Wednesday, January 31, 2007

FBI uses immigration sting to net racketeers

An FBI undercover operation involving an immigrations officer who gave the appearance of being on the take has resulted in the arrests of 11 alleged members and associates of the Gambino and Lucchese Crime Families and two alleged associates of the Sicilian Mafia, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

The operation reportedly began when Joseph Orlando, alleged Gambino soldier, approached a family associate, believing him to have connections to corrupt government officials. Orlando allegedly sought to pass a bribe through the associate to an immigration official in order to acquire legal residence status for his girlfiend. The associate was unable to deliver, was allegedly threatened and contacted the FBI for protection. Through the associate's cooperation, the Bureau arranged for Orlando to meet with an undercover agent, posing as a corrupt official.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, "Orlando told other members and associates of the Gambino family of the cooperating witness’s purported contact with corrupt government officials; this in turn led other defendants to contact the cooperating witness in attempts to further other criminal schemes."

Those schemes reportedly included the smuggling of gold bars into the U.S. from the Philippines and the release of a reputed Sicilian Mafia associate from U.S. federal detention.

FBI Assistant Director-in-charge Mark J. Mershon seemed especially pleased at the arrest of George DeCicco (right), 77, reputed captain in the Gambino Family. Mershon designated DeCicco the "Cal Ripken" of the American mob.

"George DeCicco has operated continuously for so long that his arrest today is like the end of Cal Ripken’s consecutive-game streak," said Mershon. "The difference is that Ripken’s streak ended when he voluntarily took himself out of the lineup."

A story by Stefanie Cohen in today's New York Post called DeCicco, "the last of the Gotti gang." The story noted that DeCicco was the only member of Gotti's inner circle who had never been busted.

(Several DeCiccos have held important positions with the Gambino family since John Gotti's reign. Frank DeCicco, brother of George, allegedly lured Gambino boss Paul Castellano to his death in 1985 and served as Gotti's underboss until he was blown up by a remote controlled bomb outside of a Brooklyn social club in 1986. Joseph "Joe Butter" DeCicco, another brother, reputedly served the family as an associate for many years.)

Officials noted that the undercover operation revealed the close working relationship between American and Sicilian Mafiosi.

The 13 individuals arrested were:

Joseph "Joey Boy" Orlando, DOB March 19, 1949
George DeCicco, DOB March 20, 1929
Robert DeCicco (George's son), DOB July 27, 1950
James Avalone, DOB Aug. 3, 1943
Jerry DeGerolamo, DOB April 1, 1971
Steven "Rigatoni" Famiglietta, DOB Feb. 14, 1962
Michael Fichera, DOB Sept. 14, 1962
Richard Juliano, DOB March 26, 1940
Richard J. Juliano, DOB Jan. 15, 1975
Francesco Nania, DOB Jan. 19, 1967
Vito Rappa, DOB Oct. 15, 1967
Kurt Ricci, DOB Sept. 15, 1965
Joseph "Joey Zack" Zuccarello, DOB April 24, 1954

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

FBI busts alleged Gambino, Lucchese members

A two-year racketeering investigation resulted today in the arrests of 10 alleged members of the Gambino Crime Family and three alleged members of the Lucchese Crime Family, according to a broadcast report on WABC-TV in New York City.

George DeCicco, 77, an alleged captain in the Gambino family, was among those arrested and charged with participation in a criminal enterprise involving extortion, loan sharking, money laundering and bribery.
FBI spokesman Jim Margolin told reporters that a cooperating witness helped as the FBI accumulated hundreds of hours of taped evidence.

Book review: Brasco returns

Donnie Brasco: Unfinished Business
Philadelphia: Running Press, 2007, $22.95.

Two decades after wowing us with Donnie Brasco-related revelations, former undercover FBI agent Joe Pistone returns to tie up some loose ends.

I must admit I was skeptical that Pistone could find enough loose ends in the Donnie Brasco story to fill another book. However, while there is some repetition, the ex-agent provides enough new information to keep us very interested. And, frankly, the repetitive parts are quite entertaining - Donnie Brasco's thrilling adventures are worth recalling.

The first portion of the book is basically a summary of the Donnie Brasco deep-undercover experience with many of the gaps filled in. Some details apparently had to be kept secret until court cases had been processed. Pistone also takes the opportunity to correct some impressions created by the movie based on his bestseller. He takes issue with some of the sentimental and self-critical Johnny Depp moments in the film:

"I never experienced any doubt, uncertainty, or reservation. I did not make Lefty [Ruggiero] a Mafia gangster... Lefty and his Mafia underground nation is America's enemy. I was an American FBI agent... In the end, I was proud to bring Lefty to justice, and I'm even more proud of the devastating short- and long-term effects on the Mafia that people have credited, in part, to my work."
Pistone recalls for us the criminal activities ("unauthorized by the Bureau") he engaged in while undercover as "Donnie," an associate of the Colombo and Bonanno Crime Families. His admitted crimes include a murder conspiracy, hijacking and a number of other offenses (he apparently beat two stick-up men to a pulp because they dared to rob money from connected guys). But Pistone admits he would have gone even further in order to protect himself.

Underworld associates like Brasco might be called upon by Mafia superiors to perform gang "hits." Pistone decided that, if confronted with a situation in which he had to kill an underworld character or face the certain wrath of the mob, "...the wiseguy would go. I knew the FBI would not stand behind me on something like that. Well, let me call it what it is - murder in the first degree."

