Thursday, December 18, 2008

NJ racketeer Prisco indicted in 1992 killing

Angelo Prisco, 69, of Toms River NJ, has been indicted for murder in the aid of racketeering, according to a story published today by Newsday. He is charged with killing Angelo Sangiuolo on June 3, 1992, on behalf of the Genovese Crime Family. Prisco has served jail time for arson and conspiracy and for authorizing the beating of an electrician competing with a Prisco friend.

A press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York indicates that Prisco (right) has been a soldier and a captain in the Genovese family. As captain, he is charged with overseeing a crew operating in New York City and nearby New Jersey. Prosecutors say the crew engaged in home invasions and other armed robberies, extortion of a construction firm in Manhattan, gambling, and possession, transport and sale of stolen goods.

If convicted of the charges against him, Prisco could be sentenced to life in prison.

Racketeer indicted for murder of NYPD cop

Joel Cacace, former acting boss of the Colombo Crime Family, has been indicted for the 1997 murder of off-duty New York Police Officer Ralph Dols, according to a story by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News.

Cacace is currently serving a 20-year prison sentcned for racketeering and conspiring to murder a U.S. prosecutor.

Dols was linked to the Colombo clan through his marriage to Kimberly Kennaugh. Kennaugh was Cacace's ex-girlfriend. She also was the ex-wife of Colombo Crime Family soldier Enrico Carini. Dols, just 28 and the father of three children, was shot five times on his way home from work on Aug. 25, 1997. At the time, then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said the killing had been well planned and had been performed "execution-style."

Dino Calabro and Dino Saracino are also charged in the Dols killing, according to the Daily News.

Thomas "Tommy Shots" Gioeli, reputed to be the current boss of the Colombo family, has been indicted for participating in the 1999 killing of William "Wild Bill" Cutolo. The victim's remains were discovered buried at a site in Farmingdale NY. Former acting boss Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico was convicted of participating in that killing.

Prosecutors credit information supplied by Colombo soldier Joseph "Joey Caves" Competiello for helping to solve the old murder cases.

Artuso sentenced to nine years for fraud

Vincent Artuso, 64, was sentenced Dec. 16 to nine years in federal prison for his involvement in real estate fraud, according to a story published by the International Herald Tribune.

Artuso was convicted of 41 fraud and racketeering charges in October. The charges stemmed from a number of real estate deals that cost ADT Security Services Inc. at least $11 million.

According to U.S. Attorney William T. Shockley, Artuso was a made member of the Gambino Crime Family supervising a crew based in Palm Beach, Florida. Artuso is believed to have been a close ally of the late Gambino boss John J. Gotti. Shockley said he has evidence indicating that Artuso was present at the Dec. 16, 1985, assassination of former boss Paul Castellano in Manhattan (left). That killing paved the way for Gotti to take control of the crime family.

Sicilian mobster dies in custody

Italian police say imprisoned reputed Mafia boss Gaetano Lo Presti, 52, hanged himself in his cell Dec. 16, according to stories by the BBC and UPI.

Lo Presti (right) had been arrested earlier in the day, part of a roundup of almost 100 alleged Mafiosi. Italian officials believed LoPresti was boss of a Mafia clan in a district of Palermo. Police say the Mafia leadership has been working to establish a ruling council and possibly a supreme boss of the organization. Bernardo Provenzano, the underworld organization's most powerful boss for many years, was arrested in April 2006. A successor, Salvatore LoPiccolo, was arrested in November 2007.

Officials say Lo Presti was found dead in his cell after he read police wiretap transcripts tying him to efforts to establish a provincial "commission."

Calabrese letter asks about his son

In a lengthy letter from Frank Calabrese Sr. to family friend Frank Coconate, the jailed Calabrese asks a series of questions about his son, who testified against him during the Family Secrets trial. The point of the questions seems to be that Frank Calabrese Jr. testified in order to profit financially from his father's underworld career. Frank Sr. also seemed to be trying to determine the whereabouts of his son and other members of his family. The discovery of the letter occurred at the same time that Frank Sr. was moved into solitary confinement.

Click for the text of the letter.

Click for a video report by ABC7-Chicago.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

NJ racketeer linked to '05 Ricci killing

Federal prosecutors say New Jersey racketeer Tino Fiumara is their prime suspect in the 2005 murder of Genovese Crime Family bigshot Lawrence Ricci, according to a story by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News.

Ricci disappeared Oct. 7, 2005, as he was on trial for waterfront racketeering. His remains were found in the trunk of a car parked at a New Jersey diner.

Investigators believe Fiumara (right), reputed lieutenant in the Genovese organization, had Ricci killed because Ricci refused to plead guilty in the case and allow his longshoremen union official codefendants to stand trial on their own.

According to the Daily News, federal agents are working to convince crime family lieutenant Michael "Mikey Cigars" Coppola, now awaiting trial for a 1977 murder, to cooperate in the investigation of Fiumara.

Fiumara is believed to be a major power within the Genovese organization. Authorities say he commands waterfront labor rackets in New Jersey. In 1979, he was convicted of labor racketeering and extortion. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. In 2000, he was convicted of violating the terms of his parole by secretly meeting with other members of the Genovese Crime Family.

The Genovese family has reportedly been without an official boss since the death of Vincent "the Chin" Gigante three years ago.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

11 months later, Feds unveil Alite deal

A plea deal arranged between federal prosecutors and Tampa-based racketeer John E. Alite, 46, was kept under wraps for almost 11 months, according to a story by Kevin Graham of the St. Petersburg Times.

Under the terms of the deal, revealed by prosecutors today, Alite admitted involvement in two murders, four murder conspiracies, eight shootings and two attempted shootings, home invasions and armed robberies. At the time he was also accused of gambling, drug trafficking, extortion, money laundering, kidnapping and other racketeering offenses in connection with the Gambino Crime Family.

According to the Times story, Alite said he participated in the Dec. 20, 1998, murder of George Grosso and the Nov. 20, 1991, killing of Bruce John Gotterup. Among the murder conspiracies he admitted participating in was the 1990 conspiracy to kill Louis DiBono. Those three murder cases were also part of the recent federal racketeering indictment of John A. "Junior" Gotti.

Alite and Gotti reportedly were once close friends. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa said Gotti signed as a witness on Alite's 1989 marriage license. There is speculation that Alite will be called as a government witness against Gotti in an upcoming racketeering trial in New York. The government's last three racketeering cases against Gotti have not resulted in convictions. Prosecutors attempted to try him in Tampa on the latest charges, but Gotti's attorney succeeded in having the trial moved to New York.

In 2004, criminal charges were lodged against Alite and other members of a Gambino Crime Family crew based in the Tampa area. Ronald "Ronnie One Arm" Trucchio and three co-defendants were convicted of conspiracy and racketeering in the valet business. Alite's trial was delayed. He was in Brazil and fought extradition to the U.S.

Prosecutors were keeping quiet about the Alite plea deal, but a federal judge ordered them to turn the plea information to defense attorneys for Charles Carneglia, charged with RICO violations. Alite could be called as a witness against Carneglia.

Outfit bosses request later sentencing

James Marcello and Frank Calabrese Sr., both convicted of participation in Chicago-area racketeering murders in last year's Family Secrets trial, have asked a federal judge to postpone their sentencing, according to a report broadcast by WANDTV-17 in Illinois. Calabrese was scheduled for sentencing tomorrow. Marcello's sentencing was to be Dec. 17.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Gotti trial moved back to New York

Suggesting that U.S. prosecutors have engaged in "forum shopping," U.S. Judge Steven Merryday yesterday ruled that John A. "Junior" Gotti's latest racketeering trial must be moved from Tampa, FL, to New York City, according to a story by Thomas Zambito of the New York Daily News.

