The Chicago Syndicate: Matty Ianniello
Showing posts with label Matty Ianniello. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Matty Ianniello. Show all posts

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Stonewall Gay Bar Crackdown Originally Targeted Mafia Activities in New York

I WAS perhaps the unlikeliest person in the world to cover the Stonewall riots for The Village Voice. It was June 27, 1969. I had graduated from West Point only three weeks earlier and was spending my summer leave in New York before reporting for duty at Fort Benning, in Georgia. After a late dinner in Chinatown, I was about to enter the Lion’s Head, a writers’ hangout on Christopher Street near the Voice’s offices, when I blundered straight into the first moments of the police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar a couple of doors down the street. Even a newly minted second lieutenant of infantry could see that it was a story.

Across the street from the Stonewall, a crowd of maybe 100 was watching the police march out a dozen or so bar patrons and employees into a paddy wagon. The young arrestees paused at the back of the waiting paddy wagon and struck vampy poses, smiling and waving to the crowd.

This was not the way gays were supposed to behave when they were arrested, and the officers started shoving them with their nightsticks. People in the crowd yelled at the police to stop. The officers responded by telling them to get off the street. Someone started throwing pocket change at the officers, and others began rocking the paddy wagon. Then, from the back of the crowd, beer cans and bottles flew through the air. In a hail of coins and street debris, the paddy wagon drove away with two patrol cars, and the remaining officers retreated inside the Stonewall, locking the doors behind them.

Soon enough, loose cobblestones from a nearby repaving site rained down on the bar’s windows. An uprooted parking meter was used to ram the club’s doors. Someone lighted a wad of newspaper and threw it through the bar’s broken window, starting a small fire. The policemen inside the Stonewall put it out with a fire hose, which they then turned on the crowd.

Instead of dispersing, the people in the street cavorted sarcastically in the spray, teasing the officers with suggestive come-ons. A few moments later, patrol cars came screaming down Christopher Street from Sixth Avenue. And at approximately 2 a.m. on Saturday, June 28, the gay men decided they weren’t going to take it anymore. The clash outside the Stonewall went on for 48 more hours and become famous as the riots that started the gay-rights movement.

Amazingly, there was no TV coverage and only a few paragraphs in the city’s daily papers. Myths and controversies have arisen in the vacuum left by the mainstream news media.

One involves the argument about who is, and isn’t, a “veteran” of Stonewall. A handful can prove they were there by pointing to themselves in the famous photograph, taken by Fred McDarrah, that was on the cover of the following week’s Voice, accompanying my article and another by a colleague, Howard Smith.

For the record, I orchestrated that image. Fred was famously parsimonious as a photographer, in the habit of taking only a few photos for a story. Outside the Stonewall that night, he took a look at the scene and asked me to get a bunch of rioters together. I rounded them up and posed them on a stoop, and Fred got his shot.

A prominent Stonewall myth holds that the riots were an uprising by the gay community against decades of oppression. This would be true if the “gay community” consisted of Stonewall patrons. The bar’s regulars, though, were mostly teenagers from Queens, Long Island and New Jersey, with a few young drag queens and homeless youths who squatted in abandoned tenements on the Lower East Side.

I was there on the Saturday and Sunday nights when the Village’s established gay community, having heard about the incidents of Friday night, rushed back from vacation rentals on Fire Island and elsewhere. Although several older activists participated in the riots, most stood on the edges and watched.

Many told me they were put off by the way the younger gays were taunting the police — forming chorus lines and singing, “We are the Stonewall girls, we wear our hair in curls!” Many of the older gay men lived largely closeted lives, had careers to protect and years of experience with discrimination. They believed the younger generation’s behavior would lead to even more oppression.

In part, at least, they were correct. It would take several more years before major New York political figures came out in favor of employment anti-discrimination laws, and much longer before other gay rights would be realized.

Another myth is that the police raid on the Stonewall was part of a broader crackdown on gay bars in the summer of 1969, a mayoral election year. In fact, the Stonewall operation was the work of a Police Department deputy inspector, Seymour Pine, and officers from the morals unit, and they carried it out without the knowledge of the officers of the local police precinct, whom they suspected of taking payoffs from the Stonewall and other Mafia-run gay bars in the Village.

Deputy Inspector Pine had two stated reasons for the raid: the Stonewall was selling liquor without a license, which it was, and it was being used by a Mafia blackmail ring that was setting up gay patrons who worked on Wall Street, which also seems likely.

The owner of the Stonewall, Tony Lauria, was reputed to be a front man for Matty Ianniello (known as “Matty the Horse”), a capo in the Genovese crime family who oversaw a string of clubs in the city. New York’s gay-bar scene at the time was a corrupt system apparently designed to benefit mobster owners, who served watered-down drinks at inflated prices, often made with ill-gotten liquor from truck hijackings.