The situation nearly came up in 1981, first in the murder of the Three Capos (when Bonanno bigshot Joseph Massino nixed Brasco's participation) and then as Brasco was assigned by Bonanno caporegime "Sonny Black" Napolitano to assassinate Bruno Indelicato. Indelicato went into hiding, and Pistone was pulled from his undercover assignment before the nightmare scenario had a chance to develop.

The rest of the book is devoted to Pistone's post-Brasco experiences as a courtroom witness against the Mafia. Working with prosecutors, like then-U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani of New York, he participated in some blockbuster trials, including the Bonanno Family case, the Pizza Connection, the Mafia Commission case, the conviction of Bonanno boss "Big Joey" Massino, and the Mafia Cops trial of 2006.

Pistone's description of the trials is anything but bland. He provides compelling and often gory detail, while recounting the defeats of the mob through the past 25 years.

Pistone has a different co-author for "Unfinished Business," former Delaware prosecutor Charles Brandt who wrote I Heard You Paint Houses. However, the writing style - using casual phrasing and rhythms that would be at home in city street corner conversations - remains uniquely Pistone.

This is an informative and entertaining book.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Tale of two Cicillines

Providence, R.I., anti-corruption Mayor David Cicilline (above) and his reputedly not-so-anti-corruption older brother John M. Cicilline are featured in a story by Ray Henry run in today's Boston Globe.

The story explains David Cicilline's uphill battle against public perception. His father Jack is a well-known defense lawyer, whose clients have included New England Mafia boss Raymond L.S. Patriarca, reputed boss Luigi Manocchio and a number of other accused mobsters. Brother John, in addition to piling up thousands of dollars in parking tickets, has been indicted in connection with a scheme to win two accused drug traffickers a light sentence.
According to prosecutors, John Cicilline and a now-disbarred attorney asked a couple facing drug charges for $100,000. For that amount, they offered to stage a drug deal that the couple could expose to federal authorities in exchange for a lighter sentence. John Cicilline and his alleged conspirator have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

David Cicilline, 46, became mayor of Providence in 2002. He is said to be the first openly gay mayor of a state capital. He took office after the brief administration of John J. Lombardi, which followed Mayor Vincent Albert "Buddy" Cianci's (left) 2002 conviction for criminal conspiracy. (Cianci's prison sentence expires in late July of this year, but some believe he will be released as soon as next month.)

Italian crimefighters tutor Macedonia

Macedonia is learning how best to fight organized crime from Mafia experts from Italy, according to a story published by

The Republic of Macedonia is looking forward to possible entry into the European Union. Official action against organized crime is seen as a prerequisite.

Through a two-year project funded by the EU's Agency for Reconstruction, Italian experts will make suggestions for anti-crime legislation, recruit and train a small core of crimefighters and help to upgrade Macedonian crime data systems.

Colombo had 'hook' in state prosecutor

Christopher Colombo bragged in 2001 that he had "a hook in" former New York State Attorney General Dennis Vacco that shielded him from prosecution, according to stories by Kati Cornell of the New York Post and Thomas Zambito of the New York Daily News.

A surveillance audio tape of the boast was played last week in Manhattan federal court, where Colombo and his brother Anthony are on trial for gambling, loan-sharking and extortion.

Christopher Colombo was taped during a conversation with contractor John Sitterly. Sitterly, charged with robbing elderly clients of over a million dollars, reportedly wore a wire to a Jan. 19, 2001, meeting. Discussing then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's investigation of Sitterly, Colombo said, "Spitzer is the worst. Vacco was the best. He didn't care about anything. I had a hook in him."

Vacco (left), now with a lobbying firm, told the Post that he had never before heard of the surveillance tape or of Christopher Colombo. "The guy's full of baloney," Vacco said. "...If I ever met him, he never registered on my radar screen."

Spitzer was inaugurated New York State's 54th governor on Jan. 1.

Christopher and Anthony Colombo are the sons of slain mob boss Joseph Colombo, after whom the Colombo Crime Family in New York was named.

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Police: Drug dealers charged with murder

New York State Police say two men arrested over the weekend were responsible for killing an entire Fishkill NY family and setting the family home on fire to eliminate evidence, according to broadcast reports by WCBS-TV in New York. The homicides might have resulted from a drug dispute, say the police.

The remains of Manuel Morey, his wife Tina and their three sons, ages 6, 10 and 13, were found within their burned out home last week.

Prosecutors believe Morey was a partner in drug trafficking with Mark S. Sorrano, 29, and Charles W. Gilleo Jr., 31. The three are believed to have dealt in marijuana and cocaine, according to Dutchess County NY officials.

Sorrano and Gilleo have been charged with a single count of second degree murder. More charges could be filed soon. Sorrano turned himself in to police. Gilleo was arrested at his home in Hopewell Junction.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

D.A.: DeVecchio mistake led to Porco killing

Patrick Porco photo from New York PostSeventeen-year-old Patrick Porco, killed by a single gunshot to the mouth in May 1990, was the victim of misguided mob vengeance, according to a story by Alex Ginsberg of the New York Post.

The Colombo Crime Family had Porco (right) killed, believing he had cooperated with a police investigation into the 1990 drive-by shooting of Dominick Masseria, 17. According to the Kings County NY (Brooklyn) District Attorney, former FBI Agent Lindley DeVecchio told Colombo family capo Gregory "the Grim Reaper" Scarpa that Porco was talking to police.

