Monday, February 24, 2020

Centenarian mobster Franzese passes

Colombo Crime Family big shot John "Sonny" Franzese died Sunday, February 23, 2020, at the age of 103, according to published reports. Family sources indicated that Franzese, a longtime resident of the Long Island Village of Roslyn, died following a brief illness.

(While it appears he was at least 100 at the time of his death, Franzese's age has been inconsistently reported over the years. He was widely reported to be forty-seven when indicted in March 1966, placing his birth in 1918-1919. That birth timing was confirmed when he was arrested as a parole violator in spring 1986 at the stated age of 67. However, more recent reports have added a couple of years. The age of 103 noted in his obits puts his birth in 1916-1917.)

The Neapolitan Franzese reportedly began his underworld career as an enforcer and hit man. Franzese's power and influence were greatest in the 1960s, when as crime family lieutenant, he supervised Colombo rackets on Long Island and invested in "adult" night spots, Times Square peep shows and massage parlors, recording companies and pornographic movies.

Law enforcement began catching up with Franzese in the middle of that decade. He was indicted in March 1966 for acting as an enforcer for a lucrative Manhattan bookmaking ring, in the following month for leading a gang responsible for bank robberies across the U.S. and in October of the same year in connection with the 1964 murder of Ernest "the Hawk" Rupolo. Franzese once told Newsday that he felt the collection of charges in that period were due to a "conspiracy to get me."

Prosecutors got him only on the bank robbery conspiracy charge. For that federal offense, in April 1967 he was sentenced to up to fifty years in prison and fined $20,000. Franzese always insisted that he was innocent. He viewed the cases against him and the long prison sentence as government attempts to convince him to provide evidence against his underworld associates. He boasted of his commitment to the Mafia code of silence.

"They wanted me to roll all the time," Franzese recalled for an interview with Newsday. "I couldn't do that, because it's my principle. Jesus suffered; He didn't squeal on nobody."

Franzese remained free on $150,000 bail as his legal appeals in the bank robbery case were processed. (His attorneys argued that evidence against him had been obtained through the use of illegal electronic surveillance in the kitchen of his Roslyn home.) The appeals were unsuccessful, and he began serving his sentence on March 26, 1970, just three days before the Easter holiday. He was released on parole for the first time in 1978, but was sent back to prison on five different occasions for violating parole.

Franzese, then in his nineties, was convicted in 2010 of extorting New York businesses. He was sentenced to serve eight years in prison. He was last released from prison in June 2017.

In recent years, Franzese lived in a nursing home, needed a wheelchair to get around due to a broken hip and reportedly was fitted with a heart pacemaker and hearing aids.


  • Brown, Lee, "102-year-old mobster: 'I never hurt nobody that was innocent," New York Post,, March 27, 2019.
  • Burke, Cathy, "Colombo underboss Sonny Franzese looks back on 102 years with no regrets, and a boast that he's never been a rat," New York Post,, March 27, 2019.
  • "Cosa Nostran held as robberies brain," Plainfield NJ Courier-News, April 13, 1966, p. 7.
  • "Crime figure seized on L.I.; Parole violations are cited," New York Times, April 29, 1986, p. 36.
  • Everett, Arthur, "Mob tightening grip on pornography," Vineland NJ Times Journal, Dec. 14, 1972, p. 21.
  • Failla, Zak, "Man who led Colombo Family's Long Island rackets dies," Suffolk Daily Voice,, Feb. 24, 2020.
  • "Franzese loses bid to upset verdict," New York Times, March 27, 1970, p. 37.
  • Kirkman, Edward, and Arthur Mulligan, "Put halter on big bookie 'muscle man," New York Daily News, March 25, 1966, p. 2.
  • Peddie, Sandra, "John 'Sonny" Franzese dead: Longtime Colombo underboss was 103, family says," Newsday,, Feb. 24, 2020.
  • Pugh, Thomas, William Federici and Richard Henry, "Indict 5 Cosa hoods in killing of 6th," New York Daily News, Oct. 4, 1966, p. 3.
  • Sherman, William, "Mafia declares war, but porn king survives," New York Daily News, Dec. 13, 1972, p. 5. 
  • Walsh, Robert, "Franzese gets new suit; it's a jailstriper," New York Daily News, March 27, 1970, p. 24. 
  • Walsh, Robert, and Henry Lee, "Tag 9 guys & a gal in bank holdups, Inc.," New York Daily News, April 13, 1966, p. 3.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

'Mafia Cop' Eppolito dies in federal custody

Louis Eppolito, 71, a former New York Police detective who was convicted of committing murders for organized crime, died Sunday, November 3, 2019, at the Tucson Medical Center in Arizona, according to published reports.