Gotti (left), 44, was indicted in Tampa for three racketeering murders and drug trafficking. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in August. Federal prosecutors, who have failed to win convictions in three racketeering cases against him in New York, hoped for better luck in Tampa. Gotti was arrested and transported to Tampa, where he has been held without bail.

Gotti's attorneys argued that a trial in Tampa would be a large financial burden on the Gotti family. They noted that nearly all the charges against their client were based on incidents in New York.

In Judge Merryday's decision, he outlined the repeated frustrations of federal prosecutors and stated that the Justice Department's decision to try Gotti in Florida "creates the unmistakable and disquieting impression of forum shopping."

Gotti is the son of former Gambino Crime Family boss John J. Gotti, who was known for a time as the Teflon Don for his ability to escape prosecution.

Calabrese waits in solitary for sentencing

Frank Calabrese Sr., 74, convicted of racketeering murders in last year's Family Secrets trial in Chicago, now awaits sentencing in solitary confinement, according to a story by Steve Warmbir of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Calabrese (right) was placed under strict lockdown measures at the Metropolitan Correctional Center after twice allegedly threatening a U.S. prosecutor. He is isolated from fellow prisoners and is only permitted visits by three members of his immediate family.

He is scheduled for sentencing next week.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

D'Elia informs, gets nine-year sentence

NE Pennsylvania boss
cooperates in probe

Federal prosecutors believe the sentencing of William D'Elia (right) in federal court yesterday represents the "final chapter in the dismantling of the Bufalino Pittston crime syndicate," according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

D'Elia, 62, of Hughestown PA, was sentenced to 108 months in prison for conspiring to launder money and tampering with a witness. He was also sentenced to three years of supervised release following that prison term. D'Elia, reputed boss of the Northeastern Pennsylvania "Bufalino" Crime Family based on Scranton, Pittston and Wilkes Barre, has already served about two years.

Prosecutors say they will recommend additional time be taken off D'Elia's sentence if he continues to provide "substantial" assistance to the Dauphine County District Attorney's Office on a perjury case against Mount Airy Resort Casino owner Louis DeNaples, according to a story by Michael Rubinkam of the Associated Press.

D'Elia pleaded guilty last March and was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas I. Vanaski. The judge could have imposed as many as 15 years in prison for the charges against D'Elia. When first charged, there were as many 18 counts against him, and he faced possible punishment of up to 30 years in prison and $750,000 in fines. Most charges were dropped in the plea bargain process. D'Elia's attorney had argued for a sentence of just seven years, according to a story by Terrie Morgan-Besecker of the Wilkes Barre Times Leader.

"I'm truly sorry for my actions that may have harmed people," D'Elia told the judge. "I hope I will soon be able to resume my life with my family in a positive, honorable and productive way."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Zubrod said D'Elia is assisting the perjury case against DeNaples and his adviser Father Joseph Sica. County authorities charge that both men lied about DeNaples' connections to organized crime when DeNaples applied to operate his Pocono Mountains casino, according to a report by Norm Jones of WNEP-16, Moosic PA.

A DeNaples spokesman said "Louis DeNaples is innocent and absolutely doesn't have any connections to organized crime. When this case finally goes to court, we'll have the chance to tell the court the truth." A spokesman for Father Sica said, "Father Sica never committed perjury. His prosecution is offensive."

A DeNaples attorney told the press that D'Elia was lying to investigators in an effort to have time shaved off his sentence.

D'Elia and several codefendants were indicted in May 2006 on charges that they aided a drug dealer in the laundering of hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug sale proceeds by setting up phony companies. D'Elia was released on bail. A second indictment charged him with continuing to launder money after his release and with ordering the murder of witness Frank Pavlico III.

"This was a cold-blooded attempt to obstruct the investigation by murdering a witness," said Zubrod.

Law enforcement agencies had considered D'Elia a bigshot in the Northeastern Pennsylvania Crime Family for decades. He once served as driver for regional boss Russell Bufalino. Philadelphia's turncoat crime boss Ralph Natale testified in 2001 that D'Elia was boss of the old Bufalino organization. In 2003, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement put D'Elia on its Exclusion List (left), banning him from casinos in the state. Still, D'Elia was not charged with a crime until the money laundering case.

Pavlico, originally a codefendant in that case, wore a "wire" and recorded conversations with D'Elia. Pavlico pleaded guilty to money laundering and was sentenced to 10 months in prison.

RI LIUNA official indicted for racketeering

Nicholas Manocchio, director of a New England regional organizing fund of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), has been indicted on one count of labor conspiracy, according to a report by Nancy Krause of WPRI and a story by W. Zachary Malinowski of the Providence Journal.

Arrested yesterday, Manocchio (left), 55, of Cranston RI, is accused of accepting cash and other gifts from an undercover agent posing as a contractor looking for work in Rhode Island. The gifts included liquor, use of rental cars and gift certificates. Manocchio was released on $25,000 unsecured bond. He is scheduled for arraignment in December.

Also indicted on related racketeering charges were Harold Tillinghast, 44, also of Cranston, and Gerald Diodati, 59, of Seekonk MA. Tillinghast is a former employee of LIUNA. Diodati is a contractor. The two men were arrested last month and are free on bond. Charges stem from a six-year-long investigation of corruption in an Olneyville RI development project.

Authorities noted that Manocchio is the nephew of Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio, longtime boss of the New England Crime Family. Nicholas Manocchio served about seven years in prison in the 1980s after being convicted of manslaughter and related charges in connection with the killing of Richard Fournier, 24, in North Providence.

Feds break up Lucchese gambling ring

Federal prosecutors say they arrested an acting lieutenant in the Lucchese Crime Family and five other men for running a sports gambling ring in the Bronx, according to a story by Thomas Zambito of the New York Daily News.

Authorities say Anthony Croce, an acting lieutenant in the crime family, regularly received payments from the betting organization. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted of the charges against him. The gambling operation, which included offshore locations and made use of the Internet, was revealed when investigators recorded cell phone conversations of bets being taken on football games and other sports events.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

RI police discover mobster's remains

Rhode Island State Police believe they have discovered the buried remains of slain mobster Joseph P. "Joe Onions" Scanlon behind the Lisboa Apartments in East Providence, according to a story by W. Zachary Malinowski and Mike Stanton of the Providence Journal.

Police were directed to the site by Nicholas S. "Nicky" Pari, 71, of North Providence. Pari has already served time for the 1978 killing of Scanlon. He admitted to that crime back in 1982. His latest revelation for law enforcement came after he was arrested in Operation Mobbed Up earlier this week. The remains, unearthed yesterday, will be subjected to DNA testing.

Scanlon grew up in an Italian neighborhood of Hartford, Connecticut, aspiring to Mafia membership. He moved to Providence with hopes of joining the Patriarca Crime Family. Scanlon had a falling out with area mobsters and reportedly began cooperating with authorities investigating Pari and Andrew Merola (right). Less than a month after becoming an informant, Scanlon disappeared.

Pari and Merola were both arrested for killing Scanlon. At trial, Scanlon's girlfriend testified that the two men cooperated on the murder. Pari punched Scanlon to distract him, and Merola then shot Scanlon in the back of the head. The pair was convicted of first-degree murder, but they won a new trial on appeal. They subsequently pleaded no contest to lesser charges.

On April 1, 2007, Merola at the age of 71. He had been battling cancer. A Providence Journal story reported that one of his last visitors was Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio, head of the regional crime family.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

'Operation Mobbed Up' nets 17 in RI

Rhode Island state police arrested 17 people yesterday morning as part of Operation Mobbed Up, according to a story by Mike Stanton and W. Zachary Malinowsky of the Providence Journal. An 18th suspect was already in custody on unrelated charges.

