The Chicago Syndicate: Lawrence Ricci
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Showing posts with label Lawrence Ricci. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lawrence Ricci. Show all posts

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Hoboken Genovese Gang Not Seen Much Any More

Friends of ours: Genovese Crime Family, Michael Coppola, Michael "Tona" Borelli, Peter Grecco, Peter Caporino, Tino R. Fiumara, Lawrence A. Ricci

The old gang isn't seen much around Hoboken any more, thanks to the recent efforts of the FBI to nab the city's most notorious mobsters.

The latest arrest: Michael Coppola, 60, a reputed captain in the Genovese crime family, who was arrested Friday in New York City and charged in the 1977 killing of a mobster in Bridgewater .

Coppola was one of the FBI's most wanted fugitives, and he'd been featured on " America 's Most Wanted" several times. Investigators had searched for him in Nevada , Pennsylvania , Florida , Canada , Italy and Costa Rica .

In the 1970s and 1980s, Coppola could be seen in Hoboken social clubs meeting with the likes of Michael "Tona" Borelli, 69, of Fort Lee, a reputed made member of the Genovese crime family, Peter Grecco, 70, of Woodcliff Lake , and infamous mob rat Peter Caporino, 69, of Hasbrouck Heights , Hoboken police sources said yesterday.

Borelli and Grecco are facing prison time after a federal probe into gambling and other rackets in Hoboken and Jersey City . Caporino, who cooperated with the feds in that case to avoid jail time on a gambling charge in Hudson County , faces jail time himself, as authorities said he continued his criminal activities even after the feds told him to stop.

Caporino wore a wire for the FBI for years and made one recording of Borelli in the "Company K" social club on Jefferson Street , where Coppola used to hold court. When Genovese boss Tino R. Fiumara was in prison and Coppola was on the run, Borelli and Lawrence A. Ricci ran the Coppola/Fiumara crew, says a report 2004 by the New Jersey Investigation Commission. Ricci was found dead in a car trunk behind a Union County diner in December 2005.

With the help of Caporino, Borelli and Grecco pleaded guilty in April 2006 to operating an illegal gambling business. "The Fiumara/Coppola crew is one of the largest and most resourceful Genovese crews operating in New Jersey ," the state report says.

Coppola is accused of gunning down Johnny "Coca Cola" Lardiere outside the Red Bull Inn on Route 22 in Bridgewater in 1977.

Investigators believe Coppola drew a silenced .22-caliber pistol and pointed it at Lardiere - but the gun jammed. Lardiere then sneered at the hitman, "What're you gonna do now, tough guy?" Coppola then drew a second gun from an ankle holster and shot Lardiere five times, authorities said.

Nine years later, DNA evidence and an informant led the FBI to Coppola, but he disappeared.

Coppola has been listed at or near the top of the state Division of Criminal Justice's 13 most wanted fugitives since the list was drawn up five years ago.

Newhouse News Service contributed to this report.

Thanks to Michaelangelo Conte

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Lawyer: Mob client's body in trunk

Friends of ours: Lawrence Ricci, Genovese Crime Family

A body believed to be that of a mobster who vanished during his waterfront corruption trial was found in the trunk of a car parked behind a diner in New Jersey. Investigators had yet to identify the victim positively as Lawrence Ricci, a reputed Genovese family capo last seen on October 7. But Ricci's lawyer said the body found Wednesday at the Huck Finn Diner in Union, New Jersey, was definitely his client.

"There's not the slightest doubt. The vehicle was the last vehicle he was seen in. Does anyone think it's somebody other than him?" said attorney Martin Schmukler. Schmukler won an acquittal for Ricci in federal court in Brooklyn after the mobster's disappearance. The 60-year-old Ricci had been accused of steering a dockworkers union contract to a mob-connected pharmaceutical company.

One news report suggested he was killed after ignoring a Mafia "request" to cop a plea in the waterfront trial. A law enforcement official was also quoted as saying the slaying was the result of an unrelated power struggle in Ricci's mob crew. The answers will eventually come out, said Ronald Goldstock, former head of the New York state Organized Crime Task Force. "In the old days, you might never find out," Goldstock said. "In current times, you will because somebody will talk. You can't keep these mob guys quiet anymore."

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Acquittal for Union Execs and Mafia Capo

Friends of ours: Larry Ricci, Genovese Crime Family
Friends of mine:
Harold Daggett, Arthur Coffey

Two longshoremen's union executives and a Mafia capo were acquitted Tuesday of charges that they tried to help the mob keep its grip on the New York waterfront. The verdict may be little consolation for defendant Larry Ricci, a Genovese family captain who remains missing after disappearing in the middle of the trial _ the possible target of a mob hit.