It worked like this: citing disorderly behavior laws, the State Liquor Authority ruled that bars catering to openly homosexual patrons were not entitled to liquor licenses. Gay bars were thus made effectively illegal, which left them to the mob, which happily ran clubs without liquor licenses and paid the police to look the other way. Several more years would pass before the first clubs with openly gay owners would be licensed — places like the Ballroom on West Broadway and Reno Sweeney on West 13th Street — and the mob lost its stranglehold, an early legacy of Stonewall.

On Sunday, the third night of the riots, I ran into Allen Ginsberg on the street and accompanied him into the reopened Stonewall, where he talked and danced with some of the young revelers. Afterward, as the last of the riot police packed up to go home, I walked with him toward his home in the East Village. He said everything seemed different after the riots — how grim, even sad, gay bars were compared to the “beautiful” scene at the Stonewall that night.

As I turned south on Lafayette Street, he waved and cried out, “Defend the fairies!” His jolly farewell was obviously meant in jest, because after Stonewall, they didn’t need defending any more.

Thanks to Lucian K. Truscott IV

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mafia Parade from Prison to the Streets to Last Throughout 2009

Prison doors will swing open this year for some of the city's toughest mobsters.

By an odd coincidence, some of the heaviest hitters from New York's fabled Five Families all have release dates in 2009.

"You have proven earners, people who have served in upper- and middle-management roles and people with international criminal-enterprise connections," said a law-enforcement source. "That sounds like a triple threat."

The Gambino family, still reeling from the takedown of the Gottis, will see the biggest injection of experienced blood.

Perhaps most influential is Domenico "Italian Dom" Cefalu, the 61-year-old acting underboss, scheduled for release on Nov. 3. Cefalu, whose specialty is drug trafficking, is said to have been personally inducted into the family by the late "Teflon Don" John Gotti in 1991.

Another Gambino heavy out this year is George "Big Georgie" DeCicco, 79, with a Dec. 1 release date. The old John Gotti capo ran a loan-sharking operation.

DeCicco's nephew, Joseph "Joey Boy" Orlando, 59, gets sprung June 24. The Gambino soldier was reportedly caught on tape boasting of eight hits. "I've got eight under my belt, and I don't give a [expletive] who become the ninth," he allegedly said.

The Bonannos are also getting an injection of experience.

Capo Anthony Rabito, 74, who goes by the monikers "Fat Anthony" or "Mr. Fish" will be sprung June 28. He was previously convicted of drug smuggling after being swept up in the 1970s "Donnie Brasco" undercover probe.

Another Bonanno with old-school experience is Salvatore "Toto" Catalano. The 67-year-old soldier is getting out Nov. 14 after serving 29 years. He was a key player in the "Pizza Connection" case in the 1980s, when the mob was importing heroin from Sicily and using pizzerias as fronts. One source says Catalano is fearless and has leadership skills to quickly command a crew.

The Lucheses will have a top strategist back on the street.

Consigliere Joseph "Joe C." Caridi, 59, is out Nov. 28 after a 2003 conviction for extorting a Long Island seafood restaurant. Known as the "Tony Soprano of Long Island," Caridi could bounce right back into the extortion business.

Acting capo John "Johnny Sideburns" Cerrella, 68, will be sprung the same day.

The Genovese crew will see the return of some old-timers.

Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianniello - still a capo at a spry 88 - will be released April 3 for a 2007 racketeering and tax-evasion conviction. The decorated WWII vet is highly respected by younger Genovese crew members.

Just slightly younger is 85-year-old capo Lawrence "Little Larry" Dentico, who is getting out May 12 from a four-year sentence of running a gambling ring.

The Colombos will welcome back acting consigliere Benedetto Aloi on March 18. One source called Aloi a "time-honored figure" in the Colombo family.

Another old-timer getting out late in the year is Salvatore Lombardino, 76, who was convicted in connection with the murder of suspected informer James Randazzo.

Lombardino honored the code of omerta and never spoke to authorities, even racking up an extra contempt-of-court sentence for refusing to testify.

Thanks to Murray Weiss

Sunday, March 01, 2009

It's Time to Discuss Organized Crime and Public Vs. Private Ownership of Trash Empires

The New Milford Town Council had a discussion about the region's efforts to put James Galante's trash transfer station under public control.

It was an amazing discussion -- one disconnected from the reality facing this region.

Galante is in federal prison, having pled guilty to conspiracy, racketeering and tax charges. But the mess he left behind is still being sorted out.

Fortunately, most of the region's elected officials are working hard and working together to protect local residents and businesses from a repeat of Galante's abuses.

