The Chicago Syndicate: Goodfellas

Showing posts with label Goodfellas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Goodfellas. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Paulie Cicero of #Goodfellas, AKA Paul Sorvino, on Harvey Weinstein "He ought to hope he goes to jail...cause if not, he has to meet me and I will kill the motherfu**er"

Paulie Cicero of #Goodfellas, AKA Paul Sorvino, on Harvey Weinstein "He ought to hope he goes to jail...cause if not, he has to meet me and I will kill the motherfu**er"



Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Goodfella's Henry Hill Plays Central Part in ESPN's "Playing for the Mob" 30 for 30

Some of it happened almost by accident, and some of it happened after years of determined work.

A chance meeting in prison. A failed minor league baseball player from Pittsburgh turned college basketball player in Boston. A talkative informant.

The combination thereof led to the downfall of a previously untouchable New York crime boss responsible for multiple murders and the largest cash heist in U.S. history, via cronies in Pittsburgh who ran a point-shaving scheme that paid a few players to keep scores within the spread at Boston College during the 1978-79 college basketball season.

That’s the story chronicled by the latest edition of ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary seriesPlaying for the Mob ESPN 30 for 30, “Playing for the Mob,” which premiered Tuesday night on ESPN.

The film represented something of a white whale for executive producer and co-director Joe Lavine, who for years attempted and failed to get the project green-lighted before finally landing at ESPN.

A Trenton, New Jersey, native, Lavine grew up there about the same time as Jim Sweeney -- a schoolboy legend in Trenton who went on to star at BC. So Lavine was fascinated when he found out that Sweeney was one of a handful of Eagles players accused in connection with a the point-shaving scandal that was making national headlines in 1981.

That fascination only increased when the mobster who fingered Sweeney hit the big screen years later in Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas.”

“Every year I would pitch this story,” Lavine said. “I really wanted to get to the bottom of it from a personal curiosity [standpoint], and then also knowing that this had to be a great story.”

The highlights of the film are the interviews with the former mobsters, now all well past their primes after serving their time, including the gangster Ray Liotta made famous in “Goodfellas” -- Henry Hill.

At one point Hill curses, apologizes sheepishly to the camera, and then falls right back into his expletive-laden speech. It’s one of several seeming contradictions the gangster-turned-informant offers during the film, right along with this doozy early on: “I didn’t threaten him or nothin’,” Hill says in the film, “I just said, ‘It’s hard to play basketball with a broken arm.’”

Once a gangster, always a gangster.

“Playing for the Mob” makes good use of Scorsese’s classic, splicing in “Goodfellas” clips between interviews and using Liotta as the film’s narrator. The tone is set by black-and-white mug shots and film strips from surveillance of mobsters interspersed with BC team photos and action shots from newspaper coverage of the season. And, of course, there are betting lines with the pick circled and handwritten box scores with the names of the alleged conspirators highlighted.

The film also benefits from the fact that most of those involved agreed to speak on camera, including Sweeney, fellow accused BC players Ernie Cobb and Michael Bowie (who were completely vindicated), law enforcement officials and all the principals on the organized crime side of the story.

“As a matter of fact, one thing I’m really happy with in this film, is we really did get to everybody,” Lavine said. “We spoke to everybody, whether they ended up in the film or not.”

That includes Rick Kuhn, the former minor league baseball player who started the scandal and who Sweeney says got him involved in it. Kuhn was the only player convicted -- receiving a record 10-year sentence -- and served 28 months in prison. Lavine said Kuhn was “very open” but declined to go on camera, so his side of the story is told instead mostly through court testimony.

Sweeney said he decided to cooperate with Lavine and co-director Cayman Grant because he believed they would treat the subject fairly. “These people [in the mob] get glamorized or sensationalized,” Sweeney said. “And unfortunately, if you see a real-life situation that involves people like myself and others, then you say, ‘Wow, that’s the type of effect that whatever [the gangsters] do can have on others’ lives.’”

As for his role in what happened, Sweeney says he’s never run from the truth. He acknowledges taking $500, but says he never did anything to fix games. He says he believes his experience could serve as a test case for others, to help prevent anything like it from happening in the future.

“Obviously, I could’ve done things differently,” Sweeney said. “You can’t change things in life. And I never go there, like, coulda, woulda, shoulda, because that would only lead to frustration. That only leads to animosity. And I don’t have that. “I moved on many, many years ago, and I think the worst thing you can do is blame others or even blame yourself because that’s kinda like a poison that just stays with you. And I don’t think it ever stayed with me.”

The filmmakers ultimately don’t take a side on who did what, instead presenting at times conflicting accounts and letting the audience decide. “Obviously, the huge message is don’t get involved with point-shaving,” Lavine said with a laugh. “Don’t get involved with organized crime people.”

After more than a decade spent trying to make “Playing with the Mob” happen, Lavine is ready to move on to a new project. “We’re really happy with it. I think it tells a great story, I think the story is told in an entertaining fashion,” he said. “Will I ever totally leave Boston College? I don’t know. I think it will always be in the back of my mind somewhere.

“It really was over 10 years that I’ve been trying to do this, so I don’t know that I can just turn the page on it and go on to something else. I’m ready to move on from the actual filmmaking process. But I’ll always be curious about certain things that went on.”

Thanks to Jack McCluskey.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Frank Vincent's A Guy's Guide to Being a Man's Man

A Guy's Guide to Being a Man's Man.

These days, it’s harder than ever to know how to act like a real man. We’re not talking about the touchy-feely, ultra-sensitive, emotion-sharing, not-afraid-to-cry version of manhood that Oprah and Dr. Phil have been spouting for years. We’re talking about the though, smart, confident, charming, classy, all-around good fella that upholds the true ideal of what is known as “a man’s man.”