"I hope it brings some solace to the family. You know, at least that a jury saw innocence here," said Ricci attorney Martin Schmukler, who finished the trial with his client absent. "He's either been abducted _ that is unlikely because he'd be far too difficult a person to keep hostage _ or killed."

Either way, defense attorneys said, the acquittals of International Longshoremen's Association officials Harold Daggett and Arthur Coffey could cripple a federal lawsuit seeking to shake the mob's grasp on the ILA by taking control of the powerful union. Supporters and relatives gasped and burst into tears as Coffey and Daggett were declared not guilty of extortion and mail fraud conspiracy charges. Daggett, 59, and Coffey, 62, were charged with conspiring with the Genovese family to install Daggett as the mob-controlled puppet president of the ILA. They had faced 20-year maximum sentences if convicted.

Brooklyn prosecutors have moved for a trustee to oversee the New York-based union, which inspired the 1954 film "On the Waterfront." The union represents 45,000 dockworkers and other employees at three dozen ports from Maine to Texas. "Today is a wonderful day for the ILA," president John Bowers said in a statement. "We rejoice in the happy outcome."

A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf did not comment on the civil lawsuit but said her office would continue to prosecute union corruption. "We respect the jury's verdict in this case and will continue our vigorous efforts," the spokesman said.

A law-enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity said authorities remain unconvinced that Ricci disappeared because he was murdered. A failure to show up now that he has been acquitted would be more convincing, the official said.

Ricci, 60, who had faced a maximum five-year sentence if convicted, had been free on $500,000 bond on a mail and wire fraud conspiracy charge for allegedly trying to steer a lucrative union health care contract to a mob-linked firm. He was last seen in Carteret, N.J., on Oct. 7, three weeks into the trial. He switched from one borrowed car to another as if he thought he was being followed, but he was not being tracked by police or federal agents, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

If he reappears he could face a possible five-year sentence for skipping bail mid-trial. If Ricci was killed by the mob, it could have been for a reason unrelated to the trial, the official said. A hit would be evidence that a decades-long effort to uproot the mob has not completely robbed it of the power and money derived from gambling, loan-sharking and labor corruption.

"When people disappear like that from the Mafia they usually don't turn up alive," said Selwyn Raab, author of "Five Families," a history of organized crime in New York. "There's always somebody circulating who knows how to do these things. ... They've been doing it for a long time and they think they can get away with it."

Daggett, who had been suspended as the ILA International's assistant general organizer, alternated between relief and anger as he left the courthouse a free man. "The truth'll set you free," he said. "Where do I go to get my reputation back now?"

Thanks to Michael Weissenstein

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Lawyer: Cleared mobster may be dead

Friends of ours: Lawrence Ricci, Genovese Crime Family
Friends of mine: Harold Daggett, Arthur Coffey

Two executives of the International Longshoremen's Association and a reputed mobster who went missing mid-trial were acquitted Tuesday of charges that they helped the Mafia keep its grip on the New York waterfront. Supporters gasped and burst into tears as a federal jury in Brooklyn found union officials Harold Daggett and Arthur Coffey not guilty of extortion and fraud charges.

The jury also acquitted Lawrence Ricci, an alleged Genovese crime family associate who had been accused of wire and mail fraud. But the victory may turn out to be empty for Ricci, who vanished in the middle of the trial and is suspected to have been slain by the mob. His attorney said after the verdict that he believed Ricci had been killed, but he hoped the verdict gave his family solace. This reminds me of a scene in the movie Casino. All the mob bosses are sitting around discussing the big trial that is coming up and talking about who they can trust. They get to one guy in particular and as they go around the table, everyone agrees that this guy is a good man and can be trusted. Finally one of them goes: "Eh, why take the chance?" Bam, the guy is whacked. Same thing here with Ricci. The guy gets acquitted, but the mob thought, Eh, why take the chance?

Prosecutors had accused Ricci of working to award a lucrative union contract to a mob-tied pharmaceutical company. Daggett and Coffey were charged with conspiring with the Genovese crime family to install Daggett as the mob-controlled puppet president of the ILA.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

A Mafia case that matters

Friends of ours: Genovese Crime Family, Gambino Crime Family, Vincent "Chin" Gigante, Peter Gotti, George Barone, Lawrence Ricci
Friends of mine: Harold Daggett, Arthur Coffey

Harold Daggett, of Sparta, will likely find out in the next few days which story a federal jury in Brooklyn believes: that he is a hardworking mechanic who worked his way up the ranks of the waterfront union, or — as the U.S. government says — that he is a "longtime associate" of organized crime. If the jury opts for the latter, Daggett, a 59-year-old father of three, could be headed to prison for up to 20 years.

