The Chicago Syndicate: John Gotti

Montana West World

Montana West World
Showing posts with label John Gotti. Show all posts
Showing posts with label John Gotti. Show all posts

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Carmine "The Bull" Agnello, Ex-Son-in-Law of John Gotti, Arrested as part of #OperationGoodfella

An ex-son-in-law of late New York mob boss John Gotti was arrested in Ohio on Wednesday in what police described as a scheme to scrap stolen cars.

Carmine "The Bull" Agnello was charged with theft, money laundering and conspiracy in connection with the alleged car-scrapping operation.

He was also charged with drugging race horses before competition, animal cruelty and "corrupting" sports following an investigation by Cleveland police and the Cuyahoga County prosecutors office, authorities said.

The charges were brought as part of an 18-month investigation called "Operation Goodfella."

"We are not going to let the Mafia sink their teeth back into Cleveland and make this into an outpost for their New York-based corrupt enterprises," Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said in a statement.

Police said they found multiple firearms and $45,000 cash in a search at Agnello's home in Bentleyville, Ohio, about 20 miles southeast of Cleveland, and also found evidence of illegal dumping at his scrap metal business in Cleveland.

Cleveland police said they had been investigating scrap metal yards after very few vehicles were recovered despite a spike in car thefts in the past three years. They focused on Agnello's yard because of the large amount of cars it processed.

Police accused Agnello of defrauding a regional scrap metal processor of more than $3 million since 2014 by weighing down stolen scrapped cars with dirt.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer quoted police as saying Agnello paid teenagers to steal cars, usually for $20 or $25 per vehicle, and bring them to his business.

Cleveland Deputy Police Chief Edward Tomba said Agnello, who is in his mid-50s, had been convicted in New York on federal charges in 2001 similar to those brought by Cleveland and served seven years in prison.

Agnello and Gotti's daughter, Victoria Gotti, star of the reality program "Growing Up Gotti," divorced in 2002.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Did the Mob Assassinate Kennedy? The Hidden History of the JFK Assassination

It's been 50+ years since bullets were fired at the presidential motorcade as it wended its way through Dealey Plaza in Dallas, killing U.S. President John F. Kennedy and spawning decades of speculation on whether Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone or was part of -- or victim of -- a conspiracy with tentacles in Havana, Washington and perhaps Moscow.

Did the CIA do it? Was it the mob? The Kremlin? How about a consortium of businessmen?

What if Oswald thought he was a double agent working for the CIA who planned to infiltrate Cuba and work for the overthrow of Fidel Castro?

Lamar Waldron makes the case Oswald was tangled up in CIA-Mafia machinations against the Castro regime in "The Hidden History of the JFK Assassination."

Waldron said it actually was New Orleans mob godfather Carlos Marcello who masterminded the Kennedy assassination -- something Robert Kennedy believed -- but much of the evidence was either destroyed or is still classified because of the CIA's anti-Castro activities.

The first investigation into the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination by the Warren Commission, headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren, concluded 10 months later in its 889-page report Oswald acted alone, firing three shots at Kennedy from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. The House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978 concluded Kennedy was killed as the result of a conspiracy but ruled out the Soviet Union, Cuba, anti-Castro Cubans and organized crime -- but not individual mobsters -- as complicit.

Waldron said Marcello, in a fit of rage during a rant about Kennedy and his brother, Robert, blurted out in the prison yard at the Federal Correctional Institution in Texarkana, Texas, that he had Kennedy killed and wished he could have done it himself. The remark was made in front of two other inmates, one of them Jack Van Laningham, who became his cellmate and eventually wore a wire for the FBI, getting Marcello's alleged confession on tape.

Waldron said Marcello, who was incarcerated at Texarkana for his role in the BriLab insurance bribery scheme, hated the Kennedy brothers because of their war on organized crime and their efforts to have him expelled from the United States for good. He was particularly incensed about his deportation to Guatemala -- based on fake documents saying that's where he was born -- and his struggle to slip back into the United States, which took him on a trek through the jungle.

Waldron, who reviewed declassified FBI and CIA files and interviewed many of the parties involved, said Marcello's alleged confession is backed by corroborating evidence not available to Laningham or his FBI handlers at the time.

Similar confessions came late in life from Marcello's alleged co-conspirators Johnny Rosselli, an underboss for Chicago mobster Sam Giancana, and Santo Trafficante, who controlled the Tampa, Fla., mob and had run casinos in Havana during the heyday of the Batista regime.

What makes Waldron so sure Marcello's statements weren't just boasting?

"Most mobsters ... haven't ruled unchallenged an empire the size of General Motors for three decades. ... Carlos Marcello ruled Louisiana, Texas and parts of Mississippi. One way Marcello kept that empire so long was by avoiding the limelight, publicity. ... It's a totally different kind of godfather than John Gotti [the New York mobster who headed the Gambino crime family and was known as the 'Dapper Don']," Waldron said, adding because the New Orleans mob was the oldest Mafia organization in the United States, Marcello did not have to go to the national commission to clear hits on government officials.

Marcello, he said, actually planned two other attempts on Kennedy in the days preceding Dallas -- one in Chicago and one in Tampa. Like Dallas, two men -- one an ex-Marine and the other a Fair Play for Cuba member -- were positioned to be blamed for the shootings once Kennedy was dead.

Waldron said both the Warren Commission and the House select committee investigations were hampered by CIA reluctance to turn over files concerning U.S. efforts to overthrow Castro. Hundreds of thousands of pages related to those plots remain secret despite legislation requiring all files related to the Kennedy assassination be released and Waldron has started a petition on whitehouse.gov (http://wh.gov/lZurV) seeking their declassification.

Waldron said it is unlikely Marcello would have left the assassination to Oswald because the former Marine was not an experienced killer. Waldron said Marcello imported two hit men from Europe to handle the shooting.

"He [Marcello] liked to use war orphans for hits," Waldron said, "because if you killed them afterward, there was no one to ask questions."

As for evidence the fatal bullets came from the Texas School Book Depository, "the angle is in huge dispute. It varies by 20 degrees," Waldron said.

The Warren Commission said the bullet that injured Connolly, the so-called magic bullet, went in the back of Kennedy's neck and exited just below his Adam's apple. But Waldron said that's false. The bullet actually went in 6 inches below the top of Kennedy's collar -- something Waldron said the late Sen. Arlen Specter, then an investigator for the Warren Commission, changed to make the trajectory line up. Additionally, an exit wound generally is larger than an entrance wound and the hole beneath Kennedy's Adam's apple was smaller than the back wound.

Waldron said Kennedy aides riding in the chase car were convinced at least one shot came from the grassy knoll but were pressured to change their stories for national security reasons.

History Professor Randy Roberts of Purdue University, who has written about the assassination's effect on American culture, argues conspiracy theories "always sound good" but they don't hold up.

"It sounds really persuasive but then when you read the documents, they don't really say what you think they say," Roberts said.

Roberts, who will appear on the History channel's "Lee Harvey Oswald: 48 Hours to Live" Friday, said the ballistics evidence "is pretty convincing" and he doesn't think Oswald's calling himself "a patsy" means much, considering he was seen carrying a package that investigators said was likely the Mannlicher Carcano rifle (Waldron said the package was too small to be the rifle and never made it to the book depository in any event) used to shoot the president and injure Connolly.

"If Oswald was a patsy, why did he shoot a policeman and try to shoot more policemen [as he was cornered at a movie theater]?" Roberts asked. "Why did he leave his ring with his wife ... on his way out? ... There's so much logical evidence."

Waldron said the evidence implicating Oswald in officer J.D. Tippit's killing is questionable and there are indications Oswald already was inside the movie theater at the time. As for resisting arrest, Waldron said at that point Oswald probably had figured out things weren't going down the way he had been led to believe they would.

Best-selling author Robert Tanenbaum, a former New York City prosecutor who served as chief assistant counsel to the House select committee, said he doesn't think the assassination has yet been adequately investigated. He quit the panel when he became convinced members weren't that interested in what really happened.

"I don't believe Oswald could have been convicted based on the shoddy evidence they had, particularly with all the other evidence," he said, citing, for example, the statements of Dr. Charles Crenshaw, a young doctor who treated Kennedy when he was brought to Parkland Hospital.

Crenshaw said one of the bullets entered Kennedy's throat from the front right while a second bullet entered his head from the side "consistent with [a shot fired from the] grassy knoll," Tanenbaum said. But Crenshaw was never even questioned by the Warren Commission and his testimony was ignored by the House committee.

"I believe without question there were shots that came from the side, the grassy knoll," he said.

Roberts doesn't buy it though, especially since there are so many conspiracy theories.

"If there was a conspiracy, only one of [the theories] can be right. They can't all be," he said.

Misconceptions about the assassination still affect U.S. foreign policy. Waldron said the reason the United States never normalized relations with Cuba is because high-ranking officials still are convinced Castro was behind the assassination based on trumped up evidence periodically trotted out by the CIA.

