The Chicago Syndicate: Michael Lancellotti
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Showing posts with label Michael Lancellotti. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Michael Lancellotti. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Is the Philadelphia-South Jersey Mob in Decline?

Joseph Ligambi, reputed boss of the Philadelphia-South Jersey mob, heads a criminal organization that has nearly as many active members in jail as it does on the streets.

Decimated by a 20-year onslaught of federal prosecutions, bloody internecine power struggles, and turncoat testimony, the local branch of La Cosa Nostra - which in the 1980s had roughly 80 members - now has a base of about 20 "soldiers." And nine of them are in prison.

Simply put, the Philadelphia Mafia has fallen on hard times. It is no longer the dominant player in the underworld, and is dwarfed in size by some of the area's more violent drug gangs.

That's the picture that has emerged based on a crime-family organizational chart compiled by the Philadelphia Police Department and introduced as evidence at an ongoing hearing into a casino service-industry license for Joseph N. Merlino, cousin of jailed Philadelphia mob leader Joseph S. "Skinny Joey" Merlino.

The hearing, before a Casino Control Commission examiner, resumes today. Joseph N. Merlino is scheduled to testify by the conclusion of the proceedings this week.

Merlino, 42, and his mother, Phyllis, head Bayshore Rebar, a Pleasantville construction company that has twice been denied a service-industry license because of suspected mob ties.

The hearing has included testimony from an ex-FBI agent called as a witness for Merlino who has said that, based on his knowledge and on information from mob informants, he does not believe Merlino, his mother, or Bayshore have organized-crime connections.

Other former agents also are expected to testify on Bayshore's behalf.

The Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) has presented law enforcement testimony, surveillance reports, and videos it contends show a continuing organized-crime association.

It is in that context that a picture of the beleaguered Philadelphia-South Jersey mob has emerged.

The chart compiled by the Intelligence Unit of the Philadelphia Police Department has provided a graphic outline of the current structure of the crime family.

Sgt. Daniel McCullough, a unit supervisor, testified for the DGE and noted that Ligambi, mobster Martin Angelina, and other high-ranking members of the organization are under constant surveillance by Philadelphia police or other law-enforcement agencies.

McCullough said he could not testify about specifics without "jeopardizing ongoing investigations." But he did present an overview of the crime family.

His remark underscored reports from other law enforcement sources that the Ligambi organization is the target of an FBI racketeering probe.

The Police Department chart used by the DGE included color photos of most of the key figures in the organization along with their birth dates, addresses, and criminal identification numbers.

Ligambi, who turned 70 last month, is listed as the boss. Angelina, 46, is the acting underboss.

Michael Lancellotti and Anthony Staino are said to be capos, or captains. Staino's data includes the designation "South Jersey."

The nephew of onetime high-profile mobster Ralph "Junior" Staino, Anthony Staino lives in the Swedesboro area and, according to authorities, oversees the mob's South Jersey interests.

He and Angelina have been spotted meeting on a regular basis with Ligambi, according to police. Staino's meetings often take around 6 a.m. as Ligambi walks his dog in the Packer Park section of South Philadelphia, where he lives.

Another major figure, Steven Mazzone, onetime underboss of "Skinny Joey" Merlino, is listed on the chart as a member of the "Merlino faction" but has no rank.

Police sources say this reflects the fact that Mazzone, on supervised release for a 2001 racketeering conviction, has remained low key and has not been spotted meeting with organization members.

Angelina, who was convicted in the same racketeering case, was jailed twice for violating terms of his supervised release. Philadelphia police surveillance reports of Angelina meeting with Ligambi were used to support those violation charges.

According to the organizational chart, the crime family currently is operating without a "consigliere," or counselor. That post is listed as vacant.

The soldiers listed on the chart are John Ciancaglini, Anthony Nicodemo, Martin Curro, Nicholas Olivieri, Frank Gambino, Anthony Pungitore Sr., Anthony Pungitore Jr., Gaeton Lucibello, and Joseph Stanfa, son of jailed mob boss John Stanfa.

The younger Stanfa's designation may simply be a matter of record-keeping. Most sources say he has been "shelved" and not actively involved since his father lost a mob war in 1994 to the organization's Merlino faction.

Three other "inactive" soldiers are listed: Nicholas Milano, a hit man who served nearly 20 years on murder and racketeering charges and who is the brother of mob informant Eugene "Gino" Milano; Luigi Tripodi, a onetime soldier with the Stanfa organization; and "Junior" Staino, a larger-than-life wiseguy who was recently released from prison and who, at 77, is reported to be in poor health.

