The Chicago Syndicate: Vittorio Amuso
Showing posts with label Vittorio Amuso. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vittorio Amuso. Show all posts

Friday, March 08, 2019

Carmine Persico, AKA The Snake, Legendary New York Mobster and Longtime Boss of the Colombo Crime Family has Died in Prison

One of New York’s most storied mob bosses met his end in prison Thursday — old and sick, and mired in a lawsuit over his medical treatment.

Carmine "The Snake" Persico, the longtime boss of the Colombo crime family, died at age 85, the Daily News has learned.

Carmine the Snake: Carmine Persico and His Murderous Mafia Family.

Persico was convicted of racketeering and murder in the famous mid-‘80s “Commission trial,” which put three of the city’s five crime family bosses in prison in one fell swoop. He was the last surviving defendant in that notorious case.

He was serving his sentence at the federal prison in Butner, N.C. when he died at Duke University Medical Center, confirmed his lawyer, Benson Weintraub. Among his reported pals at the medium-security prison was Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff.

Persico spent the last 36 years of his life behind bars, serving a staggering 139-year sentence. But by most accounts, he remained the titular Colombo boss.

In 2016, Persico’s lawyers described a litany of health problems and called his 100-year sentence a “virtual life sentence.”

“Mr. Persico is legally blind in his right eye, and has diminished vision in his left eye. He also has limited use of his left and right arms and a deformity of his left wrist that has severely impacted his upper mobility,” his lawyer, Anthony DiPietro, wrote in March 2016. “Mr. Persico is also predominantly wheelchair-bound as a result of his emphysema. In addition, Mr. Persico suffers from anemia and a multitude of cardiac issues that require periodic medical attention.”

Persico sued the prison warden and a doctor there in December, alleging “deliberate indifference” to his deteriorating medical condition and calling for his compassionate release. He had serious infections in his legs, and was trying to block doctors from amputating his leg above the knee.

Wientraub said he suspected Persico died of the leg infections, which he said “spread as a result of deliberately indifferent treatment.”

Persico was known to his friends as “Junior” and to his enemies as “The Snake.”

He was born on Aug. 8, 1933, and grew up in the working class Brooklyn enclaves of Carroll Gardens and Red Hook. His dad was a law firm stenographer, while his mother stayed home to raise Carmine and his siblings – fellow future mobsters Alphonse and Theodore, along with their sister Dolores.

Persico was a high school dropout and ran with a local street gang. His first arrest was at age 17 in the fatal beating of another youth during a melee in Prospect Park. When the charges were dropped, he was recruited to the world of organized crime – working in bookmaking and loan-sharking operations.

By his mid-20s, Persico was a made man in the family headed by Joe Colombo.

He became affiliated with fellow Brooklyn mobsters the Gallo brothers – “Crazy” Joey, Larry and Albert, aka Kid Blast. Their crew was widely credited with the execution of mob boss Albert Anastasia, famously whacked inside a Manhattan barber shop.

The hit led to an internal family war, with the Gallos taking on boss Joe Profaci over what they felt was a slight following the Anastasia killing. The younger crew expected bigger responsibilities and more cash, only to clash with family’s old guard.

Persico turned on the Gallos, aligning himself with Profaci in the war that left nine dead, three missing and 15 more wounded. He was reportedly involved in the attempted strangling of Larry Gallo inside a Brooklyn bar, a hit interrupted by a local police sergeant.

He later survived an attempted murder by the Gallo faction before a truce was declared in 1963.

Persico, though in prison for hijacking, ruled over a powerful crew inside the Colombos. After the 1971 shooting of boss Joe Colombo, he and his brothers grabbed control of the family. Persico ran the family from the outside after he was released from prison in 1979 — but his time on the street was short.

Persico was indicted for racketeering in 1984 and arrested in the home of an FBI informant. He was also charged with the heads of other four families in the “Commission” prosecution led by then-U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani.

Persico’s reply was to put out a contract on Giuliani.

He got a 39-year term in the first case. In the second, where he acted as his own attorney, Persico was hit with a 100-term – ensuring his death behind bars.

