The Chicago Syndicate: Dominick Cicale
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Showing posts with label Dominick Cicale. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dominick Cicale. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Inside the Last Great Mafia Empire

Inside the Last Great Mafia Empire (Cosa Nostra News: The Cicale Files).

Dominick Cicale was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. From a young age he was closely associated with the Genovese crime family, considered the most powerful Mafia group in America. Fate intervened. In 1999 Cicale forged a tight alliance with Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, then an up-and-coming member of the Bronx faction of the Bonanno crime family. Under Basciano's tutelage, Dominick rode the fast track: he was inducted into the American Cosa Nostra and swiftly rose from soldier to capo, amassing great wealth and power. Cicale befriended and associated with numerous high-ranking figures within all of New York's Five Families as he plotted and schemed in a treacherous world where each day could be his last.

This installment views startling details surrounding the brutal gangland murder of Gerlando "George from Canada" Sciascia and its resulting impact on relations between the Bonanno family in New York and its Montreal -based "outpost" established by the Mafia Commission in 1931. The cast of characters further includes high-ranking Mafiosi such as Joseph Massino (The Last Don), Salvatore "Sal the Iron Worker" Montagna, Vito Rizzuto, Vinny Gorgeous (a nickname never used in his presence) and Cicale himself.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Will 4th Junior Gotti Trial End in Another Stalemate?

John Gotti Jr. sat at the defense table, the weight of his family history and whatever we have learned from countless movies and TV dramas about the Mafia, swirling around him.

This was the fourth time in the last four years that prosecutors have brought a case against him, this time for murder and racketeering, and just like the previous three trials in the ornate federal courthouse in lower Manhattan, a jury of 12 ordinary citizens have not been able to decide if he is guilty of the crimes charged.

"They have exhibited strength, intelligence, compassion and truthfulness and should be doubly commended for standing tall and firm for their beliefs and disbeliefs," Victoria Gotti, John's sister, told Fox News, acknowledging the proceedings have been a "difficult and exhausting trial." That slow journey will continue after the Thanksgiving holiday, with the jurors returning for more deliberations next week.

The jury announced it was deadlocked, just as the last three juries have since 2005, potentially handing federal prosecutions a stalemate. The U.S. government has so far been unable to convince 48 people that Gotti continued to follow his father's line of work. He has said he quit, in 1999, when he plead guilty to racketeering charges and went away for six years. At the time he said he thought that plea, and the sentence, would wipe the slate clean, but he was slapped with new charges when he left prison four years ago.

Prosecutors have ridiculed the claim that he quit.

"This defendant has lived the Mafia life," declared Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Trezevant, "and he never, never quit that life." They say the claim was concocted as a legal strategy and tried to show you just can't give the mob walking papers.

They presented the testimony of Bonanno Family Capo Dominick Cicale, who said you can only leave the Mafia by cooperating with the federal government or by dying. But others have walked away and lived to tell about it.

The most noted examples were the founder of the Bonanno crime family, the late Joseph Bonanno, and his son, Salvatore "Bill" Bonanno. Bill told Fox News in 2006 that he thought John Gotti Jr. had indeed left what they call "the life," in 1999, seeing what the world glamorized by "The Godfather" had really become.

In his book, "A Man of Honor: The Autobiography of Joseph Bonanno," Bonanno wrote: "The world I grew up in is gone and what is left is in ruins. The Mafia stories continue, however, regardless of the emptiness behind them."

Bonanno wrote those words in 1999, not only the same year Gotti, Jr. claims he dropped out, but the year that the "The Sopranos" debuted on HBO, giving America a new, fictional mob fascination.

"The Sopranos" ended with the famous, and controversial, black-out scene. No Tony in handcuffs, no Tony walking away. Just Tony eating with his family. We think he's still out hustling in New Jersey and then dining at the Vesuvio with Carm. But in real life, organized crime careers have voluntarily ended with the finality viewers were denied by "The Sopranos" nebulous ending.

"You can quit the mob, I've done it," former Columbo crime family Capo Michael Franzese told Fox News.

The 58-year-old Franzese is the son of John "Sonny" Franzese, "a kingpin of the Columbo crime family," as Michael's Web site,, puts it. But after being released from prison, he became a born-again Christian, motivational speaker, producer and author. His latest book, "I'll Make You An Offer You Can't Refuse," applies what he learned in the mob to the business world - legally.