Now, renowned actor and true-life man’s man Frank Vincent, famed for his unforgettable tough-guy roles in such classic films as Raging Bull, Goodfellas and HBO’s The Sopranos, is going to show how any man can be all that he can be in love, work, play, and life. Everything you need to know is covered here, including, getting the best women by being the best man, dressing like a champ and taking on the world, winning big money and big respect in Las Vegas, selecting, smoking, and savoring a great cigar, and much more.

If you want to learn how to be a man’s man, you gotta learn from a man’s man. And with the great Frank Vincent vouching for you, you’ll be on your way to getting everything you ever wanted outta life.

A Guy's Guide to Being a Man's Man.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

DUAL LIVES: from the Streets to the Studio - "Teacher of the Year" becomes Mob Artist

In DUAL LIVES: from the Streets to the Studio, renowned American artist and 3-time national award-winning “Teacher of the Year” Michael Bell has written an inspiring and brutally candid memoir that chronicles his meteoric rise to becoming one of the most highly decorated public school teachers in America, all the while, living out a storied and often controversial professional painting career as “Mob Artist” to America’s most infamous.

Go behind the scenes with his intriguing clientele on how these friendships also fueled his career—from John Gotti to Al Capone’s great-nephew, Dominic Capone to numerous actors from “the Sopranos”, “Goodfellas”, “A Bronx Tale”, and more. Then, take a roller coaster crusade through the ever-changing, volatile landscapes of the art world and a US public education system that has begun placing more of an emphasis on "data mining" than on "building relationships."

This is the ultimate story of overcoming extreme adversity and being a true champion for today’s youth from someone still in the trenches, still at the top of his game. And, in the education arena, Bell has done the unprecedented. His students have earned tens of millions in scholarships; 7 back-to-back NAEA Rising Star Awards in art—an award presented to just one student artist in the entire nation annually; and 8 Scholastic Art National Medalists 3 years straight.

Bell also discusses the impact of his family life on his art—on the tragic stillbirth of his sister; on his lifelong relationship with his Grandmother, Violet, a self-taught artist from Lyndhurst, New Jersey; on his inspiring son, Carmen, (“Lil' C”), and his battles with Autism while on his quest to become a Golden Gloves boxing champion. Then there's Bell's notorious cousin Vinnie, who was part of the longest double-murder trial in the history of the State of New Jersey. Learn how Bell, himself, went from being a troubled youth once facing twenty-years-to-life to saving one of his own students from a similar fate nearly two decades later.

DUAL LIVES: from the Streets to the Studio, is passionately written, and just as courageously vulnerable as the compelling narratives found within Bell’s paintings. So, ride shotgun alongside Michael Bell throughout his meteoric rise across two very different worlds—from the streets to the studio.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

19 Reputed Lucchese Crime Family Members Arrested by FBI

Federal agents in New York on Wednesday arrested 19 accused members of the Lucchese crime family, an alleged network of criminals who were the source of inspiration for the acclaimed mobster film "Goodfellas."

Defendants with nicknames including "Paulie Roast Beef" and "Joey Glasses" were among those arrested on charges ranging from murder to the illegal sale of cigarettes, according to court papers.

The crimes were committed in connection to a larger racketeering scheme run out of New York and dating back at least 17 years, prosecutors said.

The Lucchese family is considered to be one of five long-established Mafia organizations that operate in New York City and New Jersey.

The group was suspected of pulling off the notorious 1978 airport heist that inspired Martin Scorsese's 1990 Academy Award-winning film "Goodfellas." That $6 million heist remains one of the most infamous unsolved crimes in the United States.

A spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation's New York office said agents had arrested about 20 people on Wednesday in an organized crime bust.

The defendants are expected to appear in federal court in White Plains.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Vincent Asaro #NotGuilty in ‘Goodfellas’ Lufthansa heist

Vincent Asaro, the reputed mobster charged in connection with the notorious 1978 Lufthansa robbery, walked out of federal court in Brooklyn on Thursday a free man after a jury cleared him of racketeering and other charges.

The verdicts, delivered after little more than two days of deliberations, left many in the courtroom stunned, most visibly prosecutors from the United States attorney’s office, which had spent years building a case against Mr. Asaro, 80, with testimony from high-ranking Mafia figures and recordings by an informer for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. But the case relied heavily on the cooperation of some of those Mafia figures, some of them admitted killers, and the jury rejected the government’s accusation that Mr. Asaro helped carry out a criminal enterprise engaged in murder and robbery, most infamously the Lufthansa robbery, which figured prominently in the plot of the 1990 Martin Scorsese film “Goodfellas.”

When the juror chosen to deliver the verdict said “Not guilty” on the first count — the racketeering charge, by far the most complicated and serious of the charges — there was a startled silence in the courtroom.

After the “not guilty” verdict on the second and third counts, for extortion, Mr. Asaro pumped his right fist in the air three times. Once the jury left, he clapped sharply, then hugged his lawyers. “Your Honor, thank you very much,” he said to the judge, Allyne R. Ross.

As he walked out of the courthouse on Cadman Plaza, Mr. Asaro, who had been jailed since January 2014, raised his hands in the air and shouted, “Free!”

Flanked by his lawyers, Elizabeth Macedonio and Diane Ferrone, he fielded a flurry of questions from reporters, who asked what he was going to do (“play some paddleball”), where he was heading (“to have a good meal and see my family”) and what he was going to eat (“anything but a bologna sandwich”). Indeed, he appeared delighted by the commotion his acquittal had created. “John Gotti didn’t get this much attention,” he said of the Gambino boss, who was notoriously hard to convict.