That was reportedly an error. Papers related to Porco's unwilling interviews with police indicate that the teen would not reveal any information about the Masseria killing, even after a police official warned Porco that his life was in jeopardy.

Craig Sobel, 39, is now charged with the Masseria killing.

Former FBI Agent Lindley DeVecchioThe Kings County D.A. has linked DeVecchio's relationship with Scarpa to several underworld killings. Scarpa reportedly served as an informant for DeVecchio (left). DeVecchio insists he is innocent of wrongdoing. A number of current and former FBI agents are strongly supporting DeVecchio.

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UK's Hathaway faces extradition to Italy

Ann Hathaway, a 44-year-old housewife and mother of Boarshaw, England, is facing extradition to Italy as an alleged Mafia "godmother," according to a story in the Middleton Guardian.

Italian authorities charge that Hathaway, wife of imprisoned Sicilian Mafia boss Antonio Rinzivillo, helped to run her husband's illicit empire since he has been away. Rinzivillo is serving a 30-year prison sentence in Italy for drug trafficking and the murder of of lawyer Antonio Mirabelle.

Hathaway is specifically charged with running messages from Rinzivillo to underworld colleagues and with laundering cash from Mafia operations.

She denied any wrongdoing and said she was "bewildered" by the charges.
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Uranium smuggling in former Soviet Union

Authorities of the Republic of Georgia last year arrested a Russian man attempting to smuggle 100 grams of highly enriched - weapons grade - uranium into the country, according to a story by Lawrence Scott Sheets and William J. Broad of the New York Times.

The incident was discussed by Georgian Interior Minister Ivane Merabishvili in a recent interview. Russian officials would not comment on the story.

Another man was apprehended in 2003 at the Georgia-Armenia border with 170 grams of uranium. In neither case was the amount of radioactive material sufficient to build a nuclear weapon, but international authorities are concerned about the apparent trade in nuclear material from the former Soviet Union.

Georgian authorities also intercepted a shipment of 2.2 pounds of raw uranium last August.

Yonkers NY police round up drug gang

Police have rounded up members of the "Jackson Street Crew" drug gang in Yonkers, NY, according to a report by WCBS-TV. Additional arrests are expected.

The gang is believed to have trafficked in crack cocaine. The drug activity is said to have taken place on sidewalks, in apartment building vestibules and in a park near Jackson Street.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Philly mobster to return to prison

Martin A. Angelina
Martin A. Angelina (left), convicted racketeer, has admitted violating the terms of his parole and will return to prison for another four months, according to a story by George Anastasia of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Angelina, 44, was paroled 15 months ago and was not to have any contact with his former underworld associates. Yesterday in Philadelphia U.S. District Court, he admitted that he met with known felons and Mafiosi after his release.

The FBI and the Organized Crime Squad of the Philadelphia police had evidence of meetings and telephone calls. Those included a meeting with reputed mob boss Joseph Ligambi and reputed associates Steven Frangipanni, Damion Canalichio and Michael Lancelloti, as well as a series of telephone conversations with Canalichio, according to the Inquirer. Federal agents had been keeping an eye on Canalichio, recently indicted on drug trafficking charges (released on $75,000 bond in November) and under investigation in a gambling probe, and Canalichio's phone had been tapped. Canalichio reportedly served 27 months in prison after a 1997 drug conviction.

Angelina will be returned to prison in two weeks.

A former enforcer for reputed ex-boss of Philadelphia Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, Angelina was convicted in 2000 with Merlino and several others of racketeering. He served 66 months of his 78-month sentence and was paroled in November 2005.

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement Exclusion List states, "Mr. Angelina has been identified by law enforcement agencies as being a soldier within the Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra (LCN) organized crime family. He has been observed with Joseph Salvatore "Skinny Joe" Merlino and George Borgesi, respectively identified as the "Boss" and a "Capo," of the LCN." The exclusion list prevents Angelina from having anything to do with New Jersey casino gambling.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Colombo judge rules against the 'M-word'

Judge Naomi Rice Buchwald decided Friday that there can be no mention of the Colombo Crime Family or the Mafia during the racketeering trial of Anthony and Christopher Colombo, according to a story by Thomas Zambito of the New York Daily News.

Anthony and Christopher are the sons of Joseph Colombo, the slain boss of the crime family that bears his name (formerly the Profaci Family). They are accused of using their perceived connections to the mob to extort money from victims. Anthony is charged with demanding payoffs from a New York construction firm. Christopher is charged with running a gambling operation in East Harlem and the Bronx.

Buchwald ruled that prosecutors had not sufficiently linked the defendants with the mob clan.

Anthony ColomboIn his opening statement a day before Buchwald's ruling, defense attorney Louis Fasulo said Anthony Colombo (right) was guilty only of being Joe Colombo's son. While his client is accused of extorting $100,000 from the construction firm, the attorney argued that the firm hired Colombo to generate business - something he accomplished.

Yesterday, a prosecution witness stated that he gave Christopher Colombo $600,000 in interest payments through six years on a loan of just $90,000. "I could see that it was never, ever, going to be paid off," John Sitterly said. Sitterly, 52, is facing a five- to 15-year sentence for robbing customers of his upstate home improvement business. The Post indicated that Sitterly testified against Colombo "hoping to shave time" off his sentence.