Among those arrested were Nicholas S. "Nicky" Pari, 71, and Gerald M. "Gerry" Tillinghast, 62 (image at left shows police information from a 1976 Tillinghast arrest). Pari is charged with racketeering, firearms and drug violations. Tillinghast is charged with drug and gambling offenses. Authorities consider those two men longtime members of Rhode Island's underworld and former underlings of the late Raymond L.S. Patriarca. Pari faces charges of overseeing "a large-scale criminal operation" at the Valley Street Flea Market in Providence. Also arrested was Lloyd Morse, 50, owner of the flea market.

Investigators say two criminal rings were based at the flea market. Those rings are believed to have engaged in fencing stolen goods, dealing in guns and drugs, gambling, counterfeiting, theft and insurance fraud.

Pari was previously imprisoned for the 1978 mob killing of Joseph "Joe Onions" Scanlon, though Scanlon's body was never found. Pari was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to seven years.

As he was taken into custody yesterday, Pari reportedly provided state police with the location of the remains. A police dig began almost immediately at a lot in East Providence, according to a story by Hilary Russ of the Associated Press. The police would not confirm that they were searching for Scanlon's remains.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Ex-agent Connolly guilty of 2d-degree murder

John Connolly (right), a former FBI agent who became involved with the Boston underworld, was convicted in a Miami courtroom yesterday of second degree murder, according to a story by Curt Anderson of the AP.

Jurors deliberated for two-plus days after the two-month trial before deciding that Connolly leaked information to Boston organized crime figures that led to the 1982 shooting death of former world Jai-Alai president John Callahan. Connolly warned the gangsters that Callahan could provide evidence linking them to a 1981 killing.

Connolly was the FBI's handler for two top-level informants in the Boston underworld, James "Whitey" Bulger and Stephen "the Rifleman" Flemmi. The former FBI agent was convicted in 2002 of racketeering and is serving a 10-year prison sentence. Connolly reportedly received $235,000 from Bulger and his gang in return for protection. Connolly has been accused of leaking information to Bulger, including news of a pending indictment against Bulger. The Boston gang boss managed to avoid arrest in 1995 and remains at large.

This latest Connolly conviction carries the possibility of a life sentence in prison.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Coppola charged with racketeering, murder

A federal indictment unsealed Monday charges Michael Coppola, 62, alleged lieutenant in the Genovese Crime Family, with racketeering and racketeering conspiracy offenses including a 1977 murder, extortion and wire fraud, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York.

Federal prosecutors say Coppola (left) approached 68-year-old Giovanni "Johnny Cokes" Larducci (also known as John Lardiere) outside the Red Bull Inn motel on Route 22 in Bridgewater, NJ, on Easter Sunday, April 10, 1977. Coppola allegedly attempted to shoot Larducci with a firearm, but the weapon jammed. Believing he had escaped an assassination attempt, Larducci asked Coppola, "What are you going to do now, tough guy?"

Coppola allegedly drew a revolver from an ankle holster and shot Larducci to death. Larducci was reportedly a Genovese lieutenant serving under boss Gerardo Catena. Larducci is believed to have been involved in loansharking and was suspected of involvement in the 1971 disappearance of Teamsters Local 945 President Michael A. Ardis, according to a story published on

As Coppola, also known as Michael Rizzo and Mikey Cigars, became a leading suspect in the Larducci killing in 1996, he fled, the press release said. His story was featured on the America's Most Wanted television program. Coppola was captured by the FBI on March 9, 2007. Authorities had learned he was staying with an alleged Genovese Crime Family associate on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

New Jersey state prosecutors passed on the murder case against Coppola when DNA evidence came back with an inconclusive result, according to a story by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News.

The indictment accuses Coppola of involvement in a conspiracy to extort payments from International Longshoremen's Association Local 1235. That extortion allegedly went on for a period of three decades. The Daily News reports that Coppola is also a suspect in the 2005 killing of Genovese Crime Family lieutenant Lawrence Ricci (right).

Prosecutors plan to introduce evidence obtained through a 1980 wiretap of the home of the late Paul Castellano, boss of the Gambino Crime Family.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bonanno associate convicted of 2005 killing

Joseph "Joe Black" Young, 30, a Bonanno Crime Family associate, was convicted Monday of the March 29, 2005, mob murder of Robert McKelvey, according to a story by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News. Young's attorney plans to appeal the verdict.

At trial, Young admitted to dismembering McKelvey's remains and disposing of them in a furnace at the Kreischer Mansion on Staten Island. He denied causing McKelvey's death. Young was an associate of a Bonanno crew led by Mafia soldier Gino Galestro. In August, Galestro pleaded guilty to ordering McKelvey's death.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Admits disposing of body but not killing

Joseph "Joe Black" Young, associate of the Bonanno Crime Family, on Monday acknowledged dismembering and incinerating the remains of Robert McKelvey but denied causing McKelvey's death, according to a story by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News.

McKelvey, 39, was stabbed and drowned to death in March 2005 at the Kreischer Mansion (left) on Staten Island. His remains were disposed of in the mansion's furnace. Young was a caretaker at the site, while he was also working as an associate in the crew of Bonanno soldier Gino Galestro.

Young, who was testifying in federal court in his own defense, blamed mob soldier Michael "Sonny" Maggio for the McKelvey killing. Young admitted to most other crimes included in his federal racketeering indictment.

Galestro is believed to have ordered the killing of McKelvey following a financial dispute.

Feds call for $3.9 million from convicted mobsters

Five convicted Chicago mobsters owe $3.9 million in restitution to the families of their murder victims, federal prosecutors insist. The prosecutors say Frank Calabrese Sr., James Marcello, Joseph Lombardo, Paul Schiro and Anthony Doyle should be held jointly and severally liable for the restitution amount, according to a report by Chuck Goudie and Ann Pistone of ABC-7 in Chicago. The amount took into consideration an accountant's estimate of the lost earning capacity of 14 victims.

The five men were convicted in the Family Secrets case last year. They are waiting to be sentenced. After the initial racketeering verdict, Calabrese, Marcello and Lombardo also were found guilty of participating in 10 racketeering murders. A jury deadlocked on Schiro's involvement. Doyle was not charged with racketeering murder.

Lombardo (right) has challenged the restitution and called for a forfeiture hearing in front of a jury. The Family Secrets defendants had waived the right to a hearing. But Lombardo argued that his bad ears kept him from learning that his defense attorney had waived the right. Defense attorney Rick Halprin has acknowledged that he never discussed the matter with Lombardo before or during the trial.

Prosecutors answered the challenge by pointing out that recent Supreme Court opinion has viewed forfeiture as an element of sentence, beyond the scope of the jury's responsibility.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Nicolo Rizzuto, 84, gets suspended sentence

Nicolo Rizzuto, 84-year-old father of reputed Montreal Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto, was released from a Canadian prison today, according to reports by the Canadian Press, the Globe and Mail and the National Post.

Last month, Nicolo Rizzuto (right) pleaded guilty to possessing goods obtained through criminal gains and to possession of proceeds of crime for the benefit of a criminal organization. He was sentenced today to time served and three years of probation.

Rizzuto was arrested as part of the massive Canadian "Project Colisee" back in November 2006.

Four other reputed leaders in the Montreal Mafia were sentenced to between six and 15 years in prison. Authorities say Project Colisee targeted participants in a ring that smuggled cocaine through Montreal's airport. Police initially arrested 90 people.

Vito Rizzuto is serving a 10-year racketeering sentence in a medium-security prison in Colorado. He was convicted of participating in three 1981 Mafia murders in Brooklyn.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

'Lefty' Rosenthal dies in Florida at 79

Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, who once supervised mob gambling rackets in Las Vegas, died of a heart attack Monday night at his Florida home, according to a story by Mary Manning of the Las Vegas Sun and a report by Fox5 Las Vegas. He was 79 years old.

