Showing posts with label Genoveses. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Genoveses. Show all posts

Thursday, May 12, 2016

"Grandpa," "Lazy Eye," "Fat Sal," "Baldy," and "Birdie," among 17 Reputed Members of Genovese Crime Family Arrested

More than a dozen members and associates of the Genovese crime family were arrested early Thursday on federal criminal charges, sources told NBC 4 New York.

Seventeen defendants, with nicknames like "Grandpa," "Lazy Eye," "Fat Sal" and "Birdie," were named in an eight-count indictment accusing them of racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder, operating an illegal gambling business and illegal use of firearms.

The suspects charged Thursday allegedly ran an illegal gambling operation, made murder threats and conspired to commit murder to futher the illegal operation, the indictment alleges.

The alleged mobsters known as Grandpa, Baldy and Fat Sal conspired together to kill someone in 2014, the indictment states. They did so, according to the charges, to be welcomed into the Genovese family and to increase their positions in the ranks of the operation.

Defendants known as Fat Sal, Lazy Eye, Grandpa, Zeus and others also allegedly ran a large-scale illegal bookmaking and sports betting operation, the indictment states. The gambling operation raked in more than $2,000 a day, the suit says.

Sources said 14 of the suspects were arrested Thursday as FBI agents, NYPD detectives and Nassau County police conducted raids in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, the Bronx and Nassau County.

Those arrested were expected to appear in federal court in Manhattan later Thursday.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires By Selwyn Raab

As the Mafia grew into a malignantly powerful force during the middle of the last century, it owed much of its success to its low-priority ranking as a law enforcement target. During most of his reign as FBI director from 1924 to 1972, J. Edgar Hoover denied that the Mafia even existed. In the late 1950s, Hoover was ''still publicly in denial" that there was such a thing as the Mafia, writes Selwyn Raab in ''Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires," his engaging history of the New York mob.

Even Hoover, who hesitated to tackle mob cases because they were difficult to win and might corrupt his agents, grudgingly came around. ''Five Families," a gritty cops-and-robbers narrative and a meticulous case history of an extraordinary law enforcement mobilization, shows how the federal government finally brought the Mafia down.

Raab, a former reporter for The New York Times whose beat was organized crime, exudes the authority of a writer who has lived and breathed his subject. Indeed, Raab seems too attached to every last nugget that he has unearthed. ''Five Families" bogs down in places under the groaning weight of excessive, repetitious detail.

Even as he tosses congratulatory bouquets to the cops for having reduced the mob to a ''fading anachronism," as one of them puts it, Raab inserts a cautionary note. The redeployment since 9/11 of US law enforcement personnel from an anti-Mafia to an antiterrorism posture is providing Cosa Nostra -- as the Italian-American organized-crime syndicates refer to themselves, meaning ''Our Thing" -- a ''renewed hope for survival," Raab says.

If they are to prosper again, all five of New York's mob families (the Gambinos, Luccheses, Colombos, Genoveses, and Bonannos) must first rebuild their leadership. The top bosses of the five families, along with many underlings, have been convicted in racketeering prosecutions and sentenced to long terms in federal prison. Those prosecutions constitute ''arguably the most successful anticrime expedition in American history," according to Raab.

The decades-long jelling of the law enforcement response to the Mafia threat commands Raab's close attention. An impetus came from Democratic Senator John McClellan of Arkansas, whose subcommittee investigated labor racketeering in the late 1960s. One key behind-the-scenes figure -- an American hero, in Raab's account -- was G. Robert Blakey, who helped craft the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations legislation as an aide to McClellan and, as a crusading law professor, tirelessly promoted the statute's use after Congress enacted it in 1970.

The law enabled prosecutors to throw the book at top mobsters, who otherwise would have been able to insulate themselves more easily from criminal accountability. Electronic surveillance, which a related law authorized, added another invaluable weapon to the federal prosecutors' arsenal.

Another of Raab's heroes, G. Bruce Mouw, supervised the FBI's Gambino Squad. Mouw's relentless, six-year investigation of John Gotti stands as a model of aggressive anti-Mafia pursuit. Gotti, whom the tabloids dubbed ''the Teflon Don," beat federal charges three times. Mouw produced ironclad evidence of Gotti's guilt by identifying an old lady's apartment as the Gambino godfather's clandestine inner sanctum and bugging it. Prosecutors nailed the Teflon Don in a fourth trial.

As for the villains portrayed by Raab, they and their operatic brutality seem endless. Raab's profiles of such ogres as Joseph ''Crazy Joe" Gallo or Salvatore ''Sammy the Bull" Gravano quickly dispel any Hollywood depiction of mobsters as lovable rogues or, as in the case of Tony Soprano of HBO's prize-winning series, as an angst-ridden man groping for life's meaning.

Mobsters typically start out as losers, dropouts from school at an early age. They are natural bullies who turn to crime out of desperation and indolence. As adults, to quote Raab's description of Gotti's wise guys, they join together as a ''hardened band of pea-brained hijackers, loan-shark collectors, gamblers, and robotic hit men."

No surprise, then, that such lowlifes would resort to violence as their modus operandi. But their cavalier acts of viciousness are nonetheless shocking. Thus, when Vito Genovese falls in love with a married cousin, he apparently has her husband strangled to death so he can marry her.

Or when Lucchese thugs believe that one of their own, Bruno Facciolo, is talking to authorities, they shoot and stab him to death. They then murder two of his mob buddies, Al Visconti and Larry Taylor, to prevent them from retaliating. Visconti is deliberately shot several times in the groin because the Luccheses believe he is a homosexual and has shamed the family.

Although ''Five Families" detours outside New York to chronicle aspects of the Cosa Nostra story, New England's Patriarcas, who deferred to New York's Gigante family, rate only passing mention. Summarizing how officials view Cosa Nostra's once-thriving 20-odd families around the country, Raab reports that those in New York and Chicago retain a ''semblance of [their] organizational frameworks," while the others, including Patriarca's, are ''in disarray or practically defunct."

Raab has much to say about what he regards as the possible involvement of a Florida mafioso, Santo Trafficante Jr., in President Kennedy's assassination. Raab theorizes that Trafficante -- who lost his organized-crime base in Havana when Fidel Castro took over and who loathed Kennedy for not unhorsing the Cuban revolutionary -- may have conspired to kill Kennedy.

Exhibit A is the confession of a gravely ill Trafficante, four days before his death in 1987, that he had had a hand in Kennedy's murder. Raab's source for the purported confession was Trafficante's longtime lawyer, Frank Ragano. Raab collaborated with Ragano on a book, ''Mob Lawyer."

Of course, any mob role in Kennedy's assassination remains a speculative matter, as Raab concedes. But in ''Five Families," he notes that ''Ragano's assertions are among the starkest signs implicating Mafia bosses in the death of President Kennedy." To buttress his theory, Raab might have mentioned that the Mafia was at or near the apex of its power in 1963, the year of Kennedy's murder.

Reviewed by Joseph Rosenbloom

Monday, October 12, 2015

2008 Survey Names the Top 10 Criminal Organizations in the World

THEY trade in everything from stolen art to nuclear technology and leave rivals riddled with bullets in the streets of Moscow.

Now the worst thugs in the Russian Mafia have blasted their way to the top of the global organised crime league.

Moscow's Solntsevskaya Bratva, known as the Brotherhood, have just been named the worst criminal gang in the world in a major survey. And the planet's most famous mobsters, the "Five Families" of the New YorkMafia, barely scrape into the top 10.

The Brotherhood took over the underworld of south-west Moscow in the 1980s after godfather Sergei Mikhailov learned his criminal trade in the Siberian labour camps. Then, by linking up with other gangs, they built an empire worth tens of billions of pounds across Russia and beyond.

The survey says: "From its base in Moscow, this syndicate runs rackets in extortion, drug trafficking, car theft, stolen art, money laundering, contract killings, arms dealing, trading nuclear material, prostitution and oil deals."

Anyone who threatens the Brotherhood's business tends to end up dead.

They murdered a string of rival hoods in Moscow in the early 1990s and a bid to put Mikhailov on trial in Switzerland in 1996 had to be abandoned after several witnesses were shot or blown up.

Former FBI agent Bob Levinson says the Russian Mafia are "the most dangerous people on earth". But the survey, compiled by online men's mag AskMen, reveals that they have rivals in every corner of the world.