Galante ran a scheme to limit competition that was enforced by the muscle of organized crime. Competitors and customers were threatened. It took an aggressive investigation by the FBI to shut Galante down. But to listen to New Milford Town Council member Joseph Failla, there's too much mention of Galante's connection to organized crime.

Failla was offended by the mention of it in a resolution offered by the Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority in support of Danbury's attempt to obtain ownership of Galante's transfer station on White Street in Danbury.

"It was more a grandstanding," Failla told the council. "I don't think an organization such as HRRA is in the position to comment and label in this resolution," he said, finding support from other council members.

Failla and other council members also criticized public ownership of the transfer station. "Public government doesn't belong in private business," Failla said.

These people should meet Matthew Ianniello, known as "Matty the Horse." He's the Genovese crime family boss who federal prosecutors say received regular payments from Galante in return for organized crime muscle. Like Galante, Ianniello copped a plea. They also could inform themselves by reading the court documents that quote court-ordered wiretaps on Galante and his cohorts. The wiretaps tell the story of the abuse perpetrated against this region.

Public ownership of the transfer station is necessary. The region's trash is trucked to the transfer station and then shipped out. It is the key ingredient in the region's trash disposal network. All haulers and all customers should receive equal treatment at the transfer station, which was not the case under Galante.

If another monopoly obtains control of Galante's trash empire, it will invite a repeat of Galante's abuses -- including the involvement of organized crime.

Organized crime is real. No purpose is served by pretending it's too dirty to mention, in public or in public documents.

Just ask Matty the Horse.

Newstimes Editorial

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

La Cosa No More?

In early 2004, mob veteran Vincent Basciano took over as head of the Bonanno crime family. The reign of the preening, pompadoured Mafioso known as Vinny Gorgeous lasted only slightly longer than a coloring dye job from his Bronx hair salon.

Within a year, the ex-beauty shop owner with the hair-trigger temper was behind bars betrayed by his predecessor, a stand-up guy now sitting down with the FBI.
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It was a huge blow to Basciano and the once-mighty Bonannos, and similar scenarios are playing out from coast to coast. The Mafia, memorably described as "bigger than U.S. Steel" by mob financier Meyer Lansky, is more of an illicit mom-and-pop operation in the new millennium.

The mob's frailties were evident in recent months in Chicago, where three senior-citizen mobsters were locked up for murders committed a generation ago; in Florida, where a 97-year-old Mafioso with a rap sheet dating to the days of Lucky Luciano was imprisoned for racketeering; and in New York, where 80-something boss Matty "The Horse" Ianniello pleaded to charges linked to the garbage industry and union corruption.

Things are so bad that mob scion John A. "Junior" Gotti chose to quit the mob while serving five years in prison rather than return to his spot atop the Gambino family.

At the mob's peak in the late 1950s, more than two dozen families operated nationwide. Disputes were settled by the Commission, a sort of gangland Supreme Court. Corporate change came in a spray of gunfire. This was the mob of "The Godfather" celebrated in pop culture.

Today, Mafia families in former strongholds like Cleveland, Los Angeles and Tampa are gone. La Cosa Nostra our thing, as its initiates called the mob is in serious decline everywhere but New York City. And even there, things aren't so great: Two of New York's five crime families are run in absentia by bosses behind bars.

Mob executions are also a blast from the past. The last boss whacked was the Gambinos' "Big Paul" Castellano in 1985. New York's last mob shooting war occurred in 1991. And in Chicago, home to the 1929 St. Valentine's Day massacre, the last hit linked to the "Outfit" went down in the mid-1990s.

The Mafia's ruling Commission has not met in years. Membership in key cities is dwindling, while the number of mob turncoats is soaring.

"You arrest 10 people," says one New York FBI agent, "and you have eight of them almost immediately knocking on your door: `OK, I wanna cut a deal.'"

The oath of omerta silence has become a joke. Ditto for the old world "Family" values honor, loyalty, integrity that served as cornerstones for an organization brought to America by Italian immigrants during the era of Prohibition. "It's been several generations since they left Sicily," says Dave Shafer, head of the FBI organized crime division in New York. "It's all about money."

Which doesn't mean the Mafia is dead. But organized crime experts say the Italian mob is seriously wounded: shot in the foot by its own loudmouth members, bloodied by scores of convictions, and crippled by a loss of veteran leaders and a dearth of capable replacements.

The Bonannos, along with New York's four other borgatas (or families), emerged from a bloody mob war that ended in 1931. The Mafia then became one of the nation's biggest growth industries, extending its reach into legitimate businesses like concrete and garbage carting and illegal pursuits like gambling and loan-sharking. The mob always operated in the black.

Things began to change in the mid-1980s, when the Mafia was caught in a crossfire of RICO, rats and recorded conversations. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations act handed mob prosecutors an unprecedented tool, making even minor crimes eligible for stiff prison terms.