The jury, in Federal District Court, had begun deliberations late on Monday and continued through the week, with a break on Wednesday for Veterans Day. The jurors, whom the judge granted anonymity, did not appear to depart through any public areas or exits in the court.

To secure a conviction on the racketeering count — for which Mr. Asaro might have faced up to life in prison — prosecutors would have had to prove two or more of the 14 racketeering acts they alleged.

During a three-week trial, prosecutors argued that Mr. Asaro, whose father and grandfather were members of the Mafia, had committed murder and robbery and performed shakedowns and other crimes on behalf of his Mafia family, the Bonannos.

The most famous one was the robbery at the Lufthansa terminal at Kennedy International Airport. It was then said to be the largest cash robbery in United States history. Mr. Asaro helped plan it, prosecutors said, and his accomplices stole $5 million in cash and $1 million in jewels from a cargo vault.

Although investigators had long suspected the Mafia’s involvement, they had not brought charges against any reputed Mafia member until the case against Mr. Asaro, leaving the matter officially unsolved for decades.

Prosecutors brought a queue of informers who testified about Mr. Asaro’s role in the Mafia and in various crimes. Evidence also included surveillance photos from the 1970s on, and the testimony of several F.B.I. agents who detailed the man’s comings and goings for several decades. But the key to the prosecution’s case was an informer named Gaspare Valenti, Mr. Asaro’s cousin. Tired of Mr. Asaro’s berating him, and broke, Mr. Valenti testified he approached the F.B.I. in 2008 and began telling them about Mr. Asaro’s crimes. That had helped prosecutors link the Lufthansa crime, and many others, to Mr. Asaro. Mr. Valenti also recorded Mr. Asaro from 2010 to 2013.

In her closing argument, Ms. Macedonio attacked Mr. Valenti’s credibility. “Gaspare Valenti was an experienced liar,” she said. “Once you eliminate Gaspare as a reliable person,” she said, “then you won’t be able to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt with regards to the crimes alleged against Vincent Asaro.”

Ms. Macedonio also argued that some other prosecution evidence — surveillance photos in which Mr. Asaro was not committing crimes, phone books from other Mafia members that listed him in them — proved nothing.

The crimes prosecutors accused Mr. Asaro of committing as part of the criminal enterprise included murder. They said he killed a man in 1969, Paul Katz, who owned a Queens warehouse where Mr. Asaro and James Burke, a Mafia associate known as Jimmy the Gent, would unload their goods. After Mr. Asaro and Mr. Burke were arrested at the warehouse, Mr. Valenti testified, they began to suspect Mr. Katz of working with the police.

One morning in 1969, Mr. Burke and Mr. Asaro arranged to meet Mr. Valenti at a house his father was building in Queens. Mr. Valenti said they brought materials for cracking into concrete, and brought Mr. Katz’s body. Mr. Valenti said Mr. Asaro revealed that they had strangled Mr. Katz with a dog chain and that they then buried him underneath the basement concrete.

In the 1980s, Mr. Valenti said, he and Mr. Asaro’s son, Jerome, moved the body after Mr. Burke, who was in prison at the time, “caught a delusion” and worried that the body would be found.

In 2013, federal agents cracked open the Queens basement and found traces of clothing and bones from Mr. Katz, according to trial testimony. Mr. Katz’s son testified at the trial, describing how his father said just before his disappearance that he was going to move the family to the country. His father was, in fact, cooperating with the police, according to trial testimony and records.

Mr. Valenti described the Lufthansa robbery in his testimony, giving what seemed to be a remarkable firsthand view of how one of the Mafia’s most noted robberies unfolded.

Mr. Burke had organized the robbery, he said, with Mr. Asaro helping. In the dark early-morning hours, a group of Mafia members and associates drove up to the Lufthansa terminal at Kennedy Airport. Several went around the front to subdue the employees, while Mr. Valenti and another man forced a guard to open the overhead door to the terminal. They went upstairs, where they burst into the vault. They thought there would be only a couple million dollars in cash; instead, there was $5 million, along with emeralds, diamonds and gold chains.

The robbery was front page news, and barely a decade later found its way onto the big screen, in “Goodfellas.”

As Mr. Asaro packed into the passenger seat of a white Mercedes outside the courthouse, he offered some words of caution: “Don’t believe everything you see in the movies,” he said.

Still, Mr. Asaro could not help taking a last jab at the prosecution. “Don’t let them see the body in the trunk.”

Thanks to Stephanie Clifford.

Friday, June 26, 2015

National Geographic Channel Infiltrates Centuries of Deadly Secrets INSIDE THE MAFIA

Four-Hour Series Pierces Inner Workings and Violent History of the Criminal Corporation With Global Reach

Through a pop culture lens, the notorious and mysterious Mafia is typically seen as entertainment: The Godfather; The Sopranos; Goodfellas; Donnie Brasco. Now the National Geographic Channel (NGC) exposes the dramatic history and infiltrates the legendary secrecy of one of the world's most powerful criminal organizations in the four-hour world premiere event, INSIDE THE MAFIA.

Narrated by Ray Liotta -- star of the film Goodfellas -- INSIDE THE MAFIA will premiere Monday, June 13 and Tuesday, June 14, 2005 from 9 to 11 pm. ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel (encore Sunday, June 19 from 7 to 11 p.m. ET). Four programs -- Mafia? What Mafia?, Going Global, The Great Betrayal and The Godfathers -- chronologically trace the growth of the U.S. and Sicilian Mafias, as well as the determined American and Italian efforts to stop it.

