The Chicago Syndicate: Vito Genovese
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Showing posts with label Vito Genovese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vito Genovese. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Remembering the PJ Don

Friends of ours: Vincent "Chin" Gigante, Genovese Crime Family, John Gotti, Paul Castellano, Gambino Crime Family. Thomas Eboli, Vito Genovese, Frank Costello, Phillip Lombardo, Mario Gigante

Vincent "Chin" Gigante, boss of the Genovese crime family, who was noted for walking the streets of the Village near his Sullivan St. social club dressed in pajamas and bathrobe and mumbling to himself, died in a federal prison hospital in Missouri on Dec. 19 at the age of 77. He was serving a 12-year sentence for racketeering, conspiring to kill the late John Gotti for Gotti's role in the unsanctioned killing of the Gambino crime boss Paul Castellano, and for obstructing justice by pretending - successfully for three decades - to be mad in order to avoid criminal prosecution. Gigante died of an apparent heart attack at 5:15 a.m. in the same Springfield, Mo., federal prison medical center where Gotti and other underworld bosses died.

He was a promising light-heavyweight boxer whose ring career in the 1940s was managed by Thomas Eboli, a reputed mobster. Impressed by Gigante's 21 boxing wins, the mob boss Vito Genovese took him under his wing. A doorman at The Majestic apartments on Central Park West identified Gigante as the shooter in the 1957 attempted assassination of the crime lord Frank Costello, whom Genovese was trying to supplant. Costello survived the shooting but refused to identify Gigante and the charges were dropped.

Gigante rose in the Genovese family and in 1985 became the boss, succeeding Philip Lombardo, according to a Daily News article. But Chin began his bizarre and deceptive behavior as early as 1969 when he was first hospitalized for psychiatric examination. He finally gave up the mad act in 2003 after federal investigators found prison witnesses who heard Gigante speaking very sanely on the telephone, according to a Daily News article

Gigante got his nickname because his mother called him Vincenzo (pronounced Vinchenzo). Born March 29, 1928, he was the third of five brothers. His mother moved into the Mitchell-Lama co-op at 505 LaGuardia Pl., and Gigante - who always had an apartment of his own in the South Village - frequently visited there until she died a few years ago.

City Councilmember Alan Gerson, who grew up in 505 LaGuardia Pl. and still lives there, said it was known that Gigante often came by the apartment of his mother, who spoke little English and was affectionately regarded in the building. "He spent quite a bit of time visiting his mother, both visiting and overnight," Gerson said. "He was a frequent, regular visitor, until he went out of town, so to speak."

Neighbors reportedly knew the building was sometimes under surveillance by federal agents and that Gigante brought associates there for meetings. The apartment is now home to a surviving brother, Reverend Louis Gigante, a retired priest, former Bronx councilmember and director of a Bronx nonprofit housing organization.

An older brother, Mario, 80, reputed to be an elder in the Genovese crime family, also survives. Vincent Gigante leaves five children that he had with his wife, Olympia, and three more children he had with another woman, Olympia Esposito.

Thanks to Albert Amateau

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Mafia Retirement Package Includes Funeral, Dat's About It

No pension, no medical benefits, no prescription plan. When you're a mob boss, retirement is more bronze casket than golden parachute.

Since the 1930s ascension of the Mafia, its leaders have departed "The Life" almost exclusively through their deaths. Albert Anastasia, Carmine Galante and "Big Paul" Castellano were brutally (and memorably) assassinated; Vito Genovese, John Gotti and "Fat Tony" Salerno died in prison.

A third, more palatable option emerged in recent years: The Witness Protection Program, for those who found relocation to Arizona preferable to interment in Queens. But an actual mob retirement, renouncing all illegal ties and income for a shot at the straight life, is a trick rarely turned. So it's no surprise that law enforcement officials remained skeptical about John A. "Junior" Gotti's claim that he did what his father, uncles and brother-in-law could not: quit the Gambino crime family.

Defense attorneys, arguing the younger Gotti had left organized crime in the late 1990s, managed to win a hung jury in the recent racketeering case against the mob scion. The mistrial indicated at least one juror was convinced that Gotti had gone legit.

Others are not as easily swayed. "You never leave the mob," said Bruce Mouw, former head of the FBI's Gambino squad. "Sometimes you're wishing you'd never gotten into it, when there's a contract on your life or you're going to jail. But you never leave."

Federal prosecutors agree; they were already considering a retrial for Gotti. Talk radio show host Curtis Sliwa, the target of a botched kidnapping attempt allegedly ordered by Gotti, expressed fear that Junior's possible release on bail could again make him a target.

The best known example of volunteer mob retirement was Joe Bonanno, who headed one of New York's original five families. After the bloody "Banana Wars," Bonanno ceded control of his family and bolted New York for Tuscon in 1968. He died peacefully in the Arizona desert three years ago, surrounded by his family, at age 97.

