Saturday, June 2, 2007

Italy arrests 10 funeral racketeers

Ten people, including the reputed head of the Sinesi clan in southern Italy, have been arrested in connection with an organized crime racket controlling funeral homes, according to a report in the UK Telegraph.

The suspects were charged with extorting money from 13 funeral homes in the city of Foggia while building a monopoly in funeral arrangements and transport.

Authorities track the growth of the racket to the release from prison last February of Robert Sinesi, 45, and Raffaele Tolonese, 48. Tolonese is regarded as a senior capo in the Strisciouglio family. The Sinesi and Stirciouglio clans are said to be key elements of the Sacra Corona Unita, Italy's fourth largest crime syndicate.

Police are investigating the involvement of hospital personnel in the racket. Nurses, ambulance drivers and security guards are believed to have passed death count information on to underworld contacts and to have helped direct grieving families to connected funeral homes.

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Editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer. Publisher of American Mafia history website Moderator of Mafia-related Google+ community and 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.