Authorities believe Rosenthal (left), a Chicago native (born June 12, 1929), secretly supervised the Stardust, Fremont and Hacienda casinos for an underworld consortium that included the Chicago Outfit. He worked closely with the Outfit's enforcer in Las Vegas, Anthony "the Ant" Spilotro. The activities of the two men were depicted in the fictionalized movie Casino, with Robert DeNiro playing the role of Sam Rothstein (Rosenthal) and Joe Pesci playing Nicky Santoro (Spilotro). Spilotro, like his movie representation, was murdered by underworld associates. Rosenthal barely escaped a similar end.

In 1982, Rosenthal survived an apparent mob hit in a parking lot outside a restaurant at 600 E. Sahara Avenue. His 1981 Cadillac Eldorado exploded around him. Rosenthal suffered no serious injuries, but was burned on his legs, his left arm and the left side of his face. He refused to sign a police incident report or to cooperate in an investigation.
Rosenthal's forte was sports handicapping, and he is credited with pioneering lucrative sports gambling in Vegas. Between 1976 and 1988, Rosenthal battled with Nevada gaming authorities to obtain a state gaming license. The Nevada Gaming Commission banned him from casinos in the state in 1988, when it put him into the "Black Book" officially known as the List of Excluded Persons.
A planned "Mob" museum in Las Vegas is expected to feature items from Rosenthal's career. Current Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, once a Rosenthal attorney, said he would speak about his former client today (Wednesday, Oct. 15).

Rosenthal's writeup in the Black Book states: "Rosenthal was suspected of overseeing a Las Vegas casino on behalf of organized crime interests and directing the skimming of funds from the casino. In 1982, Rosenthal survived a car bombing in a failed attempt on his life. In 1991, the Nevada Supreme Court upheld Rosenthal's listing in the Black Book. Rosenthal now resides in Florida, the book and movie "Casino" chronicles his life."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Jury in Florida finds four guilty of racketeering

Four men, including a the alleged leader of a Gambino Crime Family crew in South Florida, were convicted of racketeering and other charges on Oct. 3, according to a story published by the Miami Herald.

A federal jury found Vincent Artuso, portrayed by prosecutors as a made member of the Gambino clan, guilty of rackeering and fraud. His son John Vincent Artuso, Gregory Orr and Philip Edward Forgione were also convicted on similar charges. Prosecutors depicted the younger Artuso, Orr and Forgione as crime family associates.

KasmanThe prosecution's case was aided by the testimony of Lewis Kasman (left), a informant once regarded as the late Gambino boss John Gotti's "adopted son."

Addressing the jury, defense attorney Mike Pasano contested the prosecution's portrayal of the defendants. He said the idea that the Gambino clan had a branch operating in South Florida was "ludicrous."

Another defendant in the case William Larry Horton pleaded guilty earlier and will be sentenced on Oct. 23. The trial judge dismissed charges against defendant Robert Gannon.

The case was related to the operation of a phony subscription telemarketing company, according to a Jan. 24, 2008, press release of the Miami FBI office. The company's operation defrauded numerous individual victims as well as ADT Security Services, Inc., the press release said. ADT lost an estimated $7 million through the fraudulent rigging of a property sale-lease back scheme over five years.

Grasso killer's sentence is trimmed by 7 years

U.S. District Judge Alan Nevas agreed yesterday to reduce by seven years the prison term of Gaetano J. Milano, convicted killer of Connecticut Mafia big shot William "Wild Guy" Grasso, according to a report by Edmund H. Mahony of the Hartford Courant.

Milano, now 56, was sentenced in 1991 to 33 years in prison. With the reduction in sentence, he has about four more years to serve. Judge Nevas considered reports that Milano has been a model prisoner.

In 1989, Grasso was the top man in the underworld of New Haven, CT. He was considered second in command of the Boston and Providence-based New England Mafia, and he might have been contemplating a move up. The 62-year-old was shot to death within a van on Interstate 91 in June 1989. His body was dumped along the banks of the Connecticut River in Wethersfield.

Patriarca Jr. and MercurioEvidence was produced to show that Milano believed Grasso was preparing to kill him. Angelo "Sonny" Mercurio (FBI surveillance photo shows Mercurio, right, walking beside New England boss Raymond Patriarca Jr.) reportedly planted that idea in Milano's mind in order to manipulate him into killing Grasso. Government investigators knew of Mercurio's role but did not reveal it at Milano's trial because they were protecting informant Mercurio. When the coverup was revealed it provided defense attorneys with grounds to appeal Milano's sentence. Family members had hoped that Milano's sentence would be reduced to time already served. Mercurio died in 2006 while in the witness protection program.

Others charged with complicity in the Grasso murder included Frank and Louis Pugliano and Frank Colantoni Jr., according to a story by Stephanie Barry of the Springfield MA Republican. Mercurio

Parolee charged with extorting hot dog vendor

Robert "Bobby Fingers" Francella, on lifetime parole after serving time for killing his girlfriend, was arrested in New York this week and charged with extorting protection payments from a hot dog vendor on Boston Road in the Bronx, according to a story by Oren Yaniv and Alison Gendar of the New York Daily News.

The police alerted parole officials of the charge, but that notification did not occur until the 49-year-old Francella had made bail yesterday.

Francella, a reputed associate of the Gambino Crime Family, was also accused of jury tampering in connection with a trial of Peter Gotti, the Daily News reported.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

FBI identifies Cutolo's remains

A body pulled from the ground in a wooded area of Farmingdale, Long Island, has been identified as that of William Cutolo Sr., according to a story published by the New York Times.

FBI agents matched distinctive features of the remains with those of Cutolo, a Colombo Crime Family underboss who has been missing and presumed dead since 1999. The agents used dental records and noted that the body was missing the tip of its right middle finger, a match for Cutolo.

Last year, reputed Colombo big shots Alphonse Persico and John DeRoss were convicted of involvement in Cutolo's murder. Their legal defense included an argument that Cutolo might still be alive.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

FBI diggers find apparent human corpse

FBI agents digging at a site in Farmingdale, Long Island, have found what appears to be a human corpse wrapped in a tarp, according to stories by John Marzulli and Leo Standora of the New York Daily News and by the New York Times.

The discovery was made Monday afternoon, when agents expanded a dig area they had searched last week. The site was a wooded area near a Frank Avenue industrial complex. The remains were taken to the New York City medical examiner's office.

Authorities believe the body may be that of William Cutolo (right), a high-ranking member of the Colombo Crime Family who disappeared on his way to 1999 meeting with acting boss Alphonse Persico. Persico was convicted last year of ordering Cutolo's murder.

The FBI indicated that informant Joseph "Joey Caves" Competiello told them of a mob burial ground in East Farmingdale. The Bureau believes two other missing men - Carmine Gargano and Richard Greaves - may also be buried there.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Vegas approaches mob museum with humor

mob museum logoLas Vegas is having a bit of fun with the organized crime museum it plans to open in 2010. The name of the museum includes redacted words, as one might find in a mob report from the FBI. The official name, according to recent reports, is "The (redacted) Museum: Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement."

The opening screen of website looks to be a government document full of redactions. A machine sound is hear in the background, and the document quickly appears to be shredded.

An AP story by Oskar Garcia noted that city officials have displayed t-shirts bearing the words: "There is no such thing as a mob museum nor have I ever been there."

Bonanno big shot Spero, 79, dies in prison

Anthony Spero, 79, once part of a leadership group in the Bonanno Crime Family, died Monday while serving a life sentence in federal prison, according to a story by Anthony M. DeStefano and Rocco Parascandola of Newsday.