After hearing the case for seven weeks in U.S. District Court, jurors spent all day Thursday deliberating and will return Monday morning to continue. Lawyers in the case hope they will reach a verdict by midweek. Daggett, the assistant general organizer of the International Longshoreman's Association, was indicted last year along with fellow executive Arthur Coffey, of Florida. Both are charged with extortion conspiracy and fraud for allegedly steering lucrative union contracts to mob-controlled businesses.

It's the latest offensive aimed at rooting out Mafia corruption on the docks — something the government has been trying to do for decades, since Marlon Brando starred in the 1954 film "On the Waterfront." Only now, the goal might be in sight.

Control of the docks has historically been shared by two of the "five families" of the New York Mafia — with the Genovese family in Manhattan, New Jersey and South Florida, and the Gambino family in Brooklyn and Staten Island. With the bosses of both families, Vincent "Chin" Gigante and Peter Gotti, along with other prominent mobsters, now in prison, prosecutors have turned to the allegedly corrupt officials who did their bidding for decades. "This is a big case," a well-known mob expert said Friday. "They've got all the gangsters, (and) this is a particularly important follow-up or complement to that."

On the heels of the current criminal case, the government also has filed a civil lawsuit against the ILA seeking to have just about every current executive permanently barred from union activity. Court-appointed monitors would then oversee new union elections.

Roslynn Mauskopf, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said the lawsuit "seeks — once and for all — to end mob domination of this important labor union and put its future back into the hands of the rank-and-file members it was designed to serve."

The mob expert, who agreed to be quoted in this article on the condition that his name not be used, said the outcome of the Daggett-Coffey case may determine how the government will fare in the civil case — often called a "civil RICO" after the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. "Once (the feds) can convict these honchos, it'll go a long way toward establishing their civil case," the expert said. "This'll be like icing on the cake."

Coffey's defense attorney, Gerald McMahon — who in his opening statement called the case a politically-motivated attempt by the Justice Department to take over the union — said essentially the same thing. "Everybody knows that if they get a criminal conviction, it makes the civil RICO a slam dunk," McMahon said.

The core of the government's case is a meeting six years ago at a Miami Beach steakhouse between ILA president John Bowers and Genovese soldier George Barone. Coffey allegedly brought Bowers to the meeting. Bowers later recalled the encounter in a sworn deposition before the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor. "You're doing a wonderful job," he said Barone told him. "We hope you stay forever. But if you ever leave, I would like to see Harold Daggett become president."

Bowers had been backing a Texas man not controlled by the Genovese family to be his successor, and Barone was there to let him know that was not a good idea, the government says. When asked by investigators how he responded, Bowers was matter-of-fact: "I am alone, one-on-one. I know of his reputation; I am not going to ask a lot of questions. I am figuring now how the hell to get out of the place."

Barone, 81, who has admitted murdering at least 10 people in his decades as a mobster, became an informant to avoid prison after a 2001 arrest, and is now the star witness for the prosecution. How reliable the jurors found Barone, and several other turncoats who testified in the trial, could be the deciding factor in their verdict.

The case may also rest on how reliable they found Daggett himself, who took the stand in his own defense during the trial's final week and denied that he even knows any mobsters — except, of course, for George Barone, who he said once held a gun to his head when he was trying to move his local out of Manhattan. "There is no mob in my local," Daggett testified.

Daggett, a third-generation dockworker who now earns almost a half-million dollars between his two jobs as the ILA assistant general organizer and president of the North Bergen local, lives in a gated mansion set back from a neighborhood of small-by-comparison three-garage homes on Green Road in Sparta. He is a parishioner at Our Lady of the Lake Roman Catholic Church and has been portrayed in his defense as an upstanding member of the community who fights for the rights of his laborers.

Daggett's lawyer, George Daggett — his cousin and the former Sussex County prosecutor — called the government's case an "anti-union prosecution" in his three-hour closing argument last week. "I'm pleased with the way the case went in," George Daggett said Friday. He added that he was pleased with what he saw as positive reactions, from some jurors, to his impassioned summation.

