Saturday, July 21, 2007

Judge tried to launder money for mob

David Gross, 45, a former Nassau County NY judge, faces 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine after his mid-July admission that he attempted to launder money for the mob, according to a story by WNBC-TV in New York.

Gross admitted on July 13 that he agreed to launder $400,000 in proceeds of a jewelry robbery. At the time the deal was set up, he did not know that he was talking to an undercover FBI agent.

Gross teamed with Nicholas Gruttadauria, an alleged member of the Genovese Crime Family, to generate false invoices through a Freeport restaurant that would cover the illegal income. Gross was to keep 20 percent of all laundered cash for himself.

Gruttadauria also pleaded guilty in the case.

Feds heard of mob plot against chief justice

The FBI in the early 1980s warned leaders of Mafia crime families in seven U.S. cities in to avoid involvement in an apparent plot to murder Warren Burger, chief justice of the Supreme Court, according to an Associated Press story by Lara Jakes Jordan.

A confidential informant told the FBI of the plot he overheard in 1979 while in prison with members of three Mafia families. The mobsters reportedly also planned to assassinate a federal judge in New Jersey. The Burea alerted Chief Justice Burger to the report and advised the heads of crime families that they were aware of the plot. (Burger died of natural causes in 1995.)

According to an FBI memo dated Dec. 18, 1981, the plotters were Phillip "Rusty" Rastelli, (right) boss of the Bonanno Crime Family; Joseph Gambino, a lieutenant in the Gambino Crime Family; and Frank Cotroni, boss of a crime family in Montreal, Canada. The three mob bigshots were jailed at the time in the federal penitentiary in Lewisburg, PA.

The memo was sent from the FBI's Seattle field office.

FBI investigates NBA referee Donaghy

Law enforcement agencies including the FBI are investigating whether veteran National Basketball League referee Tim Donaghy influenced the outcome of games he or his associates wagered on, according to a story by Alan Schwarz and William K. Rashbaum of the New York Times.

A source directly involved with the case told news reporters that Donaghy (left) had been betting on games with a mob-connected bookie and fell into debt. He then came under the influence of an organized crime figure. The FBI is looking into whether Donaghy then cooperated with the criminal by making calls that affected the outcome of games. The Bureau is specifically focusing on 10-15 games of the 60 Donaghy officiated since December 2006.

NBA Commissioner David Stern released this statement: "We would like to assure our fans that no amount of effort, time or personnel is being spared to assist in this investigation, to bring to justice an individual who has betrayed the most sacred trust in professional sports, and to take the necessary steps to protect against this ever happening again." Stern said the league would hold a press conference on the matter next week.

Donaghy is expected to turn himself over to authorities next week. Other arrests could follow. The investigation began more than a year ago, according to a column by Murray Weiss in the New York Post.

Former lieutenant testifies against Basciano

Nicholas "P.J." Pisciotti, a former lieutenant in the Bonanno Crime Family, testified in the racketeering-murder trial of his former boss Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano (right) last week, according to a story by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News.

Pisciotti, 37, a mob turncoat, spoke about the 2001 murder of Frank Santoro. He also described the events that caused him to turn his back on his former associates and his underworld oath. According to Pisciotti, he looked to his superiors for backing when Genovese Crime Family associates brought felony assault charges against him. Pisciotti hoped that back-channel conversations could cause the charges to be dropped. However, he later learned that Bonanno leaders Nicholas Santora and Anthony Rabito refused to intercede.

Basciano had a bit of a fashion emergency on Thursday, according to another Daily News story. Out of fresh dress shirts, Basciano showed up at trial wearing a t-shirt under his suit jacket and complaining that he was uncomfortable about it. Judge Nicholas Garaufis lent the former mob boss his own spare blue dress shirt and yellow tie. While it wasn't quite the quality that "Gorgeous" is used to, he seemed pleased.

Hartford's Tedesco dies at 84

Daniel Tedesco, longtime operator of a numbers game in Hartford, CT, died this week at the age of 84, according to a story by Edmund H. Mahony of the Hartford Courant.

Tedesco, reputedly linked to the New England Mafia Family based in Providence RI, ran his gambling racket from Tunnel Variety on Main Street. Some law enforcement officials believe he figured out a way to rig the "second-chance drawings" of the Connecticut State Lottery back in the 1970s. He was never charged with that offense.

Known as "the Fat Man," he was allegedly involved in stealing guns from the Colt armory and in dealing in other stolen property. Tedesco reportedly denied any involvement with organized crime and called the gun charge a "frame-up."

The Courant story details many of Tedesco's kind-hearted and generous contributions to the needy of the community.

Tedesco served some time in prison in the 1990s when he refused to identify for the FBI the source of an underworld loan he obtained. He was jailed on a contempt charge.

In recent years, Tedesco's gambling ventures became small-time affairs, as the region's gamblers looked to Connecticut's Indian casinos for action. He was a resident of the Newington Nursing Home at the time of his death on Thursday.

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.