The Chicago Syndicate: Thomas Gambino
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Showing posts with label Thomas Gambino. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thomas Gambino. Show all posts

Monday, March 31, 2008

CW to Detail Mafia's Connection to the Fashion Industry

Just when it seemed Seventh Avenue had shed its cloak of organized crime, it could be pulled right back in.

Lewis Kasman, a former trim producer who once fashioned himself as John Gotti's "adopted son," is expected to turn state's evidence this week in the latest Mob crackdown. A federal court in Brooklyn unsealed an 80-count indictment last month charging 62 alleged mobsters with a list of crimes, from racketeering conspiracy and extortion to theft of union benefits and money laundering.

Although the indictment focuses on the connection between the Mafia, the construction industry and its unions, testimony by Kasman, who is alleged to have for years run a fashion industry front for the Gambino crime family, might also illuminate connections between organized crime and the New York fashion industry over the past three decades — although the ties go back longer than that.

Kasman is slated to appear in federal court Thursday and is expected to testify on his background as an associate of the Gambino crime family and his relationship with its leaders, including Joseph "JoJo" Corozzo. The government also has filed a motion to disqualify Corozzo's son, Joseph, an attorney on the case.

The indictment outlined crimes dating back to the Seventies and ensnared reputed associates of the Gambino, Genovese and Bonanno organized crime families with movie-ready nicknames such as "Vinny Hot," "One Eye" and "Fat Richie."

The three-year investigation also included a cooperating witness who wore a wire, according to the indictment, although it could not be determined at press time whether that witness was Kasman.

"The evidence relating to many of the charged crimes consists of hundreds of hours of recorded conversations secured by a cooperating witness who penetrated the Gambino family over a three-year period," said a statement last month from the office of U.S. Attorney Benton Campbell, who oversees the Eastern District of New York.

Despite the breadth of the current wave of indictments, this won't be Kasman's first time in a courtroom. He was a principal with the now-defunct Albie Trimming Co., a family-owned trimmings manufacturer with a storefront operation and warehouse at 229 West 36th Street that supplied materials such as zippers, linings and buttons to garment industry companies, but was said to be a front for the Gambino family, then headed by John Gotti. At the time, the Gambino family had a stranglehold on Seventh Avenue's trucking activities.

Kasman, who often played up his relationship with Gotti by saying he was like an "adopted son" of the convicted murderer and racketeer, pleaded guilty in 1994 in Federal District Court in Brooklyn to lying to a grand jury in 1990 by saying he was not familiar with the terms "Gambino," "capo" or "consigliere." Kasman was sentenced to six months in prison, was given a $30,000 fine and was sentenced to three years of supervised release once he was out of prison, with the stipulation that he not associate with any members of organized crime.

When Gotti, also known as the "Dapper Don," died in prison in 2002, Kasman told newspapers, "He's a man amongst men, a champion."

During its investigation that led to Gotti's conviction, the government said Albie Trimming and an associated firm, Scorpio Marketing, existed "merely to provide the appearance that John Gotti and other Gambino family members have a legitimate income." Gotti was even said to have an Albie Trimming card that identified him as "salesman."

It was the same Gambino crime family that was prosecuted by Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau in 1992 for illegally controlling garment industry trucking. Then-assistant district attorney Eliot Spitzer, in his opening remarks in the trial of Thomas Gambino and Joseph Gambino, sons of crime family founder Carlo Gambino, said the Gambinos and their associates resorted to an occasional show of force "where the velvet glove comes off."

Spitzer won acclaim for his successful prosecution and used it as a stepping stone to his now-disgraced governorship of New York.

The level of the Mafia's involvement in Seventh Avenue today is a matter of debate, with some contending that the corporatization of the industry and the federal government's repeated crackdowns have stifled the Mob, but others saying it's still around. Whether Kasman's testimony will shed the kind of light on the garment industry and organized crime that past state's witnesses have remains to be seen. Sources told WWD after the Gambino trucking trial in state court in 1992 that one reason Thomas and Joseph Gambino pleaded guilty of restraint of trade was that prosecutors were prepared to call Mob-turncoat Sammy "The Bull" Gravano to testify how the family and its associates used strong-arm tactics and unscrupulous bookkeeping to form a garment industry cartel. In a separate federal trial that same year, Gravano was the star witness against Gambino crime family head Gotti and his damaging testimony led to Gotti's conviction and life sentence for racketeering and murder.

Thanks to Evan Clark and Arthur Friedman, Inc.

Monday, October 21, 1991

U.S. Says Mob Is Drying Up In New York

New York's five Mafia families, who survived years of Federal attack, have deteriorated in recent months to the point that three are virtually out of business and two are crumbling, many law-enforcement authorities and experts say.

After 60 years of illicit expansion, the combined racketeering power and wealth of New York's five traditional families is going the way of their counterparts in most other cities around the country, who have succumbed to a decade of aggressive Federal prosecution, the authorities say.

For the first time since the Mafia groups were formed in the 1930's, the experts say that all five families -- Gambino, Genovese, Lucchese, Colombo and Bonanno -- are in disarray, hurt by convictions and indictments of top leaders, murderous internal disputes, generational changes and defections by high-ranking members who have become Government witnesses.

The Lucchese family, for example, has had three changes of leadership in less than a year: one boss was jailed, and a second became a Government witness after he botched the killing of a mob captain -- who himself went on to become a key witness in a major racketeering trial aimed at ending the Mafia's influence in the window-installation industry.

All eight defendants were cleared of the racketeering charge on Friday, and six were cleared entirely, while two mid-level bosses were convicted of extortion. But prosecutors said afterward that the case had succeeded in driving the mob out of what had been a lucrative industry.