"[Secretary of State] John Kerry is only the latest government official to say there was a conspiracy, but he pointed a finger at Fidel Castro," he said. "The mob planted a lot of phony evidence pointing to Castro. [Former President Lyndon] Johnson elieved Castro killed Kennedy. [Former CIA Director John] McCone believed Castro killed Kennedy. People like [former Secretary of State Alexander] Haig -- they didn't know all of the evidence implicating Fidel was debunked in 1963 and 1964. ... It can all be traced back to the mob."

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.

Hitting the Mafia

The aging bosses seated at the defense table in the packed federal courtroom in lower Manhattan look harmless enough to be spectators at a Sunday-after noon boccie game. Anthony (Fat Tony) Salerno, 75, the reputed head of the Genovese crime family, sits aloof and alone, his left eye red and swollen from surgery. White-haired Anthony (Tony Ducks) Corallo, 73, the alleged Lucchese family chief, is casual in a cardigan and sport shirt. Carmine (Junior) Persico, 53, is the balding, baggy-eyed showman of the trio. Elegant in a black pinstripe suit, a crisp white shirt and red tie, the accused Colombo crime boss is acting as his own attorney. "By now I guess you all know my name is Carmine Persico and I'm not a lawyer, I'm a defendant," he humbly told the jury in a thick Brooklyn accent. "Bear with me, please," he said, shuffling through his notes. "I'm a little nervous."

As Persico spoke, three young prosecutors watched, armed with the evidence they hope will show that Junior and his geriatric cohorts are the leaders of a murderous, brutal criminal conspiracy that reaches across the nation. In a dangerous four-year investigation, police and FBI agents had planted bugs around Mafia hangouts and listened to endless hours of tiresome chatter about horses, cars and point spreads while waiting patiently for incriminating comments. They pressured mobsters into becoming informants. They carefully charted the secret family ties, linking odd bits of evidence to reveal criminal patterns. They helped put numerous mafiosi, one by one and in groups, behind bars. But last week, after a half-century in business, the American Mafia itself finally went on trial.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Chertoff, whose bushy mustache could not hide his tender age of 32, addressed the anonymous jurors in calm, methodical tones. Chertoff charged flatly that the Mafia is run by a coordinating Commission and that the eight defendants, representing four of New York City's five nationally powerful Mob families, were either on this crime board or had carried out its racketeering dictates. "What you will see is these men," he said, "these crime leaders, fighting with each other, backstabbing each other, each one trying to get a larger share of the illegal proceeds. You are going to learn that this Commission is dominated by a single principle -- greed. They want more money, and they will do what they have to do to get it."

Across the East River in another federal courthouse in Brooklyn, a jury was being selected for the racketeering trial of the most powerful of all U.S. Mafia families: the Gambinos. Here a younger, more flamboyant crime boss strutted through the courtroom, snapping out orders to subservient henchmen, reveling in his new and lethally acquired notoriety. John Gotti, 45, romanticized in New York City's tabloids as the "Dapper Don" for his tailored $1,800 suits and carefully coiffed hair, has been locked in prison without bail since May, only a few months after he allegedly took control of the Gambino gang following the murder of the previous boss, Paul Castellano.

Gotti, who seemed to personify a vigorous new generation of mobster, may never have a chance to inherit his criminal kingdom. Prosecutor Diane Giacalone, 36, says tapes of conversations between Gotti and his lieutenants, recorded by a trusted Gambino "soldier" turned informant, will provide "direct evidence of John Gotti's role as manager of a gambling enterprise." If convicted, the new crime chief and six lieutenants could be imprisoned for up to 40 years.

The stage has thus been set for the beginning of two of the most significant trials in U.S. Mob history. Finally realizing the full potential of the once slighted Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, federal prosecutors are trying to destroy Mafia families by convincing juries that their very existence is a crime, that their leaders should be imprisoned for long terms and that, eventually, even their ill-gotten gains can be - confiscated. Success in the New York cases, following an unprecedented series of indictments affecting 17 of the 24 Mafia families in the U.S., would hit the Mob where it would hurt most. Out of a formal, oath-taking national Mafia membership of some 1,700, at least half belong to the five New York clans, each of which is larger and more effective than those in any other city.

"The Mafia will be crushed," vows Rudolph Giuliani, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who has been leading the major anti-Mafia crusade and who takes personal affront at the damage done by the Mob to the image of his fellow law-abiding Italian Americans. Declares G. Robert Blakey, a Notre Dame Law School professor who drafted the 1970 RICO law now being used so effectively against organized crime: "It's the twilight of the Mob. It's not dark yet for them, but the sun is going down." Insists John L. Hogan, chief of the FBI's New York office: "We are out to demolish a multiheaded monster and all its tentacles and support systems and followers."

More cynical, or possibly more realistic, law-enforcement authorities doubt that these grand goals can be achieved. But they nonetheless admire the determination and the sophisticated tactics that the current prosecutors are bringing to a battle that has been fought, mostly in vain, ever since the crime-breeding days of Prohibition. Even the doubters concede that the new campaign is off to an impressive start.

From 1981 through last year, federal prosecutors brought 1,025 indictments against 2,554 mafiosi, and have convicted 809 Mafia members or their uninitiated "associates." Many of the remaining cases are still pending. Among all criminal organizations, including such non-Mafia types as motorcycle gangs and Chinese and Latin American drug traffickers, the FBI compiled evidence that last year alone led to 3,803 indictments and 2,960 convictions. At the least, observes the FBI's Hogan, all this legal action means the traditional crime families "are bleeding, they're demoralized."

In Chicago, where the "Outfit" has always been strong, the conviction last January of four top local mobsters for directing the tax-free skimming of cash from two Las Vegas casinos has forced the ailing Anthony Accardo, 80, to return from a comfortable retirement in Palm Springs, Calif., to keep an eye on an inexperienced group of hoods trying to run the rackets. The same skimming case has crippled the mob leadership in Kansas City, Milwaukee and , Cleveland. The New England Mafia, jolted by the convictions in April of Underboss Gennaro Anguilo, 67, and three of his brothers, who operate out of Boston, is described by the FBI as being in a "state of chaos." Of the major Mob clans, only those in Detroit and Newark remain relatively unscathed. But the muscle of organized crime has been most formidable in New York City. Prosecutors have been attacking it with increasing success, but expect to score their biggest win in the so-called Commission case (dubbed Star Chamber by federal investigators). Chertoff and two other young prosecutors handling their first big trial will have to prove that a national Commission made up of the bosses and some underbosses of the major families has been dividing turf and settling disputes among the crime clans ever since New York's ruthless "Lucky" Luciano organized the Commission in 1931. Luciano acted to end the gang warfare that had wiped out at least 40 mobsters in just two days in September of that year. Before that, top gangsters like Salvatore Maranzano had conspired to shoot their way into becoming the capo di tutti capi ("Boss of Bosses"). Maranzano, who had organized New York's Sicilian gangsters into five families, was the first victim of Luciano's new order.

For more than two decades the Mafia managed to keep its board of directors hidden from the outside world, until November 1957, when police staged a celebrated raid on a national mobsters' convention in Apalachin, N.Y. In 1963 former Mafia Soldier Joseph Valachi told a Senate investigating subcommittee all about La Cosa Nostra, the previously secret name under which the brotherhood had operated. After the Mafia had been romanticized in books and movies like The Godfather, some mobsters became brazen about their affairs. In 1983 former New York Boss Joseph Bonanno even published an autobiography about his Mafia years.

Reading that book, A Man of Honor: The Autobiography of Joseph Bonanno, helped Giuliani realize that the little understood 1970 RICO act could be used against the Mob. "Bonanno has an entire section devoted to the Commission," Giuliani recalled. "It seemed to me that if he could write about it, we could prosecute it."

Bonanno, 82, seems to have had second thoughts about what he triggered. The aged boss has left his Arizona retirement mansion to serve a contempt-of-court sentence in a Springfield, Mo., federal prison rather than give testimony in the Commission trial. The mobster turned author, says one investigator, "is hearing footsteps."

Brought to bay in a courtroom, the Mafia bosses have adopted an unusual defense: rather than fight the Government's efforts to prove the existence of La Cosa Nostra, they admit it. "This case is not about whether there is a Mafia," thundered Defense Attorney Samuel Dawson. "Assume it. Accept it. There is." Nevertheless, he told the jury, "just because a person is a member of the Mafia doesn't mean he has committed the charged crime or even agreed to commit the charged crime." Dawson depicted the Commission as a sort of underworld businessmen's round table that approves new Mafia members and arbitrates disputes. Its purpose, he insisted, is "to avoid -- avoid -- conflict."