No 2 in the gangland top 10 are the Yamaguchi-gumi syndicate, the biggest of Japan's Yakuza crime clans.

Based in the city of Kobe and run by mastermind Shinobu Tsusaka, the 40,000- strong Yamaguchi-gumi run extortion, gambling, vice, drugs and loan-sharking scams. They also take kickbacks from building projects and peddle online porn.

Third place in the poll goes to an Italian Mafia gang - but not the Sicilian Cosa Nostra or the Camorra of Naples. The little-known "'Ndrangheta", based in the southern district of Calabria, have ties to Colombian drug barons. Some believe they are responsible for 80 per cent of Europe's cocaine trade. While other Mafia gangs have been crippled by informers, the 'Ndrangheta have kept their vows of silence because the mob is built on close family ties.

Most gangs only care about cash. But the fourth mob on the list, India's D Company, have sinister ties to Islamic terror. Boss of bosses Dawood Ibrahim masterminded a wave of bombings that killed 257 people in Mumbai in 1993. Ibrahim has links to al-Qaeda and the Taliban and is widely believed to be hiding in Pakistan. He is rumoured to have had plastic surgery to alter his face.

Fifth on the list are the ruthless 14K triad from Hong Kong, who trade in human beings as well as drugs and assassinations.

The Sicilian Mafia only make sixth place in the poll after a string of high-profile arrests of their bosses.

Seventh are the Chinese Dai Huen Jai gang, many of whom are veterans of Chairman Mao's Red Guards.

One of the world's most violent mobs, theMexican Tijuana Cartel, take eighth place. Turf wars between the Cartel, led by Eduardo Arellano-Felix, and other gangs have killed hundreds in recent years.

Ninth spot goes to Taiwan's United Bamboo triad.

And despite their Hollywood reputation, the five New York Mafia families are left bringing up the rear.

The Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Lucchese clans have been relentlessly harried by the FBI. Many bosses are now behind bars, including Gambino godfather Nicholas Corozzo, who was held in March.

Top 10 criminal organizations

1 Solntsevskaya Bratva

2 Yamaguchi-gumi

3 'Ndrangheta

4 D Company

5 14K

6 Sicilian Mafia

7 Dai Huen Jai

8 Tijuana Cartel

9 United Bamboo

10 The US Mafia 'The Five Families'

Thanks to Ian Brandes

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Thursday, December 06, 2012

New York Unions Are Still Mob Targets

The Genovese crime family has a well-earned reputation as the most feared of New York City's five Mafia organizations. An FBI bust this spring may weaken that standing. Local unions are hoping so. On April 18, an 18-count indictment was unsealed in Brooklyn federal court charging 11 arrestees with racketeering, embezzlement, extortion and other offenses. At least eight are Genovese soldiers or associates, including capo Conrad Ianniello, nephew of recently-deceased onetime acting boss Matthew Ianniello. U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, Eastern District of New York, stated: "This indictment is the most recent chapter in this office's continued fight against organized crime's efforts to infiltrate unions and businesses operating in New York City." All defendants, save for one, have pleaded not guilty. Her spokesman told NLPC this week that all other cases are still pending.

New York's La Cosa Nostra families in recent years have seen attrition in their ranks as a result of aggressive law enforcement. Two cases stand out. In February 2008, federal agents arrested some 60 Gambino made men and associates (including Genovese and Bonanno members) for crimes including murder, racketeering, theft, and loan sharking. By the end of that September, virtually all defendants pleaded guilty; about three dozen were sentenced. The bust was part of a sweep, called Operation Old Bridge, coordinated with Italian authorities. Three years later, in January 2011, hundreds of FBI agents, U.S. marshals, and New York State and New York City cops arrested nearly 120 persons named in an 82-page, 16-count indictment for murder, racketeering, money-laundering, extortion and other offenses. It was the largest Mafia bust in American history. Nearly three dozen of those arrested were full-fledged members of the Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese or Lucchese crime syndicates; others belonged to the DeCavalcante (Northern New Jersey) and Patriarca (New England) families. The entire Colombo leadership, for the time being, was taken out of commission. Dozens of other defendants were associates of various mobs.

Labor unions figured in each case. Nabbed in Operation Old Bridge was Louis Mosca, business manager for Laborers International Union of North America Local 325. He eventually pleaded guilty to mail fraud conspiracy for buying a book containing the names of union members on behalf of the brother of Gambino captain Lenny Dimaria. And Michael King, former contractor project supervisor-shop steward for Laborers Local 731, pleaded guilty to extortion. In the 2011 mob takedown, which has taken longer to prosecute, New York Mafia families controlled various operations of Cement and Concrete Workers Local 6A (a Laborers affiliate), International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 282, and International Longshoremen Association Local 1235.

Conrad Ianniello is a logical starting point for connecting the dots in this latest round of arrests and indictments. If nothing else, he's got an impressive mob pedigree. His uncle, Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianniello, who died of health problems at age 92 this August, served as acting boss for the Genovese family after godfather Vincent "the Chin" Gigante was sent packing to federal prison in 1997, the latter's "crazy man" act revealed as just that -- an act. The elder Ianniello controlled the Queens, N.Y.-based Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 until he pleaded guilty in 2006 to two separate federal charges, the first for arranging payoffs from bus companies to Local 1181 officials and the second for extorting payments from trash hauling companies in Connecticut. He received respective prison sentences of 18 months and (concurrently) two years. His nephew, Conrad, picked up a few lessons during his youth. He was convicted for grand larceny in 1972 and gun possession in 1986. These brushes with the law apparently didn't put him on a straight and narrow path.

According to federal prosecutors, the younger Ianniello in 2008 shook down contractors and extorted payments from street vendors operating at the Feast of San Gennaro in Lower Manhattan's Little Italy. The annual festival had a reputation for mob infiltration until 1996 when then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani appointed a special aide, Mort Berkowitz, to oversee the event. Ianniello also allegedly engaged in racketeering conspiracy to facilitate illegal gambling. More apropos, he had his handprints on organized labor. During April and May 2008, noted the indictment, Ianniello conspired with two other defendants, Robert Scalza and Ryan Ellis, each a Genovese associate, to extort payments from an unnamed labor union so its leaders would refrain from further organizing at a Long Island work site. In this way, the defendants could reserve organizing for International Union of Journeymen and Allied Trades (IUJAT) Local 713, where Scalza served as secretary-treasurer.

Local 713 isn't the only mobbed-up Journeymen and Allied Trades affiliate. Two other defendants, James Bernardone, secretary-treasurer of the Bronx-based IUJAT Local 124, and Paul Gasparrini, were charged with racketeering conspiracy. The pair allegedly extorted payments from a subcontractor during approximately 2006-09 at various construction sites in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. The indictment cited Bernardone as a Genovese crime soldier and Gasparrini as a Genovese associate. Another indicted co-conspirator, Salvester Zarzana (see photo), previously had been president of United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 926 until his ouster for his alleged abuse of his union-issued credit card. Zarzana now stands accused of extortion in connection with a Local 124 project site. The indictment identified him as a made man in the Genovese syndicate.

Union corruption in this round of indictments also involved persons not necessarily involved with the Genoveses. That would include John Squitieri, who in 2008 allegedly embezzled funds from employee pension and annuity plans of Local 7-Tile, Marble, and Terrazzo, an affiliate of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC). He provided nonunion tile workers for the renovation of the Paramount Hotel near Manhattan's Times Square. In this way, he could pocket union retirement plan contributions. Another individual, Rodney Johnson, a project manager at the Paramount Hotel site, was charged with obstruction of justice for impeding a grand jury investigation.

The three remaining defendants weren't involved in union activity, but they're significant notwithstanding. A Genovese family associate, William Panzera, and Robert Fiorello, were charged with loan-sharking and extortion. And the final defendant, Felice Masullo, a Genovese associate who had been considered for elevation to made man, was indicted on running an illegal sports gambling operation. This wasn't his first dust-up with the law. Several years ago he ran a restaurant with two brothers, Anthony and Angelo Masullo, until all three were charged with racketeering. Each pleaded guilty in November 2009. Felice Masullo received a prison sentence of 41 months for cocaine distribution, extortion and sports gambling. This case was part of a probe that secured racketeering pleas from former Genovese acting boss Daniel Leo and his nephew, Joseph Leo, for illegal gambling and loan-sharking; several other Genovese personnel were among the dozen charged. For Masullo, the story didn't end there. This April, with 15 months remaining in his sentence, he was hit with new gambling charges. He pleaded not guilty at first but then changed his plea to guilty, and was sentenced in October in Manhttan federal court to eight months in prison.