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NYC investigates alleged restaurant-mob link

New York City agencies are looking into allegations that a license to run Caffe on the Green in Bayside, Queens, was granted to a reputed mobster, according to a story by Murray Weiss of the New York Post.

Joseph Franco, 53, is the approved licensee. But law enforcement sources indicated that Franco and his 71-year-old brother Salvatore are also made members of the Gambino Crime Family, said the Post. In addition, the sources say that Franco's uncle, Giuseppe, 93, was selected to help run the crime family in 1992 when boss John Gotti went off to prison.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (left) pledged to look into the allegations. The Department of Investigation and the Law Department is examining the license award. The Post noted that Bloomberg was photographed with Franco last July at a political fundraiser held at the Bayside restaurant.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Colombo admits gambling, denies intimidation

Chris Colombo
Defense attorney Jeremy Schneider acknowledges that his client, Chris Colombo, is guilty of gambling, but the attorney insists Colombo did not run an underworld organization that extorted money from its victims, according to a story by Kati Cornell of the New York Post.

Brother Chris and Anthony Colombo, sons of slain crime boss Joseph Colombo, face racketeering charges in federal court in Manhattan. Prosecutors say they used their family name to terrorize victims and generate income through gambling, loan-sharking, extortion and fraud.

The brothers found themselves on the losing end of a civil war within the Colombo Crime Family, prosecutors say, and struck out on their own.

In pretrial hearings, defense attorneys asked that prosecutors be prevented from making reference to the Mafia organization once run by Joseph Colombo. Prosecutors responded by charging that the brothers used the family connection to their advantage in underworld business dealings.

Joseph Colombo was mortally wounded by an assassin in 1971. He died in 1978.

Chris Colombo was featured in a short-lived 2005 HBO reality show entitled "House Arrest."

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Netherlands to ban Hells Angels

A Netherlands court in Leeuwarden is considering a ban on the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, according to stories on and

Prosecutors have asked for the ban because of the organization's persistent involvement in crime. The club's Northeast Chapter, based in the town of Harlingen, is named as a defendant in the case.
Officials labeled the Hells Angels the second-largest crime organization in the world, behind only the Mafia. In October 2005, police reportedly found weapons, ammunition and cannabis-growing operations during raids of Hells Angels locations that resulted in 45 arrests.

A dozen members of the disbanded Nomads wing of the Hells Angels are currently facing murder charges. They are accused of killing and mutilating three members of their group. The victims bodies were discovered in 2004.

Kidnapping shows breakdown in Mafia authority

Italian officials believe the recent kidnapping of a rich Sicilian landowner is a signal that the prestige of old line Mafia bosses is in decline, according to a story by Malcolm Moore of the UK Telegraph.

Pietro Licari, 68, was abducted last weekend near his home outside Palermo, in a blatant violation of a Mafia ban on kidnappings that dates back to the 1960s. The relatively small amount of money demanded for Licari's release and other factors have caused investigators to blame the crime on a non-Mafia gang.

According to the story, Cinisi crime boss Gaetano Badalamenti outlawed kidnappings in the late 60s. Badalamenti was later jailed in the United States for heroin trafficking. The ban was violated just once, in 1976, when a youth gang outside of the Mafia abducted a woman. The Sicilian underworld was able to persuade the gang to release the woman.

UK 'Godmother' arrested

Hathaway pic from Middleton UK Guardian
Ann Hathaway, 44, was arrested yesterday on suspicion of helping to run the Rinzivillo Mafia empire, according to a story by Pat Hurst of the UK Independent.

Police detained Hathaway at her home near Manchester, England, after the Italian government issued an extradition warrant. Italian officials charge that she has administered the underworld assets of her husband, Antonio Rinzivillo, since he has been in prison.

Rinzivillo is serving 30 years.

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Former NJ prosecutor charged

Paul Bergrin, a former New Jersey prosecutor, was one of three men charged last week in Manhattan with conspiracy, promoting prostitution and money laundering, according to a story in Newsday.

Bergrin, 51, and his co-defendants are accused of laundering more than $800,000 in credit card proceeds from an escort agency, NY Confidential, through a company called Gotham Steak. The attorney is in custody in New Jersey.

Bergrin has recently worked as a defense lawyer. In a recent high profile case, he defended an army reservist charged with abusing Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Colombo's sons head to trial this week

The racketeering conspiracy trial of Anthony (right) and Christopher Colombo, sons of slain crime boss Joseph Colombo, will begin this week, according to a story by Thomas Zambito of the New York Daily News.

The brothers are charged with running an offshoot of the Colombo Crime Family that engaged in extortion and loansharking. Prosecutors say the Colombos were squeezed out of the Mafia clan that continues to bear their surname and started up an operation known as the Colombo Brothers Crew.

In pretrial hearings, defense attorney Aaron Goldsmith asked that prosecutors be forbidden from mentioning the Mafia organization or Joseph Colombo's role in it. Goldsmith argued that such mentions would unfairly prejudice a jury. Prosecutors argued that the Colombo brothers themselves revealed their family connections in order to intimidate their victims.

With the approval of boss of bosses Carlo Gambino, Joseph Colombo (left) took over the old Profaci family after the deaths of Joseph Profaci and successor Joseph Magliocco in the early 1960s. Colombo was a highly visible organizer of Italian unity causes and publicly insisted that he was being targeted by the FBI solely because of his ethnic background. It is believed that other crime bosses were alarmed at his courtship of the press and arranged for his assassination. Colombo was mortally wounded in a 1971 shooting. He remained in a coma until his death in 1978.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Ailing Cuban mobster gets 20 years

Jose Miguel Battle Sr., once the boss of a Cuban-American criminal organization and a veteran of the Bay of Pigs invasion, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison, according to a story by Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald.