The inmate locator for the Federal Bureau of Prisons confirms that Louis Eppolito, register number 04596-748, died November 3, 2019. There is no indication of the cause of death.

Eppolito and his former NYPD partner Stephen Caracappa were sentenced in March 2009 to life in prison, following a 2006 conviction for participation in mob murders, attempted murders, racketeering and conspiracy.

Caracappa died in the federal detention center at Butner, North Carolina, on April 8, 2017. (See "'Mafia Cop' Caracappa dies in prison.") The cause of his death also was not released, but Caracappa had earlier requested a release from prison on the grounds that he was suffering from cancer.

Their trial revealed that Eppolito and Caracappa, both highly decorated law enforcement officers, secretly worked with Lucchese Crime Family leader Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso. They received a retainer of $4,000 a month to provide him with police data and to help arrange mob murders. Authorities charged that they received a $65,000 bonus for personally handling the murder of a mobster during a phony traffic stop.

The 2006 convictions of both men were thrown out by the trial judge, who decided that the statute of limitations on their more serious federal offenses had already expired. A federal appeals court reversed that decision in September 2008. They were sentenced to life in prison on March 6, 2009.

Eppolito, son of Gambino Crime Family member Ralph Eppolito, authored (with Bob Drury) a 1992 autobiography entitled, Mafia Cop: The Story of an Honest Cop Whose Family Was the Mob."

See other Mob-News posts on the Mafia Cops.


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Boston's Bulger is killed in federal prison

James "Whitey" Bulger, longtime Boston underworld figure, was found dead Tuesday, October 30, within a high-security penitentiary in Hazelton, West Virginia.

Sources indicated that Bulger was "killed." Federal authorities are investigating the circumstances.  The New York Times, citing two unnamed Federal Bureau of Prisons employees, reported that at least two inmates beat Bulger to death. The Boston Globe reported that the prison in Hazelton has experienced a string of violent attacks. Two other inmates were killed in fights at the understaffed institution earlier this year, according to the Globe. Bulger was found unresponsive at 8:20 a.m. Efforts were made to revive him.

Eighty-nine-year-old Bulger, sentenced to two life prison terms after being convicted of involvement in eleven murders, had only arrived in Hazelton on Monday, October 29. He was transferred from a prison in Florida and held for a time at a transfer facility in Oklahoma City.

Bulger was part of South Boston's Winter Hill Gang. While engaged in his own illicit rackets, he fed information to the FBI about Mafia rivals and assisted in the dismantling of the Angiulo Mafia organization in Boston in the 1980s. His cooperation with federal agents provided him with protection from prosecution for more than a decade. When authorities finally were poised to arrest Bulger early in 1995, he was apparently tipped off and vanished. The indictment against him included charges that he participated in nineteen gangland killings.

FBI corruption was revealed in 2002, when Bulger's handler, John J. Connolly, Jr., was convicted of racketeering and obstruction of justice.

Bulger quickly earned the top spot on the FBI's Most Wanted List. The government reward for information leading to his arrest reached $2 million in September 2008. A worldwide search (there were reports that Bulger might have fled to Sicily) ended on June 22, 2011, with Bulger's arrest in California. He had been living in Santa Monica with his longtime companion Catherine Greig. Agents found $800,000 in cash and more than thirty firearms hidden in their apartment.

Catherine Greig pleaded guilty to helping Bulger elude the police. She was sentenced in 2012 to eight years in prison. She remains behind bars in Minnesota.

Bulger came to trial at Boston's federal courthouse in June 2013. The jury concluded five days of deliberations on August 12, 2013, finding Bulger guilty of racketeering offenses and participation in eleven murders. On November 14, 2013, he was sentenced by federal Judge Denise J. Casper to two consecutive life sentences plus five years.

Born September 3, 1929, in Dorchester, Massachusetts, Bulger grew up in a South Boston housing project. His criminal activity started at an early age. He was arrested in 1956 for bank robbery. Following conviction, he was sentenced to twenty years in prison, but served just nine years. When he emerged from prison, he became a key member of the Winter Hill Gang. A younger brother, William, went into politics and became a longtime leader in the Massachusetts State Legislature.


Saturday, June 23, 2018

Ex-boss Salemme, 84, convicted of murder

Salemme in 1995
"Cadillac Frank" Salemme, eighty-four-year-old former New England Mafia boss, has been convicted of the 1993 killing of a government witness, according to published reports. A South Boston federal jury on Friday, June 22, 2018, found Salemme and co-defendant Paul Weadick, sixty-three, guilty of the murder.

