Friday, June 27, 2008

Former bus union boss gets 4-plus years

Salvatore BattagliaSalvatore "Hot Dogs" Battaglia (left), former president of a union of 15,000 New York City school bus drivers, was sentenced yesterday to four years and nine months in prison as a penalty for extortion and receiving bribes, according to a story published by the New York Times.

In January, Battaglia, 61, admitted taking payoffs in exchange for keeping his Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union out of certain bus companies. The payoffs were linked to Matthew Ianniello, former acting boss of the Genovese Crime Family.

Two other union officials earlier pleaded guilty to related charges. Ianniello also acknowledged wrongdoing.

Ianniello acknowledged in 2006 that he had arranged illegal payoffs for the union leadership. He pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice. Ann Chiarovano, who directed the local's pension fund, pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about mob influence in the union local. She was sentenced to five months in prison. Julius "Spike" Bernstein, secretary-treasurer of Local 1181, pleaded guilty to racketeering charges and cooperated with the federal investigation.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Galante reaches plea deal on trash racket

Connecticut trash czar James Galante (right) faces between six and seven years in prison when sentenced for racketeering and other offenses in federal court on Aug. 22, according to a story by Dave Altimari of the Hartford Courant.

As part of a plea deal, Galante, 55, admitted earlier this month to one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of conspiring to defraud the IRS and one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Connecticut. Those crimes stemmed from attempting to fix bids on a garbage transfer station project, coaching witnesses in advance of appearances before a grand jury, arranging payroll kickbacks and improper business expenses, and setting up no-show jobs.

Galante was one of 33 people named in a 98-count indictment back in 2006. Initially he was also charged with making regular payments to Genovese Crime Family bigshot Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianniello. There was no mention of those payments in the recent plea deal. Ianniello reached an earlier plea arrangement, admitting to racketeering conspiracy and tax evasion.

In addition to the expected jail time of between 70 and 87 months, Galante has agreed to a number of forfeitures and to withdrawal from the trash industry. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, he will surrender all of his interests in 25 trash hauling companies in western Connecticut and nearby New York State, he will turn over a Southbury residence and land, six racing cars and a trailer, and he will drop any claim on $448,153.10 and interest on that money, which was seized from his business office and home. He owes an estimated $1.6 million in back taxes to the IRS. At sentencing, he could be fined additional money, up to a total of $750,000.

The Courant reported that federal authorities eventually will return to Galante and his wife $10.75 million they loaned to the trash businesses. That payment is to be made after the companies, estimated to be worth $100 million, are sold.

Investigation of the waste hauling "property rights" racket in western Connecticut led to charges against Connecticut State Senator Louis DeLuca. DeLuca, who admitted to seeking Galante's aid to threaten the husband of DeLuca's granddaughter, later resigned from the state legislature.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mob-affiliate burglar pleads guilty

John Melicharek, alleged associate of the Genovese Crime Family, pleaded guilty in a White Plains, NY, court last week to robbery, extortion and firearms charges, according to a story published by the Mid-Hudson News Network.

Prosecutors say Melicharek was an associate of the Mafia crew led by Angelo Prisco. Melicharek was accused of leading home invasions in Orange County, NY, and Morris County, NJ, as well as of extorting the owner of a small business in New York City.

He could receive a life prison term when sentenced in September.

Angelo PriscoPrisco (right), 68, of Brooklyn, is serving time in federal prison, according to a story published a year ago in the Star-Ledger. He reached a plea deal on extortion charges in Newark, NJ, last May and was sentenced to five years. He had been held in New Jersey lockups since a March 2006 arrest. Prisco's 2002 parole from state prison in New Jersey triggered an investigation of a top aide of then-Governor Jim McGreevey.

Another reputed associate of Prisco's crew, Michael Visconti, 39, of Newburgh, NY, pleaded guilty to six criminal counts earlier this month, according to the Star-Ledger. Like Prisco, Visconti was charged in connection with a scheme to eliminate competition for an electrical contracting job.

Italian court upholds Camorra life sentences

An Italian Court last week upheld life sentence penalties imposed on 16 convicted leaders of the Casalesi Camorra clan, according to reports by RTTNews and Malcom Moore of the U.K. Telegraph.

The 16 leaders, including alleged boss Francesco "Sandokan" Schiavone (left) were sentenced to life late in 2005 after the "Spartacus trial" held in Santa Maria Capua Vetere north of Naples. Michele Zagaria and Antonio Iovine, alleged to be leaders of the criminal organization, were among those sentenced to life terms though they remain at large. Ten other defendants were convicted in the trial and sentenced to lesser terms.