SperoAuthorities say Spero (left) and Sal Vitale supervised Bonanno operations during the late 1980s, when boss Joseph Massino was in prison. Vitale and Massino later aided racketeering investigations. Spero was convicted of racketeering, including murders, in 2001.

In prison, Spero suffered from the early stages of renal cancer and developed breathing problems.

Mob burial ground on Long Island?

The FBI will not discuss details but acknowledges that it is digging in two areas of Farmingdale, Long Island NY, in an effort to find the remains of mob victims, according to a story published in the New York Times.

CutoloA law enforcement source said one of the bodies sought was that of William Cutolo Sr. (right), missing since 1999. Alphonse Persico and John DeRoss, reputed leaders in the Colombo Crime Family, were convicted last year of causing Cutolo's death.
A report by WABC-TV in New York indicated that local homicide detectives and members of the New York medical examiner's office were on hand at the dig locations. Excavation is taking place at a Farmingdale industrial complex, which was built nine years ago, and at a section of woods nearby. The areas have been roped off and designated as crime scenes.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Italy arrests 29 in Camorra crackdown

SpagnuoloItalian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni yesterday announced 29 arrests of Camorra-linked suspects in the Naples area, according to a story by the AFP news agency. Raids were conducted in the wake of the Sept. 18 killings of an Italian businessman and six African immigrants.

Among the suspects were Alessandro Cirillo, Oreste Spagnuolo (right) and Giovanni Letizia, reputed members of the Camorra's Casalesi clan, according to a report by CNN International. Also arrested was Giuseppina Nappa, 48-year-old wife of jailed clan leader Francesco "Sandokan" Schiavone.

Son of reputed mobster gets life for knife murder

Vincent Arena, 23, was sentenced Monday to life in prison for the September 2005 stabbing murder of 27-year-old Anthony Braccia, according to a story by Scott Shifrel of the New York Daily News. In May, he was convicted of second degree murder by a Brooklyn Supreme Court jury.

Arena's father, Steven Arena, was identified by the New York Post as an associate of the Genovese Crime Family. The Daily News reported that Arena's $2 million bail - revoked after his conviction - was arranged through the aid of a Gambino Crime Family lieutenant.

Braccia was robbed of jewelry and then stabbed 31 times within a van. Arena later set the van on fire and reported it stolen. Two other suspects in the crime, Matthew Munch and John Fontana, testified against Arena and are expected to receive light sentences. The jury found Arena not guilty of first degree murder but convicted him of second degree murder and filing a false report.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Rochester's Frank Valenti dies at 97

A longtime boss of the Mafia in Rochester, NY, Frank J. Valenti died Sept. 20 at a Houston, TX, nursing home, according to a story by Gary Craig of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. He was 97.

Valenti (right) and his brother Constenze "Stanley" Valenti were attendees of the 1957 mob convention at Apalachin, NY. In Rochester, he is believed to have supervised gambling, extortion and prostitution rackets. Authorities say he steered clear of involvement in narcotics. While he was regarded as leader of the Rochester underworld, he reportedly took his orders from Stefano Magaddino, Buffalo-Niagara Falls-based boss of the western New York Mafia.

In 1961, Valenti moved to Pittsburgh after a Rochester conviction for voting fraud. He returned to Rochester in 1964. In the 1970s, younger racketeers attempted to seize control of the Valenti organization. Valenti left Rochester and headed west, living first in Arizona.

The Houston Chronicle reports today that Valenti died at Sugar Land Nursing Homes. The Chronicle says Valenti was connected to the Bonanno Crime Family of New York and Arizona.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New England killer could win early release

After serving almost 20 years of his 33-year prison sentence, Gaetano J. Milano could win an early release on Oct. 8, according to a story by Stephanie Barry of the Springfield MA Republican.

Territory of the New England MafiaMilano, 56, was sent to prison in 1991 for the 1989 Mafia execution of William "Wild Guy" Grasso. Milano was a member of the New England Mafia organization known as the Patriarca Family. Grasso, a 62-year-old New Haven, CT, native, was a big shot in the same organization and is believed to have been striving for leadership of the group when he was shot to death inside a van driving down Interstate 91. Grasso was leader of the family's Connecticut crew and underboss of the regional organization. His body was found June 16, 1989, on the banks of the Connecticut River in Wethersfield, CT.

Evidence indicates that the FBI helped to conceal the involvement of mobster Angelo "Sonny" Mercurio in the killing because Mercurio was an FBI informant. Mercurio allegedly set up the Grasso murder by telling Milano that Grasso was preparing to kill him. A recent Milano motion for resentencing in light of that federal impropriety was approved.

In December 2006, a Milano accomplice was granted an early release on similar grounds. Louis Pugliano drove the van and aided in the disposal of Grasso's body. He had served 16 years of his life sentence when he was released.

Nicolo Rizzuto could go free next month

Sources tell the Montreal Gazette that Montreal Mafia big shot Nicolo Rizzuto (left) may be released on the same October day he is sentenced. Rizzuto, 84, recently pleaded guilty to two charges linking him with the Canadian underworld. He faces a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison. However, the Gazette expects an Oct. 16 sentence of time served plus probation. Rizzuto is the father of Vito Rizzuto, 62, reputed boss of the Montreal Mafia. Vito

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Nicolo Rizzuto, 5 others, plead guilty in Canada

Six alleged leaders of the Montreal Mafia pleaded guilty today to racketeering-related offenses, according to stories by the Globe and Mail and the Montreal Gazette. One of the six defendants was Nicolo Rizzuto, 84-year-old father of reputed Montreal Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto.

The other defendants pleading guilty were Rocco Sollecito, Paolo Renda (a Rizzuto in-law), Francesco Arcadi, Francesco DelBalso and Lorenzo Giordano. Prosecutors say the six men supervised the activities of the Montreal Mafia since 2004, when Vito Rizzuto was imprisoned. The six will be sentenced next month.

Nicolo Rizzuto and Paolo Renda, 69, pleaded guilty to possession of the proceeds of crime and to possession of the proceeds of crime for the benefit of, the direction of, or in association with a criminal organization. Arcadi, 54, pleaded guilty to conspiracy, overseeing drug smuggling and trafficking, bookmaking and illegal gambling. DelBalso, 38, and Giordano, 45, pleaded to the same charge as Arcadi, plus extortion.

The men were arrested as part of Project Colisée, a four-year drug trafficking investigation which resulted in more than 70 arrests in November 2006.

NYers charged as part of Mexico cocaine ring

Brothers Vincenzo Schirripa, 41, and Giulio Schirripa, 37, have been arrested in connection with a cocaine smuggling operation in New York City, according to a story by Thomas Zambito and Tracy Connor of the New York Daily News. Authorities say the two men served as middle men between a Mexican drug cartel and the 'Ndrangheta criminal society of southern Italy.

A crackdown on the "Gulf Cartel" this week has resulted in the arrests of 175 people on both sides of the Mexican border, according to a story by Jason Trahan of the Dallas Morning News.

Mafia Cops convictions reinstated

A federal appeals court yesterday reinstated the murder convictions of the so-called "Mafia Cops," former New York Police Department detectives Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito, according to stories in the New York Times and the New York Daily News.

Eppolito and CaracappaA jury two years ago found Caracappa (to the right of the photo) and Eppolito (to the left of the photo) guilty of racketeering conspiracy, involving mob-related murders and the leaking of information to underworld connections in the Lucchese Crime Family. Judge Jack B. Weinstein acknowledged overwhelming evidence against the two defendants and said he was prepared to sentence them to life in prison. However, the judge decided that the major racketeering-related offenses of the two men occurred outside of the five-year statute of limitations . Judge Weinstein overturned the convictions.

Prosecutors appealed the judge's decision. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled yesterday that Judge Weinstein took a too-narrow view of the racketeering conspiracy and reinstated the convictions. The panel included Judges Amalya L. Kearse, Robert D. Sack and Peter W. Hall.

