Sunday, October 28, 2007

Mob put Giuliani hit to a vote

The bosses of New York's five crime families voted in 1986 on whether to whack then-U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani (left), according to a story by Murray Weiss, Patrick Gallahue and Alex Ginsberg of the New York Post and a story by Scott Shifrel and Helen Kennedy of the New York Daily News. The motion was defeated by a 3-2 margin.

The vote came to light as FBI records were made public in connection with the murder trial of former FBI supervisor R. Lindley DeVecchio Oct. 24.

Vincent "the Chin" Gigante (Genovese family), Philip "Rusty" Rastelli (Bonanno) and Anthony "Tony Ducks" Corallo voted against assassinating the federal prosecutor who secured convictions against many of New York's leading mobsters and went on to serve as mayor of the city. John J. "Teflon Don" Gotti (Gambino) and Carmine "the Snake" Persico (Colombo) voted in favor. (Mugshots of the five Mafia bosses are shown at right.)

According to a 600-page informant file entered into evidence by DeVecchio's defense team, DeVecchio became aware of the underworld vote on Sept. 17, 1987, about a year after it occurred. DeVecchio, 67, is on trial in Brooklyn on murder charges. Prosecutors say he provided information that aided Colombo Crime Family bigshot Gregory Scarpa in planning four murders.

At the time of the vote, Giuliani was prosecuting the Commission case. That trial ended with the November 1986 convictions of Corallo, Persico, Genovese family bigshot Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno and five other defendants. Rastelli was convicted in a separate trial. "Big Paul" Castellano (Gambino) was indicted with his fellow New York bosses, but he was assassinated and replaced by Gotti before the trial began.

Giuliani, now a Presidential candidate, would not discuss the incident in detail. He has previously joked about threats on his life, noting that an $800,000 price on his head was insultingly later reduced to $400,000.

CT panel mulls DeLuca's future

A six-member bipartisan committee of the Connecticut State Senate is considering what action should be taken with regard to State Senator Louis C. DeLuca's (left) admitted link to organized crime, according to a story by Christine Stuart of the New York Times.

DeLuca pleaded guilty June 4 to a misdemeanor charge of threatening and acknowledged asking a Danbury-area trash hauler with reputed ties to the Mafia to threaten his granddaughter's husband in April 2005. Through a plea deal, federal agents dropped their investigation of the legislator. DeLuca claims his granddaughter was a victim of domestic violence. DeLuca also asserts that he repeatedly informed Waterbury Police Chief Neil O'Leary of his granddaughter's plight but received no help. Chief O'Leary insists that DeLuca never mentioned the abusive relationship.

The granddaughter's husband, Mark Colella (right), has denied the allegations of abuse, according to a Sept. 10 story by Paul Hughes of the Waterbury Republican American newspaper. He insists that DeLuca disapproved of the granddaughter's marriage and approached organized crime to have him eliminated. Colella also charged that DeLuca was prepared to his influence as state senate's Republican leader to pay back the favor.

As it looks into DeLuca's relationship with a reputed underworld figure, the senate committee is mulling four options for DeLuca's future: expulsion, censure, reprimand or no action. DeLuca has stepped down from his leadership of Senate Republicans but has dismissed suggestions that he should resign from his legislative position. DeLuca has served in the senate since 1990 and is a ranking member of the Banks, Executive Nominations, Insurance and Real Estate, and Legislative Management committees. He is also a director of the Connecticut General Assembly's Italian-American Legislative Caucus.

When questioned by the committee on Oct. 15, DeLuca refused to answer questions under oath. The committee took hours of unsworn testimony and then asked DeLuca to review a transcript and submit written verification or correction for his answers. DeLuca reportedly submitted an affidavit with some corrections.

The committee is probing DeLuca's relationship with trash hauler James Galante, who is awaiting federal trial. Galante was one of 29 people named in a 117-count federal indictment related to the monopolistic waste disposal industry in western Connecticut. He is accused of running a "property rights scheme" and of making large payments to Genovese Crime Family bigshot Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianniello (left). Many of his codefendants, including Ianniello, have already reached plea deals with prosecutors.