The Casalesi clan was primarily involved in toxic waste disposal, extortion and monopolization of the cement market between Naples and Salerno, according to Judge Raffaello Magi. "They control the distribution of essential products. They control elections, and they offer protection and market opportunities to businesses," he said.

Investigators believe the Casalesi clan, based in the town of Casal di Principe, held assets amounting to billions of dollars. The group is believed responsible for numerous murders. During the trial, five people involved in the case were killed. The lives of a judge and two journalists were threatened.

Five hundred witnesses were called in that trial. Twenty former clan members provided evidence against their old underworld colleagues.

Schiavone was apprehended in 1999, as he attempted to escape from police by climbing over a garden wall at his personal villa.

map of Naples region

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Three face federal murder charges

Thomas Dono, 34, Letterio "Lenny" DeCarlo, 47, and Edmund "Eddie" Boyle, 43, were charged Wednesday with the 1998 killing of a suspected informant, according to reports in the New York Daily News and Newsday.

According to prosecutors, the three men killed Frank Hydell outside a Staten Island, NY, strip club because they feared he would reveal what he knew of the 1997 slaying of construction foreman Frank Parasole at a Brooklyn social club. The prosecutors say Dono, DeCarlo and Boyle are associates of the Gambino Crime Family.

Hydell was shot in the head and chest at midnight April 27, 1998, outside of Scarlet's club.

Dono was arrested early Tuesday. DeCarlo and Boyle are in federal prison on unrelated charges.

JoJo Corozzo reaches plea deal

Federal prosecutors on June 6 dropped drug-trafficking charges against the reputed consigliere of the Gambino Crime Family and permitted him to plead guilty instead to an extortion charge, according to a story by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News.

Joseph "JoJo" Corozzo (right), 66, reached the plea deal in New York shortly after his brother, Nicholas Corozzo, turned himself in to authorities at the end of May. Authorities believe Nicholas is a leader of the Gambino clan. He is charged with extorting money from construction companies, running illegal gambling and ordering a 1996 mob hit in which an innocent bystander was killed. Prosecutors labeled Nicholas a fugitive from justice after February raids against suspected Gambino members and associates.

Joseph Corozzo admitted extorting money from a Staten Island cement company. He could be sentenced to as little as 37 months in prison for the offense. The dismissed drug-trafficking charges carried the possibility of life in prison.

Spain breaks up Tambov Mafiya ring

Spanish authorities say they have broken up the Tambov "family" of the Russian Mafiya, according to reports from the St. Petersburg (Russia) Times, UPI and RIA Novosti.

Twenty people were arrested across the country June 14 on money laundering, tax fraud and criminal association charges. Four hundred law enforcement officers participated in raids conducted in Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga, Valencia and the Balearic Islands. In addition to the 20 suspects, the raids netted 23 luxury cars, a yacht, weapons and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cash. Police also froze an estimated $18 million in bank accounts believed linked to the Tambov organization.

Over the weekend, five suspects were freed after promising not to leave the country. Two were released on bail. The other 13 suspects remain in custody. Gennady Petrov (left), a reputed leader of the gang, is among those still held by Spanish authorities. Petrov and his wife were arrested at their home in the Sol de Mallorca region of the island of Mallorca. Police also nabbed alleged Petrov deputy Yuri Salikov.
Alexander Malyshev, another reputed leader of the criminal organization, was also arrested, along with his wife and a friend. They were arrested at a luxury estate in Frigiliana, province of Malaga.

The Tambov organization - based in St. Petersburg, Russia, but named for a southwestern Russian city - is believed to have hundreds of members. Russian, U.S., German and Swiss authorities assisted in the Spanish law enforcement action.
Last August, Tambov boss Vladimir Basukov was arrested at his home outside of St. Petersburg. He remains in custody in Moscow.

Court ignores Schweihs' antagonism

U.S. District Judge James Zagel and federal prosecutors said nothing in response to antagonistic remarks by reputed Chicago mobster Frank "German" Schweihs (right) last week, according to reports by Steve Warmbir of the Chicago Sun Times, and the staffs of the Chicago Tribune and the Chicagoist.

The Chicagoist, which reported how Schweihs' vulgar remarks were handled in the press accounts of the Sun-Times, Tribune and Associated Press, announced in its headline that Schweihs "has a potty mouth."

During a court appearance on June 10, Schweihs, 78, asked one male assistant U.S. attorney, "Are you makin' eyes at me?" After noting that another prosecutor wore a turban, he asked his attorneys if they were in a foreign country. Later, he called another prosecutor a vulgar name.