Much more sinister conspiracies will be described by Government witnesses in the trial. The prosecutors will contend that the Commission approved three murders and directed loan-sharking and an extensive extortion scheme against the New York City construction industry. The killings involve the 1979 rubout of Bonanno Boss Carmine Galante and two associates. Bonanno Soldier Anthony Indelicato, 30, and alleged current Bonanno Boss Philip (Rusty) Rastelli, 68, are accused of plotting the hit, with the Commission's blessing, to prevent Galante from seizing control of the Gambino family. (Rastelli, already engaged in a separate racketeering case, will face trial later.) The jurors will see a videotape of Indelicato, who is a defendant in the Commission case, being congratulated shortly after the killings by high-ranking Gambino family members at its Ravenite Social Club. "Watch the way they shake hands, watch the way they are congratulating each other," said Prosecutor Chertoff.

The crux of the Government's case, however, is more prosaic than murder. It details a Commission-endorsed scheme to rig bids and allocate contracts to Mob influenced concrete companies in New York City's booming construction industry. Any concrete-pouring contract worth more than $2 million was controlled by the Mob, according to the indictment, and the gangsters decided who should submit the lowest bids. Any company that disobeyed the bidding rules might find itself with unexpected labor problems, and its sources of cement might dry up. The club dues, actually a form of extortion, amounted to $1.8 million between 1981 and 1984. The Mob also demanded a 2% cut of the value of the contracts it controlled.

The key defendant on this charge is Ralph Scopo, 57, a soldier in the Colombo family, and just as importantly, the president of the Cement and Concrete Workers District Council before he was indicted. Scopo is accused of accepting many of the payoffs from the participating concrete firms. Scopo's lawyer admits the union leader took payoffs, but he and the other attorneys deny it was part of a broader extortion scheme. Since the Mafia leaders own some of the construction companies, said Dawson, the Government was claiming "that these men extort themselves."

Although the Commission trial involves four of New York's five Mob families, a more recent murder plot has prevented the Gambino family from being represented. Former Gambino Boss Paul Castellano and Underboss Aniello Dellacroce had been indicted. But Dellacroce, 71, died last Dec. 2 of cancer. Just 14 days later Castellano, 72, and Thomas Bilotti, 45, his trusted bodyguard and the apparent choice to succeed Dellacroce, were the victims of yet another sensational Mob hit as they walked, unarmed, from their car toward a mid-Manhattan steak house.

Law-enforcement agents are convinced that Gotti, a protege of Dellacroce's, helped plot the Castellano and Bilotti slayings to ensure his own rise to the top of the Gambino clan. No one, however, has been charged with those slayings. The Castellano hit may not come up at the racketeering trial of Gotti, his brother Eugene and four Gambino associates. But two other murders and a conspiracy to commit murder are among 15 crimes that the Government says formed a pattern of participation in a criminal enterprise. The defendants are also accused of planning two armored-car robberies, other hijackings and gambling, and conspiracy to commit extortion.

The major evidence in the Gotti case was provided through a bugging scheme worthy of a James Bond movie. In 1984 Gambino Soldier Dominick Lofaro, 56, was arrested in upstate New York on heroin charges. Facing a 20-year sentence, he agreed to become a Government informant. Investigators wired him with a tiny microphone taped to his chest and a miniature cassette recorder, no bigger than two packs of gum, that fitted into the small of his back without producing a bulge. Equipped with a magnetic switch on a cigarette lighter to activate the recorder, Lofaro coolly discussed Gambino family affairs with the unsuspecting Gotti brothers. Afterward he placed the tapes inside folded copies of the New York Times business section and dropped them in a preselected trash bin. Lofaro provided the Government with more than 50 tapes over two years. Says one admiring investigator: "You can't help wondering how many sleepless nights he spent knowing that if caught he would get a slow cutting job by a knife expert."

The increasing use of wiretaps and tapes, says another investigator, is "like opening a Pandora's box of the Mafia's top secrets and letting them all hang out in the open." Both top Mafia trials will depend heavily on tapes as evidence, as have numerous RICO cases around the country. The FBI's bugging has increased sharply, from just 90 court-approved requests in 1982 to more than 150 in each of the past two years. The various investigating agencies, including state and local police, have found novel places to hide their bugs: in a Perrier bottle, a stuffed toy, a pair of binoculars, shoes, an electric blanket, a horse's saddle. Agents even admit to dropping snooping devices into a confessional at a Roman Catholic church frequented by mobsters, as well as a church candlestick holder and a church men's room. All this, agents insist, was done with court permission.

An agent posing as a street hot-dog vendor in a Mafia neighborhood in New York City discovered which public telephone was being used by gangsters to call sources in Sicily about heroin shipments. The phone was quickly tapped, and the evidence it provided has been used in the ongoing "pizza connection" heroin trial against U.S. and Sicilian mobsters.

The agents were even able to slip a bug into "Big Paul" Castellano's house on Staten Island some two years before he was murdered. Ironically, they heard Castellano apparently complaining about Sparks Steak House, the site of his death. "You know who's really busy making a real fortune?" Big Paul asked a crony. "(Expletive) Sparks. I don't get 5 cents when I go in there. I want you to know that. Shut the house this way if I don't get 5 cents." In Mob lingo, authorities speculate, he seemed to be warning that the restaurant would be closed if it did not start paying extortion money to the Gambino family.

In Boston, FBI agents acquired details on the interiors of two Mafia apartments in the city's North End. With court approval, agents picked the locks early in the morning and planted bugs that produced 800 hours of recordings. The monitoring agents learned fascinating tidbits about Mob mores. Ilario Zannino was heard explaining how dangerous it is to kill just one member of a gang. "If you're clipping people," he said, "I always say, make sure you clip the people around him first. Get them together, 'cause everybody's got a friend. He could be the dirtiest (expletive) in the world, but someone that likes this guy, that's the guy that sneaks you." They heard Zannino and John Cincotti complaining about a competing Irish gang of hoods. Said Cincotti: "They don't have the scruples that we have." Zannino agreed. "You know how I knew they weren't Italiano? When they bombed the (expletive) house. We don't do that."

A major break in the Commission case came on a rainy night in March 1983 when two agents of the New York State Organized Crime Task Force carried out a well-rehearsed planting of a tiny radio transmitter in a 1982 black Jaguar used by "Tony Ducks" Corallo. In a parking lot outside a restaurant in Huntington, N.Y., on Long Island, one agent carefully opened a door, pressing the switch that would otherwise turn on the interior lights. Another helped him spread a plastic sheath over the seats so that rain would not spot the upholstery. With a stopwatch at hand, they quickly removed the dashboard, installed the bug, replaced the dash and closed the car door. The operation took 15 minutes.

For four months the bug transmitted intimate Mob conversations between the Lucchese boss and his driver, Salvatore Avellino, to agents trailing discreetly in various "chase cars," which rebroadcast the signals to a recording van. "It was the most significant information regarding the structure and function of the Commission that has ever been obtained from electronic surveillance," declared Ronald Goldstock, chief of the Organized Crime Task Force. After building his own case against the Lucchese family for a local carting-industry racket, Goldstock alerted Giuliani to the broader implications of using the evidence to attack the Mob's controlling Commission.

Where federal agents and local police once distrusted one another and often collided in their organized-crime investigations, a new spirit of cooperation is proving effective. In New York, state investigators have been invaluable to the FBI in probing the Mob, and some 150 New York City police are assigned full time to the New York FBI office.

The current wave of Mob trials has benefited as well from the number of former gangsters who have proved willing to violate the Mafia's centuries-old tradition of omerta (silence) and provide evidence against their former partners. Racket victims are less fearful than before of testifying. Nationwide, says Giuliani, "we've got more than 100 people who have testified against Mafia guys." To be sure, many witnesses are criminals facing long sentences; they have a strong self-interest in currying favor with prosecutors.

That is a point that the defense lawyers attack forcefully. "I can't tell a witness in jail to come and testify for me and I'll give him his freedom," Persico told the Commission jury. "The Government can do that. They're powerful people . . . Not me." Persico, a high school graduate who learned legal tactics working on appeals during some 14 years behind bars, is described by his longtime attorney, Stanley Meyer, as "the most intelligent fellow I have ever met in any walk of life." His unusual self-defense role also gives him a chance to come across as an unsinister personality to jurors. Persico's strategy, says one court veteran, "is brilliant, if it works." But he runs a risk: his questions must not convey knowledge of events that an innocent person would not possess.

The Commission trial is not expected to produce a turncoat as high ranking as Cleveland Underboss Angelo Lonardo, the top U.S. mobster to sing so far. He learned how to be a turncoat the hard way. Charged with leading a drug ring, Lonardo was convicted after a lesser hood, Carmen Zagaria, testified about the inner workings of the Cleveland Mob. Zagaria described how the bodies of hit victims were chopped up and tossed into Lake Erie. Lonardo, who wanted to avoid a life sentence, then helped prosecutors break the Las Vegas skimming case.

John Gotti is haunted by the deception of Wilfred ("Willie Boy") Johnson, a Gambino-family associate. Caught carrying $50,000 in a paper bag in 1981, Johnson invited New York City detectives to help themselves to the cash. They charged him with bribery. After that Johnson, who hung out at Gotti's Bergen Hunt and Fish Club, kept the cops posted on how the rising star was progressing. He also suggested where bugs might be placed.

