extortion conviction on Monday, the two sides painted very different pictures of the 61-year-old Cefalu.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Brownell argued in Brooklyn Federal Court that Cefalu's sentence should reflect his high rank in the crime family as underboss. "These claims that he has very little contact with the [Gambino crime family] simply make no sense," Brownell said.

Defense lawyer Joseph Ryan had a few "under" suggestions of his own. Cefalu is "underpaid" - earning a measly $42,000 as a salesman for a bakery supply company, Ryan said.

Then Ryan came up with "underachieving" because Cefalu only pocketed about $8,000 on the shakedown of a cement company. And don't forget "undercut," Ryan noted, because his client was pushed out of another Gambino scheme involving a NASCAR race track on Staten Island.

Just in case Judge Jack Weinstein didn't get the full picture, Ryan noted that Cefalu drives a 1999 sedan, lost his $1,700-a-month rental apartment in Bay Ridge after his arrest in February and will have to move in with his elderly mother when he's released from prison.

The judge didn't comment on Cefalu's rank, but hit him with two full years in prison, which is more than the minimum 21 months he faced.

Also sentenced yesterday were retired NYPD Detective Frank Vassallo to four months and ex-NYPD cop Ronald Flam, who got time served for illegal gambling with the Gambinos.

thanks to John Marzulli

Friday, May 30, 2008

Gambinos Withstanding Feds Efforts to Eliminate The Family

The feds' knockout of the Gambino crime family looks more like a phantom punch.

Reputed boss John (Jackie Nose) D'Amico and reputed underboss Domenico (The Greaseball) Cefalu took a plea deal Wednesday, admitting to a single extortion count, and could end up spending less than two years in prison.

In the last two weeks - and with a June 7 trial date looming - prosecutors dropped their demand that D'Amico plead guilty to racketeering, which carried a more serious penalty, defense lawyer Elizabeth Macedonio said.

D'Amico and Cefalu admitted extorting a $100,000 payment from businessman-turned rat Joseph Vollaro in exchange for permission to sell his Staten Island cement company. Prosecutors did not object when D'Amico said Vollaro would suffer "economic harm" if he didn't pay up, rather than violence.

Despite great fanfare accompanying last February's indictment of 62 Gambinos, there was no new defection of a high-ranking turncoat, and Vollaro was unable to record conversations with D'Amico, Cefalu or reputed consigliere Joseph (JoJo) Corozzo, a government source acknowledged.

Corozzo is scheduled to plead guilty to a new complaint that drops a drug trafficking charge against him. "Plea [deals] are based on lack of evidence and quality of evidence," Macedonio said.

For aging mobsters like D'Amico, 71; Cefalu, 61, and Corozzo, 66, convictions after trial would have resulted in virtual life sentences. None of the 52 defendants cutting deals faces more than three years in prison.

Thanks to John Marzulli

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Mobster Turns Lemons into Lemonade

It's too bad for Joey Vallaro that so many people want him killed. Otherwise he could make a killing himself on the speakers' circuit with his story of how even in adversity there is opportunity.

In Vallaro's case it would be about how he turned a jail stretch for extortion into a career as a Staten Island trucking magnate.

Always a step ahead, so far at least, Vallaro is the Mafia "rat" at the centre of a 170-page indictment against 62 mobsters and crooks, including the bosses of New York's Gambino family, which resulted in 57 arrests last week. It was a crippling blow to one of the city's notorious Five Families.

Twelve years and a lifetime ago, Vallaro became pals with the Gambino captain Nicholas "Little Nicky" Corozzo while they were in the can. Not long before he was jailed Vallaro and a partner had started a trucking company.

Court documents, referring to Vallaro as "John Doe #4", show that on the outside another Gambino captain, Thomas "Tommy Sneakers" Cacciopoli, recovered a debt owed to Vallaro's company "and, in return, demanded monthly extortion payments from that point forward". After his release from prison in 1999 Vallaro made the payments directly to Cacciopoli, 58, and to stay in business he has since handed over more than $US160,000.

In return, the Gambinos sponsored his business: ushering him into exclusive rights at development sites and granting him permission to start a cement company. When Vallaro wanted to sell after a buyer approached him, he first had to obtain permission from the family.

"In keeping with instructions from Gambino family captains Nicholas Corozzo and Leonard DiMaria to consult them before making any decisions concerning his business, John Doe #4 informed DiMaria of the [buyer's] offer. DiMaria later informed John Doe #4 that the family had agreed to allow him to make the sale, provided he pay $100,000 to the Gambino family," court documents show.

Vallaro's partner did not fare so well: "In early January 2008, Gambino family soldier Joseph Scopo approached John Doe #4 on behalf of Gambino family captain Thomas Cacciopoli and instructed him that when the sale of his cement company took place, John Doe #4 should not provide his partner with the more than $300,000 in sale proceeds due to him, and that Cacciopoli would collect the money himself when he was released from prison."