"It's not personal; it's just business" is a popular catchphrase attributed to the Mafia's code of honor. And big business it is -- its global assets were on par with some of the richest corporations in the world, bursting for a time with billions in annual profits derived from much of the world's drug trade.

With remarkable access to FBI and DEA agents as well as members of crime families, INSIDE THE MAFIA provides the complete behind-the-scenes story of this powerful enterprise known for its ruthlessness and brutality.

Featured are new and original interviews with influential mobsters like Henry Hill, portrayed by Ray Liotta in Goodfellas, and Gambino family soldier Dominick Montiglio, and, on the law enforcement side, Joseph Pistone, the fearless real-life FBI agent who infiltrated the Mafia as "Donnie Brasco," and DEA undercover agent Frank Panessa, among many others.

Cutthroat deals, gangland assassinations and secret rituals within the infamous global mob are described by these insiders in intimate detail. "The bathroom door was slightly open and there were two bodies hanging with their throats cut," said Montiglio. "Everyone had butcher's kits and they sawed off everything ... chopped off the head, arms, etcetera. Then put them in a box and took 'em to the dumpster. Suffice to say, none of them were ever found."

In addition to inside access to important characters and events, the special uses contemporary and archival news footage, FBI and Italian police surveillance, telephone intercepts, transcriptions from major Mafia trials and dramatic reenactments of clandestine meetings and violent confrontations.

INSIDE THE MAFIA interweaves two parallel stories. The first is the emergence of a "new Mafia" after a historic deal between American and Italian mob families to control the international heroin trade. The second is the tale of the strong anti-Mafia campaign, spearheaded by a small group of law officers determined to permanently undermine the culture and infrastructure of the Cosa Nostra.

Over the course of the series, viewers will become familiar with a core group of warring protagonists. In the Mafia are men like Charles "Lucky" Luciano, a Sicilian immigrant who by 1931 murdered his way to the top of the American Mafia; famous mob leader Joe Bonnano; Salvatore "Toto" Riina, who emerged in the 1980s as perhaps the most ruthless and violent Mafia boss ever; Tomasso Buscetta, whose decision to break the Mafia's strict code of silence set in motion a series of events giving U.S. and Italian authorities the upper hand in identifying and tracking key mobsters; reputed Mafia godfather John Gotti; and soldiers like Hill and Montiglio, whose tales of living and working inside the Mafia are gruesome and often shocking.

Fighting the Mafia are Giovanni Falcone, Italy's legendary prosecutor who challenged the Mafia's power and paid the ultimate price; Pistone ("Donnie Brasco") who still has a mob contract out on his life ("Once folks found out about my cover, there was a contract on me," he says in the program. "It's not something I think about all the time ... if it happens, it happens ... and may the best man win."); Giovanni Falcone's sister, Maria, who was privy to much of her brother's strategy and key events in his life; and lesser-known law officers with colorful and suspenseful inside stories, like Panessa and Carmine Russo, who shadowed the Bonnano crime family.

The rise of the modern Mafia is a gripping and often tragic tale of corruption, crime, murder and betrayal by two distinct operations -- the Sicilian Mafia, running multinational efforts from Palermo, and the American Mafia, controlling one of the biggest marketplaces in the world. Their separate but symbiotic relationship is one that perpetually eluded and confounded U.S. and Italian authorities.

In 1957, a police raid on a Mafia summit in upstate New York revealed to the nation evidence of "organized crime." However, the Cold War took priority at the time, and mob activity continued to thrive. Major breakthroughs in the 1980s cracked open the Mafia's highly lucrative drug trade, and exposed the global reach and immense profits of its dealings.

In the U.S. today, the mob's activities have been scaled back, particularly now that narcotics are distributed via different mobs from the Far East and South America. John Gotti's prosecution created a domino effect, crippling all five of the crime families of New York. They are now a shadow of an organization that once claimed politicians as their friends; however, as recent arrests have indicated, the Mafia continues to operate in some capacity in the U.S. In the past few months, New York authorities indicted 32 people after a two-and-half year "Donnie Brasco style" undercover sting, and 14 Chicago Mafia members were indicted in April, a move authorities claim shed light on 18 previously unsolved murders dating back to 1970.

In Sicily, the situation is very different. The Mafia has largely abandoned its policy of violence in order to avoid attracting the attention of the authorities; however, according to the chief prosecutor of Palermo, they are even more dangerous now that many people believe that the problem is in some way over.

The days of the Mafia's massive, unchecked drug-dealing have gone, but INSIDE THE MAFIA shows that the organization -- particularly its blueprint for how national and ethnic groups can operate on a global scale -- continues to be a thriving and insidious role model for racketeering everywhere.

INSIDE THE MAFIA is produced for NGC by Wall to Wall Media. Jonathan Hewes is executive in charge of production; Alex West is executive producer; Charlie Smith is producer. For NGC, CarolAnne Dolan is supervising producer; Michael Cascio is executive producer; John Ford is executive in charge of production.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Mafia Cops's Victim's Families Given Green-Light in Wrongful-Death Lawsuits

A federal judge has green-lighted the multimillion-dollar wrongful-death lawsuits filed against the city by the families of seven men slain in mob hits executed or aided by former two detectives Louis Eppolito and ex-Great Kills resident Stephen Caracappa.

In allowing the cases to proceed, District Judge Raymond J. Dearie said there was evidence to suggest the rubouts would not have occurred had Eppolito been kicked off the force or disciplined after he was "caught red-handed" passing confidential police records to a mobster in 1984.

