Saturday, December 29, 2007

Jury convicts Persico of 1999 'hit'

Alphonse Persico A federal jury in Brooklyn yesterday convicted Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico (right), reputed boss of the Colombo Crime Family, of ordering the 1999 killing of underboss William "Wild Bill" Cutolo, according to a story by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News.

Persico, 53, and codefendant John "Jackie" DeRoss, were found guilty of conspiring to eliminate Cutolo in an effort to consolidate their power within the crime family. The Colombo clan had gone through a bloody civil war in the 1990s. Factions reportedly reached a cease-fire agreement, but Cutolo was a casualty of a lingering grudge.

Persico and DeRoss were found not guilty of charges related to the killing of crime family soldier Joseph Campanella.

William CutoloCutolo (left) was last seen on May 26, 1999. He was reportedly on his way to meet Persico in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Persico and DeRoss were first tried in connection with his assumed murder last year. That trial resulted in a hung jury.

For this year's trial U.S. Attorneys brought Cutolo's wife Marguerite to the stand. She directly accused Persico of causing her husband's death and refuted defense theories that Cutolo ran off with a fortune and was in hiding. Marguerite had been in the witness protection program since 2001.

"My husband never ran away," she said from the witness stand. "I'm appearing here for my husband, for his death."

Prosecutors provided bits of evidence indicating that Cutolo was killed and that his body was dumped off a boat at sea.

Like his father, former Colombo boss Carmine "the Snake" Persico, now 74 and serving a life sentence for racketeering, Alphonse Persico is expected to spend the rest of his days behind bars.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Fortunato convicted as Polito walks

Brooklyn Judge Joel Goldberg yesterday convicted Mario Fortunato, 60, of second-degree murder in connection with the November 1994 killing of loanshark Sabatino Lombardi, according to reports by Michael Brick of the New York Times and Scott Shifrel of the New York Daily News.

The surprising conviction came a day after a jury found Fortunato's co-defendant Carmine Polito, 48, not guilty. Polito chose a jury trial, while Fortunato - target of a weaker prosecution case - opted to let the judge decide his fate.

Fortunato (right), a baker, and Polito, a pizza maker, stood trial together in federal court on similar charges in 2003. They were convicted and sentenced to life in prison. The following year, the decision was overturned on appeal. State murder charges were brought against the pair in 2005.

Prosecutors argued that Polito wanted Lombardi dead in order to escape a large debt. Fortunato, prosecutors said, had a personal grudge against the loanshark.

During a card game at the San Giuseppe Social Club on Brooklyn's Graham Avenue, Lombardi and Genovese Crime Family member Michael D'Urso were shot by intruders. Lombardi lost his life. According to prosecutors, Polito and Fortunato arranged the "hit." D'Urso, who has since aided in the prosecution of a large number of his former underworld associates including Genovese boss Vincent Gigante, testified against Polito and Fortunato.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Polito not guilty in 1994 loanshark murder

A Brooklyn jury yesterday found Carmine Polito, 48-year-old alleged Genovese Crime Family member, not guilty of the 1994 murder of loan shark Sabotino Lombardi, according to published reports by Alex Ginsberg and Gregory P. Mango of the New York Post and Scott Shifrel of the New York Daily News.

The guilt of innocence of co-defendant Mario Fortunato, 60, will be decided by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Joel Goldberg today. Fortunato opted to put his fate in the hands of the judge rather than the jury.

Carmine PolitoLombardi and his cousin Michael "Cookie" D'Urso were shot during a November 1994 card game at the Giuseppe Social Club in Williamsburg. Lombardi was killed and D'Urso wounded. Polito (left) and Fortunato were initially charged in federal court with orchestrating the hit, and they were convicted in 2003 of the racketeering-related offense. The convictions were overturned on the grounds that the attack was related to personal business - Polito allegedly owed Lombardi more than $50,000 - rather than to an organized crime conspiracy rightly dealt with in federal court. New York State's top court decided that it would not violate the "double jeopardy" principle for the Kings County District Attorney to charge the pair with murder.