The most loquacious turncoat may be James Frattiano, 72, once the acting boss of a Los Angeles crime family. He not only confessed publicly to killing eleven people but also wrote a revealing book, The Last Mafioso, and has taken his story on the road, testifying at numerous trials. All this public testimony means that the Mafia is losing what Floyd Clark, assistant FBI director in charge of criminal investigations, calls a "tremendous asset: fear and intimidation. That shield is being removed."

The willingness of some hoodlums and victims to defy the Mob is partly due to the existence of the Federal Witness Security Program, which since it started in 1970 has helped 4,889 people move to different locations and acquire new identities and jobs. At a cost to the Government of about $100,000 for each protected person, the program has produced convictions in 78% of the cases in which such witnesses were used. For some former gangsters, however, a conventional life in a small town turns out to be a drag. They run up fresh debts and sometimes revert to crime.

A more significant reason for the breakdown in Mob discipline is that the new generation of family members is not as dedicated to the old Sicilian-bred mores. Some mafiosi may have been in trouble with their families already. "Often, they're going to be killed if they don't go to the Government," says Barbara Jones, an attorney in Giuliani's office. Others feel that a long prison sentence is too stiff a price to pay for family loyalty. The younger mafiosi, explains one Justice Department source, "are much more Americanized than the old boys. They enjoy the good life. There's more than a bit of yuppie in them." Contends RICO Author Blakey: "The younger members are a little more crass, a little less honest and respectful, a little more individualistic and easier to flip."

The combination of prosecutorial pressure and the slipping of family ties may be feeding upon itself, creating further disunity and casting a shadow over the Mob's future. Certainly, when the old-timers go to prison for long terms, they lose their grip on their families, particularly if ambitious successors do not expect them to return. Younger bosses serving light sentences can keep operating from prison, dispatching orders through their lawyers and visiting relatives. They may use other, less watched inmates to send messages. Prison mail is rarely read by censors.

Still, the convicted dons run risks. The prison pay phones may be legally tapped. When the feds learned that the late Kansas City boss Nick Civella was directing killings from Leavenworth prison in Kansas, they bugged the visitors' room and indicted him for new crimes. But can prison bars really crush the Mob? Giuliani contends that as the Italian-American community has grown away from its immigrant beginnings, La Cosa Nostra has been losing its original base of operations and recruits. Pointing to the relatively small number of "made" Mafia members, Giuliani says, "We are fighting an enemy that has definable limits in terms of manpower. They cannot replenish themselves the way they used to in the '20s, '30s and '40s." The Mafia seems aware of the problem: U.S. mobsters have been recruiting hundreds of loyal southern Italian immigrants to run family- owned pizza parlors, help with the heroin traffic, and strengthen the ranks. Experts point out that the Mafia remains a wealthy organization that collected at least $26 billion last year. The Mob has deep roots in unions and labor- intensive industries such as building construction, transportation, restaurants and clothing. In many industries, says Ray Maria, the Labor Department's deputy inspector general, "the Mob controls your labor costs and determines whether you are reputable and profitable."

Repeated prosecutions alone will not put the organization out of its deadly business. Veteran observers of the Mob recall the prediction of the imminent demise of the Chicago Outfit in 1943 when its seven highest hoods were convicted of shaking down Hollywood movie producers. The bell of doom seemed to be tolling nationwide in 1963 when Joseph Valachi's disclosures set off an FBI bugging war against the families. In 1975 the most successful labor racketeering prosecution in U.S. history was supposed to have cleaned up the terror-ridden East Coast waterfront from Miami to New York. None of those highly publicized events had lasting impact.

Still, today's zealous prosecutors have a new tool that gives them a fighting chance to take the organization out of organized crime, if not actually to rub out the Mob. The same RICO law that allows prosecutions against criminal organizations also provides for civil action to seize their assets, from cash to cars and hangouts. A prime example of this technique was the action taken in 1981 against Teamsters Local 560 after it was shown to have been dominated by New York's Genovese family. A civil suit led to the discharge of the local's officers. The union was placed under a court- appointed trustee until free elections could be held. While such suits have been attempted against organized-crime figures only ten times, top Justice Department officials concede they have underestimated the leverage the law can give them. They vow to follow up the convictions they have been winning with civil suits against the family leaders.

The crusading Giuliani admits that the old practice of locking up a capo or two "just helped to speed the succession along." But by striking at all levels of the Mob families and then "peeling away their empires," Giuliani insists, "it is not an unrealistic goal to crush them." Perhaps. But first there are two new and potentially historic courtroom battles to be fought. For the Mob, and for an optimistic new generation of federal crime fighters, it is High Noon in New York.

Thanks to Ed Magnuson

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Dealmakers Behind the Chicago Mob

For most Americans, real racket power in the last century hovered somewhere over the Hudson River, and no wonder. They saw New York-area gangsters featured in the best books and movies about the Mafia. Flamboyant bosses like John Gotti grabbed headlines with good sound bites and flashy trials, or the occasional high-profile hit in a crowded restaurant. But while East Coast mob families splattered each other's brains in the marinara, the Second City's less-colorful Mafia, known as the Outfit, built a criminal empire that was truly second to none. Its tentacles stretched to the West Coast and wrapped securely around Las Vegas. Not that its members didn't whack their own wayward bosses along the way, but their executions were mostly private affairs, often dispatched with a few well-placed .22s to the back of the head.

Author Gus Russo has done yeoman's work in pulling the Outfit bosses from the shadows to show how their muscle and methods came to dominate organized crime. In his 2001 book, suitably titles "The Outfit," he chronicles the Chicago mob's rise to national power after Al Capone.

Now, he weighs in with "Supermob: How Sidney Korshak and His Criminal Associates Became America's Hidden Power Brokers." If you know about the short shrift the Outfit has received in the popular imagination, you can almost forgive the breathless title, but Russo pointedly uses the term "Supermob" to describe a band of Jewish lawyers, politicians and businessmen who acted as cat's-paws for some of the Outfit's most ambitious scams. Although he credits a Senate investigator with first using the term "Supermob," Russo takes it to a new level, suggesting a gang of white-collar kingpins as ruthless and tightly knit as a Mafia family. He is also serious about the "Super," claiming that the members of his "Kosher Nostra" would ultimately profit more from their "amoral, and frequently criminal careers" than did their Outfit allies.

Like all other Chicago gangster stories, Russo's starts with Capone, a criminal mastermind far more sophisticated than the brutal Scarface we know from the movies. Unlike gang leaders before him, he was not content with cornering the market on gambling and bootlegging. The "financial wiz" who showed him the way was Alex Louis Greenberg. He put Capone's money into real estate and service industries with free flowing cash, such as banks, entertainment venues and hotels. In the beginning, to protect the various investments, the mob used its excess money to buy politicians and its excess muscle to strong-arm unions. Eventually these inroads into the public sector and labor organizations would become lucrative sources of income themselves.

As the schemes got more complicated, the mobsters needed the help of lawyers, politicians and frontmen with relatively clean criminal records. It was a Faustian bargain, but it helped launch some of the most prominent names in Chicago's Jewish community. For example, according to Russo, Outfit funds and connections formed the foundation on which lawyer Abe Pritzker's family built the Hyatt hotel chain.

At the nexus of mob influence and political corruption was lawyer Jacob Arvey, the most important Jewish cog of the city's multiethnic Democratic machine. His clout with the Truman administration put a protege in charge of property seized from German companies and interned Japanese-Americans. Russo documents how these West Coast assets were sold for a fraction of their value to silent mob partners and the young lawyers, Arvey accomplices, who served as their frontmen. Some of these young lawyers then set up shop in California and duplicated Chicago's Democratic machine there, fueling their candidates' campaigns with money donated by the mob and its related unions. But the Outfit's insidious control of unions most drove its westward expansion. Back in the earliest days of moving pictures, Chicago mobsters used the threat of projectionist walkouts to shake down local theaters. These extortion schemes worked their way back to the studio lots. According to Russo, the movie moguls did not mind seeing leftist organizers pushed to the side by mob goons, who could at least be paid off to keep the cameras rolling.

Producers also got squeezed by the stars in front of the cameras, especially those managed by Jules Stein and Lew Wasserman of MCA, Hollywood's first powerhouse talent agency. Back in Chicago when Stein started the firm as Music Corporation of America, he was booking area bands and using a "union racketeer" to throw stink bombs in nightclubs that wouldn't take his acts. He was supposedly a silent partner with Outfit bosses in the hot spots where his bands played, and according to Russo, he would continue to blur the line between ownership and union influence throughout his career.

Later, when Wasserman client Ronald Reagan assumed the presidency of the Screen Actors Guild, he helped push through a waiver permitting MCA to be the only agency that could also produce programs for the burgeoning TV industry. This competitive edge helped Stein and Wasserman gain control of Universal Pictures and create Hollywood's first multimedia behemoth. In return for the SAG waiver, Russo asserts, Wasserman secretly cut Reagan into production deals (counter to SAG rules) and helped transform him into the ubiquitous TV presence that launched his political career.

