Monday, April 28, 2008

Canada denies full parole to Caruana

Canada's National Parole Board has refused the full-parole request of Gerlando Caruana, 64, according to a story by Paul Cherry of the Montreal Gazette.

Caruana, reputedly an inducted member of the Mafia in Sicily, is on a limited parole in a halfway house. Since 1998, he has been serving a nearly 32-year sentence for drug smuggling. He pleaded guilty that year to participating in a massive cocaine smuggling operation between Mexico and Canada while he was on parole from an earlier heroin smuggling conviction. As a result, the remainder of his first sentence was added to his second sentence.

Caruana claims he has disconnected himself from the Mafia society. "I've made a decision to get out," he said. "It's a decision I made when I was arrested a second time."

Given his past history, the parole board was skeptical.

Gerlando Caruana and his brother Alfonso were both arrested as part of Canada's Project Omerta in 1998. Alfonso was sentenced to 18 years after pleading guilty to drug trafficking. He has since been extradited to Italy, where he was tried and sentenced in absentia to a 22-year prison term for a similar offense.

Italian officials say the brothers are part of the Cuntrera-Caruana Mafia organization based in Siculiana, Sicily.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Roche pleads guilty to Adolfo Bruno murder

Frankie A. Roche, 35, of Westfield MA, pleaded guilty yesterday to the 2003 murder of Springfield MA underworld figure Adolfo Bruno, according to published reports by Martin Finucane of the Boston Globe and Stephanie Barry of the Springfield Republican.

According to a statement by federal prosecutors, the "hit" was an effort by the Genovese Crime Family to bring to heel the Springfield branch of their organization:

"Members of the Genovese LCN family hierarchy in New York became upset with Adolfo Bruno because he was not sending sufficient tribute payments to New York. Thereafter, a member of the Springfield Crew sought authority from the hierarchy of the Genovese LCN family in New York, pursuant to the rules of La Cosa Nostra, to murder Adolfo Bruno."

On Nov. 23, 2003, Roche (left) greeted Bruno (right), 57, in the parking lot of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Society in the South End of Springfield and then shot him six times with a .45-caliber handgun. Bruno was the ranking member of the Springfield Crew at that time. A document from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Boston named Bruno's alleged successor, Anthony J. Arillotta, as the crew member who requested approval from Genovese higher-ups Pasquale "Scop" Deluca and Arthur "Artie" Nigro for the Bruno murder. The Genovese Crime Family was functioning without a formal boss, as Vincent "the Chin" Gigante was in federal prison. Arillotta is currently serving a three-year sentence in a Massachusetts prison for illegal gaming and loansharking. He could be released as early as next week.

Roche, an associate of the crime family, was reportedly paid $10,000 to assassinate Bruno. He could have received the death penalty, but prosecutors will recommend life in prison as part of a plea deal. His sentence could be further reduced if he aids law enforcement in resolving other cases.

In 2005, authorities charged Roche with murder in aid of racketeering and aiding and abetting. At the state level, he was charged along with two co-defendants, Fotios "Freddy" Geas, 40, and Brandon D. Croteau, 29, who have not been brought to trial. The original state case was indefinitely postponed. U.S. Attorneys would not comment on what is in store for Geas and Croteau.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Italian criminal organization grows in Australia

A report issued recently by the Italian Parliament indicates that the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta criminal society is blossoming "down under" in Australia. The Australian branch of the society, similar to the Sicilian Mafia but located in the southern region of the Italian mainland, is believed to be a key player in a global cocaine trafficking operation worth over $34 billion.

The report names several 'Ndrangheta families established in Australia, including the Sergi, Barbaro, Perre and Papalia clans. The groups reportedly arrived in the country in the 1930s. Their presence was a press sensation in the 1970s with the assassination of Donald Mackay, who was an anti-drug crusader.

Despite the Italian document, the Australian Crime Commission stands by a 1995 report by the Australian National Crime Authority, which stated that organized criminal activity was on the decline.

Peter Gotti asks for reduced sentence


Citing medical concerns, convicted racketeer Peter Gotti has asked a Brooklyn federal judge to reduce his prison term, according to a story by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News.

Gotti (right), 68, former acting boss of the Gambino Crime Family, was sentenced to 112 months for racketeering and money-laundering. Judge Frederic Block explained that he considered Gotti's physical condition when he sentenced him in 2004. Block is considering the request.

It is not clear how a reduction in the sentence will help Gotti. He is serving a concurrent 25-year sentence imposed by a Manhattan federal court. That term will not expire until after the ex-gang boss's 92nd birthday.

Bulgarian novelist executed

Georgi Stoev, author of novels depicting the activities of the Bulgarian underworld, was shot to death in front of Pliska Hotel in downtown Sofia on April 7, according to stories by novinite.com and news.bg.

Stoev (right) was shot in the right temple just after midday, according to authorities. The slug passed through the front of his head, exiting through his left temple. He was taken to Pirogov hospital in critical condition. He later died of his injuries. Two masked men are believed responsible for the apparent gangland execution.