Like previous mob busts and indictments, this latest round underscores the still-pervasive power of the Mafia and the Genovese family in particular. And if there is a New York Mafia outfit whose ranks could use some thinning, it's the Genoveses, with an estimated 250 to 300 made men and another thousand or more associates. Federal authorities cite the need for continued vigilance even while acknowledging the blow they have struck against the mob's operations. FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Janice Fedarcyk explained in announcing the indictments: "Even as mob families seek and discover new ways to make money by illegitimate means, they continue to rely on tried-and-true schemes like extortion and gambling. The mob's purpose is making money, and how is less important than how much." And Robert Panella, Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, stated: "The Office of Inspector General will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to vigorously investigate labor racketeering in the nation's unions."

Thanks to Carl Horowitz.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Genovese Crime Family



This is a work in progress, but the table above will include Members of the Genovese Crime Family who appear in articles within The Chicago Syndicate. The reputed mobsters have been split into 2 categories: "Bosses" and "Friends of Mine". It is not intended to be an all-inclusive listing of Genovese Members and Associates, but rather it is to serve as an index for this site. As other members/associates are mentioned in articles, the list will grow. If you have information on any additions or changes that should be made, please send us an email.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Is the Food at Mob Eateries Overrated?

SO, Fat Tony misses Ba monte's mussels, Rao's chicken, and "great pasta" at Parkside and Don Peppe! It just shows you how out to lunch the mob is these days.

A joke among Italian-Americans secure enough to laugh off stupid stereotypes is to ask not whether a good Italian restaurant is northern or southern, but rather: "Gambino or Genovese?" (Sorry, Bonannos, Colombos and Lucheses.)

The myth that eateries owned or frequented by the Mafia have great food goes back many generations. Maybe "the Luna Azure up in The Bronx" really did have "the finest" veal in town, as Mario Puzo wrote in "The Godfather." But the Corleones never existed. And today's made men are mostly too drugged or stunad to be able to taste the difference between veal and Velveeta.

If Fat Tony wants real Italian food, he doesn't have to go back to the old country. It's kicking butt all over town as never before.

If Marea's brawny fusili with baby octopus, bone marrow and tomatoes doesn't give Tony a new perspective, neither will a set of brass knuckles.

The cooking at supposedly mobbed-up, old-time red-sauce restaurants was always overrated. Il Mulino costs a bundle, but it whips the meatballs off Tony's faves. On a good night, chicken scarpariello at cheap, mass-market Carmine's on upper Broadway could give Rao's lemon chicken a run for its money in a blind tasting.

Tony doesn't strike me as the kind of guy to go for prissy pasta primavera -- which is to his credit. But he'd flip for awesomely rich dishes coming out of the kitchens of Marea, Babbo, Il Gattopardo, Esca, Del Posto, Convivio, San Pietro, A Voce, Locanda Verde, Mia Dona, Cellini -- even all-American Union Square Café, where chef Carmen Quagliata's pasta shames most of what they eat in Rome.

The probation poobahs aren't keeping Tony away from New York's exploding (bad word!) super-pizza scene, either -- from the killer (!) $5 slice, hand-made by owner Domenico DeMarco, at Di Fara on Avenue J in Midwood to the luxuriously crusted 12-inchers at Keste on Bleecker Street, where Neapolitan "artisans" preside over the dough.

Thanks to Steve Cuozzo

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How Mafia Crime Families Adapted for the 21st Century

New York City's Five Families owned the 20th Century. Now they must confront the 21st — still alive, still armed and still dangerous.

Today's traditional Mafia family has ventured far from its roots as an ultra-secret society formed in the streets of New York at the dawn of the Depression. The evolution has been epic.

To some, it appears a gang of criminals has turned into a popular culture commodity, spawning movies and TV shows that will long outlast the real-life story. In that version, the bosses are in jail, the gang is undone, and all that's left is the book and movie deal.

In reality, the mob somehow survives, transforming, changing, adapting to the new economies and technologies — sometimes a jump quicker than law enforcement. "As the economy goes, these guys go," said Michael Gaeta, supervisor of the New York FBI's organized crime unit. "Despite our attacks, they've managed to adapt."

Strategically, law enforcement sources say, the mob is closer to its roots, returning to the shadows, avoiding the public walk-talks that brought law enforcement to their door.

They still reap ill-gotten gains from traditional sources. They still have some control over corrupt contractors and unions, and illegal gambling continues as a primary source of wealth. They've also diversified, crafting new scams befitting a new century.

"They're clearly not as visible as they used to be," Gaeta said. "You're not going to see the regular meetings you used to see. They're much more compartmentalized.

"They're smarter about the way they conduct business. At meetings, they make sure everybody leaves their cell phone at the door."

Today's Mafia families no longer perform the ornate induction ceremonies in which a card depicting a saint is burned and a gun is displayed. They've ditched the saint and the gun. Still, they induct new members when old ones die, and they find new ways to steal.

Several families, for instance, got in on the housing boom of 2002-2007 through corrupt construction companies and unions, court papers and sources say. Records show mob-linked companies have been subcontractors on most of the major projects of the last few years, including highway repair, the midtown office tower boom, the massive water treatment plant in the Bronx, even the rebuilding of the World Trade Center.

"They were taking full advantage of that — even if it was only removing waste from a construction site," one source said. "They'd have their favorite companies getting jobs. If the union was a problem, they'd take care of it."

Each family had a different method of adapting to the new century.

In the Wall Street boom, a Luchese soldier formed a fake hedge fund, operating out of a one-family house in Staten Island. He conned hundreds of wealthy investors into putting their money in bundled mortgage securities — one of the major causes of the economy's collapse.

When the housing bubble burst, a Genovese crew cashed in on the wave of foreclosures through house-flipping schemes in suburban Westchester.

The Gambino family stole credit card numbers via Internet porn sites, laundered gambling money through an energy drink company called American Blast, and took over a company that distributed bottled water — a far cry from the Prohibition days of bootlegging.

All the families use the Web to enhance their multi-million dollar illegal gambling empires through offshore betting shell corporations.

As part of the new mob order, the penchant for violence has diminished. That is a sea change in New York that also represents a return to the old ways.

For years, the five families divided up New York City in mostly peaceful co-existence, with occasional bouts of behind-the-scenes violence usually wrought by internal power struggles.

Bloodshed began to escalate in the 1980s, as bodies turned up in Staten Island swamps, the World Trade Center garage, even at the doorstep of Sparks Steakhouse in midtown Manhattan.

Then came a major shift in the mob's ability to enforce the vow of silence known as ‘omerta.' In 1991, Gambino underboss Salvatore (Sammy Bull) Gravano decided to become an informant. A wave of informants followed, which deteriorated into shootouts in the streets and dozens of suspected informants who disappeared.

Since 2000, the number of bodies has dropped precipitously, law enforcement sources say. They take this as a sign that the mob once again craves a lower profile to avoid scrutiny. "They keep things calm," one source said. "They try to keep things looking legit. They'd rather take 5 cents from 1,000 people than $10,000 from one."

They've also adopted management changes. Since the conviction of all the major bosses of the middle 20th century, all five families have struggled to find replacements who will last.

Three of the five families have retired the official boss altogether, forming flexible leadership panels that mediate disputes and enforce the so-called rules. "They retrenched. They became much less visible," said one law enforcement source. "The days of John Gotti nonsense, you don't see that anymore."

Today, the mob's haunts aren't what they were. Neighborhoods of Italian immigrants that once served as Ground Zero of Mafia-dom are ethnically diverse, with many former residents relegated to suburbia. The days when mobsters hung out at inner city social clubs — and FBI agents watched from nearby vans with tinted windows — are rare.

Some of the best-known clubs have just vanished:

  • Gravano's old hangout, Tali's Bar in Bensonhurst, where bar owner Mikey DeBatt was whacked in the back room by one of Gravano's crew, is a Vietnamese restaurant.
  • John Gotti's Ravenite Social Club is a trendy shoe store.
  • The Palma Boys Club, where the Genovese family met is an empty store front with lime green walls, is up for lease.
  • The Wimpy Boys Club in Gravesend — where a mob moll was once shot in the head and her ear turned up weeks later — is now Sal's Hair Stylist.