The Outfit had its hooks in Las Vegas from the start (a Chicago mobster bribed Nevada legislators to pass the Wide Open Gambling Bill), but if the bosses hadn't had their fingers in the Teamsters pension fund, the city wouldn't be what we know today. From 1959 to 1961, they took $91 million from the union to build or improve one casino after another. Over the next decade, as Las Vegas' popularity soared, the Outfit was perfectly positioned to dominate the scene, with its control of corrupt politicians from both parties, its manipulation of the service unions and even its access, through Hollywood back channels, to the hottest entertainers, like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. Eventually millions in cash skimmed from the casino counting rooms would make its way to Chicago's mob bosses.

Members of Russo's Supermob were pivotal resources in each of the Outfit's connections to Las Vegas, but none more so than Sidney Korshak. An obscure labor lawyer from Lawndale, Korshak would ultimately be dubbed the most powerful man in Hollywood. By the mid-'60s, the same would be true in Las Vegas. His brother Marshall had gone on to a very public career in Chicago as a lawyer, Democratic politician and city officeholder. Though Sidney would have his own notoriety, the source of his power would lurk in the shadows. Working on a flat retainer of $50,000 per job, Korshak was anointed the official labor negotiator for almost all of the Outfit-connected businesses. With just a phone call he could spark or quell strikes--a fearsome power in the seasonal hotel industry or during the massively expensive process of film production. But the contacts with his clients went far beyond labor matters. Moguls like Wasserman called him virtually every day. He helped negotiate deals for casinos and even business conglomerates on the backs of envelopes, often keeping a small piece of the action for himself. No favors were too big or too small for his clients, whether a Chicago hotel room for Warren Beatty during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, or a pardon from President Richard Nixon for ex-Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa. Ironically, he may have even contributed to the success of the film "The Godfather" by prying Al Pacino away from another studio.

Many a Korshak miracle was worked from the corner booth at Bistro, a posh Beverly Hills eatery, where a private phone was brought to his table. Russo fails to note that this setup closely emulated the notorious corner table at Counsellors Row, a restaurant across from Chicago's City Hall where the Outfit's kingmaker, Pat Marcy, ruled supreme. Like Marcy, Korshak would walk guests outside the restaurant to talk about especially confidential subjects. Some of the best yarns in "Supermob" come from a book written by Bistro's owner, Kurt Niklas, who kept tabs on the strange bouillabaisse that simmered around Korshak: It could include producer Bob Evans, actor Kirk Douglas, Gov. Jerry Brown, coarse Teamsters and, on rare occasion, cursing mobsters. One later testified that an Outfit boss warned him to stay away from Korshak because " `he's our man, been our man his whole life. [But he] can't be seen in public with guys like us.' "

In other words, the mob had to keep him subservient and separate. This was one of many conflicts in Korshak's fascinating life. He went to great ends to quash any media coverage of his activities, but he gladly relented to fawning mentions by Joyce Haber, the Los Angeles gossip columnist who, Russo says, coined the term "A-list" to describe the celebrities in the Korshak inner circle. He was a doting husband to his glamorous, shopaholic wife and a serial philanderer, not embarrassed to be seen on the town with paramours like Jill St. John. He dressed and collected art with impeccable taste but still exuded a threatening though soft-spoken manner. At one moment he could lament the unbreakable ties to his Outfit overseers and in the next threaten a recalcitrant business executive with " `cement shoes.' " In the words of one producer, " `Sidney was a very loud man in a very quiet way.' " Unfortunately, Russo does not give us much insight into how Korshak or his friends could bridge such contradictions. While "Supermob" is long on anecdote, it's much too short on analysis. No doubt there was something different about either Chicago or its Jewish community to produce the players Russo writes about. He only scratches the surface in trying to understand the world they came from. The closest he gets is a quote about Greenberg: " `[L]ike almost everyone who became rich through racketeering, respectability was what he sought most.' " The words came from long-time Sun-Times reporter Irv Kupcinet, a close friend of Korshak's and another macho Jewish guy who loved rubbing shoulders with the mob.

In fact, most of the Supermob families Russo writes about did find legitimacy, if not for themselves then for their heirs; hence the shock some of us may feel at discovering the roots of their fortunes. The same is true for some Outfit clans as well. Perhaps there is something about the institutional memory in Chicago that has helped ease the transformation. Kupcinet was a gossip columnist but a nice one, the sort who never delved too deeply into the dark sources of power. When he spotted you on a prestigious perch, like Booth One at the Pump Room, a mention in his column brought some glow of fame without the painful questions about how you got there.

Thanks to Hillel Levin

Brooklyn Rules

Outside Providence director Michael Corrente helms this tale of three lifelong friends struggling with relationships, responsibility, and loyalty on the mean streets of 1980s era Brooklyn, NY.

When the violent influence of the mafia becomes factor in their friendship, lives will be threatened as the fond memories of the past begin to give way to potentially grim future.

Brooklyn Rules is the story of three boyhood friends who come of age in Brooklyn during John Gotti's rise. When becomes enamoured with the mafia lifestyle, it frays the friendships and puts the pals in grave danger. Alec Baldwin plays a mobster, Freddie Prinze Jr, Scott Caan, and Jerry Ferrara are the three friends. Brooklyn Rules is from the writers of The Sopranos

Monday, May 04, 2015

Ex-Mobster John Alite Alleges Cyber Bullying Attack by Gotti Family #GottisRules

He’s no Facebook friend of ours.

Instead of using brickbats or Berettas, relatives of notorious Mafia boss John Gotti are delivering a beatdown to a former Gambino enforcer the 21st-century way — on the Internet.

“U go to war with one of us u go to war Witt [sic] all of us simple as that,” declared John “Junior” Gotti’s son John Gotti Jr. on Twitter March 25.

The tweet is just one example of an escalating and bizarre online barrage — which includes phony Twitter accounts, altered Wikipedia pages and doctored YouTube videos — targeting John Alite, who says the Gottis have relentlessly bullied him online ever since he was featured in a book titled “Gotti's Rules: The Story of John Alite, Junior Gotti, and the Demise of the American Mafia,” which came out Jan. 27.

“They are blatantly attacking me on every front,” says reformed tough guy Alite, 52, who spent 14 years in prison on charges and convictions that included six murders and at least 37 shootings.

In the book and in subsequent interviews, Alite paints John “Junior” Gotti — who inherited the role of Gambino boss when his father, “Teflon Don” John Gotti, was sent to the slammer in 1992 — as an insecure leader reluctant to get his hands dirty and quick to blame others if things got messy.

Junior says he quit the mob in 1999, but Alite contends it’s the former Gambino boss who ordered the cyber-hit.

Dummy accounts such as “@JohnAliteLies” and “@JohnAlettoRatted” have sprung up on Twitter to mock him.

“SOME PPL FIGHT ISIS SOME PPL FIGHT RATS,” @JohnAliteLies tweeted March 28.

“Guy’s walking around like a celebrity and really believes it. Proudest rat Facebook’s ever seen,” the account sniped on April 9.

On YouTube, videos purporting to be from John Alite alter the title of “Gotti’s Rules” to read, “A Story About John Alite and his Lies.” Another video also shows a picture of Alite with red tape over his mouth, with a caption, “FBI Gave Him $55,000 to Fix his Teeth to Look Presentable to the Jury.”

Alite, a free man since 2012, is now a motivational speaker who tackles topics such as bullying and domestic violence.

He says he has received prank phone calls and insulting texts and says his Wikipedia page was altered after the book came out.

“As of 2015, John Alite came out as gay,” reads the alleged Wiki-tweak, which has been removed.

Alite fingered Gotti for the latest sniping.

“He’s been called a ‘baby bully’ since he was a kid,” said Alite. “This is his new tactic of being a cyberbully.” But Junior Gotti said it’s Alite who is the bully.

“At one time, I admit, I was the wolf. My father was the lion. We’re now the lambs. We’re being preyed on,” he told The Post.

Gotti said he has no doubt his family has lashed out at Alite.

“He accused my ex-brother Carmine of raping two girls. He accused my father of being a swinger. He said I was hanging out with a transvestite,” Gotti said. “So I’m sure my son reacted to it. I am sure my sister, who is fiercely protective of this family, she reacted to it.”

“They shared everything with me, and I’m beside myself with anger. This guy is a demented, sick character. He’s been going on a campaign, looking for a platform. I know his book has been tanking,” he said. But Gotti said he never orchestrated any attacks.

“I’m not computer literate,” he said.

Gotti said the family cut off Alite in 1991 as a Gambino flag bearer and wants nothing to do with him.

“Believe me, if you were an earner or a capable guy, organized crime doesn’t give you up too easy,” he said.

Thanks to Gary Buiso.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Is the Mafia Still Alive Today?