According to the Republican American, "federal investigators determined that DeLuca and Galante (right) had a close and confidential relationship." A heavily redacted FBI report implied a greater connection between the two men than that described by DeLuca.

When DeLuca reached out for help from Galante, the legislator did not realize that federal agents were nearing the end of an investigation of the trash hauler. The April 2005 meeting between the two men came to the attention of investigators. An undercover agent posing as a Galante associate was sent to meet with DeLuca on Sept. 5 and 6, 2006, three months after Galante had been indicted. During the meetings, DeLuca reportedly pledged political assistance to Galante but rejected a $5,000 bribe offer.

DeLuca has stated that his promise of assistance was merely an effort to placate a frightening visitor.

Ex-cop Coffey crooked: DeVecchio memo

A document to be used in the defense of former FBI supervisor R. Lindley DeVecchio charges that celebrated New York Police Detective Joe Coffey (right) was a mob informant, according to a story by Scott Shifrel of the New York Daily News.

Coffey, who solved more than 80 murders and led New York's Organized Crime Homicide Task Force, said the charge was "absolutely outrageous. I never in my life dealt with the Mafia other than to lock them up. They hated me. To this day, they hate me."

The defense document is a Sept. 4, 1984, memo relating to Mafia bigshot Gregory Scarpa (left), in which DeVecchio noted, "The source could not furnish specific details, but has longtime street knowledge of Coffey's dealings with La Cosa Nostra members."

That memo appears to have been the catalyst for an investigation of Coffey. "There was an investigation, and it was disproved," Coffey said. He suggested that DeVecchio might have fabricated the "tip" about his mob involvement. The two men feuded for some time.

DeVecchio (right) is standing trial in Brooklyn on murder charges. Prosecutors say his cooperation with Scarpa aided the Mafioso during the violent 1990s civil war in the Colombo Crime Family. Scarpa died in prison in 1994 at the age of 66. DeVecchio maintains his innocence. He is supported by a number of current and former FBI agents.

Coffey's law enforcement career is the subject of:
The Coffey Files: One Cop's War Against the Mob

Monday, October 22, 2007

Palminteri, 'A Bronx Tale' open on Broadway

Chazz Palminteri is bringing his one-man show, A Bronx Tale, to Broadway, 17 years after its initial LA and off-Broadway run, and 14 years after the story was brought to the big screen by Chazz and first-time director Robert Deniro.

Palminteri reportedly based A Bronx Tale on an actual event from his childhood. The writer/actor says he witnessed a murder from his front stoop (a concrete stairway leading into his building). "At that time, I thought they were fighting over the parking space in front of my building," Palminteri recalls. "I never did find out what they were fighting over."

Palminteri's story emphasizes the nobility of the working man over the gangster and warns that "the saddest thing in life is wasted talent."

A Bronx Tale is currently running previews at the Walter Kerr Theatre in New York City, with its official debut this Thursday, October, 25th. Information on the show is available online at and . Additional information in video form can be found at .

Palminteri will be answering questions about the show sent to . From now through Nov. 1, those e-mailing questions will be entered in a weekly drawing for a free pair of tickets to the show.

Mobster weeps during DeVecchio testimony

Testifying Oct. 18 about his experiences within the Colombo Crime Family, ex-mobster Lawrence Mazza, 46, broke down and cried on the witness stand, according to a story by Scott Shifrel of the New York Daily News. Mazza was testifying for the prosecution in the murder trial of former FBI supervisor Roy Lindley DeVecchio.