While Bonanno considered himself out of the crime business, authorities disagreed. He wound up serving 14 months in 1985-86 after refusing to testify at "The Commission" trial that earned 100-year jail terms for the heads of the Colombo, Genovese and Lucchese families.

The mob's induction ceremony, with the burning of a saint's picture and a blood oath of silence, makes it clear that leaving the family is a move taken at great risk for even low-level members. Death is the penalty for breaking any of the Mafia code, particularly omerta.

Gotti was 24 when he was became a Gambino family "made man" in a Christmas 1988 ceremony at his dad's Little Italy hideaway, the Ravenite Social Club. But he's distanced himself from the mob life lately.

Gotti, in various prison conversations recorded by authorities, expressed disgust to family and friends about following his father into the mob. In October 2003, Gotti said his association with the Gambinos had ended six years earlier. "Believe me, I like it better that way," he said. "I sleep better ... I just want to do my time, go home and go fishing."

He may go home on bail as early as Monday. But Gotti is likely to remain a target for catch of the day by law enforcers who reject his purported mob repudiation.

Veteran defense attorney Ed Hayes, a Court TV commentator, said Gotti's defense combined "good strategy and a good lawyer." But does that mean Gotti is no longer a top-echelon member of the Gambino family?

"Absolutely not," said Mouw. "The only way of leaving is by the slab. You're in the mob for life."

Or death.

Thanks to Larry McShane

Friday, November 14, 2003

Organized Crime and "Joe's Barbecue"

Forty-six years ago today (11/14/1957), an unusual group gathered at the rural estate of a soft drink bottler in Appalachin, a small town just west of Binghamton, New York. Mr. Joseph Barbara was supposedly hosting a "soft drink convention" that day.

Sergeant Edgar Croswell of the New York State Police was intensely interested in the gathering. He'd observed suspected criminals at the house before and was suspicious. With smoke rising from Barbara's grill, Croswell and Trooper Vincent Vasisko openly began to take down the license plate numbers of luxury cars jammed in the driveway.

Suddenly Barbara’s guests noticed…and panicked. Some fled to the woods; others dashed for their cars. Sergeant Croswell ordered an immediate roadblock and soon had detained 62 guests in order to check their identification; among them, Joseph Bonanano, Russell Bufalino, Carlo Gambino, Vito Genovese, Antonio Magaddino, Joseph Profaci, John Scalish, and Santos Traficante.

A veritable Who’s Who of what we now call the "Mob," the "Mafia," or "La Cosa Nostra."

Croswell’s important detective work exploded nationally. Concerns had been expressed that a secret network of connected criminal enterprises existed. But many, including FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, had disagreed. They said crime was a serious problem, but there was no evidence that a conspiratorial web linked racketeers across the country.

Now there was evidence. Hoover got to work, ordering his field executives to develop maximum information on crime bosses in their areas of jurisdiction. This "Top Hoodlum Program" produced a wealth of information about organized crime activities. In a 1960 Letter to All Law Enforcement Officials, Hoover wryly commented: "If we must, let us learn a lesson from the barons of the underworld who have shown that cooperative crime is profitable – cooperative law enforcement can be twice as effective."

But the Bureau needed legislative tools to get past the small time crooks and connect them with those barons. Congress powerfully delivered, with illegal gambling laws that unlocked mafia financial networks and with laws like the Omnibus Crime Control Act of 1968 and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970. Soon, major cases like UNIRAC, BRILAB, and Pizza Connection led to the prosecution and jailing of top crime lords across the country. Then, in 1987, Judge Richard Owen of the Southern District of New York, sentenced the top leadership of five New York City "families" to 100 years each in prison for working together as a single enterprise. The "Commission Case" effectively broke the stranglehold of traditional organized crime in the U.S.

Today new organized crime syndicates operate on a global stage, and the FBI is working effectively with its international partners to dismantle them, piece by piece.

Thanks to the FBI

Tuesday, December 13, 1988

Obit for Anthony Provenzano, Reputed Organzied Crime Leader and Ex-Teamster Chief #TheIrishman

Anthony Provenzano, a reported organized-crime leader who was ousted a decade ago as the teamsters' boss of northern New Jersey, died of a heart attack yesterday in a hospital near a prison in Lompoc, Calif., where he was serving 20 years for racketeering. He was 71 years old.

Mr. Provenzano, a convicted murderer and extortionist and a key figure in the 1975 disappearance of the teamster president, James R. Hoffa, died at Lompoc District Hospital, near the Federal Penitentiary 140 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

He had been in the hospital a month with congestive heart failure, the warden's executive assistant, Chuck LaRoe, said. Mr. Provenzano began his term in 1980. Poor health and advanced age had left him unable to perform his work assignments as a janitor for two years, Mr. LaRoe added.