One small victory: Federal Judge John F. Keenan hailed Persico as “one of the most intelligent people I have ever seen in my life” for his performance as a lawyer.

While running the family from behind bars, the Colombos descended into another internal bloodbath pitting Persico loyalists against supporters of new boss Victor (Little Vic) Amuso. The war destroyed the family, which was decimated by a dozen murders and as many defectors to the government side – including the family’s consigliere and two capos. Sixty-eight made men and associates were arrested, including Carmine’s kid brother Theodore.

Persico appealed his conviction in 2016. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals shot down his request in 2017, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take the case later that year.

Thanks to Larry McShane and John Annese.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Nicodemo S. Scarfo and Salvatore Pelullo Convicted of Racketeering and Other Crimes

A member and an associate of the Lucchese organized crime family and two Texas brothers were convicted of racketeering and other charges after a six-month trial, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman for the District of New Jersey and Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division announced.

Nicodemo S. Scarfo, 49, of Galloway, N.J., a member of the Lucchese organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (LCN) and Salvatore Pelullo, 47, of Philadelphia, an associate of the Lucchese and Philadelphia LCN families, were convicted of all the counts against them, including racketeering conspiracy and related offenses, including securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, extortion, money laundering and obstruction of justice. Two other defendants, William and John Maxwell, were also convicted. Co-defendants David Adler, Gary McCarthy and Donald Manno were acquitted on all counts.

“Today, four people stand convicted for giving new meaning to ‘corporate takeover’ – looting a publicly traded company to benefit their criminal enterprise,” U.S. Attorney Fishman said. “The defendants stole more than $12 million from shareholders through rampant self-dealing, fraudulent SEC filings and intimidation. The public should not have to worry that the interests of shareholders are being subverted to benefit organized crime or for other corrupt ends.”

“Nicodemo Scarfo, Salvatore Pellulo and their cohorts used threats of physical and economic harm to take over a publicly traded financial firm, then callously and systematically looted the company out of millions of dollars to buy luxury items for themselves,” Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said. “As a result of today’s guilty verdict, this mafia member and his conspirators now face substantial prison sentences.”

The jury deliberated two weeks before delivering its verdicts following a six-month trial before U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler in Camden federal court. The defendants were charged in an indictment returned in 2011 by a federal grand jury in Camden. It named Nicodemo D. Scarfo (Scarfo Sr.) – Nicodemo S. Scarfo’s father and the imprisoned former boss of the Philadelphia LCN family – and Vittorio Amuso, the imprisoned boss of the Lucchese family, as conspirators.

Five other defendants – Cory Leshner, Howard Drossner, John Parisi, Todd Stark, and Scarfo’s wife, Lisa Murray-Scarfo – have previously pleaded guilty to various charges related to their roles in the criminal scheme.

According to documents filed in this case and the evidence at trial:

Scarfo is a made member of the Lucchese family, having become a member after an attempt on his life in 1989 following an internal struggle for control of the Philadelphia family. In the mid-1990s, while Scarfo Sr. and Amuso were in federal prison in Atlanta, Amuso arranged for Scarfo to become a member of the Lucchese family as a favor to Scarfo Sr. As a member of the Lucchese family, Scarfo was required to earn money and participate in the affairs of the Lucchese family.

In April 2007, Scarfo, Pelullo and others devised a scheme to take over FirstPlus Financial Group Inc. (FPFG), a publicly held company in Texas. Scarfo and Pelullo used threats of economic harm to intimidate and remove the prior management and board of directors of replaced those officers with individuals beholden to Scarfo and Pelullo, including William Maxwell, an attorney from Houston, Texas, and his brother, John Maxwell, of Irving, Texas, who acted as the company’s CEO.

Once the takeover was completed, the figurehead board named William Maxwell as “special counsel” to FPFG, a position that he used to funnel $12 million to himself, Scarfo and Pelullo through fraudulent legal services and consulting agreements. The agreements, as well as FPFG’s fraudulent acquisitions of companies controlled by Scarfo and Pelullo, were designed to mask the true identity and nature of the control exerted over FPFG and to conceal the source of the money fraudulently conveyed to Scarfo and Pelullo.