But just because they can't be seen doesn't mean they aren't there.

Thanks to John Marzulli

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Did Organized Crime Firms Perform Work on Yankees and Mets New Stadiums?

Millions of dollars worth of work associated with the new baseball stadiums for the Yankees and Mets was performed by companies that New York City avoids doing business with because of prior allegations of corruption and ties to organized crime.

The roughly $17 million demolition of Shea Stadium, which cleared the way for the new Citi Field in Queens, was largely done by Breeze National Inc., whose vice president, Toby Romano, was convicted on federal bribery charges in 1988 and whom law enforcement officials have identified as having ties to organized crime.

Much of the electrical work at the new Yankee Stadium was done by Petrocelli Electric, a company that since June 2006 has been on a list of contractors that New York City cautions its agencies against using. The owner, Santo Petrocelli Sr., was indicted this month on charges that he had been bribing a leading union official for more than a decade.

In a third instance, the millions of dollars in excavation and cast-in-place concrete work at the new Yankee ballpark was performed by Interstate Industrial, a company that has been barred from doing city work since 2004. City investigators concluded several years ago that Interstate had connections to organized crime. The company has been accused of paying for more than $150,000 in renovations in 1999 and 2000 on the apartment of former Police Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik, who pleaded guilty in 2006 to accepting the work.

Two of the three contractors, Petrocelli and Interstate, were not paid with city funds. But both the ballpark projects were overseen by the New York City Economic Development Corporation and together received roughly $2 billion in public subsidies.

In defending themselves to city regulators and others, the companies have denied any improprieties, or have suggested the allegations were ancient ones that had been long contradicted by years of appropriate behavior on job sites.

The city development corporation’s policy is to review the hiring of major contractors on its projects only when they are paid directly with city funds. And even then, it generally takes no action to review what in some cases are dozens of subcontractors, a spokesman said.

The development agency says it does not have the staff to conduct background checks on all the companies working on a particular project, and with undertakings like the stadiums — private projects that are bolstered by a huge infusion of city, state and federal public benefits — the city has never sought to review the selection of the contractors.

The ball clubs say the companies were hired through competitive bidding processes and performed well under their contracts. No one has made any complaints about the competence or safety of the work they performed, and until recent years, both Petrocelli and Interstate had each won large city contracts with some regularity.

In the case of the demolition work at Shea, the contractor, Breeze National, was paid with state and city funds. But Breeze was hired to do the work by a subcontractor to Queens Ballpark Company L.L.C., a company created by the Wilpon family, which owns the Mets, to develop and operate the stadium.

The development corporation’s spokesman, David Lombino, said that while it reviews the general contractor and first-tier subcontractor, it does not review companies more than two levels down, as Breeze was.

Experts say the policy does not go far enough to help address the problems in the city’s construction industry, which has seen a rash of fatal accidents and has a long history of corruption and mob influence.

James B. Jacobs, a professor at New York University Law School who has written extensively about organized crime and construction corruption over the last two decades, suggested it was shortsighted on the part of the city to refrain from reviewing contractors that were not paid directly with city money.

“We’re talking about the nature of the whole construction industry, which affects public construction, private construction, not-for-profit construction and the whole economic viability of the city,” Professor Jacobs said. “So there ought to be a commitment to do what we can to purge corrupt influences out of that industry.”

Like much construction work in New York, stadium projects have some history of being infiltrated by companies whose ownership, work product or associations has drawn the attention of investigators. In the mid-1980s, for example, a plumbing company that listed John Gotti, the Gambino boss, as one of its salesmen, was hired to do work at Shea Stadium.

For the current projects, neither the city nor the baseball clubs released a list of the companies that have worked on the stadiums.

Questions about the city’s oversight of a stadium project also surfaced six years ago when the Yankees built a $71 million minor-league ballpark on Staten Island. On that job, the development corporation approved awarding the concrete contract to Interstate, though the company was then under investigation by the city.

The president of the development corporation at the time, Michael G. Carey, said there was no reason to question the company’s fitness. But city documents show the development corporation knew the city was examining accusations that the company had ties to the mob. It let the contract go forward when the company’s owner denied the allegations and told corporation officials that the inquiry was routine.

Mr. Lombino, the Economic Development Corporation’s spokesman, said the corporation carries out what it sees as its responsibilities under the law. “We go above and beyond what is required by law to ensure that construction projects are carried out safely and in a timely and cost-effective manner,” he said, adding that the effort “created thousands of jobs in neighborhoods that need them.”

David Newman, the vice president of marketing for the Mets, defended the selection of Breeze and Mr. Romano, saying that Queens Ballpark Company made the choice based on the recommendation of Hunt Bovis, which managed the construction of the new stadium and the razing of the old. It was based, he said, on their capability and resources and their ability to meet the schedule and bond the job. “The deconstruction,” he said, “was done on time, on budget and without incident or injury.”

Mr. Romano, for his part, said in an e-mail message: “It is completely untrue and totally unfair for anyone to state that I was ever connected to organized crime.” He said that the allegation was 17 years old and called it “a self-serving lie by a convicted felon.”

The accusation was made by Alfonse D’Arco, the former acting boss of the Luchese crime family, and was cited by city regulators in 2007 when they blocked another of Mr. Romano’s companies from a license to operate a construction trucking business in the city.

In the case of the electric company, law enforcement officials, trial testimony and F.B.I. reports say Mr. Petrocelli has had associations with members of the Genovese family dating to 1988. His lawyer could not be reached for comment. Mr. Petrocelli pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges filed this month.

Interstate’s owners have also denied the allegations that they have ties to the Gambino crime family or that they paid for Mr. Kerik’s renovations.

At Yankee Stadium, the contract was technically awarded to a company called Central Excavators. But the Yankees, Interstate and the Turner Construction Company, which built the stadium for the Yankees, have all acknowledged that Interstate performed the work.

Turner said in a statement that it selected Petrocelli and Interstate “after a competitive-bid process and based on Turner’s positive experiences working with these firms.” The statement noted that the work performed by the two companies was limited to the stadium itself, and thus no taxpayer money was used to pay them.

A spokeswoman for the Yankees, Alice McGillion, said that in an excess of caution, the company had brought in an independent construction monitor to oversee the stadium project, including the hiring of subcontractors by Turner.

The monitor, Edwin H. Stier, said his company came on the job after Petrocelli and Interstate had already been hired, but performed background checks on subsequent subcontractors.

“The important thing is that the Yankees did something about it, and as a result of it, we identified a number of issues, including the presence of Interstate and the presence of Petrocelli,” he said. “They were there already working on site and the Yankees said to our firm, we want you to monitor them very carefully.”

Thanks to William K. Rashbaum

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Genovese Crime Family Bust Centers Around Gambling Operations

In the state of New York it has become common place to have police bust up mafia operations. It occurred again on Wednesday when thirteen alleged members of the Genovese crime family were charged with various crimes.

Gambling, as it is in most mafia cases, was at the forefront of the charges. The indictment that was unsealed refers to the "operation of illegal gambling businesses." The men were also charged with extortion, narcotics trafficking, and loansharking.

Of the thirteen people that were charged, six of them were arrested early Wednesday morning. The other seven were either in the process of turning themselves in or were already in custody from other charges.

Among the arrests was a former acting boss for the Genovese crime family. Several of his soldiers were also picked up in the raid. Thomas Tassiello, another Genovese family member was charged in a separate indictment on charges of extortion and racketeering.

The sting stems from the crime family shaking down local businesses, mainly bartending school owners in both Jersey City and Manhattan. Genovese soldiers reportedly took over the businesses after the owners could make their payments on loansharking debts.

Thanks to Tom Jones

Thursday, December 18, 2008

On the Waterfront, Mafia-Style, Leads to Operation UNIRAC

Dockworkers in Wilmington, North Carolina were getting sucked into a trap. Needing money between paychecks, some went to James Lee, a former dockworker who had become a leader in their union—the International Longshoremen’s Association, or ILA.

Lee had opened a small store across from the union hall and begun offering loans to his fellow members. But there was a catch. Lee charged an exorbitant interest rate, upwards of 25 percent per week.

Because he controlled the distribution of paychecks, Lee could make sure the dockworkers paid up: he would cash their checks by forging their signatures, take his cut, and then give what was left to the dockworker.