The 20-year sentences gave authorities new leverage, and mobsters who once served four-year terms without flinching were soon helping prosecutors.

"A good RICO is virtually impossible to defend," insists Notre Dame law professor G. Robert Blakey, who drafted the law while serving as counsel to Sen. John McClellan in 1970. The results proved him right.

The first major RICO indictment came in 1985, with the heads of three New York families and five other top level Mafiosi eventually convicted. It took nearly two decades, but the heads of all five New York families were jailed simultaneously in 2003.

Authorities around the country were soon using Blakey's statute and informants against Italian organized crime in their cities.

In Philadelphia, where the mob was so widespread that Bruce Springsteen immortalized the 1981 killing of Philip "Chicken Man" Testa in his song "Atlantic City," one mob expert estimates the Mafia presence is down to about a dozen hardcore "made" men. Their number was once about 80.

The New England mob claims barely two dozen remaining made members about half the number involved 25 years ago. The Boston underboss awaits trial.

In Chicago, home of Al Capone, the head of the local FBI office believes fewer than 30 made men remain. That figure stood at more than 100 in 1990. The city's biggest mob trial in decades ended recently with the convictions of three old-timers for murders from the 1970s and '80s.

In Los Angeles, there's still a Mafia problem "La Eme," the Mexican Mafia. An aging leadership in the Italian mob, along with successful prosecutions, left most of the local "gangsters" hanging out on movie sets.

The Florida family dominated by Santos Trafficante, the powerful boss linked to assassination plots targeting President John F. Kennedy and Cuban leader Fidel Castro, is gone. The beachfront Mafia of the 21st century is mostly transplanted New Yorkers, and money generated by the local rackets isn't kicked up the chain of command as in the past.

"You have guys running around doing their own thing," says Joe Cicini, supervisor of the FBI's South Florida mob investigations. "They don't have the work ethic or the discipline that the older generation had."

The decline of "Family values" is nothing new. Back in January 1990, a government bug caught no less an expert than Gambino boss John Gotti wondering if the next generation of mobsters was equal to their forebears. "Where are we gonna find them, these kind of guys?" Gotti asked. "I'm not being a pessimist. It's getting tougher, not easier!"

During the same conversation, Gotti questioned the resumes of a half-dozen candidates for made man: "I want guys that done more than killing."

Even harder, it would turn out, was finding guys who could keep their mouths shut.

"Mob informant" was once an oxymoron, but today the number of rats is enormous and growing with each indictment. And the mob's storied ability to exact retribution on informants is virtually nonexistent.

"There is no more secret society," says Matthew Heron, the FBI's Organized Crime Section Chief in Washington.

"In the past, you'd start out with the lowest level and try to work your way up," Heron continues. Now "it's like playing leapfrog. You go right over everybody else to the promised land."

Basciano, 48, the one-time owner of the "Hello Gorgeous" beauty parlor, faces an upcoming trial for plotting to kill a federal prosecutor. The case was brought after his old boss, "Big Joey" Massino, wore a wire into a jailhouse meeting where the alleged hit was discussed.

By the time Massino went public with his plea deal in June 2005, another 50 Bonanno associates had been convicted in three years. The number of colleagues who testified against them, going right up to Massino, was in double digits. Basciano now faces the rest of his life in prison.

The Bonanno family is now led by the inexperienced "Sal The Ironworker" Montagna, just 35 years old, according to the FBI. Montagna shares one trait with his family's founder: He, too, is a Sicilian immigrant.

The mob of the 21st century still makes money the old-fashioned way: gambling, loan-sharking, shakedowns. Three Genovese family associates were busted this month for extorting or robbing businessmen in New York and New Jersey, making off with $1 million.

There are other, more modern scams: The Gambino family collected $230 million in fraudulent credit card fees linked to pornographic Web sites. Another crooked plan grossed more than $420 million when calls made to "free" phone services triggered unauthorized monthly fees on victims' phone bills.

After getting busted, mobsters are quick to offer advice to the FBI about allocating the agency's investigative resources.

"I can't tell you how many times we've gone to arrest people, and the first thing a wiseguy says is, `You should be going after the terrorists," said Seamus McElearney, head of the FBI's Colombo crime family squad in New York. "They say it all the time: `You should be doing that.'

"And leaving them alone."

Thanks to Larry McShane

Championcatalog.com (Sara Lee)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Bus Union Under Mafia Control Concludes Independent Counsel

An independent counsel appointed to investigate the union representing 15,000 New York City school bus drivers has concluded that there is substantial evidence that “organized crime has infiltrated and controlled” it.