Mr. Provenzano would have been eligible for release in 1992. Although eligible for parole in 1985, he waived consideration. On his release from Federal prison, he would have faced 25 years to life in New York for the murder of a union rival in 1961, and he apparently preferred to spend his last days in California.

Muscle and Maneuvers

A short, stocky and ham-fisted man who bore the scars of his young years as an amateur boxer, Mr. Provenzano - known to friend and foe alike as Tony Pro - joined the teamsters as a Depression-era truck driver and, through muscle and shrewd maneuvers, fought his way into the top ranks of the crime-riddled union.

His way was strewn with violent election campaigns, Federal and state investigations, the disappearances and mysterious deaths of union opponents, free homes and Cadillacs, salaries that dwarfed corporate largesse, the enmity of rackets-busters and the homage of union men.

Behind his rise and fall lay a shadowy world of associates whose talents lay in beating other men with hammers, in selling labor peace to the trucking industry, in garrotes and guns and the clever use of garbage grinders and incinerators to make enemies disappear.

A reported capo in the Mafia family of Vito Genovese, Mr. Provenzano spent years in courts and prisons. A conviction in 1963 for extortion sent him to prison for seven years. In 1978, he was convicted of murdering Anthony Castellito, a union foe who had vanished 17 years earlier in Ulster County, N.Y. Two racketeering convictions, in New York in 1978 and New Jersey in 1979, sent him to prison for the last time eight years ago.

Tribulations of Local 560

Although he became a vice president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and a top associate of Mr. Hoffa in the 70's, his longtime base of power was the 13,000-member Local 560, with headquarters in Union City, N.J.

While Mr. Provenzano was barred by his last convictions from any union role, his brothers Nunzio and Salvatore were officers of the local, as was his daughter Josephine. In 1984, the local was found guilty of intimidating its members by murders, threats and economic reprisals, and it was placed under a trustee in 1986.

Last Wednesday, in the first contested election at the local in 25 years, the rank and file voted to return the management to a ticket of Provenzano associates. The leaders denied wrongdoing, and observers noted that marriages of necessity, such as that born in the Depression when the teamsters needed the muscle of the mob, were rarely annulled.

Anthony Provenzano was born May 7, 1917, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, one of six sons of immigrant Sicilians, Rosario and Josephine Dispensa Provenzano. He was 17 when he quit school for a $10-a-week job driving a truck out of a terminal in Hackensack, N.J.

Slaying in Kerhonkson

By 1941, Mr. Provenzano was a shop steward, and by 1958 he had taken the reins of Local 560 from the man who had founded it. A year later, he cited the Fifth Amendment 44 times in testimony before a Senate rackets committee for which Robert F. Kennedy was counsel.

In 1961, testimony at his murder trial showed that Mr. Provenzano had paid a mob enforcer, Harold Konigsberg, $15,000 to kill Mr. Castellito. Mr. Konigsberg and three other men had lured the rival to his summer home in Kerhonkson, N.Y., in Ulster County, hit him with a lead truncheon and garroted him with piano wire. The body was never found.

Another rival of Mr. Provenzano, Walter Glockner, was shot to death in 1963 in Hoboken, N.J., just as Mr. Provenzano went on trial for extorting payoffs for labor peace. He was convicted and sent to the Federal prison in Lewisburg, Pa., where Mr. Hoffa was also being held. Bad blood between the two former friends was said to have developed there.

On July 30, 1975, Mr. Hoffa vanished from a parking lot in a Detroit suburb and was never seen again. He was on his way that night to what he thought was a meeting with Mr. Provenzano. Mr. Provenzano was not in Detroit then, but he became a key figure in the disappearance, which was never solved.

Series of Sentences

A book by Steven Brill in 1978 quoted a Federal Bureau of Investigation memo as saying that three of Mr. Provenzano's associates had kidnapped Mr. Hoffa, put him in a garbage shredder and cremated the remains in an incinerator.

A month after being sentenced in Kingston, N.Y., to 25 years to life in prison for Mr. Castellito's murder, Mr. Provenzano was sentenced in Federal District Court in Manhattan in 1978 to four years for arranging kickbacks on a $2.3 million pension-fund loan. A year later, a Federal judge in New Jersey imposed a 20-year prison term for labor racketeering.

The Allwood Funeral Home in Clifton, N.J., listed the survivors as his wife, Marie-Paule Migneron Provenzano; four daughters, Josephine, Marie Maita, Doreen Rucinski and Charlotte Polile; three brothers, Louis, Salvatore and Nunzio, and two grandchildren. The funeral will be Saturday at 9:30 A.M. in St. Andrew's Roman Catholic Church in Clifton. Burial will be in St. Joseph's Cemetery in Hackensack.

Thanks to Robert D. McFadden.


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