Mazza recounted his work, which included shooting and killing underworld rivals, on behalf of Colombo capo Gregory "the Grim Reaper" Scarpa (left). "I was his right hand man - very, very close," Mazza said. During the 1990s Colombo Family civil war, Mazza and his underworld colleagues would cruise around Brooklyn streets looking for their human targets.
When Mazza told of his personal background and his early desire to follow in the footsteps of his father, a New York Fire Department lieutenant, he began to cry. He noted that he spent a year at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, studying police and fire science, while he worked as a supermarket delivery boy. A chance meeting with Scarpa's girlfriend, Linda Schiro, changed all of his plans. Mazza wept uncontrollably, and a break had to be called in the trial.

Prosecutors charge that DeVecchio (right) provided information to Scarpa that aided him in his attacks on his rivals. DeVecchio insists he is innocent of wrongdoing. A number of current and former FBI agents have publicly supported him.

Mazza was arrested in 1993 and began cooperating with authorities the following year. He served time in prison for racketeering and murder.

Scarpa died in prison in 1994 at the age of 66. His son, Gregory Scarpa Jr., followed him into the mob and into prison. He is now serving time on a racketeering conviction.

Pope denounces "disgraceful" Camorra

On his first papal visit to the city of Naples, Pope Benedict (right) denounced yesterday the criminal activity and culture of violence of the Camorra criminal society, according to a report by Phil Steward of the Reuters news service.

"...That violence tends to become a widespread mentality... with the risk of especially attracting the young," the pope warned.

Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe of Naples delivered a similar message, stating, "Violence is always an offense against God."

Naples, somewhat ironically, is hosting an inter-faith conference on the role of religion in combatting worldwide violence. The city, which is the traditional home of the Camorra, has been plagued by violence. Last November, the Italian government considered sending in military forces to halt the clashes between Camorra gangs.

At that time, Campania regional Governor Antonio Bassolino called the Camorra, "a deadly cancer."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

U.S. won't extradite drug criminal

U.S. Immigration Judge D.D. Sitgraves cited humanitarian reasons for refusing an Italian extradition request for convicted drug trafficker Rosario Gambino, according to an Oct. 15 story by Anna Gorman of the Los Angeles Times.

The judge was concerned that Gambino would be subjected to physical and psychological pressure amounting to "torture" while in Italian custody.

According to a story by John Hooper of the UK Guardian, Italy routinely places restrictions on imprisoned organized criminals. They spend much of their time in solitary confinement, have limited access to open air and to family visits. Their mail is censored. Italian officials say the restrictions are necessary to ensure that Mafiosi do not continue to run their criminal enterprises while in prison.

Gambino's attorney P. Joseph Sandoval explained, "It's a humanitarian issue. The prison conditions in his specific case will be life-threatening and life-shortening."

Gambino, a reputed member of the crime family sharing his name, has served 22 years in a California prison on a drug trafficking conviction. He was removed to an immigration detention center last year, as his appeal against the Italian extradition request was processed.

U.S. immigration officials plan to appeal the judge's decision.

'Ndrangheta informant dies before testifying

There is concern that Bruno Piccolo, an informant on the workings of the 'Ndrangheta criminal society of Calabria, Italy, was "suicided" while under official protection, according to a story published by the UK Guardian.

Piccolo's lifeless body was found Tuesday in an Adriatic coast hideaway. Preliminary findings indicated that Piccolo ended his own life, but Italian political leaders are demanding a complete investigation. Piccolo was preparing to testify on the 2005 assassination of Calabrian politician Francesco Fortugno.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

FBI's DeVecchio comes to trial

Roy Lindley DeVecchio, an ex-FBI supervisor accused of cooperating with brutal Mafia bigshot, was in Brooklyn State Supreme Court yesterday for the opening of his trial, according to a story by Michael Brick of the New York Times.

DeVecchio, 67 (right), has been a well respected law enforcement professional and retains the support of many of his FBI peers. He made a significant contribution to the landmark Mafia Commission Case in the 1980s, which put the nation's top crime bosses behind bars.