The counsel’s report, written in January and made public yesterday by dissident union members, said that top officers of the union, Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, were involved in what it called racketeering activity that included extortion, kickbacks and bribes.

Salvatore Battaglia, the local’s former president, is facing trial on federal charges accusing him of extortion, receiving bribes and hiding Mafia involvement in the union. He has pleaded not guilty. The local’s secretary-treasurer, Julius Bernstein, was forced to resign by federal prosecutors and has pleaded guilty to obstructing justice.

The independent counsel, Richard W. Mark, called on the parent union to bring internal charges against Mr. Battaglia and Mr. Bernstein and to conduct a further investigation “to determine the extent of criminal activity.”

Leo Wetzel, the general counsel of the parent union, said the union had decided against bringing charges against those officials because they had both retired and cannot run again for union office. “It was the judgment of the union,” Mr. Wetzel said, “that the resources and attention of the international and local union were better directed to putting the local on the right course and to leave those matters to federal prosecutors.” Mr. Wetzel said the parent union assigned auditors to review Local 1181’s books for financial wrongdoing.

At a news conference yesterday, a dozen bus drivers complained that the two trustees whom the parent union had named to oversee the local had hired 11 of the local’s executive board members who had worked under Mr. Battaglia.

The drivers said those people had helped perpetuate an intimidating atmosphere that discourages criticism of union leaders. They also complained that not enough was being done to recoup the more than $2.7 million that federal officials say Mr. Battaglia obtained improperly.

“The international didn’t bring in any new faces,” said Simon Jean-Baptiste, who belongs to a dissident faction called Members for Change. “The same people are there who stopped people from talking. It’s a bad situation.”

Another bus driver, Clifford Magloire, said that in May, when he was distributing leaflets criticizing the local’s leaders, one union official pushed him against a fence and started screaming at him as others surrounded him.
Cuban Crafters Cigars
Defending the decision to hire the 11, Mr. Wetzel said: “It is essential that you have experienced personnel to represent the union members. If you sweep house and bring in a bunch of people who have no experience, that is not a good idea.”

Mr. Wetzel said the 11 executive board members were hired for staff positions only after they passed a background check by the parent union. He said one executive board member was not hired because of questions about his integrity.

The independent counsel’s report criticized several officials from the parent union who knew for decades about mob involvement in Local 1181 but did nothing.

Last September, Matthew Ianniello, the acting boss of the Genovese crime family, admitted that he had helped arrange for bus companies to make payoffs to Local 1181 officials. Some payoffs, prosecutors say, went to Mr. Battaglia, who in exchange agreed not to attempt to unionize certain bus companies.

Mr. Ianniello also said he shared kickbacks and extorted money with Local 1181’s leaders. He made those admissions when he pleaded guilty in Federal District Court in Manhattan to obstructing justice.

Mr. Wetzel said that union officials planned to enact a stronger ethics code at their convention this month that would, among other things, require union officials to notify headquarters if they know of any union official mishandling funds or involved in corruption.

Thanks to Steven Greenhouse

Thursday, May 10, 2007

90-Year-Old Sonny Franzese, Reputed Head of Colombo Crime Family, Jailed

Friends of ours: John "Sonny" Franzese, Joseph "Big Joey" Massino, Colombo Crime Family, Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianniello
Friends of mine: Frank Sinatra

A 90-year-old Colombo crime family leader who rubbed elbows with Frank Sinatra and other celebrities during his heyday was arrested for associating with known mobsters, his fifth parole violation in 25 years, the FBI said.

John "Sonny" Franzese was arrested Wednesday when he appeared for a regularly scheduled visit with a probation officer, said Jim Margolin, an FBI spokesman.

It was the fifth parole violation for Franzese. Among the others: He was jailed for three years after a November 2000 meeting at a coffee shop with three Colombo family associates. Another time, he spent two years behind bars after federal agents watched him enjoying a bowl of spinach soup with mob associates at a restaurant.

Margolin had no details this time on where Franzese had violated his parole or what he might have been eating or drinking at the time.

Franzese was being held in jail and was to appear in court next week. He didn't have a lawyer, Margolin said.

Despite his age, Franzese reportedly ascended to Colombo underboss two years ago after family boss "Big Joey" Massino was convicted of racketeering and became a federal witness. Massino, who spent 14 years running the family, became the first sitting boss of one of New York's five Mafia families to flip. But Franzese was involved in organized crime long before Massino's ascension. He was a fixture at the Copacabana nightclub, where he often spent time with Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr., according to Jerry Capeci, author of several books on organized crime and operator of the Web site ganglandnews.com.

Franzese also had a financial stake in the legendary porn movie "Deep Throat."

Franzese's parole restrictions continue through 2020, when he would be older than 100. It was unclear how much prison time he might face on the parole violation.