Long before he OKed selling Vallaro's business, Lenny "Fatso" DiMaria, a family member since the 1970s, had unwittingly given investigators an insight into corporate techniques Gambino-style when he was captured on a surveillance audio tape.

"You have to go bother these people for your money," he was heard telling a subordinate. "Rough them up a little. Tell them 'You're a f---ing stiff' … Crack a face. F--- them up. Don't you do it, send a f---ing kid to rough them up, a f---ing joke."

The most senior of those charged is John "Jackie the Nose" D'Amico, who rose from the rank of soldier to acting boss of the Gambinos. Seventy-three years old and facing racketeering and extortion charges, he may well die in prison like an earlier Gambino boss, John Gotti.

Also indicted are D'Amico's underboss, Dominic "the Greaseball" Cefalu, 61, and Joseph "Miserable" Corozzo, 66, the family's counsellor or consigliere. This trio was the Gambino "administration".

"The Gambino family operated through groups of individuals headed by captains, who were also referred to as skippers, caporegimes and capodecinas. These groups, which were referred to as crews, regimes and decinas, consisted of 'made' members of the Gambino family, also referred to as 'soldiers', 'friends of ours', 'good fellows' and 'buttons' as well as associates of the Gambino family," the indictment reads.

"With the assistance of the underboss and consigliere, the boss was responsible for setting policy, resolving disputes between members and associates of the Gambino family and members and associates of other criminal organisations."

Corozzo's brother, Nicholas "Little Nicky" Corozzo, is charged with the 1996 murder of the Lucchese crime family associate Robert Arena who refused to return marijuana he stole from a drug dealer. Arena was already suspected of killing one of Corozzo's crew - Anthony "Tough Tony" Placido - when Corozzo ordered his killing. A friend of Arena's who happened to be with him when he was shot was also murdered. Of the shooter, Little Nicky is alleged to have said he "did good work".

One longtime soldier who was spared the indignity of a physically demeaning nickname - and possibly with good reason - was Charles "Charlie Canig" Carneglia.

Grey-bearded and with an improbable grey ponytail, Carneglia has allegedly been killing for the Gambinos since the 1970s, and not necessarily always while under instruction.

In 1975 Albert Gelb, 25, intervened when he saw a young woman being harassed in a diner by a man who produced a gun before Gelb disarmed him. The man was Carneglia. Gelb was shot dead seated at the wheel of his car shortly before Carneglia's trial.

Carneglia, 61, has been charged with five murders in all and also is suspected of a notorious hit on one John Favara, who disappeared in July 1980. Favara was the unfortunate motorist who struck and killed Gotti's 12-year-old son. The boy rode his bike into the path of Favara's car. Carneglia is suspected of shooting Favara and of disposing of his body in a cement-filled barrel. Favara's body has not been found.

The FBI this week was making a body count of another sort. In the Gambino takedown they counted three family captains, three acting captains and 16 soldiers. "Once ruled by the powerful Carlo Gambino and 'Dapper Don' John Gotti, the Gambino family has been reduced to a shadow of its former criminal self over the years … but it is far from dead, continuing its efforts to infiltrate such industries as trucking and construction," the FBI said. "Still, the investigations and ensuing indictment represent another crippling blow. A total of 25 alleged Gambino mobsters - including each active leader of the family not already in jail - were indicted."

Among those charged are members and associates of the Bonnano and Genovese crime families and figures from the construction industry and unions. The charges span three decades and involve murder, drug trafficking, money laundering, extortion and various scams.

The Labour Department inspector-general, Gordon Heddell, said the scams involved some of New York's biggest building companies. "Many of these construction companies allegedly paid a 'mob tax' in return for 'protection' and permission to operate," he said. "The Gambino organised crime family caused the theft of Teamsters union dues, and of health and pension funds, directly impacting the welfare and future of many workers."

In addition, Carneglia ran marijuana. Other family members dealt cocaine. Corozzo and DiMaria oversaw illegal bookmakers, and acting captain Frank Cali ran illegal poker machines "including approximately four or five machines in Caf Italia in Brooklyn. Cali split a percentage of the gambling profits with the owner of the restaurant, with 10 per cent off the top going to the administration of the Gambino family," court documents reveal.

"In the 1990s, Cali was involved in overseeing the Gambino family interest in the annual Italian Feast on 18th Avenue in Brooklyn. The Gambino family received a percentage of the fees charged for the booths and rides, which generated tens of thousands of dollars each year. Cali split the money with other Gambino family associates, with 10 per cent off the top going to the administration of the Gambino family."

Joey Vallaro was a good earner for the Gambinos. In January 2006 they allowed him to start a new operation, an excavation business. That alone brought in $30,000 in extortion payments.