After the shooting, D'Urso entered the witness protection program and testified in cases against many connected with Genovese Crime Family. The D.A.'s case against Polito and Fortunato had three key witnesses, victim D'Urso and two other men who allegedly took part in the hit.

"These guys were so confident they wouldn't even offer a serious plea deal," Polito defense attorney Gerald McMahon said about the prosecutors.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Lenny Strollo looks forward to late-2008 release

The former chief of Mafia operations in Youngstown, Ohio, could be released from federal custody by the end of 2008, according to a story in today's Mahoning Valley Vindicator.

Lenine "Lenny" Strollo (right) was sentenced to just under 13 years in prison Jan. 27, 2004, but received credit for time served and for good behavior. After his Dec. 11, 1997, arrest, Strollo pleaded guilty to corruption and tax charges and became a cooperating witness for the federal government in February 1999. He spent five years working with prosecutors on cases against Mafia bigshots and corrupt officials in Youngstown, Cleveland, New York, Pittsburgh PA, and Detroit MI, before he was sentenced on the original racketeering offenses. He has been held in protective custody with his whereabouts kept secret.

Strollo turns 76 in April 2008. Once released, he will be on supervised release for three years. His sentence also calls for 250 hours of community service.

Strollo's wife, Antoinette, told the newspaper, "It's been a long time coming and we're glad it's almost over. His family, we all want him back. We have something to look forward to."

With Strollo's cooperation, federal prosecutors won a conviction against U.S. Congressman James Traficant. Strollo is also credited with playing a role in the conviction of Pitsburgh mobster Sonny Ciancutti, Mahoning County Sheriff Phil Chance and others.

Strollo controlled Pittsburgh Crime Family interests in Youngstown, Ohio, and the surrounding Mahoning Valley. The proceeds of Youngstown rackets have traditionally been shared by the Cleveland and Pittsburgh Mafia organizations.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

DeVecchio could be called as witness for Persico

Alphonse PersicoThe former FBI supervisor recently cleared of charges relating to Colombo Crime Family murders could soon be called as a witness in the defense of accused Mafia murderer Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico (right), according to a story by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News.

State charges against Lindley DeVecchio were dropped last month when credibility issues were raised about a key prosecution witness.

Persico, son of reputed Colombo boss Carmine "the Snake" Persico, is on trial once again for allegedly ordering the 1999 murder of underworld rival William "Wild Bill" Cutolo. A trial on the same charge last year resulted in a hung jury.

Roy Lindley DeVecchioPersico's defense attorney Sarita Kedia reportedly wants to call DeVecchio (left) to the stand to testify about events in the early-1990s Colombo Family civil war. DeVecchio was an FBI handler for informer and Colombo bigshot Gregory "the Grim Reaper" Scarpa Sr.

Emmanuello swallowed secret notes

Daniele Emmanuelle
Officials in Italy say that Sicilian Mafia bigshot Daniele Emmanuello swallowed secret notes containing names and telephone numbers as he fled from police pursuers earlier this week, according to a Reuters story by Wladimir Pantaleone and Phil Stewart.

Authorities say Emmanuello, 43, was struck and killed by police warning shots as he attempted to get away. Considered boss of a Mafia clan in the city of Gela, he had been a fugitive of the law since 1993.

An autopsy of Emmanuello's body showed fragments of the notes lodged in the crime boss's esophagus. Police did not say whether any of the fragments were of use to anti-Mafia investigations.

Feud claims sons of Calabrian mob boss

Calabria, Italy
Two sons of jailed Calabrian mob boss Vincent Comberiati were shot to death earlier this week, apparent victims of an ongoing feud within the 'Ndrangheta criminal society, according to a report in the Australian Daily Telegraph.

Francesco Comberiati, 24, died in the driver's seat of his car. Luigi Comberiati, 29, fled his car parked nearby and hid in a restaurant kitchen. Gunmen found him and killed him.

