Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Details of Mele's death revealed

During a recent bail hearing for a reputed Bonanno Crime Family underboss, prosecutors referred to the Jan. 16 death of Louis "Louie Cigars" Mele, according to stories by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News and Stefanie Cohen of the New York Post.

Mele (right), believed to have been a soldier in the Bonanno family, reportedly died of a heart attack during a Texas Hold 'Em poker game at a private social club at Long Island's Alpha Plaza. He was 71. Supervising that poker game is one of the charges federal prosecutors have brought against reputed underboss Nicholas "Nicky Mouth" Santora and reputed consigliere Anthony "Fat Anthony" Rabito.

Mele's death was mentioned in court after Santora's lawyer asked to have his client freed on bail because of recent heart surgery. Prosecutor Greg Andres noted that the heart surgery had not prevented Santora from attending Mele's wake. Andres tossed in the comment: "He actually died, I believe, at the Texas Hold 'Em game."

Mele's claim to fame was serving as driver for the late Bonanno chieftain Carmine "Lilo" Galante, who was shot to death at Joe & Mary's Italian American Restaurant on July 12, 1979.

No autopsy was performed on Mele, as the death was not suspicious.

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Authorities nab Hong Kong DVD pirates

Customs officers in Hong Kong arrested 14 people and seized 120,000 pirated DVD movies last week, according to a report by the Bangkok Post.

Two days of raids at 20 locations concluded a year-long investigation into the piracy ring. The individuals arrested included 11 men and three women. Albert Chan, the officer in charge of the raids, linked the piracy ring to traditional Chinese criminal organizations known as Triads.

The DVDs were reportedly made in mainland China and smuggled into Hong Kong. Officials in Hong Kong have made cracking down on illegal disk copying a priority.

EU: Bulgaria must act against mobsters

Franco Frattini, justice commissioner of the European Union, said today that new union member state Bulgaria must act quickly against organized criminals in order to avoid sanctions, according to a Bulgarian news agency story.

Frattini noted Bulgaria's progress in passing laws related to organized crime and governmental corruption. "Now the courts have to speed up trials," he said. "Arrests aren't enough. We are waiting for sentences."

And it seems the European Union won't wait much longer. The organization cold impose sanctions - including withholding financial help and preventing Bulgarian court rulings from being recognized in other European states - as soon as June.

Bulgarian authorities are criticized for securing no convictions to date of organized criminals connected with a wave of gangland murders. More than 150 killings have been attributed to organized crime since 2001.
After some hesitation related to Bulgaria's handling of its rampant organized crime problem, the European Union officially welcomed Bulgaria into its ranks last month.
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Gangs reach into the suburbs

The growing influence of violent street gangs in suburban neighborhoods is described in a Feb. 19 report by WCBS-TV in New York.

According to the report, gangs are deliberately recruiting children in affluent areas because of their access to money and vehicles.

Parents were warned to be on the lookout for signs of gang involvement by their children: a change in friends, the wearing of extemely baggy clothes aways with the same color combination, and secrecy about activities.

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 tphunt@gmail.com.)
I am editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer; publisher of American Mafia history website Mafiahistory.us; 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.