The Chicago Syndicate

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Multiple Mafia Bosses Released from Prison Due to Coronavirus

Italy is releasing several mafia bosses from prison as part of a shuffle to ease coronavirus fears, according to reports.

Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano reported that several of the bosses were released from prison due to their ages. The pandemic has hit Italy particularly hard, and in addition, United Nations figures in 2017 found that 29.4 percent of the population was over 60 years old.

Pasquale Zagaria, the 60-year old brother of Don Michele of the Casalesi clan in Camorra, was allowed to return from Sardinia to the mainland on Saturday. Zagaria suffers from cancer, which doctors said they could not treat properly while he remained in prison.

The judge specifically cited the pandemic and Zagaria’s health as the reason to release him. “He risks contagion,” the judge said. He noted that the nearest hospital, in Sassari, was transformed into a COVID-19 treatment center and could not supply the treatments that Zagaria required. Additionally, Zagaria’s cancer put him at greater risk of infection.

Italy’s prisons have been notoriously overcrowded, which has led the coronavirus pandemic to be especially lethal in such areas, triggering intense protests across the region this past March.

The judge reportedly asked for advice from the Prison Administration Department, but received no reply.

Courts previously granted house arrest to other mafia-related figures, such as Francesco Bonura, a leading member of the Cosa Nostra in Sicily. Bonura was allowed to leave the house but only for health-related reasons.

According to Italian Insider, a Milan judge explained in a three-page long decision that Bonura would spend the house arrest in Palermo at his wife’s home.

“In view of the subject’s advanced age and the presence of important health problems, with particular regard to oncological and cardiac pathologies, there are currently the prerequisites for the optional deferment of the execution of the sentence,” the magistrate wrote. “Also taking into account the current health emergency and the related risk of contagion, undoubtedly higher in an environment with a high population density such as prison, which exposes elderly people with serious previous diseases to particularly serious consequences.”

Raffaele Cutolo, leader of the Nuova Camorra Organizzata, has pleaded for house arrest on similar conditions of age and health, and La Repubblica reported that 70-year old boss Rocco Filippone had been moved to house arrest -- without an ankle bracelet -- on April 11.

The rulings outraged many senators, who have now invoked the country’s Anti-Mafia Commission to verify the judgment. Minister of Justice Alfonso Bonafede announced he was ready to “intervene,” most likely to require the commission to consent to any decision to move a mafia-related prisoner – even in the case of health-related reasons. “The fight against the mafias is a serious matter,” Bonafede said in a statement. “Talking about it superficially, throwing such an important theme into the daily life, lying to the citizens saying that there is a law (or even a circular) of this government that requires the judges to release the mafia, it is very serious.”

He continued, “Decisions on release for health reasons are taken in full autonomy and independence from the judiciary. Everyone knows... or maybe not, judging from some videos on the net. In any case, I initiated all internal and external investigations, also at the inspectorate, on the various releases. But, this is not enough.”

President of the Anti-Mafia Commission Nicola Morra agreed that he was “ready to intervene at a regulatory level.” He noted that some of the proposals to increase the commission’s involvement in any future releases were promising.

Italy had been the most-infected country in Europe, but recently has managed to reduce daily new cases as well as daily deaths.

Italy has seen over 199,000 total cases with over 26,000 deaths, as of April 28, 2020.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Tokyo Underworld: The Fast Times and Hard Life of an American Gangster in Japan

Tokyo Underworld: The Fast Times and Hard Life of an American Gangster in Japan.

In this unorthodox chronicle of the rise of Japan, Inc., Robert Whiting, author of You Gotta Have Wa, gives us a fresh perspective on the economic miracle and near disaster that is modern Japan.

Through the eyes of Nick Zappetti, a former GI, former black marketer, failed professional wrestler, bungling diamond thief who turned himself into "the Mafia boss of Tokyo and the king of Rappongi," we meet the players and the losers in the high-stakes game of postwar finance, politics, and criminal corruption in which he thrived. Here's the story of the Imperial Hotel diamond robbers, who attempted (and may have accomplished) the biggest heist in Tokyo's history. Here is Rikidozan, the professional wrestler who almost single-handedly revived Japanese pride, but whose own ethnicity had to be kept secret. And here is the story of the intimate relationships shared by Japan's ruling party, its financial combines, its ruthless criminal gangs, the CIA, American Big Business, and perhaps at least one presidential relative. Here is the underside of postwar Japan, which is only now coming to light.

"A fascinating look at some fascinating people who show how democracy advances hand in hand with crime in Japan."--Mario Puzo

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Anthony Comello, Alleged Mob-Boss Killer of Francesco "Franky Boy" Cali, Has Court Case Adjourned Until June

The pretrial conference for alleged mob-boss killer Anthony Comello has been pushed back six weeks. The conference was originally scheduled for next Monday in state Supreme Court, St. George.

However, since mid-March, efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease have severely curtailed court operations in cases considered non-essential. There have been no new jury trials. The conference is now scheduled for June 1, online state court records show.

At Comello’s last court conference on Feb. 7, Justice William E. Garnett said he anticipated holding a final status conference on April 20 and possibly setting a trial date.