For the workers, this nefarious setup just kept them coming back for more loans. And if they complained? No luck—the mob had Lee’s back.

This scenario, which played out in the 1970s, was not an isolated one. The Gambino and Genovese organized crime families had begun asserting control over waterfront commerce along the eastern seaboard in the late 1950s through a variety of racketeering schemes. Their influence in ILA was cemented by the 1970s, and the FBI was understandably concerned.

In 1975, as part of the FBI's growing strategy to attack organized crime, they opened a case called UNIRAC (short for Union Racketeering), targeting systemic Mafia crime in ILA.

It began when a Florida businessman named Joe Teitelbaum—tired of being bilked by the mob—became a cooperating witness of the Miami Metro-Dade police. His information was shared with the FBI, and they opened a joint investigation with the Miami police. Eventually, they began pursuing related crimes up and down the East Coast.

New York became central to the widening investigation. Anthony Scotto, a Gambino family capo who often extorted the hardworking dockhands, was a national ILA leader and one of the most politically powerful union leaders in the country. He seemed untouchable.

As a young agent, Louis Freeh—who later became FBI director—played a key role in the New York side of the case. One of his targets was a mobster named Michael Clemente, who was well connected to wider mob schemes. Freeh’s job was to go undercover to get close to Clemente, discover his contacts, and help protect an informant working with the FBI.

He got very close, it turns out. Freeh often hung around the gym where the mobster used a sauna to conduct his private meetings. Clemente soon warmed to this newcomer. Often wearing nothing but a towel, the undercover Freeh was able to help identify the mobster’s associates. His act was so convincing that when Clemente saw Freeh in court waiting to testify at his trial, the Mafioso tried to get his attorney to let the judge know that the “kid” had nothing to do with the crimes.

Former Director Louis Freeh was recently interviewed about his role in the UNIRAC investigation and its place in FBI history. Below is an excerpt from the interview.

"The ramifications of the case were very significant. It was the first major labor racketeering case that the FBI had made. In those days, particularly in New York, the organized crime problem was dealt with by the FBI ... really sort of on a one-on-one basis. The notion of UNIRAC was that we would look at the entire enterprise, in other words the Longshoremen's union, juxtaposed [with] the Cosa Nostra groups that were controlling them. So the result of that was Director Webster in Washington established for the first time in the organized crime unit a labor racketeering desk. And the Bureau went on to look at cases not just on the East Coast but the central states, the Teamsters' cases, and really started to look at organized crime as an enterprise target. That was I think really responsible for the ... substantial weakening of [the Mafia] over the next 20 years."


Along with Freeh, dozens of agents worked for several years to develop evidence of criminal activity within ILA. It paid off on December 18, 1978—30 years ago this week—when a Miami grand jury charged 22 labor union officials and shipping execs for taking kickbacks and other illegal activities. It was just one of many indictments along the East Coast. In the end, more than 110 were convicted, including mobsters Scotto, Lee, and Clemente.

More work was yet to be done, but the Mafia was now on notice that the Bureau’s new strategy was working.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Angelo Prisco, Captain with the Genovese Crime Family, Indicted for Multiple Crimes

MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York; MARK J. MERSHON, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”); and WEYSAN DUN, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the Newark Office of the FBI, announced that ANGELO PRISCO, a Captain in the Genovese Organized Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra, has been charged by Indictment with various crimes including racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, robbery, extortion, firearms crimes, stolen property crimes, and operating an illegal gambling business. 

According to the Indictment filed in Manhattan federal court: From at least the 1970s through the present, PRISCO was a Soldier, and later a Captain, in the Genovese Organized Crime Family. As a Captain, PRISCO supervised, oversaw and profited from the criminal activities of his own crew of Genovese Family Soldiers and associates, operating in the New York City area and in New Jersey.

PRISCO committed various crimes on behalf of the Genovese Organized Crime Family. He oversaw and took part in a conspiracy to commit a string of home invasions and other armed robberies, during which the intended victims were robbed of cash proceeds of their businesses and other property. PRISCO also oversaw and participated in the extortion of Manhattan-based construction business; possessed, sold and transported stolen property; and operated an illegal gambling business.  If convicted, PRISCO, 69, of Tom’s River, NJ, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Mr. GARCIA praised the work of the FBI’s New York  and Newark Field Offices; the Orange County, New York District Attorney’s Office; the Westchester County, New York District Attorney’s Office; the New York State Police; the Morris County, New Jersey Prosecutor’s Office; the Rockaway Township, New Jersey Police Department; and the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation. 

Assistant United States Attorneys ELIE HONIG and LISA ZORNBERG are in charge of the prosecution.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Guilty Pleas in Organized Crime Gambling Ring

Two men with reputed ties to organized crime pleaded guilty on Tuesday to participating in an illegal gambling ring run out of a wholesale produce market at Hunts Point in the Bronx.

John Caggiano, who the authorities say is an associate in the Genovese crime family, admitted in State Supreme Court in Manhattan that he “knowingly advanced and profited from unlawful gambling.” In exchange for his plea to enterprise corruption, a felony, Mr. Caggiano, 59, will receive a sentence of one and a half to four and a half years in prison. He must also forfeit $176,000.

His co-defendant, Douglas Maleton, 60, admitted that he had been a runner for the numbers and sports-betting operation and pleaded guilty to attempted enterprise corruption, for which he will receive a one-year sentence. He must forfeit $591.

“Today’s pleas go a long way to ridding our public wholesale markets of organized crime,” said Michael J. Mansfield, the chairman of the city’s Business Integrity Commission, which was created in 2001 to help end mob influence in the trash-hauling companies and wholesale markets.

Mr. Mansfield also said Tuesday’s pleas were only part of the battle. “There are always going to be influences of organized crime in an organization that has the ability to generate $1.2 billion in sales,” he said.

Mr. Caggiano and Mr. Maleton were 2 of 11 men who were arrested in November 2006 as part of a gambling ring that the authorities said generated $200,000 a year in profits. All but one of the 11 men have pleaded guilty. Robert Russo, who the authorities contend is the head of the operation, is scheduled to go on trial next month.

Mr. Caggiano, the son-in-law of Dominick Cirillo, the former acting boss of the Genovese family, owned and operated C&S Wholesale Produce Inc., one of the terminal market’s biggest produce wholesalers. The authorities said that he ran the day-to-day operations of the ring, often conducting business from his headquarters at C&S.

The commission began investigating the company in 2004, Mr. Mansfield said. By 2006, after the Manhattan district attorney’s office brought charges against the 11 men, the commission began its own proceedings against C&S, Mr. Mansfield said. In May 2007, the commission expelled C&S from the market, finding that the company “lacked good character, honesty and integrity,” Mr. Mansfield said.

Robert M. Morgenthau, the Manhattan district attorney, said the investigation relied on “quite extensive electronic surveillance over a long period of time.”

The case was under Mr. Morgenthau’s jurisdiction because some of the operations were run out of an apartment in Lower Manhattan, the authorities said.

Justice Bruce Allen is scheduled to formally sentence Mr. Maleton on Oct. 10 and Mr. Caggiano on Nov. 3. Both men declined to comment.

Thanks to John Eligon

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The History of Organized Crime Control of Gay Bars

I had a reader send me a link to the the History of Gay Bars in New York City from 1900 to the present. In addition to the Big Apple, you can also read accounts regarding the history of gay bars in Chicago, Montreal, Philadelphia and Washington DC.

Mob buffs will be most interested in the New York articles which include several accounts of involvement by the Bonannos, Colombos, Gambinos, Genoveses, and Luccheses crime families.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

New York's 5 Crime Families to Get Corporate Sponsors?

Maybe the Mafia needs a new business model. The old one hasn’t been working well of late. That seems a reasonable surmise after the mass arrests that had a huge chunk of the Gambino crime family — pardon us, a huge alleged chunk of the Gambino crime family — parading around in manacles the other day.

It is said that the mob prides itself on being a solid business, with diversified interests and assorted revenue streams. If so, organized crime is missing out on a scheme that has been an enormous cash cow for some other businesses.

There is a fortune to be made from selling naming rights to New York’s five Mafia families.

Why should sports teams be the only ones to turn a buck by putting their stadiums and arenas on the auction block? Citigroup, to cite one of many examples, is paying the Mets $20 million a year to have the ball club’s new stadium in Queens called Citi Field.