In a telephone call intercepted by law enforcement, Pelullo called Scarfo to tell him about the sudden death of a former FPFG executive. This former executive had provided information to Pelullo and Maxwell that they used to extort control of FPFG. At the time of his death, he was a member of FPFG’s “compliance team.” Scarfo and Pelullo expressed relief regarding his death. After laughing about how he was “crushed” that “the rat is dead,” Pelullo acknowledged that the executive was “the only connection, the only tie to anything.” Scarfo replied: “Oh boy. Yeah, Sal, you wanna know something though? That’s one that I know you can’t take credit for . . . [laughter] . . . and that’s the natural best thing. You know what I mean? That is so like Enron-ish. You know what I mean? Kenneth Lay, he bailed out and took a heart attack.”

Scarfo and Pelullo used their illicit gains to fund extravagant purchases, including an $850,000 yacht for both defendants, a luxury home for Scarfo, a Bentley automobile for Pelullo, and thousands of dollars in jewelry for Scarfo’s wife. As a direct result of the enterprise’s criminal activity, FPFG and its shareholders suffered a loss of at least $12 million.

The conspiracy to commit bank fraud count carries a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine; the RICO conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, conspiracy to obstruct justice counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine; the conspiracy to commit money laundering and felon in possession of a weapon counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine; the securities fraud conspiracy, conspiracy to make false statements in a loan application and conspiracy to transfer firearms to a prohibited person counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Sentencing for Scarfo is scheduled for Oct. 22, 2014; for Pelullo, Oct. 21, 2014; and for both Maxwell brothers, Oct. 23, 2014.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Mob Fighting Forensic Accountant Earns FBI Promotion

The Target 12 Investigators bring you "Inside the Mafia" revealing a new threat to the New England mob.

An FBI agent who infiltrated a New York crime family and took down their powerful boss has just arrived in Providence. He's agreed to speak exclusively with Target 12 Investigator Tim White.

Jeff Sallet is the newest supervisor for the FBI in Providence. He quickly built a reputation in New York for being a tenacious investigator and for helping take down the city's last true "don".

A legendary bust that crippled the mighty Bonnano crime family. They're the notorious leaders of the five organized crime empires in New York.

Infamous Gambino boss, John Gotti, Colombo family boss Carmine "The Snake" Persico, Genovese leader Vincent "The Chin" Gigante, Luchese boss Vittorio "Little Vic" Amuso, and boss of the Bonnano family Joseph "The Ear" Massino.

By 1997, all but one had been sent to prison. He was the "last don," and somehow, "The Ear" had successfully evaded the sting of law enforcement. Sallet says, "The reason they came up with the name "The Ear" is because he always had his ear to the ground, as Joe always knew what was going on."

In 1999 FBI agent Jeffrey Sallet and his partner Kimberly McCaffrey were assigned to infiltrate Massino's empire in an unconventional way.

The FBI calls them "forensic accountants" -- specially trained to sift through financial records and instantly recognize criminal patterns like "money laundering."

Sallet says, "I think there is nothing people fear more than an accountant with a badge."

The paper chase into Massino's massive finances led investigators down the chain to a low-level mob associate. Sallet not only convinced the mob insider to become an informant, but take on the dangerous assignment of wearing a "wire" around wiseguys.

Sallet says, "Top down our main targets were Joe Massino and Salvator Vitale. But in order to get to the top, we also had to get to the bottom and determine who were the people to get us in."

It took 4 years, but eventually the feds had their case. On January 9th, 2003, a team of federal agents knocked on Massino's door. The charges, among many: Loan-sharking and murder.

Sallet was there and in what he describes as surreal, the mob boss knew him and his partner by their first names.

Tim White asks, "Had you ever met Joe Massino before that moment?"

Sallet: "Never"

White: "So how did he know who you were?"

Sallet: "I think one of the quotes he also said is you do your homework and I do mine."