In mid-1950s, the Italian-American criminal organization known as Cosa Nostra was enjoying the peak of its political influence and economic success. At the time, many questioned the organization’s presence. J. Edgar Hoover completely denied its existence for years. And unfortunately for the criminals describing themselves as “businessmen,” their reign atop the criminal underworld was swiftly coming to a close. Why did the power of Cosa Nostra begin to decline? Is this decline indicative of the death of the mob? And what does today’s mob look like?

The factors that led to this near cessation of overwhelming power are numerous, but two stand out as the most influential. The first is the death of omertà, the code of silence, and the resulting convictions. The second factor involved other criminal organizations pushing Cosa Nostra to the periphery as a result of competition. In spite of these factors, though, the mafia is still very much alive.

A Death in the Family

The downsizing of the mafia began in 1959 with the arrest of Joe Valachi. Valachi was associated with the Genovese family of New York, which was prominent in Cosa Nostra. Offered a deal in which he could either testify about the mafia or face the death penalty, Valachi decided to talk. In an interview with the HPR, Jeffrey Robinson, author of The Merger: How Organized Crime is Taking Over the World, claimed that this was a pivotal point in the history of the Italian mob: “He broke omertà. That’s really a very important moment because until then nobody talked … the FBI realized that they could get inside Italian organized crime.” According to Robinson, FBI agents began approaching mob figures and offer protection from prosecution in exchange for information on other mobsters. It was an overwhelmingly successful approach.

This strategy leveled serious blows to the structure of Cosa Nostra, culminating in the Mafia Commission Trials of 1987 that indicted each head of New York’s Five Families. In 1992, even John Gotti, known as “Teflon Don” because charges never seemed to stick to him, was convicted on charges related to his organized crime activities. Omertà was dead for Cosa Nostra. According to Robinson, so many people flipped that the Sicilian mafia was able to enter the scene and take control of three of the Five Families of New York. They have maintained control to this day.

Ending an Illegal Monopoly

Cosa Nostra’s peaceful cooperation with other criminal organizations also contributed to the group’s decline. Traditionally, moving onto another group’s territory ensured a war. But according to Robinson, as Russian fraudsters relocated to Miami (Colombian territory)—followed by Italians interested in the heroin market—nobody was being killed. Law enforcement soon came to believe that this was because of collaboration between the organizations. When crack cocaine became readily available, many new criminal organizations got involved, and their quickly expanding influence muscled Cosa Nostra into the periphery. This loss of total power, coupled with the end of omertà, forced the Cosa Nostra into a largely successful effort to downsize.

Several criminal organizations, such as the Russian mob and the Mexican cartels, have filled Cosa Nostra’s power void in the United States.El Narco New York University professor Mark Galeotti told the HPR that Russian operations in the United States consist mainly of fraud, including schemes that target the U.S. government. He explains, “There are millions upon millions [of dollars] being looted from Medicare and Medicaid [by Russian organized crime].” Similarly, law enforcement has largely failed in stopping the Mexican drug cartels. In an interview with the HPR, Ioan Grillo, author of El Narco: Inside Mexico's Criminal Insurgency, argued that despite efforts by law enforcement to stop the cartels, “you still have a drug industry, you still have thousands and thousands of people working for organized crime, you still have millions of consumers of drugs, and you still have high levels of violence.” Grillo also acknowledged the success of other organizations in exporting their gangs to the United States, particularly Colombian gangs and Jamaican “posses.” These organizations may have supplanted the former power and influence of Cosa Nostra. However, despite their reduced influence, the Italians continue to operate.

Into the Modern Era

In the wake of September 11, the FBI’s focus on organized crime has decreased sharply in favor of counterterrorism operations. In a government document titled “10 Years After: The FBI After 9/11,” the FBI acknowledged that it shifted resources from criminal matters to counterterrorism. The document notes that the number of counterterrorist intelligence analysts has doubled. According to current New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton in a 2007 Policing article, “As law enforcement reacted to the aftermath of 9/11, and the United States’ federal dollars and priorities shifted, organized crime groups were able to exploit the reduction in law enforcement attention and moved aggressively to establish new ‘trade routes’ and alliances.” In a 2011 interview with CUNY TV, former New York Times reporter Selwyn Raab claimed that there were once 500 members of law enforcement working on organized crime in New York City. Now, he said, there are around 50, enabling the survival of Cosa Nostra.

According to Robinson, Italian-American organized crime has found a niche role in construction, extortion and protection rackets. In the construction industry, he explains, Cosa Nostra profits by winning bids to do contract work and then fraudulently collecting revenue for unnecessary or absent employees. According to a close friend of Robinson’s who is now in the witness protection program, five percent of all construction funds in the city of New York go to the mafia. Joseph Pistone, a former FBI agent who infiltrated Cosa Nostra in New York, told Quebec’s Charbonneau Commission, which was investigating construction bid corruption, that the mob controls the construction industry via unions. He said that the mafia bosses control unions and subsequently threaten to strike if the company doesn’t relinquish a “fee.” Robinson adds that the mafia still operates protection rackets, in which a business owner will be threatened and then asked to pay a fee for “protection” from this threat.

Despite its reduced influence, Italian-American organized crime is unquestionably alive. The death of omertà, combined with a crowded criminal market, resulted in a downsizing of Cosa Nostra’s criminal operations. It has transformed from a monopoly on the criminal underworld to another small player in a global network. Despite its diminished influence, it has successfully downsized its operations, paving the way for a sustainable, albeit smaller, operation. Cosa Nostra is not dead, and won’t be anytime soon.

Thanks to Jack Boyd.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Gotti's Rules: The Story of John Alite, Junior Gotti, and the Demise of the American Mafia

From New York Times bestselling author and “one of the most respected crime reporters in the country”, comes the inside story of the John Gotti and Gambino families, told through the unique vantage point of notorious mob hit-man John Alite, a close associate of Junior Gotti, who later testified against him.

Anastasia’s new book, Gotti's Rules: The Story of John Alite, Junior Gotti, and the Demise of the American Mafia, is a very rare glimpse into the Gotti family, from an insider’s perspective through the figure of John Alite, who was Gotti Jr.’s friend and protector. Until now, no one has given up the kind of personal details about the Gottis — including the legendary “Gotti Rules” of leadership — that Anastasia has uncovered here, through his exclusive access to and interviews with mob-enforcer-turned-government-witness Alite

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Real World Of Mafia Boss, Michael Franzese And His True Life Redemption Shown Through Scenes Of The Crucifixion, Deemed Too Violent By MPAA In Upcoming Film "God The Father"

The upcoming release God the Father, slated for release on October 31, the day Michael Franzese, once dubbed the Prince of the Mafia, became a "made man," vividly depicts both Franzese's life as a Mob kingpin and as a man transformed by faith.  The film does not shy away from illustrating the real world and life that Franzese swore allegiance to.  But it is a scene of Christ's Crucifixion shown as part of his prison epiphany and the Mob stock footage scenes combined, that tipped the scales at the MPAA who gave the film an R rating.

The irony is not lost on Franzese: "I spent over 20 years on the street, every day in violation of both God's laws and the laws of man. And the powers that be have a problem not only with Mob reality being seen, but also with Biblical history? You see worse images and stories on the 6 o'clock news! The entertainment business can't afford to be out of touch with real world problems our youth are experiencing, from gangs to drugs and violence. Anyone over 13 needs the opportunity to see this film."

Franzese made over a billion dollars for his crime "family," earning more than anyone since Al Capone.  It was enough to place him at #18 (3 behind John Gotti) on Fortune Magazine's "Fifty Most Wealthy and Powerful Mafia Bosses."  He was a Hollywood producer, a restaurateur, a night club owner:  He was living the life of a man's man as he saw it.  A revelation that his own father went along with planning a hit on him, the love for his own family, and a realization that his life was heading like every other Mob guy before him straight to St. Johns Cemetery in Queens, New York, that made Franzese decide to leave "The Life."  In an act thought impossible, he publicly walked away from the Colombo family and organized crime.

"Its real world stuff (the Mob scene footage) that is around us all the time," says Franzese.  "It's not the gratuitous violence most movies include for the audience reaction, but real life, real crime and real people.  All ages need to see this, but especially our young people who are confronted every day with opportunities to go down the wrong path… This film was created from my reality, for all to see a life outside of the Mob, a way out… but you have to see the reality of it to understand the impact of the redemption that can occur, as what happened in my own life."

Franzese adds: "In making God The Father, we went to great lengths to show the dark aspect of my real life story in a subtle and intelligent way.  The story of Jesus's suffering and Crucifixion is very well known and in the past, audiences have been willing to endure the intensity of those scenes.   What is important to me is to share the parallel themes that I discovered in the story of the Crucifixion and my own experiences in 'The Life': themes such as perseverance, forgiveness, redemption and faith.   I hope that this film will allow everyone to see beyond the short-term and see that there are choices to lead a positive fulfilling life for themselves and those around them."