Caracappa, 66, and Eppolito, 60, still jailed as they awaited a decision on the appeal, are likely to spend the rest of their lives behind bars. Eppolito's attorney Joseph Bondy already has promised to appeal the latest decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the 1980s, the two former detectives teamed up with Lucchese Crime Family lieutenant Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso. They supplied Casso with information about ongoing investigations and aided him in eliminating a number of his rivals.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ex-FBI agent portrayed as 'just another' gangster

Prosecutor Fred Wyshak told a Florida jury Monday that ex-FBI agent John J. Connolly (right) functioned as "just another member" of the Boston area Winter Hill Gang in the 1980s, according to a story by Edmund H. Mahoney of the Hartford Courant. Connolly, 68, convicted in 2002 of racketeering and serving a 10-year prison sentence, is now on trial for murder and conspiracy.

Wyshak, U.S. attorney working with Florida state prosecutor Michael Von Zamft on the case, delivered the trial's opening statement. Wyshak said Connolly spent time with gang leaders, vacationed with them, shared information with them and profited from their illegal activities.

Connolly is charged with helping to set up the 1982 assassination of former World Jai Alai president John B. Callahan. According to prosecutors, Connolly informed Winter Hill Gang chiefs James "Whitey" Bulger and Stephen "the Rifleman" Flemmi that Callahan was preparing to cooperate in an investigation of an earlier gang murder. Gang hitman John V. Martorano then killed Callahan to prevent him from talking to authorities. Flemmi and Martorano have pleaded guilty to participating in Callahan's murder. They are expected to testify against Connolly. Bulger remains at large.

Defense attorneys argued that the gang needed no help to decide that Callahan was about to aid investigators. Attorney Manuel Casabielle defended Connolly's relationship with Bulger and Flemmi, saying the former FBI agent recruited them as informants and used the information they provided to dismantle the New England Mafia.

Casabielle charged that prosecutors have accused his client of various wrongdoings spanning a quarter century in the hope of winning convictions. "It's not fair to take a bunch of mud and throw it at an individual and hope some of it sticks," he said.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Informer issue 1 available for free download

The first electronic issue of Informer: The Journal of American Mafia History is now available for download (5.9mb PDF file). Issue #1 is available free of charge. Beginning in January 2009, quarterly electronic issues of Informer will be available only to subscribers.

Informer combines carefully documented historical articles with coverage of significant current events in American organized crime.

Informer issue 1Contents of Issue #1:
  • The Mob's Worst Year: 1957
  • Capone's Triggerman Kills Michigan Cop
  • Newspaperman Reveals Lynch Mob Role
  • A Look Back: 100 Years, 75 Years, 25 Years
  • Ask the Informer: KC's DiGiovanni
  • Book News and Reviews
  • In the News
  • Deaths
For more information on this new electronic periodical, visit the web page:

U.S. escorts Mafia boss back to Italy

U.S. immigration agents today turned reputed Sicilian Mafia big shot Giuseppe Baldinucci, 65, over to police officials in Rome, Italy, according to a report by the Italian AGI news service. Baldinucci had been a fugitive from Italian justice for 11 years.

Believed to be a leading member of the Vitale Family of Partinico, in the Palermo region of Sicily, Baldinucci will serve an eight-year solitary prison sentence for the crime of Mafia association. Baldinucci helped to hide Giovanni Brusca from authorities back in 1996. He became an intermediary between the U.S. and Sicilian Mafias during the "Pizza Connection" operation, according to AGI.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Family Secrets sentencing dates approach

Sentencing dates for a number of Family Secrets Case defendants are coming up, according to a blog entry by Steven Warmbir of the Chicago Sun-Times. Sentencing dates have not yet been set for several key defendants. Warmbir drew the following information from the docket of Judge James Zagel's U.S. District Court at the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago.

Nicholas Calabrese, Sept. 24, 2 p.m.
Anthony Doyle, Oct. 1, 2 p.m.
Thomas Johnson, Oct. 6, 11:30 a.m.
Frank Calabrese Sr., date not set.
Joseph Lombardo, date not set.
James Marcello, date not set.
Paul Schiro, date not set.

Already sentenced:
Nicholas Ferriola sentenced yesterday to 3 years in prison.
Dennis Johnson sentenced to 6 months in prison.
Michael Marcello sentenced to 8 and a half years in prison.
Joseph Venezia sentenced to 40 months in prison.
Frank Schweihs died before trial.

Chicago's Ferriola will serve three years

U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel yesterday sentenced reputed Chicago mobster Nicholas Ferriola (right), 33, to three years in prison for racketeering, gambling and extortion, according to reports published by CBS-2 Chicago and the Chicago Tribune. Ferriola was also ordered to forfeit more than $9 million and to pay a fine of $6,000.

Ferriola, a defendant in the Family Secrets case, pleaded guilty on the eve of trial. He admitted to regularly collecting a "street tax" payment from a pizza restaurant and to operating a gambling racket that generated $160,000 a month in profits. The "street tax" was a protection racket reportedly run by Frank Calabrese Sr. Prosecutors described Calabrese as Ferriola's mentor.

Ferriola's father, Joseph, was a leader in the Chicago Outfit, according to Steve Warmbir of the Sun-Times.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Court tosses three 2003 racketeering convictions

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for Manhattan has rejected the 2003 racketeering convictions of three men accused of ties to the DeCavalcante Crime Family of New Jersey and it has ordered that the defendants be given new trials, according to a story by John Eligon of the New York Times.

Giuseppe Schifilliti, Philip Abramo and Stefano Vitabile were sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of racketeering conspiracy, murder and murder conspiracy charges. They were the only defendants - out of more than 20 arrested in a crackdown on the DeCavalcante Family - who went to trial. Most of the others accepted plea deals.

Plea deals were at the heart of the appeals court rejection of the guilty verdicts. During the trial of Schifilliti, Abramo and Vitabile, prosecutors introduced as evidence statements given by eight alleged co-conspirators who had taken plea deals. A Supreme Court decision in 2004 made such statements inadmissible as evidence.

Schifilliti, 70, was reputed to have been a powerful lieutenant of the DeCavalcante organization. He reportedly became a made member of the crime family in the mid-1970s, when the organization was run by Simone "Sam the Plumber" DeCavalcante (died of natural causes in 1997). Some sources indicate that Vitabile, 72, served in the position of consigliere for the crime family and possibly was named acting boss for a time. Like Schifilliti, Abramo, 63, reputedly served as a lieutenant in the family.

FBI doubles reward for Bulger information

James Whitey BulgerTwo million dollars is now offered for information leading to the arrest of fugitive New England gang boss James "Whitey" Bulger, according to a news release from the FBI's Boston field office. With announcement of the reward - just doubled from $1 million - the FBI is circulating new "age enhanced" photos of Bulger.

(Watch video.)

Bulger, formerly leader of a Boston-area Irish gang, has been in hiding since his racketeering indictment early in 1995. He was also charged on Sept. 28, 2000, with participating in 19 murders during the 1970s and 1980s.

Authorities say Bulger cooperated in FBI investigations of his Italian underworld rivals while continuing his own criminal career.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Seven Bonanno members and associates charged

Federal prosecutors yesterday announced indictments against seven suspected members and associates of the Bonanno Crime Family, according to stories by Christine Hauser of the New York Times and Scott Shifrel and Ethan Rouen of the New York Daily News and a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern Division of New York.

John "Big John" Contello, 55, of Brooklyn; Vincent "Vinny Bionics" Disario, 47, of Manhattan; and Michael Carucci, 38, of Staten Island, were arrested early yesterday morning in New York City for racketeering and conspiracy. Their indictment was unsealed in Brooklyn federal court. The three men could face 20 years in prison if convicted. Contello is alleged to be an acting captain within the Bonanno organization. Prosecutors say that Disario is a Bonanno soldier. Authorities did not state what relationship, if any, Carucci had to the Bonanno organization.

