Thursday, May 29, 2008
Prosecutors say D'Amico (left), 71, is the acting boss and Cefalu, 61, the acting underboss of the Gambino clan. Those two men and reputed Gambino consigliere Joseph "JoJo" Corozzo, 66, appeared to be the main targets of early February's FBI arrests of dozens of suspected Mafia members and associates. Corozzo also appears close to reaching a plea deal with prosecutors.
The D'Amico deal was made possible, according to defense attorney Elizabeth Macedonio, when prosecutors agreed to allow D'Amico to plead guilty to extortion rather than racketeering, which carries a tougher penalty. D'Amico and Cefalu admitted to extorting $100,000 from Staten Island cement company owner Joseph Vollaro. Vollaro later assisted the government's case.
Sixty-two people were indicted on federal charges in February. More than two dozen others were charged in related New York State matters.
D'Amico was recently in the New York newspapers as he hoped to win his release on $2 million bail in order to return to his $71,000 a year job as a sales representative for the Big Geyser beverage distribution company in Queens. D'Amico has worked for the company since 1991, according to a story by Tom Robbins of the Village Voice. The company also reportedly employs Matthew Madonna, 72, a reputed big shot in the Lucchese Crime Family, according to stories in the Daily News and the Village Voice.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Philadelphia police have "a strong feeling" that a $2.5 million illegal sports betting ring raided last week was linked to the Mafia, according to a story by Kitty Caparella of the Philadelphia Daily News.
Nine men aged 23 to 48 were arrested last Wednesday. Police expect to arrest two or three more. The suspects were arraigned on conspiracy and bookmaking charges. Police also seized 19 networked computers from two locations in West Philadelphia.
Police are looking into whether the operation paid a street tax to a Mafia organization or used crime family connections to lay off some bets.
Vincent Ferrara, 59, of Boston, pleaded not guilty in Norfolk Superior Court yesterday to gambling-related charges, according to a story by Franci R. Ellement of the Boston Globe.
Ferrara, a former lieutenant in the New England Mafia who was jailed for 16 years on a racketeering conviction, said he had nothing at all to do with a gambling ring recently broken up through police telephone wiretaps. Prosecutors contend that Ferrara was sharing gambling operation profits with ringleader Dominic Santoro of Quincy, MA.
Santoro faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the charges against him. The charge against Ferrara is a misdemeanor, punishable by a year in prison and a $2,000 fine. However, Ferrara is still on probation from federal prison and could be returned there if found to be violating the terms of his release.
After deliberations of nine days, a federal jury convicted the 64-year-old on 76 of the 77 counts against him on May 15. Just one count of racketeering could result in a 20-year prison sentence. Pellicano's sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 24.
Most of the charges against Pellicano stem from his extensive use of wiretapping to accumulate damaging information against business rivals and former spouses of powerful Hollywood executives. A number of Pellicano's wealthy clients admitted paying for and listening to illegal wiretaps. However, they were not charged with wrongdoing.
Investigators turned up evidence that Pellicano surveillance was directed for a time against Sylvester Stallone and Keith Carradine and that an illegal criminal background check was done against Garry Shandling.
A federal magistrate has ordered the release today of reputed New England Mafia underboss Carmen "Cheese Man" DiNunzio on cash bail of $20,000, according to a story by Shelley Murphy of the Boston Globe. DiNunzio is awaiting federal trial on bribery charges.
Judge Judith G. Dein ruled that evidence against DiNunzio (right) is strong but did not relate to violence or threats of violence. That was enough to defeat the prosecution's argument for holding DiNunzio. Federal prosecutors said DiNunzio is dangerous.
The prosecutors played a surveillance audio tape of DiNunzio saying he wanted to throw an underworld associate off a roof if the associate backed out of a loan deal. Dein said the comment was an expression of annoyance rather than an actual threat.
Defense attorney Anthony Cardinale said his client suffers from obesity, diabetes, coronary artery disease and sleep apnea and is not a danger to anyone.
Conditions for his release will include confinement to his East Boston home except for trips to the doctor, the court or his attorney. DiNunzio will have to wear a tracking bracelet and avoid contact with witnesses and codefendants in the case. He will not be permitted to work in his cheese shop on Endicott Street in Boston's North End. The FBI has documented visits of Mafiosi at the shop.
DiNunzio was arrested May 2 on charges related to a 2006 FBI sting operation. He was charged with offering bribes to win contracts for Boston's "Big Dig" highway construction project. A $10,000 down payment allegedly was given to an undercover FBI agent posing as an inspector for the Massachusetts Highway Department. Law enforcement agents say DiNunzio became second in command of the New England Mafia in 2004.
