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.

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.