The case has had its unexpected twists. In the past two months, for instance, the number of defendants has dwindled from four to two. Or, if you will, 2 1/2.

A third ILA executive, Albert Cernadas — who also headed the union local in Port Newark — was named in a superseding indictment earlier this year but pleaded guilty a week before the trial began to a reduced conspiracy charge. Under the plea deal, he agreed to sever all ties with the union and will likely avoid significant prison time. Then, halfway through the trial, another defendant, a reputed Genovese captain named Lawrence Ricci, disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Published reports cited investigative sources as saying they believed he had been killed by his fellow gangsters. However, Ricci remains merely "missing" in the eyes of the law, and he is still technically a defendant in the case. The judge in the case has instructed the jury not to draw any "negative inference" from his absence.


Lawyer calls Mafia case 'anti-union'

Friends of ours: Genovese Crime Family, Lawrence Ricci

He had been talking for three hours straight, minus one 10-minute break, and George Daggett was just wrapping up his closing argument Tuesday afternoon in defense of his cousin, Harold, who is on trial on union corruption charges.

"The actions of Harold Daggett are inconsistent with the government's case," Daggett told the 12 jurors and two alternates as he concluded.

Seconds later, after Daggett said "Thank you" and strode back toward the defense table, half the courtroom gallery — a few dozen family members and supporters — erupted into applause.

That didn't sit well with the judge, who had barely said a word all day.

"Another outburst like that, and I'll exclude you from the courtroom," U.S. District Court Judge I. Leo Glasser said, rising to his feet. "That's inappropriate behavior, and I'll have none of it."

Glasser's brief chiding was merely a punctuation mark at the close of a lengthy day in court, during which the jury heard the end of the government's closing argument and two out of three defense lawyers'.

Harold Daggett, a Sparta resident and top executive in the International Longshoreman's Association, is charged along with fellow executive Arthur Coffey with extortion conspiracy and mail fraud in connection with the union's reputed ties with the Genovese crime family.

A third defendant, reputed Genovese captain Lawrence Ricci, disappeared midway through the trial, which started Sept. 20. He is unofficially believed to have been killed, but the jurors have been told not to draw any "negative inference" from his unexplained absence.

Ricci's lawyer, Martin Schmukler, also gave his closing argument Tuesday, speaking for about an hour. Schmulker's closing drew mainly on the argument that, outside the questionable testimony of several mob informants, there is no evidence against his client "other than a person socializing with other people."

Schmukler also drew laughter from the courtroom when he held up an unflattering mug shot of Ricci — introduced into evidence after Ricci disappeared — and said, "I'd be afraid to show this picture to his mother."

George Daggett, in his closing, was likewise dismissive of the informants' testimony — especially one of the government's star witnesses, former hit-man George Barone — but also went on the attack against the government lawyers, accusing them of bending facts and changing dates in order to get a conviction. "This is an anti-union prosecution," Daggett said more than once.

Daggett also painted his client as an honest man who, in moving his ILA local from Manhattan to North Bergen, kept it out of Mafia control. For instance, when Harold Daggett was made the secretary-treasurer of the northeastern district of the ILA, he refused to hire a mob accountant known as "Tax Doctor" to handle the funds.

"He (instead) went to Father Cassidy, in Sparta Township, out by the Delaware Water Gap," George Daggett said. "Is that an associate of the Genovese family, who takes $18 million and puts it under the care of a guy that was recommended by the parish priest?"

Tuesday was the second full day of closing arguments. Gerald McMahon, Coffey's attorney, will give his summation today, followed by a "rebuttal summation" in which the government can respond to the defense lawyers' statements. Glasser will then issue his instructions to the jury before they begin deliberating.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Unwise Guy, Ends Up as Mafia Hit

Friends of ours: Genovese Crime Family, Lawrence Ricci, George Barone

A top Mafia capo who recently vanished during his trial was rubbed out by bosses because he balked at copping a plea to spare them embarrassing courtroom disclosures, federal probers now believe.

Reputed Genovese crime-family captain Lawrence Ricci, 60, had been on trial along with two high-ranking International Longshoremen's Association officials who were allegedly handpicked for their posts by the mob. Law-enforcement sources suspect that before the case went to trial, Ricci's Mafia higher-ups "long known for tight lips and low profiles" demanded that the rakish Ricci dodge an expected messy proceeding by copping a plea.

Ricci - charged with steering an ILA contract to a pharmaceutical company with mob ties - likely would have been able to negotiate a deal with just a couple of years in jail. Instead, authorities suspect that he was rolling the dice for an acquittal when he mysteriously vanished after borrowing a relative's car Columbus Day weekend.