The jailed members shown on the chart are "Skinny Joey" Merlino; George Borgesi, who is Ligambi's nephew; former Ligambi underboss Joseph Massimino; convicted drug dealer Damion Canalichio; former Stanfa soldier Vince Fillipelli; and four members of the Scarfo organization convicted in a 1988 racketeering case: Frank Narducci, Salvatore Scafidi, Joseph Pungitore, and Charles Iannece.

Thanks to George Anastasia

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mob Tied to Altantic City Sports Gambling Ring

An illegal sports gambling ring run out of a high-stakes poker room in an Atlantic City casino was busted Wednesday, authorities said, and 18 people were arrested, including four with mob ties.

Since March 2006, the ring took in $22 million in bets on college and professional football and basketball in the poker room of the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, said New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram.

The off-the-books exchanges of cash and casino chips were unraveled only when an informant told authorities what to look for using the casino's eye-in-the-sky surveillance cameras, Milgram said.

The suspected ringleader of the operation, Andrew Micali, 32, of Ventnor City, New Jersey, is an associate of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, mob boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, according to a New Jersey law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the criminal complaints do not mention any reputed mob ties. Micali was charged with promoting gambling, money laundering and loan-sharking.

Three associates of Micali also were arrested. Vincent Procopio, 41, of Brigantine, New Jersey, was charged with promoting gambling. Anthony Nicodemo, 36, and Michael Lancellotti, both of Philadelphia, were charged with conspiracy to promote gambling.

"They sought to escape detection by enlisting casino employees in their crimes," Milgram said. "I'm pleased to say they greatly underestimated our vigilance and determination to keep organized crime out of Atlantic City casinos."

Twenty-three people in all are charged, and authorities were seeking five on Wednesday. Most were charged with promoting gambling or money laundering.

Unlike Las Vegas, Nevada, Atlantic City has no legal sports book.

Authorities said the Borgata cooperated with the investigation and let investigators use casino surveillance video. Borgata spokesman Rob Stillwell said the ring involved "rogue employees." No one was arrested on the casino floor, and the integrity of the casino's operations was never compromised, he said. The casino employees charged included poker room supervisors, dealers and a bartender.

The state Casino Control Commission was expected to punish the casino workers, commission spokesman Daniel Heneghan said.

The four men with alleged mob ties, along with Borgata supervisor Joseph Wishnick, 42, of Brigantine, were taken into custody Wednesday. Bail was set at $100,000 for Micali and $50,000 for the others. Wishnick was in custody Wednesday at the Atlantic County Jail. It was not immediately clear whether the others had posted bail or were waiting to be processed at the jail. None could be reached for comment by The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The state Attorney General's Office said lawyers had not come forward for any of the 23 suspects.

If the charges are proven, the case would be among the most serious mob incursions into the Atlantic City casino industry since the first casino opened in 1978.

Milgram said authorities followed the money in the case from the casino to so-called "wire rooms" in Philadelphia. The wire rooms were used to tally the bets and calculate winnings and payouts for the ring.

The ring was publicized mainly by word of mouth among illegal gamblers, who were advised whom to see in the poker room to place their bets.

Authorities said the ring engaged in "massive money laundering" facilitated by casino employees who would not record certain exchanges of cash and gambling chips. This is a common method of money laundering at casinos called "chip washing," Milgram said.

"It involves taking cash, turning it into chips, 'washing' the chips by betting and then turning them in, and taking cash out," she said.

Losing bettors were forced to take out loans from the ring at more than 50 percent interest to cover their losses, authorities said.

In their search Wednesday, authorities seized more than $40,000 worth of cash and Borgata chips from a safe deposit box Micali maintained at the casino. The state also obtained a court warrant freezing Micali's bank account with more than $200,000 in it.

Fear of organized crime led New Jersey to institute tight controls when legal gambling began, but regulations have been loosened over the years.

The anxieties were expressed in a now-famous speech by then-Gov. Brendan T. Byrne when he signed the law authorizing casinos on June 2, 1977: "I've said it before and I will repeat it again to organized crime: Keep your filthy hands off Atlantic City. Keep the hell out of our state!"

This is the second high-profile sports betting charge in New Jersey in the past two years. In 2006, a state trooper, NHL hockey coach Rick Tocchet and a third man were charged with running a sports gambling ring. All later pleaded guilty.

Thanks to CNN


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