The case lead the FBI a lot in Brooklyn lot, where they recovered the bodies of three mob soldiers Massino had whacked. The last don is now in prison for life.

Sallet, has moved on, 6 months ago he came to the FBI's Providence office to run the organized crime, violent crime, gang criminal enterprises squad.

After helping take down the last don in New York, it makes sense why Sallet would be here. Sallet says, "The boss of the New England LCN is one of the only bosses, official bosses to be on the street."

Citing FBI policy, Sallet won't identify members of the Patriarca crime family. But law enforcement sources tell Target 12, the boss, is 80 year old Louis "Baby Shacks" Mannochio.

State police Major Steven O'Donnell, a veteran organized crime fighter, says Sallet's knowledge of the New York families will work here.

O'Donnell says, "you read a report about a wiseguy in Rhode Island... Its no different than reading about a wiseguy in New York, its the same type of activity just a different person."

O'Donnell says Sallet meets daily with state and Providence police. And, we've learned Sallet has made contact with the criminal side as well. Sallet won't comment, but mob insiders tell Target 12 he was spotted introducing himself to "Baby Shacks" Mannochio, letting the boss know, he's in town.

Sallet says, "I have been investigating organized crime for ten years, and what I can tell you is I have always treated everybody with the utmost respect."

Sallet's squad not only focuses on bringing down traditional wiseguys, but also with the growing national problem of violent street gangs. Sallet says their "turf wars" are a prime target for the FBI and local police.

Thanks to Tim White

Monday, May 15, 2006

La Cosa Nostra Tough Guy-Turned-Witness follows the Rules

Friends of ours: Bruno Facciola, Luchesse Crime Family, Alphonse "Little Al" D'Arco, Sammy "the Bull" Gravano, John Gotti, Vittorio Amuso, Paulie Vario, Henry Hill, Vic Amuso, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, Genovese Crime Family, Vincent "Chin" Gigante, Colombo Crime Family, "Little Vic" Orena, Bonanno Crime Family, Anthony Spero, James Ida
Friends of mine: Stephen Caracappa, Louis Eppolito

The killers placed the dead canary in the freezer. Later, after their work was finished, they placed the bird inside the mouth of the equally deceased Bruno Facciola.

The August 1990 mob hit followed a tip from two corrupt NYPD detectives that the Luchese family capo had turned government informant. Facciola was stabbed, shot through both eyes and shot again in the head before the bird was stuffed in his mouth. It was murder with a message: See no evil. And definitely speak no evil.

The slaying was orchestrated by one of the crime family's true believers, a diminutive thug known to fellow Mafiosi as "Little Al." Few in organized crime embraced the mob ethos more fervently than Alphonse D'Arco, a hard case from the cradle.

"I was a man when I was born," Little Al once bragged. He committed every crime except pimping and pornography, which D'Arco deemed beneath his dignity. Murder was a different story; he committed eight while rising from Luchese associate to acting boss.

Few in organized crime despised informants more than Little Al. "Rats," he'd spit, his face contorted with disgust. He did a three-year heroin rap without opening his yap. So when the word came down that Facciola was singing to the feds, D'Arco arranged for his demise. And for the canary.

Four months later, with the family in turmoil, D'Arco stepped up to become the Luchese boss. His reign abruptly ended on Aug. 21, 1991, but not in the fashion he expected: on the wrong end of a jury verdict. Or maybe a bullet. Instead, D'Arco _ disgusted by the loss of mob honor, double-crossed by men he had respected _ became what he most abhorred: a rat. And not just any rat.

He brought down mob bosses, underbosses, consiglieres. Fifteen years later, the former made man is still making inmates out of accomplices as perhaps the most devastating mob informant ever _ even better than Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, who famously flipped on mob superstar John Gotti.

Alphonse D'Arco, born July 28, 1932, grew up near the Brooklyn Navy Yards. The neighborhood was heavy with heavyweight mobsters, including some of his relatives. His childhood, D'Arco once recalled, was "like being in the forest and all the trees were the dons and the organized crime guys." D'Arco walked into the woods without hesitation. He was 14 when he started hanging with the local mobsters; one year later, he dropped out of school.