The defendants will be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs on September 13. The offense carries a mandatory life prison sentence. Salemme's attorney Steven Boozang said he plans to appeal the verdict.

See full story on Writers of Wrongs site.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Chicago Outfit boss DiFronzo, 89, dies following illness

John DiFronzo, reputed boss of the Chicago Outfit, died Sunday, May 27, 2018, at his home in River Grove, according to published reports. (Chicago Tribune reports he died May 28) He was eighty-nine years old.

Criminal defense attorney Joe Lopez told the media that the crime boss suffered with Alzheimer's disease and had been "extremely ill."

DiFronzo was widely suspected of involvement in the brutal 1986 murders of brothers Anthony and Michael Spilotro (depicted in the film Casino). His role was discussed during the 2007 Family Secrets trial of Outfit leaders. But DiFronzo was not a defendant in Family Secrets, and federal prosecutors were unable to assemble a convincing case against him.

Attorney Lopez told CBS-Chicago that DiFronzo's greatest achievement was "beating the G."

The press frequently referred to DiFronzo as "No Nose." The nickname sprang from an attempted robbery back in 1949, though the details of that story are disputed. Some sources say DiFronzo jumped through a window to escape capture and had a piece of his nose sliced off by the breaking glass. (Actually, he neither jumped through a window nor escaped, but a glass injury cannot be ruled out.) Others say a bullet fired by a police officer tore off the nose...

Read a biography of John "No Nose" DiFronzo
on the American Mafia history website.

See also:

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Lucchese leaders, members, associates charged

"It is clear that this 'family' business
is of no benefit to its community..."
A superseding indictment was filed in White Plains, New York, yesterday (May 31, 2017), charging nineteen alleged members and associates of the Lucchese Crime Family - including three who are more than eighty years old - with racketeering, murder, extortion, narcotics, firearms and other offenses, according to press releases by the United States Attorney's Office of the Southern District of New York and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Fifteen of the defendants were arrested during the day. The other four were already in state or federal custody.

The thirty-page superseding indictment builds on February charges of racketeering - including the Nov. 15, 2013, murder of Michael Meldish - against alleged Lucchese "soldier" Christopher Londonio, 43, and alleged Lucchese "associate" Terrence "T" Caldwell, 59.

"The Lucchese Family and its associates are alleged to be linked to guns, drugs, racketeering and murder," said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New York. "They are also alleged to have used their criminal enterprise to launder money, tamper with witnesses and extortion. It is clear that this 'family' business is of no benefit to its community or to this great city."

Matthew Madonna
New York Post
Matthew Madonna, 81, alleged street boss of the Lucchese Family (said to manage the organization's affairs for the formal boss serving a life sentence in federal prison); Steven "Wonder Boy" Crea, Sr., 69, alleged underboss (second in command) of the family; and Steven Crea, Jr., 45, alleged capodecina (crew leader) of Londonio, were charged in the superseding indictment with ordering the murder of Meldish.

Meldish, 62, regarded as the leader of the Purple Gang in the Bronx and Harlem, was killed at Ellsworth Avenue near Baisley Avenue in the Bronx. According to a story published in the New York Daily News, Meldish oversaw an underworld crew engaged in heroin trafficking and murder. The crew reportedly was affiliated with the Lucchese, Genovese and Bonanno crime families of New York. Meldish was found dead in the driver's seat of a rusty Lincoln LS automobile. He had been killed by a single gunshot to the head.

The superseding indictment charges that Paul "Paulie Roast Beef" Cassano, 38, and Vincent Bruno, 33, acting under the direction of the Creas, attempted late in 2012 to murder a Mafia associate of the Bonanno Crime Family who had shown disrespect toward Steven Crea, Sr. It also charges that Terrence Caldwell on May 29, 2013, attempted to murder a Bonanno Crime Family soldier in Manhattan and that Steven Crea, Sr., and Joseph "Joey Glasses" Datello, 66, in October 2016 attempted to murder a witness who provided information to state and federal law enforcement.

The superseding indictment contains additional racketeering charges against Madonna, the Creas, and alleged family consiglieri (third in command) Joseph DiNapoli, 81.