Since going to jail in 1970 for a bank robbery, Franzese had spent more than two decades -- on and off -- behind bars. He was initially paroled on that charge in 1978, and the first of the parole violations was in 1982.

Franzese wasn't the only aging mobster in court Wednesday. Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianniello, 86, was sentenced in New Haven, Connecticut, to two years in prison for racketeering conspiracy and tax evasion. The case was part of a federal probe of the trash hauling industry in Connecticut and New York.

Thanks to CNN

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Still in the Mob at Almost 100?

Friends of ours: Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Carlo Gambino, Albert "Chinky" Facchiano, Corelone Crime Family, Genovese Crime Family, Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianniello, John "Dapper Don" Gotti, Liborio "Barney" Bellomo, John Ardito

Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky and Carlo Gambino are long gone. Murder Inc. is out of business. Las Vegas has been so cleaned up it resembles Disneyland. And Havana? Forget about it since Castro took over. But Albert "Chinky" Facchiano, at 96, is still standing. And like Michael Corleone in "The Godfather III," he is still very much involved in the family business, according to the FBI.

At an age when most people are long retired and happy just to be alive, the reputed mobster was indicted earlier this year in Florida and New York. He is accused of trying to intimidate and possibly kill a witness against the powerful the Genovese family of New York in 2005. He is also accused of helping to run the rackets in Florida.

It was unclear whether Facchiano intended to break legs with his own gnarled, 96-year-old hands.

There have been plenty of elderly Mafia defendants, including 86-year-old Genovese family member Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianniello, who pleaded guilty to federal charges recently in Connecticut. But prosecutors, defense lawyers and Mafia experts say they can't remember someone Facchiano's age facing crimes of such recent vintage.

"I don't think there's anybody older than him," said Jerry Capeci, author of several books on organized crime and operator of the Internet site ganglandnews. "The rule is, you go in alive and you go out dead. You're not allowed to quit."

It appears that Facchiano, also known as "The Old Man," lived up to that Mafia credo, according to prosecutors. Facchiano, born in 1910, has been a "made member" of the nation's largest and most powerful Mafia family for decades, but was a low-level figure, rising no higher than soldier, according to the FBI. His nickname is apparently a play on his last name.

He was a boy when Arnold Rothstein supposedly fixed the 1919 World Series. He was a young man during the Depression when he took his first arrest. He was entering middle age during La Cosa Nostra's go-go years in the 1940s and '50s, when the Mafia skimmed its share of America's postwar prosperity. And he was a senior citizen in the 1980s and '90s when John Gotti and other bosses were taken down by the FBI.

In Florida, Facchiano was indicted along with the reputed Genovese chief in the Miami area and several others on charges of extortion and racketeering. Prosecutors say Facchiano from 1994 to 2006 mainly supervised associates who committed such crimes as robbery, money laundering and bank fraud.

The New York indictment accuses Facchiano and more than 30 other alleged Genovese members, including acting family boss Liborio "Barney" Bellomo, of a range of mob-related crimes. Facchiano is accused specifically of trying in 2005 to locate and intimidate a government witness known as "Victim-5" in court papers.

In one conversation picked up on an FBI listening device, Genovese associate John Ardito said he and Facchiano were "the hit men" who were looking for Victim-5, according to federal prosecutors. Ardito traveled from New York to Florida to meet with Facchiano about Victim-5, who had "gone wrong," according to an FBI transcript.

Facchiano pleaded not guilty and is free on bail, living at a condominium in swank Bal Harbor with a daughter. Facchiano's lawyer in the Florida case, Brian McComb, would not discuss the charges. He said his client is in reasonably good health, apart from a bad back and difficulty hearing. "He's got the typical ailments of an almost 97-year-old man," McComb said. "From day to day, who knows? He seems like a very nice gentleman."

Facchiano's first arrest came in 1932, on robbery and receiving stolen goods charges out of Pittsburgh, according to an FBI rap sheet. He got a sentence of two to five years, then was arrested again in 1936 in New York on grand larceny charges and yet again in 1944 on a bookmaking count. The records do not show how much prison time he did, if any.

"Chinky" stayed relatively clean until 1979, when he was arrested on federal racketeering charges and got a 25-year sentence. He served eight years, winning release at age 79. Then, nothing until his twin arrests this year.

If convicted on all charges, Facchiano could be looking at a sentence of well over 60 years in prison. Given the slow pace of federal prosecutions, he could be nearly 100 by the time he is sentenced.

U.S. Bureau of Prisons records show that as of the end of 2003 - the last year complete records are available - there were 30 inmates 80 and older. Officials could not say whether anyone as old as Facchiano is behind bars in the federal system.

As for his chances of actually being sent to prison, Ryan King, policy analyst with the nonprofit Sentencing Project, said: "A judge might look at someone in their 90s and consider the likelihood of re-offending. Are they really going to go out and commit another crime?"