Prosecutors charge that he lost his way between 1980 and 1993 and began trading information with a Colombo Crime Family capo, the late Gregory "the Grim Reaper" Scarpa Sr., who also served as an FBI informant. They say that he accepted cash and other compensation for cooperating with Scarpa in his efforts to eliminate Mafia rivals and other suspected informants. DeVecchio is accused of causing four murders and of failing to stop several others.

The prosecution witness list includes Linda Schiro, Scarpa's common law wife.

DeVecchio defense attorney Douglas Grover insists that Schiro has engineered her testimony in order to sell books. He argued that the working relationship between his client and Scarpa was not inappropriate. "Gregory Scarpa, as ugly and miserable a human being as he was - a made member of the Colombo Crime Family - was a top echelon FBI source," Grover said.

DeVecchio waived his right to trial by jury. His fate will be decided by Judge Gustin L. Reichbach. DeVecchio's attorneys tried a number of maneuvers to avoid state trial, including arguing for the case to be heard as a federal matter.

Gregory Scarpa Sr. (left), who is believed to have played a role in extracting information from Ku Klux Klansmen about the murders of civil rights workers in the 1960s, died in prison in 1994 at the age of 66.

His son, Gregory Scarpa Jr., followed him into an organized crime career. The younger Scarpa, now in prison on a racketeering conviction, is also expected to testify in the DeVecchio trial. Prosecutors say the two Scarpa's teamed up for the Sept. 24, 1984, murder of Mary Bari in the Occasions Bar in Bensonhurst, according to a story by Alex Ginsberg of the New York Post. Scarpa Jr. allegedly held Bari in a bear hug as Scarpa Sr. put three bullets into her head. Prosecutors say the Scarpas learned from DeVecchio that Bari was about to lead federal investigators to her fugitive boyfriend, reputed Colombo Crime Family bigshot Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Five charged with extortion, robberies

The FBI yesterday arrested five alleged members of the Mafia in the New York area, according to a story by Peter J. Sampson of the Record. They, along with two men already in prison, were charged with participating in robberies and extortion targeting business owners in New York and New Jersey during 2004 and 2005.

The FBI arrested John "Rocky" Melicharek, 37, of Glen Rock, NJ; Mike Iuni, 50, of Jersey City, NJ; Angelo Nicosia, 45, of East Stroudsburg, PA; Louis Pipolo, 45, of Newburgh, NY; and Dardian "Danny" Celaj, 30, of Bloomfield, CT. Also charged were Dominick "Shakes" Memoli, 41, and Ened "Neddy" Gjelaj, 27.

An eight-count indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court charges Melicharek, Iuni and Nicosia with associate status in the Genovese Crime Family. and accuses them of using their affiliation with the crime family to extort a Manhattan-based business owner. Melicharek, Memoli, Pipolo, Celaj and Gjelaj are charged with invading homes, including that of a Morris County, NJ, businessman, and of using firearms in connection with those crimes. Melicharek also faces a stolen property charge.

If convicted, Melicharek, Memoli, Pipolo, Celaj and Gjelaj could be sentenced to life in prison. Iuni and Nicosia face maximum sentences of 40 years in prison.

According to the Record story, several of the defendants are connected with the crew of reputed Genovese Family lieutenant Angelo "the Horn" Prisco. Prisco (right), 68, was arrested at his home on Outlook Avenue in the Bronx, NY, early last year along with two other men on an extortion charge, according to a press release from the Newark, NJ, office of the FBI. He later pleaded guilty to ordering an assault on an electrical contractor competing with a Prisco-allied contractor. In spring 2003, there was a furor over Prisco's early release from prison, according to a Mike Kelly column on He had been sentenced in 1998 to serve 12 years in East Jersey State Prison. At the time of his parole, Prisco was 13 months from his scheduled parole hearing. He was placed on the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement exclusion list late in 2003.

According to a story in the New York Daily News, the indictment illustrates the Genovese Family's use of ethnic Albanian "muscle." Albanian Celaj was allegedly called in to terrorize a New Jersey family.

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.