That’s small potatoes compared with revenue possibilities for the gilded Yankees, who say they have turned down offers of $50 million or more from an unnamed corporation wanting to slap its name on their new Bronx stadium.

In similar fashion, the mob could market itself to certain companies, most likely those in serious trouble themselves.

Imagine an outfit like Enron’s accounting firm, Arthur Andersen. It suffered a scandal-induced collapse. But while it struggled to stay alive, it might have done well to attach its name to a mob family. The way things were going, that kind of maneuver would have been a step up in class. And goodness knows the Mafia could use some new names. The existing ones are mustier than a “bada bing” tabloid headline.

Carlo Gambino has been dead for three decades, yet his name still graces (or disgraces) a crime group that has not lacked for famous latter-day leaders, men like Paul Castellano and John Gotti.

The same holds for the other families: Bonanno, Genovese, Luchese and Colombo, all named for men who died or faded away ages ago. The nomenclature dates to the early 1960s, with the exception of the gang once led by Joseph Colombo; his name supplanted that of Joseph Profaci in 1970. Still, that’s not exactly last week.

What gives with all this yesteryear? In any business, isn’t an occasional sprucing-up required?

In this regard, the mob is not much different from many corporations, said Thomas Reppetto, the author of “American Mafia: A History of Its Rise to Power” (Henry Holt & Company).

“Sears, Roebuck started out with two guys who were not running the company very long, but it’s still called Sears,” Mr. Reppetto said.

“I think, too, that it’s better to keep an established name,” he said. “It makes it appear more powerful when you say the family has been around a long time.”

A similar thought was offered by Mark Feldman, a director at BDO Consulting in Manhattan. He used to track organized crime for the United States attorney’s office in Brooklyn. “I don’t know for sure,” Mr. Feldman said, “but it would seem to me that a brand name means something even in criminal circles.”

Selwyn Raab, who used to report on the mob for this newspaper, says the five families’ labels really began with law enforcement agents, who saw it as a convenient way to distinguish one group from another.

“A guy in the Genovese family didn’t know he was in the Genovese family till he saw it in the newspapers,” said Mr. Raab, the author of “Five Families: The Rise, Decline and Resurgence of America’s Most Powerful Mafia Empires” (St. Martin’s Press). “All he knew was that he worked for Mike. He would say, ‘I’m with Mike,’ or ‘I’m with Al,’ or ‘I’m with Tony.’ ”

Even so, rebranding is not an entirely alien concept to the mob. Look at Joseph Massino, who was the Bonanno paterfamilias until he landed in prison a few years ago and started, as they say, singing to the feds. Mr. Massino appreciated what’s in a name.

“He wanted it to be known officially as the Massino family,” Mr. Raab said. “He had a little bit of, I guess, an ego. He’s gone now, too.”

Nobody said that selling naming rights to the mob would be easy. But opportunities abound, and are likely to continue regardless of last week’s “End of the Gambinos” headlines.

“The F.B.I. continues to use the same five names because it’s simple,” Mr. Raab said. “Also, for them it’s a good public relations ploy — that we wiped out the Gambino family. This is the third time in my lifetime that they’ve wiped out the Gambino family. They ought to call this Operation Lazarus.”

Thanks to Clyde Haberman

Friday, February 08, 2008

List of 62 Defendants Indicted in New York's Major Mobster Case

Defendants Associated with the Gambino, Genovese, and Bonanno Crime Families of La Cosa Nostra, the Construction Industry, or Its Supporting Unions Indicted in New York.

JOSEPH AGATE, Age: 60
VINCENT AMARANTE, Age: 60
JEROME BRANCATO, Age: 76
THOMAS CACCIOPOLI, Age: 58
FRANK CALI, Age: 42
NICHOLAS CALVO, Age: 52
CHARLES CARNEGLIA, Age: 61
JOSEPH CASIERE, Age: 72
MARIO CASSARINO, Age: 42
DOMENICO CEFALU, Age: 61
JOSEPH CHIRICO, Age: 63
JOSEPH COROZZO, Age: 66
NICHOLAS COROZZO, Age: 67
GINO CRACOLICI, Age: 56
JOHN D’AMICO, Age: 73
SARAH DAURIA, Age: 33
VINCENT DECONGILIO, Age: ?
ANTHONY DELVESCOVO Age: 51
LEONARD DIMARIA, Age: 66
VINCENT DONNIS, Age: 38
VINCENT DRAGONETTI, Age: 43
ROBERT EPIFANIA, Age: 60
CODY FARRELL, Age: 29
RUSSELL FERRISI, Age: 41
LOUIS FILIPPELLI, Age: 41
RONALD FLAM, Age: 35
JOSEPH GAGGI, Age: 45
ABID GHANI, Age: 42
ANTHONY GIAMMARINO, Age: 56
RICHARD G. GOTTI, Age: 40
VINCENT GOTTI, Age: 55
ERNEST GRILLO, Age: 51
CHRISTOPHER HOWARD, Age: ?
STEVEN IARIA, Age: 43
EDDIE JAMES, Age: 49
JOHN KASGORGIS, Age: ?
WILLIAM KILGANNON, Age: 49
MICHAEL KING, Age: 41
ANTHONY LICATA, Age: 39
LOUIS MOSCA, Age: 62
LANCE MOSKOWITZ, Age:54
ANTHONY O’DONNELL, Age: 43
JAMES OUTERIE, Age: 54
VINCENT PACELLI, Age: 64
JOHN PISANO, Age: 49
TODD POLAKOFF, Age: 30
GUILIO POMPONIO, Age: 45
RICHARD RANIERI, Age: 51
JOHN REGIS, Age: 27
JERRY ROMANO, Age: 49
ANGELO RUGGIERO, JR., Age: 35
STEVEN SABELLA, Age: 41
ANTHONY SCIBELLI, Age: 57
AUGUSTUS SCLAFANI, Age: 67
JOSEPH SCOPO, Age: 31
WILLIAM SCOTTO, Age: 40
EDWARD SOBOL, Age: 41
JOSEPH SPINNATO, Age: 42
MICHAEL URCIUOLI, Age: 46
FRANK VASSALLO, Age: 38
TARA VEGA, Age: 35
ARTHUR ZAGARI, Age: 60

62 Mobsters Part of 80 Count Indictment Against the Gambinso, Genoveses, Bonanno's and Others

SIXTY-TWO DEFENDANTS INDICTED, INCLUDING GAMBINO ORGANIZED
CRIME FAMILY ACTING BOSS, ACTING UNDERBOSS, CONSIGLIERE,
AND MEMBERS AND ASSOCIATES, AS WELL AS CONSTRUCTION
INDUSTRY AND UNION OFFICIALS
Charges Include Racketeering Conspiracy, Extortion, Gambling, and Theft Following
Joint Investigation by Federal, State, and Local Law Enforcement

An eighty-count indictment charging sixty-two defendants associated with the Gambino, Genovese, and Bonanno organized crime families of La Cosa Nostra, the construction industry, or its supporting unions – including each member of the Gambino family administration currently at liberty – was unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn. The indictment charges racketeering conspiracy, extortion, theft of union benefits, mail fraud, false statements, loansharking, embezzlement of union funds, money laundering, and illegal gambling. The charged crimes span more than three decades and reflect the Gambino family’s corrosive influence on the construction industry in New York City and beyond, and its willingness to resort to violence, even murder, to resolve disputes in dozens of crimes of violence dating from the 1970s to the present, including eight acts of murder, murder conspiracy, and attempted murder.

Twenty-five defendants, all members and associates of the Gambino family, are charged with racketeering conspiracy, which includes predicate acts involving murder, attempted murder, murder conspiracy, felony murder, robbery, extortion, conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana, securities fraud, mail fraud, loansharking, theft of union benefits, illegal gambling, and bribery. Notably, the evidence relating to many of the charged crimes consists of hundreds of hours of recorded conversations secured by a cooperating witness who penetrated the Gambino family over a three-year period.

The defendants arrested in New York today were arraigned before United States Magistrate Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto at the U.S. Courthouse, 271 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, NY. The case has been assigned to United States District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis.

