Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Family Secret jurors' names secret

U.S District Judge James Zagel yesterday granted a prosecution request to keep the names of jurors in the upcoming "Family Secrets" Chicago Mob trial confidential, according to a story by Steve Warmbir of the Chicago Sun-Times.

The defense objected, noting that jurors could be prejudiced against defendants by learning that the court felt it important to hide their identities. Judge Zagel said he would allow portions of the names of jury pool members to be revealed in order to give attorneys a clue about the ethnic background of prospective jurors.

More than a dozen accused Mafiosi will stand trial in the case, including Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, James "Little Jimmy" Marcello and Frank Calabrese Sr.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Feds look for $500K from Lombardo

Federal authorities are pressing to collect almost half a million dollars in fines and judgments from reputed Chicago crime boss Joseph "the Clown" Lombardo, according to a story by Steve Warmbir of the Chicago Sun-Times.

The judgments date back to the 1980s. Lombardo (right) reportedly paid $250 toward a penalty of $143,409.58 in 1986. Since then, the government has been charging Lombardo 18 percent interest per year on the unpaid portion.

Lombardo's court-appointed attorney Rick Halprin has objected both to the timing of the government's demand - on the eve of the "Family Secrets" trial in which Lombardo is a defendant - and to the enormous interest rate.

"Apparently, this is a federally approved involuntary juice loan," Halprin has stated.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Witness list of Chicago Outfit trial revealed


Federal prosecutors last week released a partial list of the witnesses they plan to call in the "Family Secrets" Chicago Mafia trial, according to a report by CBS-2 in Chicago (Click here for video). Witness names had been kept secret for fear that harm might come to them.

Among those expected to testify are former mob enforcer James LaValley and Frank Culotta, one-time aide to slain gangster Tony Spilotro.

There are 15 defendants in the massive racketeering case (Click for indictments), including reputed Outfit boss Joseph "the Clown" Lombardo (right). The defendants could face life in prison if convicted.
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Mob turncoat describes fed 'torture'


During courtroom questioning last week, Mafia turncoat Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo described the pressure law enforcement agents put on him to testify against his underworld colleagues, according to a story by Stefanie Cohen of the New York Post.

DiLeonardo (right), a former captain in the Gambino Crime Family, revealed that he had been locked in a freezing cell and given uncooked or inedible food.

The informant said, however, that the "torture" did not prompt him to cooperate with authorities. He agreed to testify only after the Gambino organization turned its back on him and tried to manipulate his son, he said.

DiLeonardo was questioned in connection with Dominick "Skinny Dom" Pizzonia's trial for killing Thomas and Rosemarie Uva.

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Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia

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Ianniello sentenced to 18 months in prison



Eighty-seven-year-old Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianniello has been sentenced to 18 months behind bars for orchestrating illegal payments to corrupt officials of a Queens, NY, bus drivers union, according to a story by Thomas Zambito of the New York Daily News.

Ianniello has been regarded as a key figure in the Genovese Crime Family for more than a decade. He is believed to have served as an acting boss of the family following the 1997 conviction of Vincent "the Chin" Gigante.

He could have been sentenced up to two years on his September 2006 conviction. In December, Ianniello pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to defraud the IRS in connection with a "property rights" scheme in the waste hauling industry in western Connecticut.

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Assassination focuses attention on Yakuza

A public outcry against Japanese organized crime, known as Yakuza, is the result of the April 17 shooting death of Nagasaki Mayor Kazunaga Ito, according to a story by Martin Fackler of the New York Times.

Law enforcement officials estimate that there are more than 84,000 Yakuza members in Japan.

Tetsuya Shiroo, 59, reportedly has confessed to shooting the 61-year-old Ito. Shiroo is alleged to be a member of the local Suishinkai, a branch of the Yamaguchi-gumi, the country's largest underworld group.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Two to stand trial for Uva, Boccia slayings


Gangland racketeering-murders more than a decade old will soon be tried in Brooklyn federal court, according to a story by William K. Rashbaum of the New York Times.

Dominick Pizzonia (far left), 65, and Alfred "Freddy" DiConiglio, 77, are charged in the case. The two men are jointly accused of the 1988 murder of Frank Boccia. Pizzonia is also charged with the 1992 murders of Thomas and Rosemarie Uva and with gambling and loansharking.
Prosecutors say Pizzonia is a captain in the Gambino Crime Family.

John A. "Junior" Gotti was named as a conspirator in the case yesterday, but he was not officially charged. Gotti has long been mentioned in connection with the Uva slayings, but he has denied any involvement.