Capeci, the Mafia expert, said someone Facchiano's age might have some difficulty keeping up with the younger wiseguys if he does go free. "There's no way a guy at age 96 can threaten people, break legs, do the normal routine that guys 50 and 60 years younger can do," he said. "But the guy is, according to the rules of the Mafia, still a made guy. He still has to take orders from the superiors and do what they tell him."

Thanks to Curt Anderson

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Matty the Horse Cuts a Deal

Friends of ours: Genovese Crime Family, Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianniello, Vincent "The Chin" Gigante

The ailing, aging reputed boss of the Genovese crime family pleaded guilty Thursday to helping try to infiltrate a union and thwart a federal grand jury probe.

The 86-year-old Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianniello, his wooden cane hanging on a chair beside him, entered the plea before U.S Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis in Manhattan.

A plea agreement signed with the government called for Ianniello to be sentenced to 1-1/2 to two years in prison on the single racketeering charge. Without the deal, Ianniello would have faced up to 20 years in prison. Sentencing was set for December 14. He also agreed to forfeit up to $1 million to the government.

Ianniello was reputedly a longtime capo in the crime family and allegedly became one of its acting bosses after the 1997 racketeering conviction of Vincent "The Chin" Gigante, who died in prison last December. Ianniello, who lives on Long Island, is free on bail.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Treanor told the judge that Ianniello participated in a conspiracy in which union officers lied to federal investigators about the involvement of organized crime in union business, among other things.

In court, Ianniello was difficult to understand as he read a statement admitting a role in efforts to corrupt a union and to prevent the union's leaders and employees from being honest with the government during a federal grand jury probe of mob activities. Ianniello's lawyer said his client's voice was affected by a stroke.

In his plea, Ianniello admitted receiving unlawful payments from a labor union and that he conspired to obstruct justice between 1990 and 2005.

Gigante had long been dubbed the "Oddfather" for bizarre behavior that included wandering the streets of Greenwich Village in nightclothes, muttering incoherently.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Feds Say That Galante Diverted Millions from Trash Businesses

Friends of ours: Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianniello, Genovese Crime Family
Friends of mine: James Galante, David Magel

A Danbury trash magnate arrested in a Mafia case in June diverted millions of dollars from his businesses to his minor league hockey team, no show jobs, race cars and questionable stockholder repayments, federal authorities said Thursday.

James Galante, whose businesses handle about 80 percent of southwestern Connecticut's garbage, carved out exclusive routes for his companies and paid Genovese crime family boss Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianniello $120,000 a year for mob muscle to enforce his territories, authorities said. That meant higher prices for businesses and homeowners, authorities said.

Galante and Ianniello were among 29 people arrested in connection with the alleged scheme. In a related development Thursday, another trash hauler became the first defendant in the case to plead guilty.

Galante's defense attorneys challenged a court order putting federal marshals in charge of his businesses, saying they were ruining the businesses. But federal authorities said they had improved the cash flow by stopping diversions that amounted to more than $4 million last year. They also said the businesses are now facing competition.

"If any 'blame' is to be assigned for the changes wrought by these incidents, it lies squarely on the shoulders of the defendants, who decided many years ago to operate the 25 companies as an illegal bid-rigging and price-fixing cartel," prosecutors wrote.

A hearing is planned Tuesday on the challenge to the federal monitoring. "Our position is by their own admission they're running it into the ground," said Hugh Keefe, Galante's attorney. "You took a guy's business away from him and turned it over to a bunch of incompetents."

Keefe said the reported diversions will be dealt with during the trial. "Even if that was true, the business itself was thriving up until the day the feds decided they knew more about running a trash business than Jimmy Galante."

Authorities said they were monitoring the businesses, not taking them over, and denied they intended to sell the businesses. Galante owns the Danbury Trashers team of the United Hockey League. The team was disbanded after Galante's arrest in June.

Meanwhile, the trash hauler who admitted his involvement in the scheme Thursday, David Magel, 33, of Baldwin Place, N.Y., pleaded guilty to a racketeering charge in U.S. District Court in New Haven. Magel is general manager of CRP Carting in Elmsford, N.Y.

Prosecutors said the scheme was enforced by extortion and threats, and participants sought to operate it in eastern New York. Magel met with several other members of the enterprise, two of whom were associated with an unidentified Connecticut-based trash carting company, at a diner in Mt. Kisco, N.Y., in 2004, authorities said.

After the meeting, Magel engaged in a series of telephone calls with other members of the enterprise to implement the scheme, prosecutors said. On Dec. 21, 2004, investigators intercepted one conversation between Magel and two members affiliated with the Connecticut carting company during which Magel agreed to provide inflated quotes to customers of the other participants in the conspiracy, authorities said.