The slayings took place between 1986 and 1991.

Dearie said evidence also indicated there was a "systemic failure" to address corruption under then-Police Commissioner Benjamin Ward. "The failure to discipline a detective who colludes with organized crime plainly courts the risk that that detective will do so again," wrote Dearie. "And it is likewise obvious that collusion between a police detective and organized crime might well lead, as it did in these cases, to unconstitutional harm to members of the public."

The judge further ruled the plaintiffs' families, who filed the suits in 2006 and 2007, had done so within statutory time limits.

Caracappa, 72, and Eppolito, 66, the so-called "Mafia Cops," are serving life sentences for their roles in the slayings, carried out at the behest of Luchese crime family underboss Anthony (Gaspipe) Casso, who later cooperated with authorities.

The two detectives were paid $4,000 a month to provide Casso with law-enforcement information. They received extra cash for murder contracts, including $70,000 for a hit on Eddie Lino, a Gambino crime family capo suspected of being involved in a failed assassination attempt on Casso, the ruling said.

Eppolito, whose father was a member of the Gambino crime family, retired from the NYPD in 1990. He played a bit part in Martin Scorsese's 1990 mob drama "GoodFellas" and launched an unsuccessful career as a screenwriter.

Caracappa retired in 1992 after establishing the Police Department's unit for mob murder investigations. In 2005, while awaiting trial to start and after posting bail, Caracappa had stayed with his mother in South Beach.

Eppolito, then working in the 62nd Precinct in Brooklyn's Bath Beach neighborhood, came under scrutiny in 1984. FBI agents found confidential NYPD Intelligence Reports in the home of mobster Rosario Gambino, who was under indictment for heroin trafficking, said the judge's ruling.

A probe determined the reports had been photocopied at the 62nd Precinct and Eppolito's fingerprints were on the photocopies, the judge said. Eppolito subsequently underwent a departmental trial which cleared him, despite "compelling" evidence against him, said the judge. The trial was prosecuted by a junior NYPD lawyer and was based on stipulations between the parties, not live testimony, which was unusual, Dearie said.

Commissioner Ward declined to overturn the findings, although a follow-up Internal Affairs probe after the hearing again concluded that Eppolito had leaked the reports, said the judge.

Dearie said a report by the Mollen Commission provides "powerful evidence" that the Police Department at that time "tolerat(ed) corruption to avoid bad publicity." He said the NYPD's "inexplicable failure" to discipline Eppolito may have emboldened Caracappa.

Eppolito started his relationship with the Luccheses after being cleared of the charges, the ruling started.

His cohort Caracappa, who worked for the NYPD's Major Case Squad, was specifically assigned to the Lucchese unit. He often worked on joint NYPD and federal task forces and had access to confidential information about ongoing investigations, said the judge.

Besides whacking Lino, the pair slayed an innocent victim, Israel Greenwald, a Diamond District jeweler, according to the ruling and Advance filings. They also provided information which factored into the slayings of five others, including another innocent victim, Nicholas Guido of Brooklyn, said the judge. And they were convicted of kidnapping Jimmy Hydell in 1986 and delivering him to Casso to be executed in retaliation for a botched attempted on Casso's life, said Advance reports. Hydell's mother, Betty Hydell, testified she saw the two detectives casing her Grasmere home in an unmarked police car the day her son vanished.

The city maintained the cases should be tossed because the plaintiffs did not file them until decades after their loved ones' deaths.

The plaintiffs contended they were not required to commence the lawsuits until they had some reason to link police to the killings. Eppolito and Caracappa were indicted in 2005.

Dearie sided with the plaintiffs and declined to throw out the suits.

A spokesman said the city Law Department is reviewing the decision.

Thanks to Frank Donnelly.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Details on Bonanno Family Captain Vincent Asaro Indictment for Participating in the 1978 Lufthansa #Goodfellas Heist Plus Murder

Earlier today, an indictment was unsealed charging five members of the Bonanno organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (the Bonanno family) variously with racketeering conspiracy, including predicate acts of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, solicitation to murder, robbery and extortion, and other crimes. Bonanno family administration members and captains Vincent Asaro and Thomas Di Fiore; Bonanno family captain Jerome Asaro; Bonanno family acting captain Jack Bonventre; and Bonanno family soldier John Ragano were arrested earlier today and are scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marilyn D. Go at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn.

The charges and arrests were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and George Venizelos, Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office.

“As alleged, Vincent Asaro devoted his adult life to the Bonanno crime family, with a criminal career that spanned decades. Far from a code of honor, theirs was a code of violence and brute force. Those suspected of cooperating with law enforcement paid with their lives. Asaro helped pull off the 1978 Lufthansa robbery—still the largest bank robbery in New York history. Neither age nor time dimmed Asaro’s ruthless ways, as he continued to order violence to carry out mob business in recent months. The arrests and charges announced today are a testament to the relentless pursuit of justice by law enforcement,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. Ms. Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the FBI for its extraordinary work in bringing these defendants to account for the charged crimes.



“These ‘goodfellas’ thought they had a license to steal, a license to kill, and a license to do whatever they wanted. However, today’s arrests of the five members of the Bonanno crime family brings an end to their violent and ruthless ways. As alleged in the indictment, Vincent Asaro and his co-conspirators were not only involved in typical mob activities of extortion and murder, but Asaro himself was in on one of the most notorious heists—the Lufthansa robbery in 1978. It may be decades later, but the FBI’s determination to investigate and bring wiseguys to justice will never waver,” stated FBI Assistant Director in Charge Venizelos.