"You've got to be crazy to stay in the life," says Franzese. "Like me, John wasn't destined for this life and neither was I. I was going to school to become a doctor. I question my own self at times. I did this for my dad. At one point I wanted him to be proud of me, and I think John shares a similar feeling like that. So we got into it for one reason and realized what it was all about, and maybe had second thoughts."

The most intriguing, and surprising evidence of precedent for departing the ranks of wise-guys and not being stuffed in a barrel and dumped in the ocean, was a 1985 F.B.I. wiretap of Aniello Dellacroce. The then 71-year-old mob patriarch suffered from terminal cancer, and as the reputed underboss of the Gambino Crime Family at the time, he actually explained how the Gambinos had kicked someone out.

Dellacroce, who was the mentor of John Gotti Jr.'s father, was secretly recorded talking about a dismissed crime family member on June 9, 1985, in his home on Staten Island, New York, six months before he died.

"We threw him out of the Family," Dellacroce explained.

"So, youse knocked him down," responded a listener, meaning the man in question was demoted.

"No,"responded Delleacroce. "He's out of the family."

"He's out?" asked his friend, incredulously.

"Yeah," said Dellacroce. "We threw him out. Out."

"You threw him out?"

"Out. He don't belong in the Family no more. Any friend of yours, any, any friend of ours in the street...that you tell them. This guy, he ain't in the family no more. You don't have nothin' to do with him. That's it."

Four days later, another FBI wiretap heard the group discussing their lawyers, and their visit to one lawyer's office.

"My God, what a layout he's got. They got more customers... Michael Franzese was there," noted one speaker, impressively.

During that tape, they resumed discussing the banished former Gambino.

"This guy is out, We threw him out," the group was reminded and then they start arguing about that possibility.

"I heard (this guy) was just taken down, he wasn't thrown out." said one.

"This guy was thrown out. Ya understand?" Dellacroce snapped. "Nobody's gonna bother with him...I wouldn't bother with him and nobody else would...I'll explain to him a little better this time…Maybe he didn't get the message right... Threw him out, that's, that's right. We threw him out...They don't understand English," said Dellacroce, trying to finally get his message through.

Even Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, who later served as the Gambino Underboss, quit by agreeing to testify against the senior Gotti in 1992. Gravano wrote in his book, "Underboss: Sammy the Bull Gravano's Story of Life in the Mafia," that he when he walked in to meet Gotti's prosecutor, he declared: "I want to switch governments," meaning from the Gambinos to Uncle Sam. He later was caught running a drug ring in Phoenix after he served five years for 19 murders, and is now back in prison.

The current, active members of Cosa Nostra may not agree, but history shows that even their leaders, at the highest levels -- including the bosses of two crime families- have walked away. And now a jury, once again, is trying to determine if John Gotti, Jr. did just that.

"I can tell you, unmistakably, that he has left that life," John's sister, Victoria, told Fox News. "We're not talking about a guy that is being paraded out there and there are videotapes or audio tapes of John with present day mob members," she notes, indirectly alluding to the avalanche of wiretaps and surveillance videos the Feds used as evidence against her father.

"John is no part of that life anymore," she adds. "I believe they know that deep in their hearts and in their brains."

Meanwhile, John Gotti, Jr. waits for a verdict -- if there is one.

Thanks to Eric Shawn

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Vinny Gorgeous Gets Life in Prison without Parole

A former beauty salon owner known by the Mafia as Vinny Gorgeous was sentenced Monday to life in prison without parole for the 2001 killing of one of his gangland rivals, federal prosecutors said.

A jury convicted Vincent Basciano in 2006 of racketeering, attempted murder and gambling but deadlocked on a murder charge in the slaying of Frank Santoro. After a retrial, Basciano was convicted of murder in July 2007.
Basciano, who once owned a salon called Hello Gorgeous, used a 12-gauge shotgun to kill Santoro because he believed Santoro wanted to kidnap one of his sons, prosecutors said.

One of Basciano's lawyers, Ephraim Savitt, said he plans to appeal and challenge prosecutors' central trial witness, Dominick Cicale, a former Basciano protege who said he and Basciano gunned down Santoro. The defense lawyers have said prosecutors built the case on untruthful testimony from mob turncoats.

Basciano became the acting boss of the Bonanno organized crime family after the arrest of Joseph Massino.

Massino was sentenced in 2005 to life in prison for orchestrating murders, racketeering and other crimes over a 25-year period. He avoided a possible death sentence by providing to the government evidence against Basciano and other mobsters.