Also named in the superseding indictment were: Robert Camilli, 60; John "Big John" Castelucci, 57; Tindaro "Tino" Corso, 56; "Spanish" Carmine Garcia, 65; John Incatasciato, 42; James "Jimmy the Jew" Maffucci, 69; Richard O'Connor, 63; Dominic Truscello, 83; Brian Vaughn, 51; Joseph Venice, 56. According to the indictment, the younger Crea, Truscello, Castelucci and Corso served the Lucchese Family in a capodecina or acting capodecina role. It labeled Venice, Maffucci, Datello, Cassano and Londonio as "soldiers" in the organization.

Steven Crea, Sr.
NY Daily News

The superseding indictment was announced by Angel Melendez of HSI, Jooh H. Kim, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District; William F. Sweeney Jr., assistant director in charge of FBI's New York Field Office; James P. O’Neill, commissioner of the New York City Police Department; and Walter M. Arsenault, executive director of the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office press release, all the defendants except Camilli and Incatasciato face possible life sentences in prison if they are convicted. The charges against Camilli and Incatasciato are punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Londonio and Caldwell were arrested in 2015 in connection with the Meldish murder.  On February 8, 2017, an indictment was filed in White Plains charging them with racketeering conspiracy, murder conspiracy, murder and firearms offenses. Caldwell also was charged at that time with participating in the 2013 attempted murder of the Bonanno Crime Family soldier at First Avenue and 111th Street in Manhattan. According to the indictment, Caldwell assaulted the Bonanno soldier with a firearm causing bodily injury to the victim.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

'Mafia Cop' Caracappa dies in prison

Former New York City police detective Stephen Caracappa, 75, serving a life sentence for his moonlighting work with the Lucchese Crime Family, died in the Butner, NC, federal detection center on April 8, 2017, according to a report in the New York Daily News.

Caracappa (right) and his partner Louis Eppolito were sentenced in March 2009 for their involvement in organized crime murders and attempted murders, as well as racketeering and conspiracy. Known as "Mafia Cops," Caracappa and Eppolito were first convicted in 2006 of conspiring with Lucchese big shot Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso. The trial judge threw out the verdict, deciding that the statute of limitations on their more serious crimes had expired. In September 2008, a federal appeals court reinstated the convictions.

The cause of Caracappa's death was not revealed. In 2016, within a Caracappa request for a compassionate release, the former detective stated that he was suffering from cancer.

Louis Eppolito is confined in a high-security penitentiary in Tucson, AZ, according to the report.

View other Mob-News articles on the "Mafia Cops."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bulger captured, fugitive for 16 years

South Boston crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger (right) and his longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig were arrested yesterday (Wednesday, June 22) in Santa Monica, California, according to numerous published reports. Bulger, 82, had been a fugitive from justice for 16 years. He is accused of participating in 19 murders and other crimes. Greig is accused of harboring a fugitive.

- Los Angeles Times: "Fugitive Boston mobster arrested on Westside."
- Boston Herald: "Whitey Bulger, galpal nabbed in California."
- New York Post: "Mobster 'Whitey' Bulger arrested after 16 years on the lam."
- Reuters: "Accused Boston crime boss 'Whitey' Bulger arrested."

Bulger served as boss of the South Boston, Massachusetts, Winter Hill Gang, while also working as an FBI informer against the regional Mafia. His corrupt FBI handler, John J. Connolly Jr., tipped him off to a pending federal indictment in December 1994. (Connolly was later convicted of racketeering-leaking government information and of second degree murder.) Bulger and his girlfriend immediately disappeared. The reward for Bulger's capture had reached as high as $2 million.

Earlier in the week, the FBI unveiled a new publicity campaign targeting Catherine Greig. That prompted extensive coverage of the Bulger case in Boston-area media.

- FBI: "Have You Seen This Woman?"

Bulger and Greig are expected to appear in federal court in downtown Los Angeles today (Thursday, June 23).

Friday, July 30, 2010

Convicted of racketeering, acquitted of fatal robbery

Genovese Crime Family capodecina Anthony "Big Nose" Antico, 75, was acquitted July 29 of setting up the 2008 fatal robbery of jeweler Louis Antonelli, according to stories in the New York Daily News and the Staten Island Advance. That charge could have meant a life prison sentence for Antico.
The Genovese big shot was convicted, however, on two racketeering counts related to gambling and robbery that are punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Antonelli was shot to death as he left El Sabor Tropical restaurant on April 29, 2008. Authorities say the killing was the result of a botched robbery attempt.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

'Mafia Cops' conviction upheld

The Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the murder conspiracy convictions of two former New York Police detectives widely known as the "Mafia Cops," according to a story by the Associated Press.
      The court on July 23 found no merit to an appeal by former detectives Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa. The two men were convicted of moonlighting for Lucchese Crime Family big shot Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso while they were on the payroll of the New York Police Department. Eppolito appealed, arguing that he was denied effective legal counsel. Caracappa argued that his conviction was based upon faulty evidence.