Defense lawyer Robert Gottlieb had said then he has four other trials scheduled in the coming months in various jurisdictions that may occupy him through June.

In view of coronavirus restrictions at both state and federal courthouses, it is unclear how many, if any, of those cases have gone to trial or been otherwise resolved.

Prosecutors allege Comello, 25, fatally shot Gambino crime family boss Francesco (Franky Boy) Cali, 53, outside Cali’s Dongan Hills home on March 13, 2019. Comello is charged with murder and criminal weapon possession.

Authorities have not publicly commented on a possible motive.

In court papers, Gottlieb contends Comello was deluded by conspiracy theories and was defending himself when he shot the victim.

In a videotaped interview with a detective after his arrest, Comello gave conflicting and sometimes bizarre accounts of the shooting during the course of the three-and-a-half-hour interrogation.

In fact, at the end of the February court conference, he launched into a strange, rambling 20-second monologue in which he said his phone had contained information on human sex trafficking and drug smuggling. Then, in quick succession, Comello referenced Australia, Russia and Ukraine, as well as “Operation Mockingbird,” without further details.

The latter is an alleged large-scale CIA program dating to the 1950s which attempted to manipulate the news media for propaganda purposes.

Meanwhile, the defendant appears to have undercut the viability of a potential insanity defense. At the February conference, Gottlieb said the Eltingville resident refuses to be examined by prosecutors’ psychiatric expert. The defendant’s failure to submit to the exam would preclude his own psychiatric experts from testifying at trial. But, lay witnesses could offer psychiatric testimony.

Thanks to Frank Donnelly.

Monday, April 06, 2020

Junior Gotti Allegedly Holds Sit Down with Latin King Leadership

John “Junior”, namesake son of the late Gambino family boss, once pondered life as a gangbanger instead of a godfather while locked in a federal prison. And now the 56-year-old Gotti, retired from the Mafia for better than two decades, is under investigation for his meetings with accused Massachusetts-based Latin Kings bigwig Michael Cecchetelli, aka King Merlin, according to

The get-togethers involved Gotti, Cecchetelli and the latter man’s uncle David “Fat Chicky” Cecchetelli, according to law enforcement sources. Of particular interest, the sources say, was the use of a longtime Genovese family social club in Springfield, Mass., for two Latin Kings meetings captured on videotape.

The Mount Carmel Social Club is perhaps best known as the location for a mob hit on capo Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno, gunned down in the parking lot while leaving a 2003 card game. Fat Chicky is an associate of the Genovese crime family, according to sources.

King Merlin, identified in court papers as the east coast commander for Latin King chapters from Massachusetts to Florida, was busted this past December after a four-year federal probe, with prosecutors alleging he at one point advocated an re-enactment of the St. Valentine’s Day massacre to take out an enemy.

Boston FBI head Joseph Bonolovonta noted Cecchetelli’s “blood ties” to the New York-based Genovese family.

Asked whether Gotti was on the federal radar, Boston FBI spokeswoman Kristin Setera said investigators would not comment “because of the ongoing investigation and prosecution of the case.”

Gotti’s links to the Latin Kings date to his federal prison time in upstate Ray Brook, N.Y., while he was serving six years in a 1999 racketeering plea deal. Sources indicate Gotti reconnected with the Kings though Fat Chicky, an MMA fighting fan. Gotti’s son, John III, is 5-0 in his young career as an MMA fighter.

Various Instagram accounts posted online show photos of Gotti with King Merlin, Fat Chicky and a former MMA fighter named Damien “The Omen” Trites. And Junior had once appeared to show an affinity for the Kings, a group whose membership is not based on ethnicity — unlike the Mafia.

In a recording played at Gotti’s third of four unsuccessful racketeering prosecutions in Manhattan Federal Court, the mob scion complained that he was “pushed” into the mob life against his better judgement. “I’d rather be a Latin King than what I am,” he declared. “I mean it on my father’s grave. I’m so ashamed. I’m so ashamed.”

Attorney Ron Kuby, who spent time with the younger Gotti during the 1990s racketeering case and testified at a separate 2009 racketeering trial, said the second-generation Mafioso was looking for a different kind of lifestyle when they first met. “He was pretty much sick of all criminal life, so it’s hard to imagine he was pining for a lateral transfer,” said Kuby.

Attempts to reach Gotti for comment were unsuccessful.

Thanks to Jerry Capaci and Larry McShane .

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Top Ten Mafia #AprilFools Pranks

10. Tell a guy you're going to shoot him, then kill him with a brick.

9. Tape sign to informant's back that reads: "Whack me."

8. The old "non-drying cement shoes" gag.

7. Put body in big paper bag, place it on somebody's doorstep, light it on fire, ring doorbell, run away.

6. Phone local teamsters office, say, "This is Jimmy Hoffa--any messages for me?"

5. Call up Domino's; order a pizza for Mr. Foghead A. Boutit.

4. The old severed finger in the hot dog bun trick.

3. Replace someone's "Godfather" tape with a Teletubbys video.

2. Instead of horse's head, rig it so somebody wakes up next to Linda Tripp.

1. Three words: squirting pinkie rings.

Thanks to David Letterman

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