As alleged in the indictment and a detention memorandum filed by the government, over the last 45 years, Vincent Asaro and various co-conspirators, including his son Jerome Asaro, engaged in a pattern of violence and threats of violence in order to profit from their illegal activity and evade prosecution. The indictment announced today is the result of a long-term investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that utilized, among other law enforcement techniques, consensual recordings, cooperating witnesses and confidential sources, and electronic and visual surveillance.

1978 Lufthansa Heist

Vincent Asaro is charged for his participation in the 1978 robbery at the Lufthansa Terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport of more than $5 million in United States currency and approximately $1 million in jewelry. Asaro, Lucchese crime family associate James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke, and their co-conspirators each expected to receive approximately $750,000 in cash and large quantities of gold jewelry from the proceeds of the robbery.

Murder of Paul Katz

Vincent Asaro is charged with the murder of Paul Katz, who disappeared in 1969, and Asaro and his son Jerome are also charged with accessory after the fact for their roles in moving Katz’s body to prevent its discovery by law enforcement. Vincent Asaro and Burke allegedly strangled Katz with a dog chain because they believed he was cooperating with law enforcement. They then buried his body in the basement of a vacant home in Queens, New York, where it remained until the mid-1980s when, alerted to a state law enforcement investigation into Katz’s murder, Vincent Asaro directed Jerome Asaro and another individual to dig up Katz’s body and move it. Almost 35 years later, in June 2013, the FBI executed a search warrant at the Queens residence, which was still owned by the Burke family, and recovered remnants of Katz’s remains buried in the basement. Katz’s identity was confirmed through DNA testing.

Solicitation to Murder

Vincent Asaro and Jerome Asaro are charged with solicitation to murder their cousin, identified in the indictment as John Doe #1, because he was perceived to be a “rat” for testifying against another family member in a federal trial on fraud charges.

Armed Robberies

Vincent Asaro and Jerome Asaro are charged variously with participating in additional armed robberies and armed robbery conspiracies, including the robbery of approximately $1 million in gold salts.

Extortion

All five defendants, including Thomas Di Fiore, the highest ranking member of the Bonanno family at liberty, are charged with using and conspiring to use extortionate means to collect an extension of credit from a Bonanno family associate. During an April 26, 2013 consensual recording of Vincent Asaro and John Ragano, Ragano asked Asaro, “When do we stab this guy...in the neck? That’s what I want to know.” Asaro responded, “Stab him today.” Asaro continued, “I told you to give him a...beating. Give him a...beating, I told you that. Listen, I sent three guys there to give him a beating already, so it won’t be the first time he got a beating from me.”

The case has been assigned to United States Senior District Judge Allyne R. Ross. If convicted, Vincent Asaro faces life imprisonment, and each of his co-defendants faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Nicole M. Argentieri and Alicyn Cooley.

The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Defendants:

Vincent Asaro
Age: 78
Howard Beach, New York

Jerome Asaro
Age: 55
Bethpage, New York

Jack Bonventre
Age: 45
Campbell Hall, New York

Thomas Di Fiore, also known as “Tommy D”
Age: 70
Commack, New York

John Ragano, also known as “Bazoo”
Age: 52
Rockaway, New York

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Making of "Chicago Overcoat"

Chris Charles says he warned his star up front: "But I don't think it really registered till his first day of shooting in downtown Chicago."

Charles had cast Frank Vincent as the lead in Chicago Overcoat, an independent drama that received its world premiere Saturday, October 10, at the Chicago International Film Festival. Known almost exclusively for playing gangsters—including New York crime boss Phil Leotardo on The Sopranos and Billy Batts, who ends up in a trunk in Goodfellas—Vincent, 70, got to the set in October 2007 and realized that most of the crew were in their early 20s. "He's looking around like, 'Where'd all these kids come from?'" says Charles, who's now 25.

Chicago Overcoat was the first full-length feature produced by Beverly Ridge Pictures, a company formed in 2005 by six Columbia College film students, including Charles. Writer-director Brian Caunter, now 26, and writer-producer John Bosher, now 25, developed a sideline producing promotional and music videos while roommates at Columbia. Their "booty video," as Caunter calls it, for Joe Glass & IROC's "Two" got heavy rotation on BET Uncut in 2004. The next year, Caunter and Bosher joined forces with Charles, Philip Plowden, Kevin Moss, and William Maursky to form Beverly Ridge, named after Moss's far-south-side neighborhood. "The name sounds Hollywood, but it's also kind of Chicago," Caunter explains. They used Givens Castle, a Beverly landmark, as their logo. Charles directed Beverly Ridge's first production, a short adaptation of the Ray Bradbury short story "The Small Assassin."

In 2006 the six friends worked on a low-budget thriller called The Devil's Dominoes, directed by Scott Prestin, owner of the now-defunct Wicker Park bar Ginbucks. "We realized from that experience that we were more prepared than we thought to make a feature," Charles says. They were all fans of gangster films and figured they could make one without incurring a lot of extra production costs by taking advantage of Chicago locations.

"For months all we had was a title," says Caunter. His grandmother in Ohio had suggested "Chicago Overcoat," Prohibition-era slang for a coffin. The Family Secrets mob trials were in the headlines at the time and wound up providing inspiration for the screenplay.

Vincent plays Lou Marazano, an old hit man for the Chicago Outfit, who accepts his first contract in years—going after witnesses in a union pension-fund embezzlement case—to finance his Vegas retirement. Another Goodfellas vet, Mike Starr, is the underboss who exploits Marazano's money troubles. Another Sopranos alum, Kathrine Narducci, plays Marazano's old flame and alibi. Armand Assante plays the jailed boss facing trial. Chicago-based actor Danny Goldring is the alcoholic detective who's been chasing Marazano since the 1980s. And Stacy Keach does a cameo as a retired investigator pulled off the case when he got too close to city corruption.