Battle, 77, was leader of "The Corporation," a criminal group controlling rackets in Florida, New Jersey, New York and Latin America. He is widely known as the master of the "bolita" lottery-style racket. He has been in custody since 2004. Last May, he pleaded guilty to a racketeering career spanning four decades. (Click for Battle biography on Wikipedia.)

Prosecutors speculated at that time that the ailing crime boss might not live long enough to be sentenced. He reportedly suffers from renal (kidney) failure and problems with his heart, liver and lungs. A part of a plea deal, sentencing was to be indefinitely postponed and Battle released on bond, so he could die at his home rather than in prison.

His son, Jose Miguel Battle Jr., faces sentencing in March.

Other MobNews post:

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Deputy marshal charged with aiding mob

John Thomas Ambrose, 38, a federal deputy marshal, was charged Thursday with providing Chicago's organized crime family information on a government informant, according to an AP story published by MSNBC.

Nick CalabreseProsecutors say Ambrose offered to swap information about informant Nicholas Calabrese's travel plans in exchange for the location of reputed Outfit bigshot Joseph Lombardo. The deputy marshal allegedly provided information to an associate of reputed mobster John DiFronzo. At the time Lombardo was a fugitive from justice.

Ambrose's defense attorney said his client is "not connected to the mob at all." He said the federal case is based on a Sept. 6 interview with Ambrose that was mischaracterized by an FBI agent.

Ambrose has been on leave from his duties since September. He faces a possible penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

Calabrese and Lombardo are among 15 defendants charged in a sweeping racketeering indictment in Chicago known as "Operation Family Secrets." In 2005, Calabrese provided federal investigators with details relating to the killing of brothers Anthony and Michael Spilotro. Anthony Spilotro was the Outfit's agent in Las Vegas before making too many enemies back home. The Spilotro murders, the historical basis for the movie Casino, are part of the Family Secrets case.

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See also:

Feds: Sicilian mobster hid in Florida

Giuseppe Giambrone, 49, will be sent from Florida to New York to answer charges that he made a false statement on an immigration form. Federal officials and Italian authorities believe Gaimbrone is linked with the Vitale Mafia Family in Sicily, according to a report by Pat Gillespie of the Fort Myers News-Press.

Giambrone was captured in South Fort Myers, where authorities believe he has been laying low for the past two years.

As he entered the U.S. in 2002, He reportedly claimed that he had never been convicted of a crime. However, Italian records show he was sentenced to over a year in prison in 1981 for stealing and two years in 1982 for extortion. The Italian government has a warrant for Giambrone's arrest.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

'Saint' gets 56 months

Anthony Saint Laurent Sr.
Anthony "the Saint" St. Laurent Sr. was sentenced by a Rhode Island federal judge today to 56 months in prison, according to a story by WLNE-TV (ABC-6) in Providence.

The 65-year-old St. Laurent (photos date from 1987), reputedly a longtime member of the New England Crime Family, was convicted this past summer of conspiring to extort payments from two victims. He has been in custody since his arrest in April.

He faced a possible maximum sentence of 20 years and a $250,000 fine, according to WPRI-TV (FOX-12) in Providence. However, a plea deal caused prosecutors to recommend the minimum possible term - between three and five years.

At sentencing, U.S. District Judge William Smith said he doubted St. Laurent would ever reform. Judge Smith noted 17 convictions on a St. Laurent rap sheet that dated back to the 1960s. According to the Nevada Gaming Commission, St. Laurent's arrest record goes back to 1959. The commission notes that he was once charged with operating a gambling ring from within a prison cell.

Saint Laurent was on supervised release from prison (due to a 1999 conviction for gambling, extortion and loansharking) at the time of his attempted shakedown of two Massachusetts men.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Chicago commission papers subpoenaed

Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, 77, reputed boss of the Chicago Outfit, is reportedly hoping that documents in the possession of the Chicago Crime Commission will help his defense in a racketeering trial, according to a story by Steve Warmbir of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Lombardo's attorney Rick Halprin had a subpoena served relating to records that caused the commission to place Lombardo atop an Outfit hierarchy chart created in the 1980s. Haprin noted that the late William Roemer served as both an FBI agent and as a consultant for the crime commission in the assembly of the hierarchy chart. Haprin said he is particularly interested in research that might have been done by the FBI into the September 1974 murder of Daniel Seifert. Lombardo and two others were charged with that killing in 2005.

Lombardo and 13 other reputed leaders of Chicago's crime family have been charged in a racketeering case known as "Operation Family Secrets" that includes 18 killings and spans four decades.

Charges against the group were revealed in April 2005. Lombardo remained at large for nine months, as police sought him. He was finally apprehended in suburban Elmwood Park, Illinois, in mid-January 2006. When he was captured, Lombardo had long hair and a full gray beard.

DeVecchio case stays with D.A.

Lindley DeVecchio
U.S. District Court Judge Frederic Block rejected another defense motion to transfer the murder case of ex-FBI agent Lindley DeVecchio to federal court, according to a story by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News.

Judge Block noted that DeVecchio is being charged with murders and "nothing to do with his federal duties." Murder is a state-level offense. The Kings County (Brooklyn) District Attorney's Office will prosecute the case. A similar defense motion was denied in August 2006.