The ANSA news agency reports that the murders are part of a struggle for dominance in drug trafficking and other underworld rackets in mainland Italy's southernmost region. The feud is believed also to have been the cause of six murders of Italians within Germany this past August.
Vincent Comberiati has been in prison for several years.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Italy arrests dozens of suspected mobsters

Forty six people were detained after anti-Mafia police raids in eastern Sicily today, according to reports from the Associated Press and ANSA. Italian police say reputed Catania crime boss Vincenzo Santapaola was among those arrested.

"We are dismantling the clans piece by piece," said Italian Interior Minister Giuliano Amato in a prepared statement. "The bosses can no longer fool themselves: We will get them one by one."

In the raids, police seized weapons and drugs and ledgers of extortion fees and salaries related to the Santapaola organization. The suspects face charges of Mafia association, drug trafficking and extortion.

Officials believe that Vincenzo Santapaola succeeded his father Benedetto Santapaola as chief of the Catania Mafia. Benedetto was arrested more than a decade ago.

Top Sicilian mobster killed during escape attempt

Daniele Emmanuello, 43, was shot to death yesterday as he attempted to flee from police in Sicily, according to press reports from CNN and the Agenzia Giornalistica Italia.

Early in the morning, police from Caltanissetta surrounded the cottage where Emmanuello, a fugitive for the past 11 years, was hiding out. Emmanuello reportedly pulled clothes on over his pajamas and left the home through a window.

Police officials say warning shots were fired. Emmanuello (left) tumbled into a ravine. When police got there they discovered that Emmanuello had been struck and killed by the police weapons fire.

Officials say Emmanuello was a rising Mafia boss. He was believed to be working to unite four regional crime families. He had been on the run since 1996, charged with Mafia association, drug trafficking and murder.

DEEP WATER: Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia - A historical biography of the notorious 19th Century New Orleans gang boss and a probing look at the political and social forces that helped the Mafia take root in the New World.

Feds want Kerik's defense lawyer off the case

Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik (right) soon could be looking for a new attorney, according to a story by Thomas Zambito of the New York Daily News.

Federal prosecutors last week asked U.S. Judge Stephen Robinson to prevent attorney Kenneth Breen from defending Kerik in an upcoming trial. The prosecutors argued that Breen could be called as a witness in the case. His testimony could "go to the heart of the charges in the indictment," the prosecutors wrote in a letter to the judge.

Kerik was indicted Nov. 8 on charges related to his concealment of favors he received while a New York City official. In June 2006, Kerik admitted that he did not disclose renovation work done on his Riverdale apartment by contractors seeking to work for the city. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges and was sentenced to pay $221,000 in fines and fees.

Prosecutors estimate the value of the renovations at $165,000. The work was reportedly paid for by the DiTommaso brothers, owners of Interstate Industrial Corporation. If Kerik is found guilty of tax fraud, depriving the city of his honest services and other charges in his upcoming trial in White Plains, he could be sentenced to 142 years in prison.
In addition to serving in a top city law enforcement post, Kerik was at one time considered by the Bush Administration as a leading candidate to lead the Department of Homeland Security. Kerik withdrew his name from consideration for that job, citing possible tax problems relating to a family nanny.

Sicilian bigshot nabbed while watching Mafia TV show

Michele Catalano, reputed lieutenant of recently arrested Sicilian crime boss Salvatore LoPiccolo, was himself arrested last week while watching a Mafia-related television program, according to a Reuters report.

Catalano was watching the final episode in "The Boss of Bosses" - a TV mini-series based upon the 1993 arrest of Salvatore "Toto" Riina - when police burst into his home and placed him under arrest. He was charged with drug trafficking and extortion.

LoPiccolo, who officials say became Sicily's most powerful Mafioso after last year's capture of Bernardo Provenzano, was arrested last month, ending nearly a quarter century on the run.

$800K more for Vegas mob museum

Another $800,000 has been allocated for the planned mob museum in Las Vegas, according to a report broadcast by KLAS. Preserving and upgrading the historic downtown Vegas post office building and setting up the museum is expected to cost more than $30 million. The Las Vegas Centennial Commission has earmarked $300,000 for the purchase of organized crime-related artifacts. The money for the project is coming from the sale of license plates commemorating the city's 2005 centennial.

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.