The charges were announced by Benton J. Campbell, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Andrew M. Cuomo, New York State Attorney General, Richard A. Brown, Queens County District Attorney, Gordon S. Heddell, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Labor, John S. Pistole, Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mark J. Mershon, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York, Raymond W. Kelly, Commissioner, New York City Police Department, Rose Gill Hearn, Commissioner, New York City Department of Investigation, Michael Mansfield, Commissioner, New York City Business Integrity Commission, Patricia J. Haynes, Special Agent-in-Charge, Internal Revenue Service, New York Field Office, Daniel M. Donovan, Richmond County District Attorney, and Thomas De Maria, Executive Director, Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor.

As noted, the indictment charges each currently active member of the Gambino family “administration,” or executive leadership – acting boss John D’Amico, acting underboss Domenico Cefalu, and consigliere Joseph Corozzo – as well as three Gambino family captains, three acting captains, sixteen soldiers, and numerous associates. Each member of the administration is charged with racketeering conspiracy and multiple crimes of violence, namely extortions and extortion conspiracies relating to the construction industry, which carry sentences of up to twenty years’ imprisonment on each count.

According to the indictment and the detention memorandum filed, the Gambino family profited from extortion related rackets at construction sites in the New York City metropolitan area, including the NASCAR NASCAR Superstoreconstruction site located in Staten Island and the Liberty View Harbor construction site located in Jersey City, among others. The NASCAR extortion involved the construction of a racetrack in Staten Island that required large quantities of dirt fill, thus requiring trucking contracts which were controlled by the Gambino family. These crimes were part of a longstanding effort by the Gambino family to control and coordinate the extortion of dozens of private construction companies. The charged criminal activity resulted not only in the extortion of business owners, but also the theft of union benefits from, among others, Local 282 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

The indictment also documents the Gambino family’s routine use of brazen violence. In particular, four members of the Gambino family are charged with eight crimes involving murder, murder conspiracy, and/or attempted murder. Each of these crimes – charged as racketeering acts – are detailed below:

The Murder of Albert Gelb. Gambino family soldier Charles Carneglia is charged with the 1976 murder of Albert Gelb as a racketeering act. On March 11, 1976, Gelb’s body was discovered in the front seat of a car in Queens, New York, with multiple gunshot wounds to his face and body. Gelb was a Brooklyn Criminal Court Officer who, several years earlier, had approached Carneglia in a Queens diner after Gelb determined that Carneglia was carrying a firearm. Carneglia resisted, and after a struggle with Gelb, he was arrested. Gelb was killed on March 11, 1976, four days before he was expected to testify at Carneglia’s trial.

The Murder of Michael Cotillo. Carneglia is charged with the murder of Gambino family associate Michael Cotillo as a racketeering act. Cotillo died from a stabbing inflicted by Carneglia on November 6, 1977, in Queens, New York, following a fight between the two men.

The Murder of Salvatore Puma. Carneglia is charged with the murder of Gambino family associate Salvatore Puma as a racketeering act. Puma died as a result of a stabbing allegedly inflicted by Carneglia on July 29, 1983. At the time of the stabbing, the two men were arguing over a money dispute.

The Murder of Louis DiBono. Carneglia is charged with the murder of Gambino family soldier Louis DiBono. Carneglia allegedly shot and killed DiBono on October 4, 1990, in the parking garage of the former World Trade Center in Manhattan, on the orders of then-Gambino family boss John J. Gotti. According to the indictment and the government’s detention memorandum, Gotti ordered DiBono’s execution because DiBono had repeatedly failed to meet with Gotti.

The Felony Murder of Jose Delgado Rivera. Carneglia is charged with the December 1990 armed robbery and felony murder of Jose Delgado Rivera as a racketeering act. Rivera, an armored truck guard, was shot and killed during a robbery while he and a co-worker were delivering money to the American Airlines building at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York.

The Murders of Robert Arena and Thomas Maranga. Gambino family captain Nicholas Corozzo is charged with the January 1996 double murder of Luchese family associate Robert Arena and Arena’s friend, Thomas Maranga. Corozzo ordered the murder of Arena in retaliation for Arena’s failure to return marijuana he had robbed from a narcotics dealer and for Arena’s suspected participation in the murder of a Corozzo crew member. Maranga was not a target of the murder but was killed because he was with Arena at the time of the attack.

Attempted Murder of John Doe. Gambino family soldiers Vincent Gotti, Richard G. Gotti, and Angelo Ruggiero, Jr. are charged with the May 2003 conspiracy to murder, and attempted murder, of John Doe as a racketeering act. John Doe was shot several times as he was leaving for work on May 4, 2003.

These arrests are the latest is a series of prosecutions in this district targeting the highest echelons of each of the five New York-based families of the LCN.

“The charges announced today are the result of a coordinated law enforcement initiative by federal, state, and local law enforcement officials,” stated United States Attorney Campbell. “I want to thank our partners for their extraordinary efforts and commitment to this historic investigation and prosecution. Today, we serve notice that anyone who aspires 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.” Mr. Campbell thanked Michael J. Garcia, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen M. Rice, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Inspector General Barry Kluger, Superintendent Samuel J. Plumeri, Jr. of the Port Authority Police Department, and U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, Special Agent-in-Charge Ned Schwartz for their assistance in the case.

“This case is noteworthy not only because of its breadth but also because it includes charges against the entire administration of the Gambino family of La Cosa Nostra,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “These charges are the result of the extraordinary work of the law-enforcement agencies that partnered together to take down a legacy of crime and violence that spanned decades.”

Queens County District Attorney Brown said, “Today’s arrests were the result of a coordinated law enforcement effort involving a multitude of agencies at all levels of government. The cooperative efforts of the agencies represented here today were critical to ensuring the successful outcome of this major takedown of individuals associated with organized crime. I commend all those who participated in this endeavor.”

Inspector General Heddell, United States Department of Labor, stated, “Today’s RICO indictment represents a significant milestone toward eradicating a far-reaching and insidious conspiracy involving some of the largest construction companies in New York City that are owned, controlled, and/or influenced by the Gambino organized crime family. Many of these construction companies allegedly paid a ‘mob tax’ in return for ‘protection’ and permission to operate. Through their alleged control of these companies, the Gambino organized crime family caused the theft of Teamsters union dues, and of health and pension funds, directly impacting the welfare and future of many workers. My office stands firmly committed to working with our law enforcement partners to combat this type of labor racketeering and organized crime.”

“Today’s arrests will be a major setback for the Gambino crime family, but it is a fallacy to suggest that La Cosa Nostra is no longer a threat to public safety,” stated FBI Deputy Director Pistole. “Organized crime in New York is not dead. As a consequence of acts charged in the indictment, however, seven people are dead. It’s also a fallacy that mob murder victims are just other mobsters. Three of the murder victims had no affiliation with organized crime,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Mershon.

“This investigation demonstrates the long-term commitment by NYPD detectives, FBI agents, and prosecutors in making sure the accused are brought to justice. The Gambino organization spilled a lot of blood in New York, and it is being held accountable – no matter how long it takes,” Police Commissioner Kelly said. “This history of violence has been abetted, often unwittingly, by people who see nothing wrong with placing a bet with a mobbed-up bookie,” Commissioner Kelly added. “I commend detectives from our Vice Enforcement Division, who in a related case with 26 arrests, today smashed one of the Gambino crime ring’s most profitable, illegal enterprises – namely, sports gambling.”
Cuban Crafters Cigars
DOI Commissioner Hearn said, “DOI will continue to work with its law enforcement partners and focus on this ongoing effort to drive out construction fraud in the City.”

New York City Business Integrity Commissioner Mansfield stated, “In addition to this indictment, and as a direct result of this long-term collaboration between the Commission and its law enforcement partners, effective immediately the Commission has terminated the authority of the carting companies controlled by these defendants to operate in New York City. The Commission remains committed to its mission of eliminating the influence of organized crime from the industries it regulates.”

Richmond County District Attorney Donovan stated, “This indictment is a prime example of the strong collaborative efforts of law enforcement agencies in this region, today striking a major blow against organized crime in our community.”

Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor Executive Director De Maria stated, “For 55 years the Commission has spearheaded and actively participated with various state, federal, and local law enforcement authorities in a multitude of successful investigations which have led to countless criminal prosecutions and administrative action against waterfront- related figures. The Gambino crime family has been a predator of the longshore and construction industries and unions as well as many other industries and their related unions for decades in New York City.”