DeVecchio has been charged with providing FBI data to mob informant Gregory Scarpa, reputedly a key man in the Colombo Crime Family. Scarpa used DeVecchio's assistance to kill four underworld rivals. DeVecchio has denied any wrongdoing. He has received vocal support from a large number of former and current FBI agents.

The case has increased friction between the D.A. and federal agencies in Brooklyn. In September, the D.A.'s office said the U.S. Attorney's Office was withholding documents relating to a 1996 investigation of DeVecchio.

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Bus union employee to prison for 5 months

Ann Chiarovano was sentenced Monday to five months in prison for lying to federal agents about mob influence in a New York school bus drivers union, according to a story by Thomas Zambito of the New York Daily News.

Chiarovano, said to be the girlfriend of a Genovese Crime Family associate, pleaded guilty in August. When questioned by agents, she denied informing reputed Genovese capo Ciro Perrone about subpoenas received by Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union. Chiarovano worked as the local's pension fund director and continued at her post after the guilty plea. She faced the possibility of a 20-year sentence when initially charged in the case.

Matthew IannielloThe bus driver's local was taken over by the international in November after federal indictments forced two top officers to step down. Local President Salvatore "Hotdogs" Battaglia, 60, was charged with obstruction of justice and racketeering. Prosecutors say he is an associate of the Genovese family. Local Secretary-Treasurer Julius "Spike" Bernstein pleaded guilty to racketeering charges and has been cooperating in the investigation.

The original indictment in the case also charged Genovese bigshot Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianniello (left), Perrone, reputed Genovese soldiers Salvatore "Zookie" Esposito and Daniel Cilenti, and reputed Gambino Crime Family asscciate Maurice Napoli. Ianniello reached a plea deal, admitting he concealed payments he arranged between bus companies and union officials. Esposito, Cilenti and Napoli also pleaded guilty. Perrone was acquitted on an obstruction of justice charge but still faces trial for racketeering.

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Gang violence in NY

Video reports from CBS-TV in New York look at three regional incidents of gang-related violence over the past few days:

Mexican president targets organized crime

In his first weeks on the job, Mexican President Felipe Calderon has tackled the issue of organized crime by sending thousands of federal police and military troops into the country's drug-dominated states of Michoacan and Baja California, according to a report by James C. McKinley Jr. of the New York Times.

The forces are attempting to combat rampant corruption in local police forces. They have disarmed police suspected of underworld involvement, burned marijuana crops and arrested those believed part of drug gangs. Four alleged top members of the Valencia drug gang have been taken into custody.

Critics point out that the move of federal forces into the region has done little to slow the gang-related violence there. An estimated 21 people were killed during the last three weeks of December, and a mass grave was found containing what appeared to be seven victims of gang hits.

A special target of Calderon's efforts is Tijuana. In that city, the entire police force was ordered to turn over its weapons, and more than 2,700 soldiers and federal police were called in. Three hundred people, including 25 police officers, were killed in Tijuana last year. Most of those deaths have been linked to drug gangs.

The family of Arellano Felix is still believed to control much of the drug traffic through Tijuana.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Basciano says poker buddies set him up

Vincent Basciano
Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, reputed ex-boss of the Bonanno Crime Family, says two jailhouse poker buddies attributed a murder plot to him in order to gain the favor of prosecutors, according to a story by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News.

Basciano was found to be in possession of what looked to be a list of people he would like killed. The list included the names of the federal judge presiding over his case and the prosecutor. Since the list was discovered, Basciano has been confined to his prison cell for 23 hours a day.

Basciano insisted that the list was compiled at the suggestion of a fellow inmate, who was acquainted with the Santeria religion. The list was supposed to magically aid the crime boss in his upcoming trial. However, a couple of inmates, with whom Basciano regularly played cards, told authorities that the people named on the list were to be targeted for assassination.

Defense attorney James Kousouros says the inmates were looking to help themselves by creating the story of a murder plot. Kousouros indicated that Basciano has reached out to fringe religious and mystical practitioners recently. "The government... is well aware that he has asked [his wife] to consult with fortune-tellers and mystics...," the attorney said.

Basciano, believed to have succeeded Joseph Massino as Bonanno crime boss in 2003, was convicted of racketeering conspiracy on May 9, 2006, after a 10-month trial. He was indicted on racketeering, gambling and murder conspiracy charges in November 2004. One member of his jury would not convict on the murder charge. He faces a retrial before Judge Nicholas Garaufis on that charge this year.

In 1994, Basciano was accused of heroin smuggling and later acquitted. His "Gorgeous" nickname is reportedly the result of his ownership of a beauty salon.

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Monday, January 8, 2007

UK press tracks Mafia "godmother"

Ann Hathaway
Quite a bit has been written in the U.K. press over the past few days regarding the British wife of jailed Mafia boss Antonio Rinzivillo.

An Italian arrest warrant was issued last month for the woman, Ann Hathaway, 44, according to a report in the Edinburgh Evening News. Police suspect her of managing a Rinzivillo Family underworld empire valued in the millions of dollars. Hathaway has lived in Sicily and in mainland Italy. She reportedly moved recently to the Manchester region in her native Britain.

The Sunday Mirror claimed it caught up with Hathaway at her small home in Manchester, where she "hardly lives up to the image of a Mafia Godmother." She has family in the area, and is believed to be living with her two daughters, aged 18 and 4, according to the Sunday Herald.