Two tenets of the old-school Mafia appealed to D'Arco: Loyalty and honor. Both extended into his personal life; in 1951, during the Korean War, D'Arco volunteered for the Army, served two years and received an honorable discharge. When he returned to Brooklyn and the mob, he found a wife; they remain married to this day. The D'Arcos had five children.

In 1959, D'Arco first met future Luchese family boss Vittorio Amuso. He was soon making money for the Lucheses in a variety of ways: Hijacking. Drug dealing. Burglary. Counterfeiting. Arson. Armed robbery.

D'Arco became a made man on Aug. 23, 1982, in a ceremony held in a Bronx kitchen. "I should burn like this paper if I betray anyone in this room," D'Arco swore. D'Arco was particularly good with dates, and he always remembered this one. He remembered plenty of other things along the way. D'Arco was a guy who listened more than he spoke.

D'Arco had long ago resolved the differences between mob life and straight society. As John Q. Citizen, D'Arco would have lived by the rules. As Alphonse D'Arco, mobster, he would abide by the Mafia's code _ no questions asked. He obeyed orders and his elders, kicked money up to the bosses. And he never cooperated with law enforcement. Not even on the smallest of matters.

His capo was Paulie Vario, one of the family's most valued leaders. As the entire crew would soon discover, the erosion of mob values was under way. And it was happening in their midst.

Henry Hill was a Luchese associate and a cocaine dealer. Once arrested, Hill became the most notorious Mafia turncoat of the decade. His testimony helped put Vario away in 1984. Hill's life became fodder for the classic mob movie "GoodFellas." Vario, played by Paul Sorvino in the movie, died in a Texas prison four years later. His replacement was Alphonse D'Arco.

D'Arco's old friend Vic Amuso became the head of the family. His underboss was another pal, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, a hoodlum responsible for three dozen murders.

The mob life was good for D'Arco. He had about $1 million in loan-sharking money spread around, and ran his own crew. The family hierarchy relied on him to handle important business _ labor unions, racketeering, murder.

"He was a true believer in La Cosa Nostra," said former federal prosecutor George Stamboulidis. "He grew up in the life. It was something that he wanted, and succeeded at."

D'Arco dressed in shirts with big "wiseguy collars," and lived in an apartment on Spring Street in Little Italy. The market rent was $1,200 a month; D'Arco paid $200.

He brought his son, Joe, into the family business, and considered doing the same for another son, John. When the order came down for Joe to whack a guy in California, Al unflinchingly told his son to do it. At his father's behest, Joe committed a second mob murder in New York. The son played by his father's rules.

A few months after they exposed Bruno Facciola, the two crooked detectives provided Casso with a new bit of information: the underboss and Amuso were targeted for arrest. On Jan. 9, 1991, the pair met with Little Al at a Brooklyn bar, where Amuso pronounced him acting boss of the Lucheses. Then Casso and Amuso vanished. Top of the world, Al.

During eight eye-opening months as boss, D'Arco's blind allegiance to the mob was undermined. From seclusion, Amuso and Casso started a whispering campaign against D'Arco among the Luchese faithful. A fellow mobster informed D'Arco about the betrayal; so did FBI agents.

Yet D'Arco was unconvinced until the night of Sept. 18, 1991, when he attended a meeting in a midtown Manhattan hotel room. His longtime Luchese associates appeared unnerved. A family hit man was among the group, and the vibe was ugly. D'Arco had no doubt that he was marked for death.

D'Arco managed to bolt the meeting, and reconsidered his life _ or what might be left of it. He considered going to war against the Amuso/Casso faction, handling things in the style of his Brooklyn mentors. But D'Arco had no more loyalty to the Lucheses. And he no longer viewed them as men of honor.

"So I says, `That's it,"' D'Arco explained later from the witness stand. "I washed my hands of the whole thing."