Thomas and Rosemarie Uva (right) made a brief but memorable criminal career out of raiding Mafia social clubs in New York. Thomas carried an Uzi submachine gun on the raids, while Rosemarie drove the getaway car. Their career ended on Christmas Eve, 1992, as the couple's car stopped at a red traffic light in Ozone Park, Queens.

Boccia, son-in-law of reputed mobster Anthony Ruggiano, was murdered in June 1988. Rumors linked Boccia's slaying with his physical mistreatment of Ruggiano's wife.

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JUST RELEASED:
Deep Water:
Joseph P. Macheca and the
Birth of the American Mafia

by Thomas Hunt and Martha Macheca Sheldon

Click for more information or to order.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Feds: Scala was one of Castellano shooters


During sentencing of Salvatore "Fat Sal" Scala for extortion on April 6, federal prosecutors remarked that Scala had been identified as one of four shooters in the 1985 assassination of Gambino Crime Family boss Paul Castellano, according to a story in the New York Daily News.

Scala (left), 64, was sentenced to six years in prison and 18 years of supervised release for forcing thousands of dollars of payments from a West Side Manhattan strip club and for not paying taxes on the money. He and reputed Gambino soldier Thomas "Monk" Sassano were convicted March 30 of shaking down the VIP Club. Scala, believed to be a former Gambino family lieutenant, was also convicted of four counts of tax evasion for not filing income tax returns for the years 1998-2001.

The stunning news occurred when prosecutor Eric Snyder revealed that mob informant Salvatore "Sammy Bull" Gravano named Scala as one of four Castellano assassins. Scala has never been charged with participating in that mob hit. Castellano and his close aide Thomas Bilotti were shot down outside Manhattan's Sparks Steakhouse (right) reportedly on orders from rebellious Gambino capo John Gotti. Gotti subsequently took the reins of the crime family.
"We could prove he was the shooter on those two murders," Snyder said of the Castellano-Bilotti slayings. The prosecutor said he hasn't been charged because Gravano's reputation as a witness has suffered.

Judge Lewis Kaplan could have sentenced Scala to as many as 17 years in prison, but he lessened the sentence because the aging Scala is currently battling liver cancer, according to a story by Kati Cornell of the New York Post. Scala will be confined to his home for two years after his prison sentence and then will have 16 more years of supervised release.
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Troubled union's boss takes home big bucks

The International Longshoremen's Association faces new scrutiny since it was revealed that the president of the struggling union was paid more than half a million dollars last year, according to a story by Steven Greenhouse and William K. Rashbaum of the New York Times.

John Bowers' salary of $587,078 was twice as much as the leaders of unions more than 30 times larger than the longshoremen's group. Bowers' son James, a union vice president, was paid $292,440. The association membership has dropped 26 percent in the past two years to a level of 43,000 while port traffic continues to climb. The union reported a $10 million operating deficit last year.

The federal government has brought a civil racketeering lawsuit against the association, attempting to have a trustee assigned to control it. Federal officials argue that the union has long been tied to the Genovese and Gambino organized crime families in New York and New Jersey. The lawsuit was filed in July 2005.

Rio prison break attempt fails

Brazilian guards turned back 20 armed men intent on busting convicted Italian drug smuggler Alessandro Castiglioni out of a Rio de Janeiro prison hospital on April 6, according to a story by Reuters UK.

Guards exchanged fire with the men, who reportedly wore black and were heavily armed. No one was hurt. The 20 men sped off in several cars.

Castiglioni, who has been jailed since 2003, was found with two other inmates as they attempted to scale a wall at the prison hospital.

Friday, April 6, 2007

South Florida racketeers get jail time

Three South Florida men accused of working in league with the New York-based Genovese Crime Family were sentenced March 30 to prison terms and supervised release, according to an AP account published in the Gainesville FL Sun.

Mitchell Wiessman, 54, was sentenced to 97 months (about eight years) in prison and a subsequent two-year substance abuse program. Joseph Dennis Colasacco, 55, will serve 73 months (about six years) before heading into two years of anger management courses. Charles Steinberg, 31, has two years of gambling counseling to look forward to as he serves his 41 months (nearly three and a half years) in prison.

The three men pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy. Wiessman and Colasacco were facing possible 100-year terms if convicted after trial on the charges against them.