The New York Post said the crunch came when he was busted with two kilograms of cocaine in 2004. He turned informant rather than face a possible life sentence.

Contrary to expectations, Vallaro apparently did not enter the witness protection program after authorities swooped on the family: some reports claim that Joey stayed around to make a brazen appearance at a sushi bar last Saturday. It was just two days after the arrests, and two doors from the restaurant run by his now-abandoned wife, Trisha.

He is not expected to reappear until his time comes to testify in the looming Gambino trials. That is especially so since Little Nicky Corozzo, the man who ushered him into the fold, was not home when the police came calling. And he is still out there, somewhere.

Thanks to Ian Munro

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Gambino Mobster Nicknames

According to mob expert John Carillo, most gangsters don't know one another's last name. "It's a group of people that know each other basically by nicknames or first names." Among the funniest are:

Thomas Cacciopoli: "Tommy Sneakers." He "likes sneakers," Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo testified at the trial of Gambino boss Peter Gotti.

Joseph Corozzo: "Jo-Jo," "Miserable." It's about that attitude, Jo-Jo.

Robert Epifania: "Bobby the Jew." He's not Jewish. But he "looks like a Jew," his cohorts told investigators.

Domenico Cefalu: "Italian Dom," "Dom from 18th Avenue," "The Greaseball." "Greaseball" is the pejorative the elder John Gotti used for Sicilians; 18th Avenue is in his neck of the woods, Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

Nicholas Corozzo: "The Doctor," "The Little Guy," "Seymour," "Grandpa," "Grandfather," "Little Nick." This 5-foot-6 mobster goes by "Grandpa" when with close friends.

Vincent Decongilio: "Vinny Hot." His father was "Freddy Hot" - plus he's into gambling.

Leonard DiMaria: "Uncle," "Lenny," "L," "Fatso," "The Conductor." Self-named, he once signed a get-well note to a Newsday reporter "Uncle Lenny." He's short, squat, with a broad nose.

Anthony Licata: "Anthony Firehawk," "Anthony Nighthawk," "Cheeks." Firehawk and Nighthawk are names of trucking companies. Personal Creations

John D'Amico: "Jackie Nose." "He had his nose fixed. He had a big, distorted nose at one time," DiLeonardo said at the Gotti trial. D'Amico was said to have been upset with prosecutors for using the nickname.

Thanks to the NYPost

Friday, February 08, 2008

Gambino Crime Family Infrastructure Dismantled

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn today unleashed a sweeping 80-count indictment against more than 50 Gambino mobsters — including the entire leadership of the crime family — charging them with seven murders and widespread extortion conspiracies within New York City's construction industry

The indictment names Gambino acting boss John "Jackie Nose" D'Amico, underboss Domenico "Italian Dom" Cefalu, consigliere Joseph "Jo Jo" Corozzo, capo Nicholas "Little Nick" Corozzo, the late "Dapper Don" John Gotti's brother, Vincent, and his nephew, Richard Gotti Jr.

It also includes three Gambino captains, three acting captains, 16 soldiers, numerous associates and a handful of Bonanno and Genovese crime family members. In all, 62 mobsters have been charged.

D'Amico surrendered this afternoon, hours after dozens of his cohorts were rounded up in early-morning raids. But Nicholas Corozzo was not at his Long Island home when agents showed up yesterday to bust him, sources said.

"I can't think of a larger single-day roundup of substantial [Mafia] figures. I just can't think of a day that had this many arrests. Probably none in the last 10 years," said a law enforcement source.

"It dismantles the infrastructure of the family. You can't say it's the death knell because you don't know. It will still exist, to the point where it becomes increasingly difficult for the family to operate as it has in the past."

The arrests coincided with a massive takedown in Palermo, Sicily, where two dozen high-ranking Italian members of the Gambino family were arrested.

Italian authorities, who were at a New York press conference announcing the charges, said the raid in Sicily was sparked by a recent rekindling of the relationship between Sicilian and American members of the family.

Longtime Gambino soldier Charles Carneglia was charged with five murders, including the 1976 slaying of Brooklyn court officer Albert Gelb, who was set to testify about having wrested a firearm away from the mobster in a Queens diner. Carneglia also is charged with the 1990 fatal shooting of armored car guard Jose Delgado Rivera.
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He's also charged in the death of three gangsters: Gambino mobster Michael Cotillo in 1977 and Salvatore Puma in 1983, as well as family soldier Louis DiBono in 1990. DiBono's killing, later revealed on secret wiretap tapes of Gotti Sr., was committed because he failed to show up at a meeting with the Dapper Don when so order.

Nicholas Corozzo, who was once the family's heir apparent, is charged with the January 1996 double murder of Brooklyn drug dealer Robert Arena and his friend Thomas Maranga.