God The Father takes audiences on the untold personal journey into the life and spiritual transformation of Michael Franzese, a young and charismatic Capo in the Colombo crime family during the 1980's-90's, who's notorious father Sonny Franzese was also a renowned Underboss. It's a true story about mafia, money, love, loyalty and God.

GOD THE FATHER opens on Friday, October 31 across the country in select theatres.  It is rated "R" for violent images by the MPAA and has a running time of 101 minutes.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Reputed Mafia Boss of Canada, Vito Rizzuto, Dies at 67

Vito Rizzuto, the reputed Mafia boss of Canada, whose dapper outfits and ability to avoid prison led the authorities to call him the John Gotti of Montreal, died on Dec. 23 in Montreal. He was 67.
Enlarge This Image

Mr. Rizzuto died of natural causes, Maude Hébert-Chaput, a spokeswoman for Sacré-Coeur Hospital, told The Associated Press. There were widespread reports that he had been receiving treatment for lung cancer.

Working with the Bonanno crime family in New York, Mr. Rizzuto ran an international drug smuggling operation that imported heroin and cocaine and distributed it in the United States, Europe and the Middle East, the authorities said. His father ran the operation before him.

“Compared to what New York-based authorities were used to looking at, the breadth of geography and intertwining connections of the Rizzuto organization surprised even seasoned investigators,” Lee Lamothe and Adrian Humphreys wrote in the book “The Sixth Family: The Collapse of the New York Mafia and the Rise of Vito Rizzuto.”

In a 2004 column on his website, then called This Week in Gang Land, Jerry Capeci, an expert on the Mafia, compared Mr. Rizzuto to Mr. Gotti, the longtime head of the Gambino crime family in New York, who died in 2002.

“Like Gotti in his heyday, Rizzuto is known as a flashy dresser who was tough to convict,” Mr. Capeci wrote. “He beat two major drug smuggling cases between 1987 and 1990 and his only jail time was a two-year bit for arson in 1972. As a result, he has often been compared to the Dapper Don by the Montreal press, and police.”

But Mr. Rizzuto’s luck ran out in 2004, when he was arrested in Montreal on racketeering charges related to a gangland shooting in Brooklyn that inspired a bloody scene in the 1997 film “Donnie Brasco,” starring Al Pacino and Johnny Depp.

In the shooting, on May 5, 1981, Mr. Rizzuto and three other men burst from the closet of a Brooklyn social club and shot three Bonanno captains who had been challenging the family’s leadership, the authorities said. The shooters wore ski masks to make the killing look like a robbery, but the authorities said it had been ordered by Joseph Massino, then a senior Bonanno captain.

Mr. Rizzuto was extradited to the United States in 2006. He pleaded guilty in 2007 and was sent to prison in Florence, Colo.

While he was in prison, organized crime in Montreal fell into chaos and many of his relatives were murdered. His father was killed by a sniper while standing in his kitchen, and his eldest son, Nicolo, was shot and killed. His brother-in-law disappeared, the keys still in the ignition of his Infiniti.

Before his death, Mr. Rizzuto had been working to reclaim control of the mob and exact revenge, experts said. Since his return to Canada in 2012, there have been nine mob-connected murders there, Mr. Capeci said on his website.

“Vito Rizzuto gets out, and this immediately happens,” Pierre de Champlain, a former Royal Canadian Mounted Police intelligence analyst and author of a book about the Mafia, told The Globe and Mail after one such killing in 2012. “If it’s a coincidence, it would be a very strange one.”

Victor Rizzuto was born in the village of Cattolica Eraclea in Sicily on Feb. 21, 1946. His family moved to Canada in the mid-1950s, and Mr. Rizzuto married Giovanna Cammalleri in 1966. Survivors include his wife; a sister, Maria Renda; and two children, Leonardo and Bettina, both lawyers.

Despite the spate of killings after he left prison, Mr. Rizzuto once had a reputation as a peacemaker in mob circles.

Mr. Lamothe credited him with “bringing calm to an underworld that at times was out of control” in the 1970s by, for example, arranging an end to a dispute between the Hells Angels and a rival motorcycle gang.

“Mr. Rizzuto’s management style was pretty unique, at least compared to American crime figures, who went to violence as an instant default,” Mr. Lamothe wrote in an email. “He was born into the Mafia and, from his father, inherited the ‘Sicilian view’: Better to share than to shoot.”

Thanks to Daniel E. Slotnik.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mafia Prince: Inside America’s Most Violent Mafia Family and the Bloody Fall of La Cosa Nostra

Mafia Prince is the first-person account of one of the most violent eras in Mafia history —“Little” Nicky Scarfo’s reign as boss of the Philly family in the 1980s—written by Scarfo’s underboss and nephew, “Crazy” Phil Leonetti.

The youngest-ever underboss at the age of 31, Leonetti was at the crux of the violent downfall of the traditional American Mafia in the 1980s when he infiltrated Atlantic City after gambling was legalized, and later turned state’s evidence against his own. His testimony directly led to the convictions of dozens of high-ranking made men including John Gotti, Vincent Gigante, and his own uncle, Nicky Scarfo—sparking the beginning of the end of La Cosa Nostra.

Just as The Godfather and Boardwalk Empire defined the early 20th century Mafia, and Wiseguy and Casino depicted the next great era through the ’70s, Mafia Prince concludes this epic genre revealing the Mafia’s violent final heyday of the 1980s— straight from the horse’s mouth.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Mob Wives Slammed by Victoria Gotti

They may both be daughters of Mafia members, but Victoria Gotti doesn't think she has much in common with Karen Gravano.

At least that's what she implied in a radio interview with Frank Morano on AM 970 The Apple.

Morano asked Ms. Gotti for her thoughts on "Mob Wives" in general and Karen Gravano's attempts to make herself a celebrity. "God bless them, is what I say," Ms. Gotti said. "If you ask me, do I see any major talent there in each of them, or any of them? No."

Ms. Gotti's father was John Gotti, the Gambino crime boss who Ms. Gravano's father, Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, testified against. Gotti died in federal prison.

Ms. Gotti has written several novels and is a former columnist. She was recently voted off Donald Trump's television show "Celebrity Apprentice."

"I'm working since I'm 15," Ms. Gotti told Moran. "What I've done, I would have done if I were Victoria Smith. No one would have stopped me." But long before Ms. Gravano cashed in on being a mob daughter on "Mob Wives," Ms. Gotti and her three sons starred in "Growing Up Gotti" on A&E.

She also wrote her own book about growing up in a Mafia family -- but only when she thought it would help her brother, John "Junior" Gotti, who was facing criminal charges. "I was offered to do a book, God, 10, 15 years ago, and God knows the dollar amounts thrown at me," she said. "I don't do that until it's to help save my brother's life. So we have different mindsets, you know, her and I."

Ms. Gotti called "Mob Wives" a "train wreck," and said it wasn't "real."

"I've never met this girl. I don't know her. I don't like what I see, per se, and hear, but at the same time, I think the whole 'Mob Wives' thing is a complete joke," she said.

Morano, the radio host and a Staten Islander, said on the air he is often asked why he attacks Ms. Gravano but praises Ms. Gotti. "I guess to me the major difference is Karen is herself a convicted criminal, and she really doesn't have any major talents," Morano said.

Ms. Gravano pleaded guilty to being part of her father's ecstasy ring when the family lived in Arizona, after Salvatore Gravano's relatively short stint in federal prison and abbreviated stay in the witness protection program. While her father wound up back in prison, Ms. Gravano was sentenced to probation.

A representative of Ms. Gravano's did not respond to a request for comment from the author and reality show star.

Thanks to Jillian Jorgenson

Friday, January 06, 2012

Victoria Gotti Joins Celebrity Apprentice

Victoria Gotti is a writer, reality television participant and daughter of former Gambino crime family Mafia boss, John Gotti. She will be competing on the upcoming season of Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice.

Victoria Gotti Joins Celebrity Apprentice

Monday, December 05, 2011

John Gotti Movie Back on Track and to Start Shooting Soon

John Travolta should start working on perfecting a thick New York Mafioso accent.

It sounds like cameras will finally roll on the much talked-about John Gotti movie...

"I think we've got the money sorted out now," Gotti: Three Generations' writer and director Barry Levinson told me at BAFTA LA's Britannia Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. "It's coming together."

Travolta is set to star as Gotti, the late Mafia crime boss who was nicknamed "the Teflon Don," alongside Ben Foster as his son and real-life wife Kelly Preston as his daughter, Victoria.

"It's not just him, but John Gotti Jr.," Levinson said. "The dynamic that is interesting to me is Gotti Jr. growing up in the shadow of his father and thinking he was supposed to step up as the next Don and then suddenly realizing that this is not a world he wants to be a part of and how do you deal with that ."

Levinson told me they may even shoot in my hometown of Howard Beach, N.Y. Yes, I grew up in the same neighborhood as the Gottis.