Italian authorities believe Rinzivillo of Gela, Sicily, was once the second most powerful boss - under Bernardo Provenzano - in the Sicilian Mafia. He was jailed five years ago for the murder of an Italian lawyer and for drug trafficking. He was sentenced to 30 years.

Italian police last month seized Rinzivillo assets worth the equivalent of $25 million. The assets included a supermarket, a pizzeria and two construction companies. More than 80 members of the Rinzivillo organization have been arrested. Hathaway is one of 10 women charged with involvement in the crime family.

Rocco Ligouri, Italian prosecutor, told the Mirror, "We believe [Hathaway] was acting as the messenger between her husband in prison and other jailed members of the gang and people on the outside. We believe that she was involved in money laundering through pizzerias and building contractors."

An article in the Evening Standard said Hathaway met her husband after moving to Italy as a teenager to begin a dancing career. Other sources indicate that she worked as a teacher of English. Hathaway and Rinzivillo married almost 20 years ago.

The extradition of Hathaway to Italy could be difficult because the British government does not recognize Mafia association - the offense with which she has been charged in Italy - as a crime.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Limone testifies in $100M lawsuit

Peter LimoneSix years from the day he was released from prison, Peter J. Limone Sr. (right) yesterday told a district court judge about the 33 years he spent behind bars for a crime he did not commit, according to a story by John Richardson Ellement of the Boston Globe.

Joseph SalvatiLimone, 72, described his fear and shock at being convicted in 1967 of the murder of gangster Edward "Teddy" Deegan and being placed on death row at Walpole State Prison.

Limone, Joseph Salvati (left), Louis Greco and Henry Tameleo were all convicted of the 1965 slaying, largely based on the perjured testimony of Mafia hitman Joseph "the Animal" Barboza. While death sentences were eventually commuted, Greco and Tameleo died during their long stays in prison. Limone and Salvati were released in 2001, as evidence of Barboza's perjury and FBI complicity in the frameup was uncovered.

Limone, Salvati and the families of Greco and Tameleo are now suing the U.S. government for $100 million.

While there now seems no question that Limone is innocent of the Deegan murder, he has long been linked by law enforcement with the leadership of the New England Crime Family. Some believe he would have been put in charge of the Boston branch of the Mafia organization if he had not turned the post down.

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Friday, January 5, 2007

23 charged in mortgage fraud scheme

The FBI, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and the New York City Police Department busted a mortgage fraud ring in New York yesterday, according to a press release from the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.

A federal indictment charges 23 Russian brokers, appraisers and bank employees of cooperating on fraudulent mortgage applications. Law enforcement agencies arrested 18 of those charged yesterday. They were arraigned yesterday. They pleaded not guilty and were released on bail. Four others were expected to turn themselves in today. One of the accused, Oleg Anokhin, is reportedly at large.

Among those arrested were Aleksander "Shorty" Lipkin, Igor "Ryzkiy" Mishelevich and Alex "Lyosha" Gorvits, brokers with AGA Capital of Brooklyn, according to a story by Kati Cornell of the New York Post.

The U.S. Attorney's Office stated that employees of Northside Capital NY Inc. (later Lending Universe Corporation) of Brooklyn were also charged.

From 2004 through 2006, the mortgage agents brokered more than 1,000 home loans with a total face value of more than $200 million. Lending institutions paid the agents a percentage - between 2% and 4% - of each loan as a fee. The indictment charges that property values were often inflated to increase the amounts of the loans (with the brokers keeping the difference), while the financial qualifications of phony purchasers were enhanced to guarantee loan approval.

The loans defaulted, forcing lending institutions to foreclose.

Alleged racketeer won't be at kid's birthday bash

A reputed Lucchese Crime Family associate and convicted gambler, Al Alvarez will not be attending his daughter's fifth birthday party, according to a story by Thomas Zambito of the New York Daily News.

Judge Alvin HellersteinAlvarez has been confined to his home as part of a bail arrangement since 2005, when he was arrested along with members of the Gambino Crime Family on a racketeering indictment. He has been granted permission to go trick-or-treating with his daughter each of the past two years, but Manhattan federal court Judge Alvin Hellerstein (photo) felt the latest request was out of line.

"A birthday party at home, school or church is one thing," the judge said. "A celebration outing on the eve of going to jail is another. Bail conditions were set for a reason, and the celebration is not consistent with those reasons."

The five-year-old's party is to be held at the 116-acre Lake Isle Country Club in Eastchester NY.

Alvarez, who reached a plea bargain on gambling charges, will enter prison later this month. He is to serve a year and a half behind bars.

Albanian & Russian mobs run 'baby factories'

Organized crime groups from Albania and Russia are believed to be managing at least one "baby factory" in Athens, Greece, according to a story by Natalie Clark in the UK Daily Mail.
Families in Europe and America wanting a child simply place an order and hand over considerable cash. Women associated with the factory, mostly Bulgarians and Romanian "gypsies," are impregnated and paid to turn over the resulting babies.
According to the report, women are coerced into the arrangement through a number of methods. In some cases, women are granted false travel papers in order to enter Greece and are then presented with huge bills for the service. They are told that the debt will be erased if they get pregnant and give up their babies. Other women are drawn into the racket through the promise of cash or drugs.