Friday, May 9, 2008
Federal law enforcement agents today took the wraps off an indictment charging nearly two dozen New Jersey men with racketeering, according to a press release by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey.
Ten of those charged with being made members or associates of the Gambino and Lucchese Crime Families were arrested this morning. Among those arrested, according to the press release, was Andrew Merola, 41, of East Hanover. Merola was identified as the lead defendant in the case. He is alleged to be the supervisor of the Gambino Crime Family's crew in New Jersey.
Also arrested was Ralph Cicalese, 55, of Roseland, alleged to be Merola's "right-hand man" with responsibility for gambling rackets. The indictment also named Martin Tacetta, 56, of East Hanover, as a racket partner of Merola. Tacetta is alleged to be a member of the Lucchese Family.
A total of 23 people were charged in the indictment, which was dated last Friday but kept sealed until this morning's arrests. The defendants are: Merola, Cicalese, Tacetta, Charles Muccigrosso, Kyle Ragusa, John Tizio, Gennaro Forte, Justin Cerrato, Charles Russo, Vincent Derogatis, Eric Maione, Christopher Doscher, Anthony Marra, Edward Deak, Michael Urgola, Joseph Manzella, John Cataldo, Jonathan Lanza, Paul Lanza, Joseph Schepisi, India Fugate and Vincent Fichera. An indictment is a formal accusation, but it is not evidence of guilt. Every defendant is presumed innocent.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Carmen "Cheese Man" DiNunzio, 50, was arrested last week in connection with a corruption probe into Boston's Big Dig highway construction project, according to stories by Shelley Murphy of the Boston Globe, Edmund H. Mahoney of the Hartford CT Courant and Jessica Heslam of the Boston Herald.
DiNunzio, Anthony J. D'Amore, 55, of Revere, and Andrew Marino, 42, of Chelmsford, appeared in U.S. District Court in Boston after being charged with conspiracy to commit bribery in a federally funded program. DiNunzio pleaded not guilty. Arraignment of D'Amore and Marino was postponed until May 21. DiNunzio is being held at Devens federal prison hospital because he reportedly suffers from a large number of health problems, including diabetes, sleep apnea and a heart condition.
An FBI statement indicates that DiNunzio met Oct. 9, 2006, with someone he believed to be a corrupt Massachusetts Highway Department employee but who was actually an undercover FBI agent. DiNunzio allegedly gave the agent $10,000 down payment toward a more sizeable bribe in order to secure a $6 million contract to provide fill for the Big Dig project.
During a taped discussion with DiNunzio, who owns the Fresh Cheese Shop on the North End's Endicott Street, the agent reportedly feigned concern that Marino would back out of the arrangements.
DiNunzio: "Listen to me. Right here you got the guarantee from here."
Agent: "I don't know you."
DiNunzio: "Look it, I don't even come out, I come out cause of this guy. I'm the Cheeseman."
Agent: "You're the Cheeseman?"
DiNunzio: "You ask anybody about me. We straighten out a lot of beefs, a lot of things."
DiNunzio already faces extortion and gambling charges in connection with a 2006 indictment. Authorities believe he has held a leadership position - possibly as high as underboss - in the Boston portion of the New England Crime Family. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted on those charges. He has maintained his innocence.
Related stories from 2006:
Ferrara, 59, served almost 16 years in prison after a federal racketeering conviction. He was released from prison in May 2005. The gambling offense - a misdemeanor - generally carries a potential penalty of up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine. However, the penalty for Ferrara could be much higher, as he remains on federal probation. If a federal judge decides that he violated conditions of his release, Ferrara could be sent back to federal prison for three years.
Ferrara was one of 13 people indicted April 29 by a Norfolk County grand jury. The grand jury charged Dominic Santoro, 62, of Quincy, of serving as leader of the gambling ring, according to the Boston Globe.
Ferrara' s federal prison sentence was shortened after U.S. District Judge Mark L. Wolf ruled that prosecutors were guilty of misconduct in his case. U.S. attorneys did not reveal to defense attorneys that a key witness had backed away from a statement linking Ferrara with the 1985 murder of Vincent "Jimmy" Limoli. Ferrara said he was uninvolved in the Limoli killing, but he pleaded guilty to racketeering and murder charges in a plea deal.
US Mafia was born in New Orleans
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.
- 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.