Tuesday, November 25, 2008

D'Elia informs, gets nine-year sentence

NE Pennsylvania boss
cooperates in probe

Federal prosecutors believe the sentencing of William D'Elia (right) in federal court yesterday represents the "final chapter in the dismantling of the Bufalino Pittston crime syndicate," according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

D'Elia, 62, of Hughestown PA, was sentenced to 108 months in prison for conspiring to launder money and tampering with a witness. He was also sentenced to three years of supervised release following that prison term. D'Elia, reputed boss of the Northeastern Pennsylvania "Bufalino" Crime Family based on Scranton, Pittston and Wilkes Barre, has already served about two years.

Prosecutors say they will recommend additional time be taken off D'Elia's sentence if he continues to provide "substantial" assistance to the Dauphine County District Attorney's Office on a perjury case against Mount Airy Resort Casino owner Louis DeNaples, according to a story by Michael Rubinkam of the Associated Press.

D'Elia pleaded guilty last March and was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas I. Vanaski. The judge could have imposed as many as 15 years in prison for the charges against D'Elia. When first charged, there were as many 18 counts against him, and he faced possible punishment of up to 30 years in prison and $750,000 in fines. Most charges were dropped in the plea bargain process. D'Elia's attorney had argued for a sentence of just seven years, according to a story by Terrie Morgan-Besecker of the Wilkes Barre Times Leader.

"I'm truly sorry for my actions that may have harmed people," D'Elia told the judge. "I hope I will soon be able to resume my life with my family in a positive, honorable and productive way."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Zubrod said D'Elia is assisting the perjury case against DeNaples and his adviser Father Joseph Sica. County authorities charge that both men lied about DeNaples' connections to organized crime when DeNaples applied to operate his Pocono Mountains casino, according to a report by Norm Jones of WNEP-16, Moosic PA.

A DeNaples spokesman said "Louis DeNaples is innocent and absolutely doesn't have any connections to organized crime. When this case finally goes to court, we'll have the chance to tell the court the truth." A spokesman for Father Sica said, "Father Sica never committed perjury. His prosecution is offensive."

A DeNaples attorney told the press that D'Elia was lying to investigators in an effort to have time shaved off his sentence.

D'Elia and several codefendants were indicted in May 2006 on charges that they aided a drug dealer in the laundering of hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug sale proceeds by setting up phony companies. D'Elia was released on bail. A second indictment charged him with continuing to launder money after his release and with ordering the murder of witness Frank Pavlico III.

"This was a cold-blooded attempt to obstruct the investigation by murdering a witness," said Zubrod.

Law enforcement agencies had considered D'Elia a bigshot in the Northeastern Pennsylvania Crime Family for decades. He once served as driver for regional boss Russell Bufalino. Philadelphia's turncoat crime boss Ralph Natale testified in 2001 that D'Elia was boss of the old Bufalino organization. In 2003, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement put D'Elia on its Exclusion List (left), banning him from casinos in the state. Still, D'Elia was not charged with a crime until the money laundering case.

Pavlico, originally a codefendant in that case, wore a "wire" and recorded conversations with D'Elia. Pavlico pleaded guilty to money laundering and was sentenced to 10 months in prison.

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Editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer. Publisher of American Mafia history website mafiahistory.us. 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.