Gerald "Gerry" Chilli (right), 74, of Graniteville, Staten Island, also alleged to be a captain in the crime family, was charged with extortion. He was already in federal custody in Florida on unrelated charges. According to a Feb. 3, 2005, story by ABC-10 in Miami, Chilli was arrested following a 14-month undercover investigation of Bonanno operations in Florida. At that time, Chilli was charged with violating probation, as well as racketeering conspiracy, dealing in stolen property, bookmaking, money laundering and possession of illegal slot machines. Chilli had been out of prison for two years when he was arrested in 2005. During his incarceration for earlier crimes, he was convicted of running a fraudulent credit card ring from behind bars. Federal authorities investigated Chilli in the wake of the Feb. 28, 1989, murder of DEA Special Agent Everett E. Hatcher. Chilli was not charged in that case. (Chilli associate Costabile Farace was believed responsible for the killing. Farace's body was found on a Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, street on Nov. 18, 1989. Police believe was shot to death by members of the Bonanno crime family.)

George Miller, 68, alleged Bonanno associate, was arrested near the Canadian border on racketeering charges related to the collection of unlawful debts. Chilli and Miller also could be sentenced to 20 years if convicted.

Richard Cendali, 40, of Annadale, Staten Island, was arrested and charged with running an illegal gambling racket. Indicted on a similar offense but not yet apprehended was Anthony Zeni, 46, of Manhattan and Brooklyn addresses. Authorities believe Zeni is in Florida. Cendali and Zeni, reputed Bonanno associates, according to the Staten Island Advance, could be sentenced to up to five years in prison if convicted.

Contello, Disario, Carucci and Cendali all pleaded not guilty at arraignment hearings yesterday afternoon. Contello, Carucci and Cendali were released on bail amounts between $250,000 and $500,000. Disario was held without bail. A hearing for Miller is scheduled today.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Gotti pleads not guilty in Tampa court

John A. "Junior" Gotti pleaded not guilty this afternoon to murder and racketeering charges in Tampa federal court, according to stories from the Associated Press and Reuters news services.

The 44-year-old Gotti, dressed in a blue prison jumpsuit and shackled at the ankles, did not speak during his 5-minute hearing. His attorney Charles Carnesi entered the plea for him.

Prosecutors say Gotti led a crew of the Gambino Crime Family operating in Florida. He has been charged with trafficking in cocaine and with participating in three racketeering-related murders between 1988 and 1991.

Gotti was previously convicted of racketeering and served time in prison. Since then, he has avoided conviction in three major racketeering trials in New York City. He has stated that he left the crime family years ago.

No date has yet been set for the trial.

Gotti arrives for Tampa arraignment

John A. GottiAfter traveling a circuitous route in the custody of federal authorities, John A. "Junior" Gotti (right) arrived in Tampa, Florida, yesterday and was scheduled for arraignment in Tampa federal court this afternoon, according to a story by Elaine Silvestrini of the Tampa Tribune.

Gotti was arrested Aug. 5 in New York on federal charges filed in Florida. He is accused of participating in Gambino Crime Family murders of George Grosso, Louis DiBono and Bruce John Gotterup. He is also charged of cocaine trafficking.

Gotti's attorney Charles Carnesi intends to seek a change of venue. He hopes to have his client's trial moved to New York, where Gotti in recent years has three times avoided conviction on racketeering-related charges.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Two participated in Bronx gambling ring

John Caggiano, 59-year-old reputed associate of the Genovese Crime Family, and codefendant Douglas Maleton, 60, admitted Tuesday to participating in a gambling operation at a wholesale produce market at Hunts Point in the Bronx, according to reports by John Eligon of the New York Times and Barbara Ross of the New York Daily News.

Caggiano, son-in-law of former Genovese acting boss Dominick "Quiet Dom" Cirillo, pleaded guilty to running the ring. He faces 1.5 to 4 years in prison plus a $176,000 fine when he is sentenced on Nov. 3. Maleton admitted being a runner for the numbers and sports betting ring. He is expected to be sentenced on Oct. 10 to a year in prison and a $591 fine.

Caggiano, Maleton and nine other men were arrested in November 2006 and charged with participating in the ring. Authorities said the operation generated $200,000 a year in profits. Ten of the initial defendants have pleaded guilty. Robert Russo, alleged leader of the ring, maintains his innocence and is scheduled to go to trial next month.

Fanny Gotti dies at age 96

Philomena "Fanny" Gotti, mother of the late Gambino Crime Family boss John J. "Teflon Don" Gotti and grandmother of John A. "Junior" Gotti, died Tuesday night at her Long Island home at the age of 96, according to a report by WNBC-TV New York.

Philomena Gotti was born in Naples, Italy, where she married. The Gottis entered the U.S. in the 1920s, settling first in the Bronx and later in East New York, Brooklyn. She resided in Valley Stream, NY, at the time of her death.

John and Peter GottiShe had more than a dozen children (WNBC reported she had 13, while Newsday said 16). In addition to John J. Gotti, four other sons were also linked to organized crime. Gene and Peter Gotti are serving extended prison sentences for racketeering convictions. Richard V. Gotti was jailed in 2003 for racketeering and other crimes. Vincent Gotti is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in connection with the FBI's crackdown on the Gambino organization, according to the television report. (John J. and Peter Gotti shown at right.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Colorado men suspected in gangland slaying

William Silvi, 40, and his brother-in-law, Daniel Tunks, 34, both of Colorado Springs, were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of conspiring in the May 20 murder of a 64-year-old New Yorker with ties to the Mafia, according to a story by Carlyn Ray Mitchell of the Colorado Springs Gazette.

William Marcucci of the Bronx, NY, was shot to death in Saddle Brook, NJ. His body, with a single bullet wound behind its left ear, was found in Marcucci's Cadillac outside a Bennigan's restaurant.

The New Jersey newspaper, The Record, reported that Marcucci "was a Genovese Crime Family associate who had a role in the organization's bookmaking operations."

Silvi and Tunks were arrested as they left their home at 734 E. Costilla Street. Colorado Springs Police said yesterday that Silvi could have had a financial motive for allegedly hiring his brother-in-law to kill Marcucci.

Coluccio extradited to Italy

Giusepe ColuccioGiuseppe Coluccio (left), reputed leader in the 'Ndrangheta criminal society, was returned to Italian soil yesterday, according to stories by the Associated Press and AGI news agencies.

Coluccio, convicted in absentia of drug, weapons and conspiracy charges, was a fugitive since 2005. He was arrested Aug. 7 near Toronto, Canada, and was flown to Rome's Ciampino Airport yesterday morning.

The 'Ndrangheta is a Mafia-like criminal organization based in Calabria, the southernmost region of the Italian mainland.

Murder victim might have been called to stand

Fresca restaurantCourt documents link a murdered Staten Island restauranteur with the Bonanno Crime Family, according to a story by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News. While there is no indication that the late Frank Fresca was cooperating with authorities, the News reports that he might have been called on to testify about the crime family's involvement in his restaurant.

Papers filed this week by federal prosecutors indicate that the Fresca's by the Bay restaurant on Staten Island (right) operated under the protection of reputed Bonanno soldier Gino Galestro and his associates.

Galestro (left), who will turn 40 later this month, pleaded guilty Aug. 1 to ordering the killing of Bonanno associate Robert McKelvey on the grounds of the Kreischer Mansion on Staten Island. Galestro was indicted for ordering that murder and for other racketeering-related crimes back in May 2006. Joseph "Joe Black" Young, reportedly a former bouncer at Fresca's by the Bay restaurant, is accused of stabbing and drowing McKelvey and is scheduled to come to trial soon.