Moreover, many of the mob's customary money-producing rackets in the New York region, including extortions and kickbacks in the garment district, the Fulton Fish Market and the construction and trucking industries, have been eliminated or reduced by recent convictions and civil court remedies, the experts assert.

Federal and state law-enforcement officials say that the Colombo and Bonanno families have also been so shaken that they are no longer considered powerful threats. But officials cautioned that the the Genovese and Gambino groups -- the two largest in the country -- remain potent forces in illegal sports betting, loan-sharking, labor racketeering and the waste removal industries in the region.

Andrew J. Maloney, the United States Attorney in Brooklyn, and Ronald Goldstock, the director of the state's Organized Crime Task Force, forecast that the families could be reduced to the level of street gangs within a decade. They said that if prosecution pressure and defections continue, the mobs will lose what remains of their once-flourishing extortion rackets in legitimate businesses.

"No organization, legal or illegal, can withstand repeated decapitations at the top," Mr. Maloney said about the New York area. "They are certainly no longer a growth industry."

Not all experts are that optimistic. Robert J. Kelly, the president of the International Association for the Study of Organized Crime, agreed that the families seemed to have been weakened, but said that if the family units disappear they may undergo another incarnation. Mafiosi 'Will Persist'

"There may not be a Mafia, but there will be mafiosi who will persist as long as there are lucrative criminal opportunities," said Mr. Kelly, who is a professor of social science and criminal justice at Brooklyn College.

From intelligence obtained mainly from electronic eavesdroping and informers, experts cited these signs of decay in the families:

  • Leadership vacuums or internal wars have weakened the Gambino, Lucchese, Colombo and Bonanno groups, with the bosses and top leaders in each of the families serving prison sentences or in jail awaiting trials.
  • The number of active mob members has dropped by half in most cases since a peak in the late 1970's, law-enforcement officials say. The Colombos are down to about 100 members and the Bonnano family to 75.
  • The only reputed boss of a family not behind bars is Vincent Gigante, the suspected Genovese leader, who has been declared mentally unfit to stand trial on racketeering charges. Four capos or captains are trying to run the family but still consulting Mr. Gigante on major decisions.
  • The acting boss of the Lucchese family, Alphonse D'Arco, 59 years old, and a capo, Peter Chiodo, 40, both apparently fearing for their lives because of family strife, have become government witnesses. Their defections, said Mr. Maloney, may produce a wave of new indictments against Lucchese members. "It could be the death knell for the family," he asserted.
  • Control of the Colombo family is being disputed by two factions and the authorities say that the rivals have issued contracts to murder each other.

The new turmoil in the Lucchese family stemmed from distrust and a failed attempt to kill Mr. Chiodo in May. After surviving 12 bullet wounds, Mr. Chiodo became a Government witness. When Mr. D'Arco learned last month that there was a contract on his life for botching the hit on Mr. Chiodo, he, too, became a turncoat.

Since the 1930's, the New York region has been the Mafia's strongest bastion in America. Except for New York and Chicago, the F.B.I. and Federal prosecutors maintain that in the last decade they have largely eliminated Mafia strongholds in most big cities. But they say the job has been harder in New York, the only area with five separate, large families, while other cities had one family to eradicate.

Experts say that New York's families have survived because each family created a rigid organization, with rules that defined what kinds of crime could be committed and how profits would be divided.

The Mafia groups also engaged in more sophisticated white-collar crimes than other criminal gangs, and they infiltrated major labor unions. 'Mob's Invisible Tax'

The Manhattan District Attorney, Robert M. Morgenthau, said that by skimming "multimillions" annually from the construction and garment industries, the families had imposed an "invisible tax" on the region.

"What they do translates directly into higher costs for such basic things as clothes, the costs of an apartment and an office and discourages legitimate businesses from coming here or staying here," Mr. Morgenthau added.

Laura Brevetti, a former Federal prosecutor, noted that testimony and records disclosed that the Colombo family alone netted at least $80 million a year in the mid-1980's from gasoline tax frauds in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. And Mr. Morgenthau noted that a raid last year on the office of Thomas Gambino, 62, whom prosecutors have called a major organized-crime figure in the garment district, found records showing that he had $75 million in stocks, bonds and bank accounts.

The names of the five families are actually designations by law-enforcement authorities, based on the groups' founders or later bosses. Most members are not related by blood.

As in other regions, the New York Mafia has now has been severely injured by long-term legal strategies that concentrate on eliminating entire family hierarchies.

Federal prosecutors have used the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, and state authorities have applied the state's new Organized Crime Control Act, known as Little RICO, to obtain convictions and indictments against previously insulated bosses and leaders. 'Process of Grinding Down'

Mr. Goldstock, who was not involved in the case, called the window trial "neither a victory nor a defeat, but rather part of an investigative process of grinding down organized crime."

He emphasized that until several years ago it had been "almost unheard of" to convict such high ranking mobsters as Venero Mangano and Benedetto Aloi, who were convicted on Friday on charges of extortion in the window-installation industry.

Two bosses who remain in control of their organizations, investigators say, are John Gotti and Vincent Gigante, 63; authorities say they head the Gambino and Genovese crime families.

Mr. Gotti, 51, is in jail awaiting trial on racketeering charges that include the slaying of his predecessor, Paul Castellano. But Federal and state investigators said that Mr. Gotti still runs the Gambino family from prison, using his son John Jr. The officials, however, believe that his absolute control has slipped in his absence.

Mr. Gigante, 63, was declared mentally unfit last March to stand trial. But investigators believe that he, too, is still in charge.

Thanks to Selwyn Raab


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