Thanks to Marc Malkin

Thursday, October 13, 2011

John Gotti Movie Starring John Travolta is Placed on Hold

John Travolta’s upcoming movie about the notorious Gotti family has been put on hold due to financial issues, according to a report.

The Hollywood actor is due to star as late Mafia boss John Gotti, who died in prison in 2002, in upcoming movie Gotti: In the Shadow of My Father, alongside his real-life wife Kelly Preston and Al Pacino.

Filming is slated to begin in January ahead of a 2012 release date, but a new report suggests production has been put on hold. Showbiz411.com reports work on the project has come to a halt and won’t resume until more financing is secured.

A source tells the website, “If (producer) Marc Fiore doesn’t come up with money this week, and doesn’t show that more is coming, and that he’s really secured financing, it could all fall apart.”

The film’s producers are also facing a legal battle with Goodfellas star Joe Pesci, who is suing bosses at Fiore Films over allegations he was offered a $3 million deal to play Angelo Ruggiero, an associate of Gotti, but was later told he would be given a smaller part.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Longtime Gambino Associate, Joseph Watts, Sentenced in Manhattan Federal Court to 13 Years in Prison on Murder and Assault Charges

PRETT BHARA the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that JOSEPH WATTS, 69, a longtime associate of the Gambino Organized Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra (the “Gambino Family”), was sentenced to 13 years in prison on murder and assault charges. WATTS pled guilty on January 20, 2011, to a two-count superseding information that charged him with participating in murder and assault conspiracies in order to maintain and increase his influence in the Gambino Family. The sentence was imposed in Manhattan federal court by U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon.

U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA stated: “Today’s sentence should serve as a sober reminder that if you kill or harm an actual or potential government witness, no matter how powerful you may think you are, we will find you and send you to prison for a very long time. The sentence Judge McMahon imposed today ensures that Watts will spend the next decade of his life paying for his crimes.”

According to documents previously filed in Manhattan federal court and statements WATTS made at his guilty plea proceeding:

WATTS was a close associate of one-time Gambino Family Boss JOHN J. GOTTI and others. Although WATTS was never formally inducted into the Gambino Family as a “made” member because of his non-Italian lineage, he was afforded the status of a Gambino Family capo.

In 1989, FREDERICK WEISS was a defendant in a case that was pending in the Southern District of New York. JOHN J. GOTTI, then-boss of the Gambino Family, suspected that WEISS was cooperating with the government because he terminated a lawyer who regularly represented Gambino Family members and associates. GOTTI ordered WEISS to be murdered—an order that GOTTI communicated to WATTS and others. WATTS then put together a murder team to carry out the hit.

In September 1989, WATTS and others went to a house on Staten Island where they expected WEISS would be. WATTS assigned different Gambino members and associates to different tasks, including digging the grave where WEISS would be buried. WATTS himself stood in the garage, holding a gun and waiting to shoot WEISS upon his arrival. Because WEISS did not show up to the house as WATTS had expected, he was not killed that day. However, a different team of shooters to whom GOTTI had also assigned the task of killing WEISS successfully located him the next day. He was shot to death in front of his apartment building.

While WATTS was serving a prison sentence in connection with his 2001 conviction for money laundering, he met Victim-1, whom he came to admire because of Victim-1’s purported stockpicking abilities. When Victim-1 was released from prison, WATTS sent an emissary to deliver approximately $350,000 to $400,000—all cash—to Victim-1 to invest on WATTS’ behalf. The investment failed. In 2002, WATTS demanded his money back from Victim-1, who returned some, but not all, of WATTS’s money.

To force Victim-1 to give him back all the money, WATTS began threatening Victim-1. On one occasion, WATTS and another individual confronted Victim-1 in Manhattan and physically assaulted him. On a subsequent occasion, WATTS threatened Victim-1 and physically shoved Victim-1 against a wall.

In addition to his prison term, Judge MCMAHON sentenced WATTS, of Staten Island, New York, to three years of supervised release and ordered him to forfeit $250,000.

During the sentencing proceeding, Judge MCMAHON stated that the murder of Frederick Weiss was “heinous,” “hideous,” and the work of a “cold-blooded killer.” Judge McMahon further stated that the maximum sentence, which she ultimately imposed on WATTS, was “the consequence of the choice he made.”

Mr. BHARARA praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys ARLO DEVLIN-BROWN and CHI T. STEVE KWOK are in charge of the prosecution.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Linday Lohan Joining the Gotti Crime Family?

A Linday Lohan Joining the Gotti Crime Family?New York press conference for John Travolta's latest project, "Gotti: Three Generations," had a surprise guest: Lindsay Lohan .

The 24-year-old starlet has been rumored to be up for the role of Victoria Gotti, daughter of the infamous "Dapper Don" John Gotti.

Producer Marc Fiore confirmed Tuesday that he's in talks with Lohan but said nothing had been finalized. He says Lohan is "a terrific actress."

Lohan has starred in such films as "Mean Girls" and "Freaky Friday." She has been plagued by legal problems in recent years and is now battling a felony grand theft charge in California over a $2,500 necklace.

Travolta will star as the leader of the legendary Gambino crime family. The biopic is set to begin filming in October and is slated for release in late 2012.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's Official: John Travolta to Play John Gotti in "Three Generations"

John Travolta is set to play John Gotti Sr., the mobster known as the Dapper Don, in the indie pic Gotti: Three Generations.

Nick Cassavetes will direct the screenplay by Leo Rossi, which focuses on the relationship between John Gotti Sr., the head of the Gambino crime family who died in prison in 2002, and his son John Gotti Jr., who took over the family business for his father, served time in prison, but then successfully escaped conviction in four subsequent racketeering trials.

Marc Fiore is producing for his Fiore Films. Marty Ingels, the former comic turned talent broker, has come on board the project as executive producer.

Gotti Jr., who's given his blessing to the project, plans to join the producers, Travolta and Cassavetes at a press conference on April 12 at the Sheraton New York Hotel.

Travolta, repped by WME, last appeared in the action thriller From Paris with Love.

Monday, March 14, 2011

CRIME BEAT RADIO PROGRAM TO AIR SPECIAL TWO-PART PROGRAM: EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS WITH LEWIS KASMAN, CRIME BOSS JOHN GOTTI’S “ADOPTED SON,” AND KASMAN’S COUNSEL, JOEL M. WEISSMAN, NOTED FLORIDA LAWYER

This coming March 17th and 24th, the radio show, CRIME BEAT: ISSUES, CONTROVERSIES AND PERSONALITIES FROM THE DARKSIDE, will feature a special two-part program focusing on Lewis Kasman, John Gotti’s so-called 'Adopted Son', and his lawyer, Joel M. Weissman, one of the country’s top divorce lawyers. Kasman, at one time a millionaire garment executive, became one of the closest confidants of the late John Gotti, the notorious Gambino crime boss known as the ‘Dapper Don'. When John Gotti died in prison, Kasman brought the body home in private Lear jet, planned the funeral and gave the eulogy at Gotti’s funeral.

Lewis Kasman’s story is fascinating because he gained unprecedented power within the Gotti Mob. The Dapper Don entrusted Kasman with the authority to pay gambling debts, lawyer fees and assorted bills relating to Gambino crime family matters. After Gotti was sentenced with a life sentence in a federal penitentiary, Lewis Kasman hid millions of illicit dollars in a toy chest in his attic and later became a government witness in 1996. Feeling the heat from the Feds, Kasman agreed to wear a wire and recorded 130 tapes with top mobsters inside the Gambino ranks, as well as Gotti’s own family. The court sentenced Kasman to probation as the reward for his invaluable secret work. Kasman is credited with saving the lives of noted crime reporter Jerry Capeci and a federal worker at Springfield, Missouri.

In reflecting on the years he spent with John Gotti, Lewis Kasman told Crime Beat, “If I was to characterize my relationship with Gotti, I suppose I would say it was blind allegiance. I have many regrets.”

Weissman represented Kasman in a high profile divorce that the tabloids covered. In addition to discussing his representation of Kasman, Weisman will talk about his successful career as one of the best criminal and divorce lawyers in the United States.

Joel Weissman will appear on the Crime Beat radio program March 17th from 9-10 p.m. EST, while Lewis Kasman’s appearance is scheduled for March 24th from 9-10 p.m. EST. Listeners can access the program by going to www.artistfirst.com, clicking on the “Live Weekly Show Schedule” and then clicking on the “Crime Beat” link. See also artistfirst.com/crimebeat.

CRIME BEAT is hosted by award-winning crime writer Ron Chepesiuk (ronchepesiuk.com) and broadcast journalist and freelance writer Willie Hryb. Ronald Herd 11, the popular Internet radio host and regular listener of Crime Beat, said Crime Beat “sounds like an organized crime greatest hits collection...I am loving it!

Camp Chef

Camp Chef

New York Crime Families

Flash Mafia Book Sales!

Al Capone's Vault

John Gotti Archives

Crime Family Index


The Sopranos Library