D'Arco sent most of his family to Hawaii, far from the deadly streets of New York. Accompanied by his son, D'Arco hid in his mother's Long Island home. A deal was made. On Sept. 21, 1991, Alphonse D'Arco became the most unlikely cooperating witness ever recruited. And also one of the most expensive.

The federal government spent more than $2 million to relocate the D'Arco clan. Little Al and six other families were moved from New York to parts unknown. He left behind a mob fortune; his legal net worth was about $30,000.

News of the stunning defection spread quickly through the underworld. An attorney was dispatched to the Metropolitan Correction Center to inform jailed Gambino boss John Gotti that Little Al was switching sides.

The acting boss was one of the highest-ranking mobsters to ever flip, and federal authorities took advantage. He testified more than a dozen times against his former friends and the mob's top echelon.

D'Arco was a combative and effective witness. His memory for details and dates was unshakable. He took on New York's top defense attorneys, and refused to let any put words into his mouth.

Testifying at a 1996 competency hearing for Genovese family boss Vincent "Chin" Gigante, D'Arco flew into a rage. "Don't break my chops," D'Arco warned defense attorney Michael Shapiro. "I'll break yours, too."

D'Arco's testimony helped convict ex-cronies Amuso and Casso; Gigante and Colombo boss "Little Vic" Orena; Bonanno consigliere Anthony Spero; Genovese consigliere James Ida; and an assortment of other mobsters.

He testified before uncounted grand juries, spilling about corruption in the unions, the Garment District, the airports and the Hunts Point market. "D'Arco gave them great value for the money," said criminal defense lawyer Edward Hayes. "He testified against a lot of guys, and they got convicted. D'Arco is a lunatic, but he has a story."

Once, in a Brooklyn courtroom, D'Arco stood before a federal judge who noted they had grown up in the same nearby neighborhood. "Yeah," D'Arco replied. "And we both rose to the top of our professions."

Prosecutor Stamboulidis said D'Arco embraced his new calling as fervently as his old. "When he entered an agreement with the government, he answered all the questions with brutal honesty and thoroughness," Stamboulidis said. "A true believer does everything 100 percent. He believes 100 percent in his current position."

His reward came in November 2002, when D'Arco was sentenced at a courtroom in suburban Westchester County. Little Al appeared via closed-circuit television and received time served, which essentially meant no jail time. He was fined $50, and returned to obscurity.

While mob turncoats like Gravano and Hill went back to jail, D'Arco stayed on the right side of the law. And one of the biggest trials yet remained in his future _ one that brought him back to the day when Bruno Facciola had a canary for his last meal.

It was March 2005 when federal authorities announced the indictments of ex-NYPD detectives Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito, former police partners-turned-partners in crime. The two were charged with taking $4,000 a month from Gaspipe Casso to work as Luchese family hit men.

On occasion, they also slipped the underboss inside information. They let Casso know that Facciola was reportedly working as an informant. Casso ordered D'Arco to handle the hit.

Little Al was called again to testify. The federal RICO statute, a powerful tool that allows law enforcement to link crimes committed over decades, made D'Arco every bit as valuable in 2006 as he was 15 years before. It was a big case, and D'Arco could help bring down the "Mafia Cops."

The ex-boss, now 73, looked more grandfatherly than Godfatherly as he testified, his thick Brooklyn accent unchanged by years of life outside the city. He wore a 20-year-old suit to court, one of two now hanging in his closet.

He spent parts of two days on the stand, standing firm under withering cross-examination from Hayes and former Gotti lawyer Bruce Cutler. Caracappa and Eppolito were quickly convicted, and faced life in prison.

Alphonse D'Arco went home, where his loyalty was still appreciated. But there was a moment during his testimony where D'Arco recalled a less complicated time, when he was a young man whose belief in simple values was absolute.

The burly Cutler, his booming voice filling the courtroom, recited a litany of perks that came D'Arco's way from the Witness Protection Program: No jail time. A new identity. An attorney, free of charge. "That's another reward, yes?" Cutler asked.

"I don't see anything to be a reward," D'Arco responded without hesitation. "I'd trade it all to go back on Spring Street."

Thanks to Larry McShane

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