City probes mob "links"

New York City is looking into the alleged underworld connections of a man hired to manage a city-owned public golf course, according to reports by Stephanie Gaskell of the New York Post and Greg B. Smith of the New York Daily News.
Dominick Logozzo secured a 20-year deal to manage a course located near the Belt Parkway back in 2005. The contract took effect Jan. 1, 2006. City Controller William Thompson is now asking the Parks Department to consider backing out of the deal.
"The information we have obtained gives rise to numerous integrity concerns," Thompson wrote to the parks officials.
That information concerns Logozzo's alleged relationship to Craig Marino, a reputed soldier of the Colombo Crime Family who is wanted on federal racketeering charges.
Logozzo reportedly provided financial backing for Marino's investment in the Zone Chefs company, which produces the Zone Diet and has been targeted by prosecutors as a front for a stock swindling racket. A Lincoln Navigator automobile driven by Marino is reportedly registered in Logozzo's name.
While citing "integrity concerns," Thompson noted that Logozzo has not been charged with any crime and that the golf course manager was under no obligation to reveal connections to Marino at the time he bid for the job (Marino was indicted the following March).
Logozzo's brother told the New York Post that Dominick has no ties to the mob. "All he does is get up and go to work every day."

Thursday, January 4, 2007

U.S.: Colombian police officers trafficked cocaine

Two Colombian police officers have been brought to the United States to be charged with helping to smuggle more than $50 million worth of cocaine between 2005 and 2006, according to a press release from the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Leonidas Molina-Triana (also known as "Sofoco" and "Don Oscar"), a former major in the Colombian National Police, and Humberto Avila, an active CNP patrolman, were indicted for aiding in the transport of cocaine through El Dorado International Airport in Bogota, Colombia, to Mexico, en route to the U.S.
The officers allegedly worked with employees of Avianca Airlines to pass the drug shipments through security. Mexican law enforcement seized 409 kilograms of cocaine aboard an Avianca plane landed at Mexico City on Oct. 17, 2005. Additional shipments allegedly arranged with the officers by the Norte Valle Cartel were seized in 2006. On April 3, a cargo of 552 kg of cocaine was discovered. Another 1,200 kg was found the following day.
The cocaine smuggling was discovered through Operation Caso Dorado, a joint program of the United States and Mexican governments.

Facchiano indicted in two states

New York and Florida racketeering indictments against Albert "Chinky" Facchiano, 96, are the focus of an article by Curt Anderson of the Associated Press.
Facchiano is believed to have been a Genovese Crime Family soldier for decades. His police record stretches back to an arrest during the Great Depression.
More recently, law enforcement officials say Facchiano was part of a Genovese family arm operating in south Florida. In late June, he was formally charged in Fort Lauderdale - along with reputed Genovese lieutenant Renaldi "Ray" Ruggiero, 72, and five other men - with extortion, money-laundering and other crimes.
In New York, he faces a similar list of charges, plus an accusation that he attempted to locate and intimidate a government witness in 2005.
One defendant in the Florida case, Charles Steinberg, 31, pleaded guilty in December and faces up to 20 years in prison.

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Bronx dad accused of being hitman

Melvin Green of the Bronx NY, father of seven children, has been accused of working as a professional hitman, according to a video report by Lou Young of WCBS-TV in New York.
Police believe Green, who has an "extensive" criminal record, was paid to execute the female owner of a Middletown NY hair salon on New Year's Eve. The killing of Fermina Nunez was allegedly contracted by the woman's ex-boyfriend.

18 dead in Brazil gang attacks

As Brazil's tourist season opens, authorities are battling heavily armed drug gangs on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, according to a story by Larry Rohter of the New York Times.

Gangs attacked police stations and other targets on Dec. 28. At least 18 people were killed in the violence. The gang assaults are believed related to a change in the local governor. Sergio Cabral took office on Monday, and some speculate that gang leaders were sending him a warning.

Since May, gang attacks in Brazil's largest city, Sao Paulo, have taken 200 lives.

Betting ring busted

Seventeen people were arrested last week as police dismantled a betting ring in Long Island, NY, according to a story by John Lauinger of the New York Daily News.
The arrests were the result of a one-year investigation and a wiretap of a computer in Suffolk County. Authorities traced betting activity through a wire room in Costa Rica.
According to the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, the betting operation was run by Salvatore Gerrato, 45, of Seaford, and Frank Lonigro, 33, of Hauppauge. The two men are also accused of running a side business that generated $1 million a year in marijuana trafficking.

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Sicilian godfather's Bible verse puzzle

Matteo Messina Denaro

Authorities are studying a memorial message in a Sicilian newspaper placed by reputed Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro, according to a story by Richard Owen of the UK Times.

Denaro's memorial notice to his father, who died in 1998, contains a Biblical verse in Latin, to which some words have been attached. Police suspect that Denaro might be using the message to communicate with underworld colleagues. Sicilian mob bosses, including Bernardo Provenzano who was captured last year, are known for sending coded messages based on Bible passages.

The first portion of the memorial, translated into English reads from the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes: "To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven, a time to be born and a time to die"

But, after that, it includes words not used in the Bible: "but only he who wants to will fly, and your flight has forever been sublime."

- Biography of Messina Denaro on Gangsters Incorporated

About Me

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Writer, editor, researcher, web publisher, specializing in organized crime history. (I am available to assist with your historical/genealogical research, as well as your writing and editing chores. Email me at
I am editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer; publisher of American Mafia history website; moderator of Mafia-related 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 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.