Read more:
Mafia Cop.
The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdered for the Mafia.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Octogenarian Bulger still tops FBI list

A recently released FBI Most Wanted list has a familiar name in its top spot: James J. "Whitey" Bulger, according to a story by Patrick Cooper of A $2 million reward is offered for information leading to Bulger's capture.
      The 81-year-old, a fugitive Irish-American gang boss from Boston, reportedly has been in hiding since his early 1995 racketeering indictment. He also was charged on Sept. 28, 2000, with participating in 19 murders during the 1970s and 1980s. Bulger received some protection from the Boston area FBI as he served as an informant against the New England Mafia.
      Bulger's FBI handler, former FBI agent John Connolly was convicted of racketeering in 2002 and sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. Connolly was convicted of second-degree murder late in 2008. He was found guilty of providing Bulger and a Winter Hill Gang underling, Stephen Flemmi, with information that led to the death of potential government witness John B. Callahan in 1982. Connolly was sentenced in January 2009 to 40 years in prison that murder conviction. The sentencing judge noted at the time that the statute of limitations on the murder charge may have lapsed.

Read more about Bulger:
The Brothers Bulger: How They Terrorized and Corrupted Boston for a Quarter Century.
Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Authorities mum on U.S. role in 'Ndrangeta busts

While U.S. authorities are said to have participated in the transatlantic crackdown on the Italian 'Ndrangheta organized crime network, no details of U.S. arrests have been released, according to a story by Ravi Somaiya of Newsweek. More than 320 people with alleged links to 'Ndrangheta, the Calabrian criminal society, were arrested in dawn raids. Police seized weapons, drugs and financial assets in the largest anti-organized crime operation in 15 years.

Gioeli charged with killing cop

Thomas "Tommy Shots" Gioeli, a former leader of the Colombo Crime Family, has been charged with killing off-duty New York City Police Officer Ralph Dols in 1997, according to a story by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News.
The charge is contained in a new federal indictment against Gioeli (left), 57. He is currently charged with six racketeering-related murders, three of those would be punishable with the death penalty. The justice deparment plans to announce within the next 60 days if it will pursue the death penalty. The Daily News indicated that Gioeli's role in Dols' Brooklyn killing was confirmed by informant Dino "Big Dino" Calabro, a former capodecina. Gioeli reportedly conveyed the order to kill Dols from consigliere Joel "Joe Waverly" Cacace to underlings. Dols' offense against the crime family is alleged to have been marrying Cacace's ex-wife.

Read more about the Colombo Crime Family:
Mafia Son: The Scarpa Mob Family, the FBI, and a Story of Betrayal
The Mad Ones: Crazy Joe Gallo and the Revolution at the Edge of the Underworld

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Franzese, 93, convicted of racketeering

John "Sonny" Franzese, 93-year-old reputed underboss of the Colombo Crime Family, was convicted of racketeering July 6 in Brooklyn federal court, according to a story by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News. A jury found Franzese guilty of shaking down Hustler and Penthouse strip clubs in Manhattan. It did not convict him on a count related to extortion of a pizza restaurant. Much of the government's case against Franzese rested on testimony and evidence provided by his son, John Franzese Jr.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Seattle's Colacurcio dies at 93

Long suspected of mob involvement, Seattle area strip-club magnate Frank Colacurcio Sr. died July 2 at the age of 92, according to a story by Steve Miletich of the Seattle Times.

Colacurcio was known to be involved in vending machine rackets and strip clubs. Authorities found he engaged in tax evasion, gambling and bribery. He was jailed twice on tax convictions and once for bringing illegal bingo cards into Washington State. Police investigators suspected him of links to larger organized crime groups and of involvement in the killings of rivals. However, no credible evidence of violent crimes was ever produced, and, despite a well publicized visit with Joseph Bonanno's son Salvatore ("Bill"), the Seattle native denied any connection to the U.S. Mafia. The last elements of his strip club empire recently were seized by the government. At the time of his death, he was under indictment for racketeering and promoting prostitution.

About Me

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Writer, editor, researcher, web publisher, specializing in organized crime history. (Available to assist with historical/genealogical research, writing, editing. Email at
Editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer; publisher of American Mafia history website; moderator of online forums; 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 U.S. Mafia history to Australian-published Mafia: The Necessary Reference to Organized Crime; writer/co-writer of crime history articles for several publications.
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