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mitra Hormozi, Joey Lipton, Roger Burlingame, Daniel Brownell, Evan Norris, and Kathleen Nandan, and Special Assistant United States Attorneys Doug Leff and Amy Cohn.

Monday, January 07, 2008

NBA Ref Bob Delaney Went Undercover to Fight the Mob, Put 30 Gangsters Behind Bars

In my two decades as an NBA scribe (scribe, incidentally, being the gently derisive term that Steve Nash uses to describe ink-stained wretches), I've always felt a kinship with the referees. We are both a peripheral part of a game dominated by millionaires (though the zebras are less peripheral) and we both attract attention mainly when we do something wrong (though they get more attention).

I was closer to the older generation of retired refs (Jake O'Donnell, Eddie T. Rush, Bernie Fryer and the late Earl Strom to name a few) and remain closer to the more senior members of the current crew, especially Joey Crawford, Steve Javie and Dick BavettaCovert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob. There is a reason for this beyond the obvious fact that we are chronological contemporaries: The league has gradually discouraged contact between refs and the media, preferring that the striped-shirts be just that -- background scenery to the main event. That's a shame because many of these guys are fascinating personalities who bring unique life experiences to the job.

In the case of Bob Delaney, a 20-year veteran, that is a vast understatement. In fact, few personalities in the world of sports, or the world in general, have a more captivating back story than Delaney, whose league-desired anonymity will diminish -- if not disappear entirely -- with the Feb. 4 release of his autobiography, Covert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob.

With the help of co-author Dave Scheiber, a fine Florida-based journalist, Delaney, a former New Jersey state trooper, tells his tale lucidly and, best of all, understatedly. Delaney/Scheiber followed a cardinal rule of writing: The better the material, the more it should speak for itself. The writerly touches belong, I suspect, to Scheiber, but the blood-chilling drama about his time spent undercover with New Jersey Mafia types comes from Delaney's soul, his memory and, to be sure, a mountain of audio tapes that helped bring down the jaw-breakers and law-breakers who formed his social circle during three years of undercover work in the mid-1970s.

Delaney resists what would've been the simplistic notion of tying his current occupation to his previous one. Well, dear reader, after dealing with guys who would put a slug in my chest as easy as they'd say hello, I'm here to tell you that calling a technical on Rasheed Wallace isn't so difficult. Delaney is an excellent official but others are just as good, and they didn't spend three years wearing a wire around stone-cold killers. But it's beyond obvious that you learn quite a bit about composure and demonstrating grace under pressure when your every waking breath is spent wondering if your next breath is your last one.

"The development of your off-court personality is a reflection of your on-court personality," Delaney said on Thursday when we chatted by phone about the book. "I'm sure the situations I dealt with during my undercover years help me as an official because I understand how to function when I'm under pressure."

No ref is immune from criticism -- Delaney describes an incident in Madison Square Garden when his own mother hooted at him for blowing a foul call Patrick Ewing, her favorite player -- but his street cred with players and coaches is demonstrably apparent.

"I used to argue with Bob a lot," Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "Then I found out what he used to do and thought, 'I don't think he's going to be too affected by what I'm saying over here on the sideline.' "

A few years ago, Grant Hill, then with the Orlando Magic, jokingly patted down Delaney during a timeout and asked, "You still wired, Delaney?" The ref answered, "Yeah, I'm wired, and the last time I wore a wire, 50 people went to jail."

Several years ago during a TNT game Delaney was working, the announcers spotted Kobe Bryant talking to the referee after a foul call and theorized that the Los Angeles Lakers' star was giving Delaney "an earful" about the call. "In reality," Delaney said, "Kobe was asking what it was like wearing a wire all the time, and saying, 'That had to be wild.' "

It was wild. Kobe should read the book.

Before getting the whole story in Covert (the title comes from the surname that Delaney adopted during the joint state police-FBI sting operation), I knew a little bit about his background and that informed my observations of him as a referee. I couldn't help but wonder what Delaney was thinking when, say, the fifth guard on a bad team would berate him for making a traveling call. After what he had been through -- facing the prospect of death and, almost as bad, starting to "lose sight of the line where Bob Delaney ended and Bobby Covert began," as he writes in the book -- how can he take a call in a basketball game seriously?

But he does, and that is one of the messages (I'm not going to call them lessons) of Covert: that sports is an endless proving ground where professionalism matters. Delaney describes a moment early in his officiating career when he made an end-of-the-game call that, hours later, upon further review in his lonely hotel room, he found to be wrong. The fact that he blew a "gamer," the officials' term for a call that decides an outcome, put a knot in his stomach and cost him a night of sleep.

"In my profession," Delaney writes, "there's no worse feeling in the world."

Delaney's undercover life was spent in that same agitated state, wondering if he'd be found out the next day, worrying that he was losing what he describes as "the tug of war within," trying to ingratiate himself to the very people he was trying to bring down, thereby experiencing some form of the Stockholm syndrome. I can't imagine what a life it was, but it's all laid out in Covert.

And when I put it down, I was glad that the same era that gave us Tim Donaghy, a weasel of a law-breaker, has also given us Bob Delaney, a stand-up guy in a difficult profession.

Thanks to Jack McCallum

Friday, December 14, 2007

Mob Trial Ends in Aquittal for Pizza Maker

In a stunning reversal of fortune, a Brooklyn jury Thursday night acquitted a pizza maker of cooking up a plan to gun down a mob loanshark and his cousin.

Carmine Polito, 48, whose 2003 federal conviction in the case was overturned on a technicality, is free and clear after a five-week trial in Brooklyn Supreme Court - where one of the victims and two accomplices testified against him.

"Obviously there is no justice," said Assunta Rozza, whose brother Sabato (Tino) Lombardi was killed and cousin Michael (Cookie) D'Urso wounded in the 1994 attack at a Williamsburg social club. "This mother------ is going to have Christmas with his family - and my brother never will," she said, adding that she thought jurors were afraid because the case involved mobsters.

She also said she thought Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Joel Goldberg disallowed too much evidence.

The judge will decide the fate of Polito's co-defendant, Mario Fortunato, 60, whose federal conviction also was overturned.

"This is a big win. It's a huge upset," said Polito's gleeful lawyer, Gerald McMahon, who fought a contentious battle and very nearly came to blows with prosecutor Christopher Blank during a break in the action last week. "These guys were so confident they wouldn't even offer a serious plea" deal, said McMahon, who had blasted the three main witnesses.

D'Urso joined the main shooter and the getaway driver in testifying against Polito and Fortunato.

Prosecutors said the pair organized the hit because Polito owed money to the Genovese-connected Lombardi and Fortunato wanted to settle an old score with D'Urso.

The evidence was considered stronger against Polito than Fortunato, who chose a bench trial before Goldberg.

"These three guys were two crackheads and a wanna-be [mobster]," McMahon said. "Juries are looking at these types of cases [based on accomplice testimony] a little more carefully now."

The federal case came after D'Urso entered the witness protection program and helped convict about 40 Genovese crime family members, including the late boss Vincent (Chin) Gigante, then Polito and Fortunato.

Goldberg is expected to render his opinion in the Fortunato case Friday.

Thanks to Scott Shifrel

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Crooked Judge for Genoveses Gets 33 Months in Prison

A former Nassau County judge was sentenced to nearly 3 years in prison for conspiring to launder more than $400,000 for members of the Genovese crime family. David Gross, 45, pleaded guilty in July and admitted he agreed to try to secretly move cash he believed was the result of a jewelry heist. What Gross did not know is that one of the men he was making the deal with was an undercover FBI agent.

Federal prosecutors said Gross planned to keep up to 20 percent of all cash he agreed to launder. He also agreed to try to sell more than $280,000 worth of stolen diamonds. Gross faced a possible maximum of 20 years, but Judge Arthur Spatt handed down a 33-month sentence during Friday's sentencing.

Gross was first elected as a Nassau County judge in 1999. He was arrested in 2005 and suspended pending the outcome of the criminal case against him. The investigation began after the FBI developed leads stemming from raids on several mafia-run gambling houses on Long Island.

New York FBI Director Mark Mershon described Gross' criminal conduct as "the most egregious betrayals of the public trust."

Investigators said the former judge had teamed up with Nicholas Gruttadauria who they said is a member of the Genovese crime family. Gruttadauria has also pleaded guilty. FBI officials said the two men tried to use invoices from Freeport restaurant Cafe By The Sea to launder the money.

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