"I'm shootin' for the ... gusto here," Magel said in the conversation. Magel faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced Oct. 25.

Keefe said he was not sure if Magel's guilty plea would affect Galante. Authorities would not comment on whether Magel was cooperating against the other defendants.

Thanks to John Christofferson

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Grandy Jury Indicts 32 New York Mobsters

Friends of ours: Genovese Crime Family, Liborio Bellomo, Ralph Coppola, Michael "Chunk" Londonio, John "Buster" Ardito, Ralph "The Undertaker" Balsamo, Vincent "The Chin" Gigante, Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianiello, Gambino Crime Family, Junior Gotti

The acting boss of the city's most powerful crime family and 31 others are charged in a new indictment with racketeering crimes, including murder, extortion, drug trafficking and money laundering, authorities announced Thursday.

The indictment "delivers an absolute body blow" to the Genovese family's structure, said FBI Assistant Director Mark J. Mershon. He said 30 people had been arrested. The 42-count indictment unsealed Thursday accuses the defendants of engaging in criminal activity for more than a decade.

U.S. Attorney Michael J. Garcia also released details about a corrupt lawyer whom he said had enabled the family's acting boss to order a murder from prison and direct other crimes. The lawyer, Peter J. Peluso, pleaded guilty last summer, admitted his role in the murder and agreed to cooperate against his client, Liborio S. Bellomo. Bellomo was charged with authorizing the 1998 murder of Ralph Coppola, a former Genovese soldier and acting capo, as part of a wide-ranging racketeering conspiracy involving violent extortion, drug dealing, firearms trafficking and murder.

The arrests follow a three-year investigation into the family's activities in the Bronx, Harlem and the Westchester County suburbs north of the city.

Garcia said Peluso pleaded guilty to racketeering charges, admitting participation in numerous crimes, including extortion and obstruction of justice, as he shuttled important messages between family members, some of whom were in prison. He said he carried one message from Bellomo sanctioning Coppola's murder, Garcia said.

The prosecutor said the brazen nature of the crime family was demonstrated in December, when authorities went to arrest Michael "Chunk" Londonio. He fired shots at New York State troopers, wounding two of them, before being killed in the return fire. "I would look at the Londonio shooting as the best example we have of the public safety threat organizations like this pose," Garcia said. "It adds to an overall impression of violence, viciousness reaching the streets of our community."

The indictment and court papers related to Peluso's guilty plea were unsealed in the same Manhattan courthouse where John Gotti Jr., whose father headed the Gambino crime family, was on trial for allegedly arranged the kidnapping of Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa. A similar indictment last year charged members of the Gambino family with racketeering.

Others indicted by the grand jury include longtime Genovese captain John "Buster" Ardito and Ralph "The Undertaker" Balsamo, who oversaw a large cocaine distribution network in New York, according to the indictment.

Ardito, Balsamo and others also are charged with attempting to tamper with several witnesses, including one who had his ear partially bitten off in a fight with a Genovese soldier.

The Justice Department has yet to decide whether to seek the death penalty for Bellomo. There have only been three federal executions since 1977 versus more than 940 by the states in that time, Justice Department data show.

Federal agents say Bellomo is one of a string of chiefs to run the Genovese mafia family since the 1992 arrest of Vincent "The Chin" Gigante, who dominated the mafia for most of the 1980s and 1990s before dying in prison last year.

Last July, 20 Genovese members were indicted in New York on racketeering charges in a separate case including another reputed acting boss, Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianiello. A month later, 14 accused Genovese family members were indicted in New Jersey.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Reputed Genovese family members indicted

Friends of ours: Genovese Crime Family, Matty "The Horse" Ianniello, Ciro Perrone, Vincent "the Chin" Gigante

Twenty people, including reputed members of the Genovese organized crime family, have been arrested and charged with wide-ranging racketeering counts, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan announced Thursday.

Among the arrested were Matthew Ianniello, an acting Genovese family boss nicknamed "Matty the Horse," and Ciro Perrone, a Genovese capo, said David Kelley, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

All were charged with labor racketeering, extortion, a large-scale loan-sharking operation and the operation of illegal gambling businesses, according to a statement released by Kelley's office.

Prosecutors accused the defendants of extorting a medical center that rented office space from a transit union, enforcing loans at extortionate rates of interest, and operating illegal card games.

Prosecutors said Ianniello rose to the position of an acting boss of the Genovese family after the imprisonment of longtime boss Vincent "The Chin" Gigante. Perrone took over Ianniello's role as capo, they said.

All defendants were scheduled to be arraigned Thursday afternoon in Manhattan federal court, said Heather Tasker of the U.S. attorney's office.

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