Corrozzo and 25 other mobsters are also charged in a separate indictment out of the Queens District Attorney's office that accused them of running a huge illegal sports betting operation.

Gambino family soldiers Vincent and Richard Gotti are charged with the attempted murder of an unnamed person.

The indictment also charges the family with having tight control over several construction projects in the New York area, including the proposed Nascar racing track on Staten Island — a project opposed by residents that never saw the light of day — and the Liberty View Harbor construction site in Jersey City, NJ.

"Today we serve notice that anyone who aspired to a position in organized crime will meet the same fate. We will not rest until we rid our communities and businesses of the scourge of organized crime," said Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Benton Campbell.

Campbell, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, Queens DA Richard Brown, and Deputy FBI Director Mark Mershon led a press conference in the U.S. Attorney's office this morning to announce the arrests.

Thanks to Stephanie Cohen

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Biggest New York Mafia Take Down in 20 Years Hits the Gambino Family

The FBI struck a decapitating blow today to the Gambino crime family, taking out its leaders and the last vestiges of late boss John Gotti, the Daily News has learned.

Up to 60 mobsters are expected to be charged on racketeering, murder and extortion charges, including acting boss John (Jackie Nose) D'Amico who was Dapper Don's longtime sidekick, underboss Dominic Cefalu and consigliere Joseph (JoJo) Corozzo, sources said.

In an exclusive interview with the Daily News in 2005, D'Amico denied running the Gambino family. "I'm the boss of my house and my bathroom," he said.

Gotti's brother Vincent and his nephew Richard, will be charged today with the 2003 attempted murder of Howard Beach bagel shop owner Angelo Mugnolo.

Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Benton Campbell, FBI officials and representatives from the Italian National Police are scheduled to discuss the largest Mafia takedown in more than two decades, at a press conference later this morning.

Another Gotti crony, Charles Carneglia is facing charges for the murders of an armored car driver during a robbery, the 1976 murder of a court officer and the 1990 rubout of gangster Louis DiBono.

Nicholas (Little Nick) Corozzo, a reputed capo believed to be the heir apparent to run the family, will be charged with a 1996 double murder in Brooklyn in which one of the victims was a bystander.

Officials are also expected to discuss the arrests of dozens of Mafioso members in Sicily in coordination with today's raids. The Sicilian wiseguys have ties to the Gambino crime family through reputed New York soldier Franki Cali, sources said.

During the lengthy investigation, the FBI learned that disgraced NBA referee Tim Donaghy was betting on basketball games with bookies. Donaghy pleaded guilty last summer and is cooperating with authorities.

Thanks to John Marzulli

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Gambino Ambassador to Sicilian Mobsters

Friends of ours: Frank "U Frankie" Cali, Gambino Crime Family, Dominic "Italian Dom" Cefalu

A reputed Gambino crime-family soldier serves as ambassador to Sicilian mobsters trying to pump millions of dollars in illicit drug and extortion proceeds into real estate and other business in New York, officials said yesterday.

Wiretapped conversations picked up by Mafia-hunters in Palermo identified Frank "U Frankie" Cali as the suspected Gambino point man between his crime family and their counterparts in Sicily, Italian authorities said.

Sources said the only Frank Cali listed in the Gambino family in the United States is a 42-year-old Sicilian native living Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. He could not be reached for comment last night.

The bombshell disclosure came after Italian police rounded up 14 suspected mobsters in Palermo on an array of charges, including aiding fugitive boss Salvatore Lo Piccolo, one of Palermo's most powerful mob figures and possible successor to Bernardo Provenzano, the undisputed boss of bosses. Provenzano was captured last year after 43 years on the lam.

The probe uncovered evidence that Cali, who has close ties to a once-prominent Mafia family in Italy, the Inzerillos, would likely help the Sicilians launder tens of millions of euros in speculative real-estate deals in Brooklyn and retail businesses in Manhattan. Authorities did not disclose what those investments might be.

Telephone wiretaps and listening devices discovered close relations between the Palermo families and the American Mafia, according to a statement by Palermo police.

The Mafia has already made an agreement with the Italian-Americans in view of shared opportunities, Pietro Grasso, Italy's national anti-Mafia prosecutor, said at a recent news conference. In this new strategy, the American connections are indispensable.

Grasso explained that the Sicilians have a difficult time laundering their money in their homeland and are increasingly turning to the United States and other countries, where they have allies to launder cash.

Last May, The Post reported that the Sicilian mobsters, with their infamous history of violence and drug trafficking, were re-emerging as major powers in the Big Apple, and their ranks were expected to grow with the release of notorious Pizza Connection Mafiosi.

Sources say Cali appears to be a legitimate businessman, but investigators believe he is closely aligned with Dominic "Italian Dom" Cefalu, 60, who is currently considered the underboss of the Gambino crime family.

Thanks to Murray Weis

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

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