The author claimed he had first-hand knowledge of Bulgarian organized crime as a former member. He indicated that his novels contained true events from the lives and careers of gang bosses. One of those bosses, Mladen Mihalev, a.k.a. Madzho (left), has agreed to be interrogated over the Stoev killing. Authorities plan to call on other underworld figures mentioned in Stoev's books.

Stoev authored a series of books titled, "BG Godfather."
The European Union has been concerned for years over Bulgaria's apparent inability to deal with rampant organized crime. Many dozens of gangland executions have occurred in public places in recent years without convictions. Before admission into the Union, Bulgaria was harshly criticized for its failure to bring a single known crime boss to justice.
This month, two senior police officials were arrested for abuse of power and revealing state secrets to crime bosses. Opposition legislators have charged that the Bulgarian Socialist government has close ties to organized crime. The London Times has called for an end to European Union funds for Bulgaria until the nation takes decisive action against crime and official corruption.

NJ rounds up 45 linked to Genovese Family

New Jersey State Police, the East Rutherford NJ Police Department and other law enforcement agencies have rounded up 45 people accused of gambling and drug distribution and believed to be operating in concert with the Genovese Crime Family, according to a story by Mark J. Bonamo of the Hackensack Chronicle. The arrests were made in raids beginning early in the morning of March 25.

Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli indicated at a press conference that the leaders of the group were Genovese associates. He named the following men as leaders:

  • Mark Iafelice, 49, of Edgewater;
  • Brian DiGuilmi, 48, of Emerson;
  • James W. Skinner, 69, of Allenwood;
  • James J. Skinner (James W.'s son), 40, of Hazlet.
According to Molinelli, the arrests were the result of an investigation that began in August 2007 with an informant's description of a gambling enterprise in and around Bergen County. The gambling ring, which made use of an offshore "wire room" in the Dominican Republic, is believed to have generated $1 million a month. During the raids, police seized $5 million, at least five pounds of marijuana and five vehicles.

Italian underworld blamed for tainted wine, cheese

Italian authorities have linked the production of tainted and possibly poisonous wines with the Sacra Corona Unita underworld organization, according to a story by the AFP press service.

At least 70 million liters of the wine, selling at an inexpensive price of about $3 a bottle, are believed to have been contaminated with acid, manure and other fertilizers. Twenty wine companies are being investigated. Two companies based in Taranto, Italy, and believed to be controlled by Sacra Corona Unita appear to have been the main source of the tainted drink.

Recently Italian officials had to remove mozzarella cheese from the market when dioxin levels were detected. Authorities theorize that the buffalo milk cheese was contaminated through a Camorra-related buildup of trash around the Naples area of Italy.

Judge: JoJo Corozzo needs a new lawyer

Brooklyn federal Judge Jack Weinstein decided March 27 that reputed Gambino Crime Family consigliere Joseph "JoJo" Corozzo cannot be represented at trial by his lawyer son, according to a story by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News.

Weinstein heard testimony from Salvatore Romano, a former Mafia associate, before he disqualified Joseph Corozzo Jr. from serving as his father's counsel in an upcoming racketeering trial. Many expected to hear additional testimony from Lewis Kasman, who had been like an adopted son to late Gambino boss John J. Gotti before flipping to the side of law enforcement. However, Weinstein made that unnecessary.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

'Gorgeous' goes away for life


Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, former boss of the Bonanno Crime Family, was sentenced Monday to life in prison for the Dec. 14, 2001, murder of underworld rival Frank Santoro, according to stories by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News and the Associated Press.

Basciano (right) was convicted of the Santoro shotgun slaying last July. The killing was one of the racketeering charges first brought against him in 2006. A federal jury convicted him of racketeering, attempted murder and gambling but deadlocked on the murder charge. U.S. Attorneys decided to retry him on that charge.

Basciano's attorneys are appealing the conviction, arguing that the prosecution's case was built upon false information supplied by mob turncoat Dominick Cicale. Things could still get worse for the former crime boss. He could face the death penalty in an upcoming trial for allegedly ordering the murder of Randolph Pizzolo.

Basciano became acting boss of the Bonanno clan after boss Joseph Massino was indicted for racketeering. A federal judge imposed a life sentence on Massino in 2005. Facing the possibility of a death sentence for his role in underworld murders, Massino aided prosecutors in their efforts to acquire evidence against Basciano. Massino recorded his prison conversations with Basciano.

US Mafia was born in New Orleans

book cover

 

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

Written by Thomas Hunt and Martha Macheca Sheldon, Deep Water captures the life and times of Joseph P. Macheca. It finally sets the record straight on the man who was a warrior for the corrupt New Orleans Democratic machine, a pioneer of the Crescent City’s fruit trade, a Confederate privateer and the legendary “godfather” of the first Mafia organization to germinate in American soil.
While answering at last the questions surrounding the 1890 assassination of Police Chief David Hennessy and the subsequent Crescent City lynchings, Deep Water establishes the factual details of Macheca’s life and sets them against the vivid backdrop of Gilded Age New Orleans. Published by iUniverse.


Click for more information or to order.

Some of Our Favorite Books

About Me

My photo

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.