While imprisoned together, Massino secretly recorded Basciano discussing a plot to kill a prosecutor, resulting in new charges against Basciano, authorities said. If convicted in that upcoming trial, Basciano could face the death penalty.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Are New York Gangsters Basically Teenage Girls with Guns?

Someone once said that New York gangsters are basically teenage girls with guns. Looked at from the proper angle, it does seem there is something particularly adolescent about a group of grown men for whom gossip, betrayal and a hair-trigger sense of loyalty runs deep in the blood.

Just Because BasketsTake, for instance, Vincent Basciano, the former hair salon owner and former acting boss of the Bonanno crime family, whose jailers — not coincidentally — once accused him of having an “unusual sophistication” at passing notes. In a legal dust-up that, beyond its violent elements, could have taken place in the girls’ locker room after field hockey practice, Mr. Basciano has accused a man, who once accused him of murder, of trying to implicate him in a phony plot to take the man’s life.

That probably bears repeating with a bit more explanation.

The trouble started in July when Mr. Basciano (known as “Vinnie Gorgeous” because of the hair salon he used to own) and his former best friend, Dominick Cicale, were both inmates at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, the huge federal jail in Lower Manhattan. Mr. Basciano was being held there during his racketeering trial in Brooklyn on charges of, among other things, having killed a gangland wannabe named Frank Santoro. Mr. Cicale, who pleaded guilty to racketeering in the same case, had double-crossed him and was, at that point, a main government witness at the trial.

According to court papers filed Tuesday evening, Mr. Cicale — in what some described as an attempt to get his former friend into further trouble with the law — reached out to a handful of fellow inmates in the super-secure witness section of the jail and asked them to tell the authorities that Mr. Basciano had recruited them through a jail guard to murder Mr. Cicale. Even the government acknowledges that there was no real plot beyond the vengeful, imaginary one that Mr. Cicale sought to pin on his onetime friend.

Ephraim Savitt, Mr. Basciano’s lawyer, said Mr. Cicale may also have been trying to get out of jail by hatching the phony plot. “What he was trying to convey was that there’s no place within the prison system that’s safe for him,” Mr. Savitt said. “I think he wants to convince the government and the court to let him out of jail to some undisclosed location.”

It was Mr. Savitt, in his legal papers, who first brought the plot to the court’s attention. He is hoping the allegations against Mr. Cicale will taint him to the point the judge in the case, Nicholas G. Garaufis of Federal District Court in Brooklyn, will grant Mr. Basciano a new trial. Mr. Basciano was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and racketeering at the trial, which ended in July, largely on the basis of Mr. Cicale’s testimony.

To further discredit Mr. Cicale, Mr. Savitt says an inmate from the jail has claimed that Mr. Cicale liked to order other inmates to “create mischief” and was known for “acting out.” He once told an inmate to throw water on the cable box, for instance, Mr. Savitt’s papers say. He also — on purpose — spilled his coffee on the kitchen floor.

The notes Mr. Basciano was accused of having passed in jail were mentioned in the defense’s recent filing to suggest that the government has a track record of watching its inmates closely and therefore must have known of Mr. Cicale’s plot. One of them was more momentous than your average teenage note, including as it did the names of five men the government says Mr. Basciano wished to kill. But, according to Mr. Basciano’s wife, Angela, who was interviewed by the government, the note was not a murder list but a “Santeria list.” She says that Mr. Basciano wanted to place the men — among them, a prosecutor and a federal judge — under a voodoo spell. Mrs. Basciano told the government that she went so far as to take the list to a “Santeria priestess” in the Bronx, court papers say.

Judge Garaufis has yet to rule on Mr. Savitt’s request for a new trial, which is contained in the court papers that are full of the he-said, he-said back-and-forth that makes up a large part of Mafia talk. One paragraph, in particular, catches the flavor. The names involved are less important than the air of gossipy disagreement.

“Cicale testified that Anthony ‘Bruno’ Indelicato initially was the person who called him about a ‘piece of work’ in which Cicale could ‘make his bones’ by killing Frank Santoro. Yet, P. J. Pisciotti testified that Indelicato told him that he was surprised to hear, just prior to the murder, that Santoro would be killed and that, in his view, it was a mistake to kill Santoro. Cicale testified that he had enlisted P. J. Pisciotti to kill Michael Mancuso and throw him off a boat. Pisciotti testified that, to the contrary, there was never a plan to kill Mancuso and throw him off a boat.”

Thanks to Alan Feuer


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