Fresca, 66, was shot seven times outside of his restaurant just after midnight on July 30.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Broke 'Nose' gets two years in prison

A Brooklyn federal judge yesterday sentenced John "Jackie Nose" D'Amico (left), 72, to two years in prison and a $4,000 fine for extorting money from a Staten Island cement plant, according to stories by the Associated Press and by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News.

John DAmicoAccording to defense attorney Elizabeth Macedonio, "the Nose" is still broke. The attorney stated that her client has no assets and suffers from many health problems. She disputed prosectors' contention that D'Amico was a leader of the Gambino Crime Family. Macedonio and members of the D'Amico family asked Judge Jack Weinstein for a lenient sentence.

The two year sentence was within recommended guidelines for extortion.

D'Amico was among the 62 people rounded up by federal authorities in February. D'Amico, reputed acting boss of the Gambino clan, pleaded guilty May 28 to shaking down the cement company for $100,000.

Monday, August 18, 2008

FBI tape labels "Cheese Man" as Mafia head

Carmen DiNunzioFBI recordings seem to point to Carmen "the Cheeseman" DiNunzio (right), 51, as the head of the Mafia in the Boston area and as the prime underworld authority behind a scheme to defraud administrators of the "Big Dig" project, according to a story by Laurel J. Sweet of the Boston Herald.

Andrew Marino, a contractor who has been indicted in connection with the scheme, was reportedly unaware he was being recorded as he spoke with a federal informant. According to the FBI, Marino identified "the Cheeseman" as "the guy in the North End - the head of the ... organization" and as "the head of [the] Mafia."

When the two men discussed an individual who was not trustworthy, Marino said the "rat" would be dealt with: "They'll kill him, dude. This ain't ... regular hoodlum that's setting this up. This is the Cheesman."

Marino refused to refer to DiNunzio by name: "You'll know his name if I said it, but nobody says his name."

Federal prosecutors have identified the Cheesman as DiNunzio, who has operated a cheese shop on the North End's Endicott Street. They say DiNunzio has served as underboss of the New England Mafia since about 2003.

In a different audio tape, DiNunzio identified himself as "the Cheeseman" to an undercover FBI agent: "I'm the Cheeseman... You ask anybody about me. We straighten out a lot of beefs, a lot of things."

DiNunzio was arrested May 2, the result of the FBI's "Big Dig" sting operation. He, Marino and Anthony J. D'Amore were charged with conspiracy to commit bribery in a federally funded program. The group allegedly offered bribes in order to win a contract to provide fill for the Big Dig underground highway project. The men allegedly planned to provide substandard fill to the project.

DiNunzio is under house arrest. He also awaits trial on extortion and gambling charges.

Italian jails aren't as much fun as they used to be

Flouting many years of tradition, the conservative Italian government of Silvio Berlusconi (left) seems intent on making prison an unpleasant experience.

According to a story by Nick Pisa of the UK Telegraph, the Berlusconi administration has been cracking down on prison privileges formerly extended to convicted Mafiosi. Among the measures recently instituted, inmates are prohibited from singing. Officials noted the possibility that convicted crime bosses could communicate orders through their songs.

Prison socializing has also been curtailed. It is common for Mafiosi deemed dangerous to be locked in their cells for 23 hours each day and to have only limited exposure to family, friends and attorneys. The government has a list of 570 prisoners it feels are threats to society.

"We have evidence that in the past orders and messages were passed on and we have also stopped them mixing with each other as well. They will spend the majority of their day alone in their cells," Justice Minister Angelino Alfano said.

FBI involved in Vegas mob museum

FBI agents past and present have become involved in the planning for the Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, according to a story by Sam Skolnik of the Las Vegas Sun.

Oscar GoodmanEllen Knowlton, former special agent in charge of the local FBI office, leads a non-profit group working with Las Vegas on the project. Sitting Bureau officials are reviewing the plans to ensure that accurate portrayals of mobsters and crimefighters.

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman (left), a former attorney for accused racketeers, has been the major force behind the museum proposal.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Genovese associates charged with killing, robbery

Two alleged associates of the Genovese Crime Family and a third man were charged Thursday in Brooklyn federal court with robbery and murder, according to a story by Tom Hays of Newsday. Anthony Pica, Christopher Prince and Charles Santiago pleaded not guilty to the crimes. They are being held without bail.

U.S. Attorney Benton Campbell said Pica and Prince were members of a robbery crew controlled by the Genovese Family.

According to the indictment, the defendants targeted jeweler Louis Antonelli on April 29, expecting him to be in possession of valuable jewelry. The indictment states that Pica and Prince identified Antonelli and alerted Santiago and a fourth unnamed accomplice when the jeweler exited a basement storage area below a restaurant on Staten Island. Santiago and the unnamed man confronted Antonelli. Santiago is charged with shooting the jeweler to death. The attackers then fled without any jewelry, said the indictment.

Antonelli's bodyguard, retired police Sgt. Jason Aiello, was inside the restaurant at the time of the attack. He was questioned by police but not charged. Aiello began behaving erratically. On July 22, police heard that Aiello was armed and possibly holding his family hostage. Officers approached Aiello and attempted to handcuff him, but he pulled a gun and fled. He reportedly shot in the direction of police a total of eight times. Officers shot him to death.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Chicago mob associate gets more than 3 years

Joseph Venezia, 65, a minor player in last year's Family Secrets Case, was sentenced in Chicago yesterday to 40 months in prison, according to a story by Jeff Coen of the Chicago Tribune. Before the Secrets trial began, Venezia pleaded guilty to gambling and tax charges.

Yesterday, Venezia argued for a light sentence, saying he was a mere pawn of the Outfit as he collected cash from video poker machines. U.S. District Judge James Zagel explained the 40-month sentence: "Without the Joseph Venezias of the world, the enterprise of which he was a part... would, in fact, crumble."

James MarcelloProsecutors said Venezia oversaw a portion of a gambling business owned by brothers James (right) and Michael Marcello and also served as a front man for an Outfit-run lounge in Cicero that was used for prostitution.

Feds draw fire for handling of Gambino case

A sweeping federal case against 62 alleged members and associates of the Gambino Crime Family has so far resulted in 60 plea deals and one dismissal, according to a story by Tom Hays published in Newsday.

Nick CorozzoTwo of the pleas were entered yesterday. "Little Nick" Corozzo (left), 68, reputed lieutenant in the crime family, pleaded guilty to murder conspiracy in connection with the Jan. 26, 1996, slaying of an underworld rival. He could face 12 years or more in prison when sentenced. Vincent DeConiglio's guilty plea to lesser charges could result in a year or more behind bars.

Prosecutors say that Corozzo was part of a three-man committee formed in 1994 to assist John A. "Junior" Gotti in running the Gambino Crime Family during his father's imprisonment. John J. Gotti died in prison in 2002.

One defendant remains of the 62 arrested on Feb. 7. Charles Carneglia (shown on the New York Post cover at right), 62, has said he intends to go to trial and to testify on his own behalf, according to a story by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News. He is charged in connection with five killings.

U.S. attorneys in Brooklyn have been criticized for a broad attack against the criminal organization, which has resulted in few extended prison sentences. The defendant with the highest reputed rank in the crime family, acting boss John "Jackie Nose" D'Amico, could be sentenced to less than two years in prison after pleading guilty to extorting $100,000 from a cement company. His attorney said prosecutors' willingness to cut short-sentence deals showed "a lack of evidence and quality of evidence."

Some note, however, that the approach might have profoundly shaken the crime family. "It disrupts the family and creates an environment of insecurity," said one former prosecutor. "They essentially took out an entire organization in one fell swoop."

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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.