Wiessman, Colasacco and Steinberg were arrested in June 2006 along with four other men, including a reputed Genovese soldier, 96-year-old Albert "Chinky" Facchiano, and a reputed local capo, Renaldi Ruggiero, 73. The other men charged in the case were Clement Santoro of New York and Francis J. O'Donnell of Cooper City, FL. All the defendants reached plea arrangements. Ruggiero's plea deal included his acknowledgement that he served as a capo in the Genovese organization.

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Thursday, April 5, 2007

Mob-linked firm works on Yankee stadium project


Interstate Industrial, a company with alleged ties to the Gambino Crime Family, is performing excavation and foundation work for the new Yankee Stadium, according to a story from WNBC in New York.

The company, owned by brothers Frank and Peter DiTommaso (left), has been ruled illegible to work on public projects in New York and in Atlantic City, NJ. The DiTommaso's have been indicted for perjury in connection with statements given during the investigation of former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik. Last summer, Kerik admitted to illegally accepting $165,000 worth of renovations to his apartment from Interstate.

The New York Yankees is a private company and is not prevented from doing business with Interstate. While the ballclub is receiving $250 million in taxpayer funds for its news stadium, much of the remaining $1 billion price tag is coming directly from the team. Public funds are reportedly not being used for the excavation and foundation work.




Click to watch
WNBC-TV
video report

The DiTommasos have not been charged with any mob-related offense, and the brothers insist they are free of any underworld connections and innocent of any wrongdoing. Officials in New York and New Jersey have investigated Interstate for years.

The company has been named in the court testimony of former Gambino capo Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo as a cash contributor to the crime family. A brother-in-law of former Gambino bigshot Salvatore "Sammy Bull" Gravano previously owned a branch of the Interstate business - a transfer station in Rossville. The New York City Business Integrity Commission found in 2005 that the purchase of that transfer station was an effort to free Gambino members from government scrutiny while preserving underworld control there.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Attorney: Rizzuto won't flip


A defense attorney for Vito Rizzuto said the reputed Canadian mob boss will not cooperate with U.S. investigators in order to win a lighter sentence for himself, according to a story by Adrian Humphreys of Canada's National Post.

Prosecutors had hinted that Rizzuto (right), 61, was looking for a plea deal. Defense attorney David Schoen refused to comment on any plea negotiations. But Schoen answered "unequivocally no" to a question on Rizzuto's possible cooperation.

Rizzuto was extradited to the U.S. from his home in Montreal to stand trial for alleged participation in the Bonanno Crime Family's 1981 assassination of three underworld figures in Brooklyn. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Former Bonanno Family bigshots Joseph Massino (left) and Salvatore Vitale are expected to testify for the prosecution in Rizzuto's trial. Vitale's cooperation with authorities has been apparent, as he has already testified repeatedly. Massino, who reportedly aided an investigation against Bonanno boss Vincent Basciano, has not appeared for the government on a witness stand yet.


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Basciano could face death penalty


Federal prosecutors have notified a federal judge in Brooklyn that they will seek the death penalty if Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano is found guilty of ordering a mob execution, according to an Associated Press story by Tom Hays.

Basciano (left), 47-year-old former boss of the Bonanno Crime Family, is scheduled to go to trial in June. He was convicted of racketeering offenses in a separate case last year.

In a brief letter to the trial judge, the prosecution did not explain its decision to pursue capital punishment, a rarity in Mafia trials. The only Brooklyn federal court case to result in a death sentence in the past year was that of Ronell Wilson, who was convicted of killing two police detectives. However, the threat of the death penalty has been used to convince other Mafia defendants to plea bargain or to cooperate with investigators.

Basciano's reputed predecessor as Bonanno boss, Joseph Massino, apparently decided to cooperate in an investigation of Basciano after being confronted with the possibility of a death sentence.

Basciano is accused of ordering the December 2004 murder of Randolph Pizzolo, believed to be a Bonanno family associate. He is also charged with compiling a list of targets for assassination, according to a story by Michael Brick of the New York Times. The list, which includes the name of trial judge Nicholas G. Garaufis, was a device to aid in prayer, according to Basciano. The defendant offered to take a polygraph test to show that the list was compiled with innocent purposes in mind. Prosecutors revealed that Basciano failed that test.

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About Me

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Editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer. Publisher of American Mafia history website mafiahistory.us. Moderator of Mafia-related Yahoo discussion group. Author of Wrongly Executed? Coauthor of Deep Water: Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia and DiCarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime. Contributor of American Mafia history to Australian-published Mafia: The Necessary Reference to Organized Crime. Writer/co-writer of crime history articles for Informer, On the Spot Journal, Cigar City Magazine, Tampa Mafia Magazine.