"We were huge fans of The Sopranos," Caunter says. "We decided to write the script with Frank Vincent in mind so when he read it he'd feel like the main character is Frank Vincent. His book A Guy's Guide to Being a Man's Man was our character outline." The partners figured that "if we could create roles from scratch for celebrities, knowing they'd want to play something different, something challenging, we'd have an easier time recruiting them," Charles says. "We usually see Frank as a high-rolling mobster, higher on the food chain. In this film he's very humbled, very flawed, taking orders from guys younger than him."

Charles got the script to Vincent's people, and Vincent responded even though it came from unknowns in flyover country. "What appealed to me was the sensitivity of playing the softer side of a mob guy," Vincent says, "a guy who's not in control, who's looking to get the control." Vincent says he met a lot of mafiosi while touring as a drummer for Del Shannon and Paul Anka in the 1960s, helping him perfect a persona he's portrayed in Scorsese masterpieces and B movies alike. "They all have a way of looking at you, of intimidating you," Vincent says. "They're all evil. I can give a look or a stare that people read as evil."

Caunter and Charles signed Vincent at a place called Goodfellas Ristorante near his New Jersey home. "Frank walked in in a jumpsuit with a gold chain, looking like he walked off the set of The Sopranos," Charles says.

Once Vincent signed on, the other leads followed. Joe Mantegna was cast as the detective but dropped out weeks before shooting to take a role on CBS's Criminal Minds. "That was tough," Charles says. "I'd worked very hard to cast Joe." Goldring, who played the last clown killed in the opening bank heist sequence of The Dark Knight, stepped in. "They're so young, but they really got the writing for old-timers down," Goldring says.

The mother of cinematographer Kevin Moss, JoAnne Moss, who runs a real estate title insurance firm, personally invested "hundreds of thousands of dollars" and helped raise the rest of the $2 million budget, according to a report in Crain's Chicago Business. "Originally it was a smaller film. But as we found some success attaching talent, the budget increased," Charles says. "The project just kept getting bigger."

The filmmakers' youth "concerned me, absolutely," Vincent says. "They were younger than my kids. I've never experienced that before in all the films I've done, such a young team. . . . I figured if they were going to screw up, they'd screw up right away. As we progressed into the shoot, it became clear that they really knew what they wanted, and that was enough to make me confident."

Caunter, who turned 24 during the shoot, says he felt like "a chicken with its head cut off. Most of the time you have no idea what's going on. You feel like the world is going to end. You shoot for 12 hours, you come home and feel like you failed. The next day you feel like you want to redeem yourself. I think that's what makes a good movie—the struggle. If everything went your way it might feel kind of washy. I never had that experience, so I don't know."

The biggest adjustment for Caunter was learning to adapt to each actor's approach. "Frank is quite easygoing," he says. "Armand is the polar opposite. Armand would scream obscenities at the top of his lungs before the take. That alone would scare half the set, and then we'd roll the camera."

"They turned me loose," says Goldring. "That can be a dangerous thing for any actor, but they also had the good sense to rein me in. I'm a passion merchant. Doing Chicago Overcoat allowed me to let my passions out. The [character] is . . . ornery. He likes to tip back a few. Even though I don't do that anymore, I can play one on TV."

Accusations of ethnic stereotyping have dogged many of Vincent's projects. Last spring, MillerCoors pulled a series of ads featuring Vincent and Starr as mobsters after complaints from the Order Sons of Italy in America. Chicago Overcoat is no exception. After principal photography wrapped in November 2007, Bosher got an e-mail from Bill Dal Cerro of the advocacy group Italic Institute of America. Dal Cerro wrote, "It saddens—and yes, sickens me—that you are reverting to the oldest game in the book in your quest for Hollywood fame: namely, stoking prejudice against Americans of Italian descent by producing yet another pointless Italian 'mob' movie."

"I told him they can't force us to stop making movies that people want to see," Bosher says. "They have to change people's minds." Let them protest, adds Vincent, who sells "mobbleheads" of his Goodfellas character on his Web site. "It'll do the movie good."

It's going to be tough to recover the $2 million budget in today's independent film market, which is arguably in a deeper slump than the rest of the economy. Todd Slater of LA-based Huntsman Entertainment is shopping the film to distributors. "We've had a lot of offers from smaller companies," Charles says. "We've been waiting patiently for the right buyer. We want an offer we can't refuse."

Thanks to Ed M. Koziarski

Monday, June 15, 2009

Photo of Robert De Niro Hanging Out on Movie Set with Real Mobsters

Robert De Niro is another "GoodFella" who has hung out with the Gambino crime family.

While making the 1999 film "Analyze This," about a neurotic gangster, De Niro consulted with the late Gambino soldier Anthony (Fat Andy) Ruggiano - and the Daily News has obtained a never-before-seen photo of the Oscar-winning actor with the big-time gangster in the actor's trailer.

Robert De Niro(c) poses inside his trailer with the late mob boss Anthony 'Fat Andy' Ruggiano (r) for research on his role.

The film may have been a comedy, but Ruggiano was no joke. Ruggiano, who died in March 1999, was inducted into the crime family when the boss was Albert Anastasia. He was involved in at least seven murders, including giving the approval to whack his son-in-law.

"He did a lot of work for the family," Ruggiano's turncoat son Anthony Jr. testified recently at the trial of a Gambino hit man. "Work" is mob jargon for gangland killings. "He killed somebody with a fellow named Joe," Anthony Ruggiano Jr. recalled. "He killed a florist in Brooklyn. He killed three people in a warehouse that was robbing crap games.