"I do not consider my client's absence to be a voluntary one," his lawyer,Martin Schmukler, has warned the court. The new theory about why Ricci may have been killed surfaced amid the ongoing extortion and conspiracy trial of the two ILA officers, Harold Daggett and Arthur Coffey.

Daggett yesterday wept like a baby when describing early dealings with a former Genovese hit man and now elderly mob turncoat in the case, George Barone, 81. Barone accused him of trying to wrest control of the powerful union away from him in the early 1980s - and brutally interrogated him at one point, a tearful Daggett testified in Brooklyn federal court.

"I'll kill you and your wife and children if you take this local," Daggett said a seething Barone warned him. "He pulled out a gun and stuck it in my head here," Daggett said, pointing to his temple. "[Then Barone] cocked the trigger and said, 'I'll blow your brains all over the room.' "I prayed to the Blessed Mother he wouldn't do it. He said, 'Get the fuck out of here.' I was so nervous, I urinated all over myself."

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Gotti said to order snitches killed.

Friends of ours: Gambino Crime Family, Peter Gotti, Primo Cassarino, Richard Gotti, Genovese Crime Family, Lawrence Ricci

A convicted Gambino soldier testified in a union-corruption trial yesterday that Peter Gotti once warned that if anyone cooperated with the government, he would, "kill them and their families."

Primo Cassarino, who was convicted with Gotti in 2003 for shaking down action-movie star Steven Segal, said in Brooklyn federal court yesterday that he had spoken to the FBI about cooperating with the government during that trial. But when asked why he decided to go to trial with the former Gambino boss he said, "I didn't have no choice. If I didn't go to trial, I'd have been killed by Peter Gotti. Peter Gotti told his brother, Richard, if anybody cooperates, kill them and their families."

When Richard Gotti relayed his brother's warning, he was unaware Cassarino had spoken to the FBI, Cassarino testified under cross-examination in the trial of Harold Daggett and Arthur Coffey. The two International Longshoremen's Association members are accused of conspiring with the Genovese crime family to have them installed as union heads.

Another co-defendant, reputed Genovese capo Lawrence Ricci, has been missing since the start of the trial, leading to speculation that he has been the victim of a mob hit. Ricci is accused of steering an ILA contract to a pharmaceutical company with mob ties. When asked why he had decided to be a government witness this time around, Cassarino said he was hoping to have his sentence reduced. Cassarino's conviction was for racketeering and money-laundering after he tried to force Segal to give them a cut of movie profits in a deal brokered by his former producer.

Judge Rejects Mafia Mistrial

Friends of ours: Lawrence Ricci

A judge has rejected the mistrial bid of two union bigwigs accused of having Mafia ties, despite the disappearance of their co-defendant, a reputed mobster.

Brooklyn federal Judge Leo Glasser said jurors in the trial of Harold Daggett
and Arthur Coffey had not seen media speculation that Lawrence Ricci is the
victim of a gangland hit.

Ricci, accused of guiding International Longshoreman's Association contracts
to a mobbed-up pharmaceutical firm, has not been in court for more than a
week, and his lawyer has told Glasser the absence was not voluntary. Could Ricci be Sleeping with the fishes?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sleeping with the Fishes?

Friends of ours: Lawrence Ricci, Tino Fiumara, Genovese Crime Family

A reputed mobster facing a five-year prison term in a waterfront corruption case disappeared in the middle of his trial, prompting speculation that he had instead received a Mafia-imposed death penalty.

Enesco "I do not consider my client's absence to be a voluntary one," defense attorney Martin Schmukler said in federal court Wednesday after Lawrence Ricci failed to show for the second day in a row.

Ricci serves as an acting capo under feared New Jersey docks boss Tino Fiumara. Some two decades ago, Ricci and Fiumara were convicted together of extortion. Authorities suspect that family higher ups in the Genovese family found some fault with Ricci’s performance of his duties and have dispatched him – permanently.

Ricci, a 60-year-old alleged capo in the Genovese crime family, went on trial Sept. 20 in Brooklyn. He was free on $500,000 bail. Ricci, who lists his occupation as a dairy salesman, was charged with two officials of the International Longshoreman's Association with extortion and fraud in connection with mob domination of the New York waterfront.

"We are looking for him," said FBI spokesman Matt Bertrand. "We still haven't arrested him, or have him in our sights yet."


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