"He killed somebody with me . . . and they had this guy Irish Danny killed behind the Skyway Motel on Conduit Blvd."

De Niro, who is famous for scrupulously researching his roles, was introduced to Ruggiano by reputed Gambino associate Anthony Corozzo, a member of the Screen Actors Guild and an extra on "Analyze This," a knowledgeable source said.

Anthony Corozzo is the brother of high-ranking Gambinos Nicholas (Little Nick) Corozzo, a powerful capo, and reputed consigliere Joseph Corozzo. He also appeared in another film starring De Niro, "A Bronx Tale," and forgettable flicks "This Thing of Ours, "The Deli" and "Men Lie."

"Anthony is like a liaison with the acting community," the source said.

De Niro's rep, Stan Rosenfeld, said the movie was made a long time ago and the actor doesn't recall Ruggiano. "Bob seldom, if ever, discusses his research techniques," Rosenfeld said.

Attorney Joseph Corozzo Jr. denied his uncle brought Fat Andy to the set.

Jerry Capeci of the Web site Ganglandnews.com said it's no secret actors like to rub elbows with real tough guys, and the feeling is mutual. "Even Carlo Gambino, the epitome of the understated, low-key mob boss, couldn't resist the lure of posing in that now famous backstage picture with Frank Sinatra surrounded by a bunch of smiling wise guys," Capeci said.

During the filming of "GoodFellas," De Niro was interested in talking to the legendary gangster he was playing, but James (Jimmy the Gent) Burke was in jail and refused to meet with the actor, the source said.

De Niro is the latest alumnus from the film "GoodFellas" to have met with members of the Gambino family. Actor Frank Sivero posed for photos at Gambino hit man Charles Carneglia's junkyard, and actor Anthony Borgese was indicted last week for participating in an extortion with a Gambino soldier.

Thanks to John Marzulli.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Sopranos/GoodFellas Actor Charged with Real Life Strong-Arming with a Reputed Gambino Soldier

A veteran actor with roles in "The Sopranos" and "GoodFellas" played a tough guy in real life, too, prosecutors say.

Anthony Borgese - along with a reputed Gambino crime family soldier - was charged with trying to strong-arm cash from an unlucky soul who owed money to a loanshark.

Borgese pleaded not guilty Friday to charges he tried to extort the unidentified man in upstate Monticello in 2004. The longtime character actor, who grew up in Brooklyn, uses the stage name Tony Darrow and calls himself the "Goodfella of Comedy" on his Web site.

He was busted by FBI agents at LaGuardia Aiport as he arrived home from a film shoot late Thursday, sources said.

The 70-year-old actor looked haggard in court Friday after spending the night at the federal lockup in Brooklyn.

He declined to talk to the Daily News after he was released on a $750,000 bond secured by his upstate home and $50,000 cash. "I can't comment until I find out what this is about," he said as he hauled a cart with his luggage out of Brooklyn Federal Court.

Also charged in the two-count indictment were reputed Gambino soldier Joseph (Joey Boy) Orlando, who is serving a 33-month sentence for a separate extortion conviction, and alleged mob associate Giovanni Monteleone, who was released on bail.

"This is a violent crime, but we are satisfied that with the bond being posted the community will not be at risk," Assistant U.S. Attorney John Buretta said.

Borgese is best known for his role in "GoodFellas" as Sonny Bunz, the beleaguered owner of the mobbed-up Bamboo Lounge. The timid Bunz fights over a bar tab with hothead Tommy DeVito - played by Joe Pesci - who breaks a bottle over his head.

He also appeared as Larry Boy Barese in 14 episodes of "The Sopranos," and several Woody Allen movies, as well as having a Vegas nightclub act.

"I travel a lot," Borgese told Magistrate Roanne Mann Friday. "I do autograph signings and personal appearances."

Borgese worked in the real Bamboo Lounge in Canarsie, Brooklyn - a hangout for Luchese crime figures Henry Hill, James (Jimmy the Gent) Burke and Tommy DeSimone, whose stories were the basis for "GoodFellas."

In an interview with The News in 2000, the East New York-bred Borgese said: "Most of my friends from the old neighborhood are either dead or in jail. Sometimes I wonder, 'Why did God forget me?'"

Borgese isn't the first "GoodFellas" cast member to be linked to the Gambino crime family.

Earlier this year, at the trial of hit man Charles Carneglia, prosecutors introduced into evidence a photo of actor Frank Sivero - who died on a meat hook as Frankie Carbone in the film - posing with the Gambino goon.

Thanks to John Marzulli

Friday, February 20, 2009

Mob Informant Testifies that Actor Was Mobster On and Off the Screen

GOODFELLAS star FRANK SIVERO had links to real life mafia bosses and hitmen, a mob informant has testified in court.

On Wednesday (18Feb09), a New York court was shown photographs of Sivero posing with Charles Carneglia, who is on trial charged with five murders, including the slaying of an off-duty cop. Prosecution witness Kevin McMahon claims Sivero - who played Frankie Carbone in the 1990 movie - was a regular visitor at the Brooklyn junkyard where cops believe Carneglia dissolved the bodies of his victims in acid. And he suggested the 57-year-old actor, who is not accused of any crime, used his underworld connections to settle vendettas. McMahon, a former associate of jailed New York crime boss John Gotti, told the court, "(Sivero) had some kind of problem with somebody in jail, I am not exactly positive." When approached by the New York Daily News, Sivero's agent Mitchell Shankman declined to comment.

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