The court went ahead with its business, setting an Oct. 28 date for Schweihs' racketeering trial. Schweihs initially was charged in the Family Secrets case, but he was separated from the other five defendants because he was afflicted with cancer.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Geas charged with Massachusetts mob murder

Freddy GeasFotios A. "Freddy" Geas, 41, of West Springfield, MA (right), was indicted June 5 on one count of murder in aid of racketeering, according to a press release from the Boston office of the FBI.

Geas is accused of paying $10,000 to Frankie A. Roche for the Nov. 23, 2003, murder of Springfield Mafia bigshot Adolfo Bruno. U.S. attorneys say the payment was made on behalf of Bruno's underlings in the Springfield, MA, crew of the Genovese Crime Family.

Roche pleaded guilty in April to killing 57-year-old Bruno (below right) with a .45-caliber pistol as Bruno exited a Springfield social club. Defense attorneys for Geas say Roche is cooperating with the continuing federal investigation of the Bruno murder.

Geas faces a possible death penalty if convicted on the charge.

Anthony ArillottaAfter Roche's guilty plea, attention turned toward Geas and Brandon D. Croteau. Geas and Croteau were initially named as codefendants in a state-level case stemming from the Bruno murder. The state case was never brought to trial. Croteau was not mentioned in the FBI press release.

Adolfo BrunoThe FBI reportedly also has information linking Bruno's successor Anthony J. Arilotta (above left) to the crime. According to the Bureau, Arilotta obtained approvals from higher-ups in the Genovese family to murder Bruno.  

Documentation indicates that Pasquale "Scop" Deluca and Arthur "Artie" Nigro were Arilotta's superiors within the crime family. Both men pleaded guilty in New York to unrelated charges in 2007. Arilotta, who in a plea deal admitted membership in the Genovese Crime Family, has been serving a three-year sentence in a Massachusetts State Prison for gambling and loansharking and was sentenced to an additional five years for an unrelated murder conspiracy. Nigro, reputed captain in the crime family, pleaded guilty to using threats of violence to acquire a commercial rental property at lower than market price. He was sentenced to 51 months in prison.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

17-count indictment against accused mobsters

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York yesterday unsealed a 17-count indictment against the acting boss and the underboss of the Colombo Crime Family, as well as 10 additional Colombo Family members and associates. The indictment charges racketeering conspiracy, including four acts of murder, robbery, extortion, narcotics trafficking and loansharking.

Prosecutors said the indictment was the result of a three-year investigation into Colombo Family activities.

Those charged in the indictment were:

  • Reputed boss Thomas "Tommy Shots" Gioeli, 55;
  • Reputed underboss John "Sonny" Franzese, 89;
  • Reputed "captain" Dino Calabro, 41;
  • Michael Catapano, 42;
  • Frank Campione, 65;
  • Joseph "Joey Caves" Competiello, 36;
  • Joseph DiGorga, 67;
  • Orlando Spado, 63;
  • Angelo Giangrande, 55;
  • John Capolino, 39;
  • Nicholas Bova, 31;
  • Christopher Curanovic, 26.

The indictment refers to four specific murders. It charges Calabro with the Jan. 9, 1992, armed robbery and felony murder of armored truck guard Carlos Pagan. It charges Gioeli and Calabro jointly with the March 25, 1992, double-murder of Colombo family soldier John Minerva and Minerva's friend Michael Imbergamo. It also charged Gioeli, Calabro and Colombo soldier Competiello with the June 12, 1991, retaliation murder of Frank Marasa.

If convicted of the charges against them, Gioeli, Calabro, Competiello, Spado and Curanovic face possible life imprisonment. Catapano faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. Franzese, Campione, DiGorga, Giangrande and Capolino face possible 20-year sentences.

Nine nabbed in Colombo clan crackdown

Nine alleged members of the Colombo Crime Family, including reputed acting boss Thomas "Tommy Shots" Gioeli, were arrested yesterday on federal racketeering charges, according to published reports by the New York Daily News, the New York Times and the Associated Press.

A federal indictment unsealed in Brooklyn federal court accused the nine with Mafia-related crimes across the United States. Among the offenses charged to the group are fur thefts and murders in New York and impersonation of police officers in Los Angeles.

Gioeli, 55 (left), charged with robbery, three murders and extortion, pleaded not guilty. He is being held without bail. Two of the murders were related to the 1990s civil war within the Colombo clan. John Franzese, 89, reputed family underboss, was also charged, as were three men already held in prison.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Two more Gambino guilty pleas

Frank Cali, 43, and Leonard DiMaria, 67, pleaded guilty in Brooklyn federal court yesterday to extortion-related charges, according to a story by Anthony M. DeStefano of Newsday. The two men were arrested in February along with dozens of others suspected of involvement in the Gambino Crime Family. Roughly half of the 60-plus defendants have reached plea deals.

Cali admitted to conspiring to extort money from a trucker working at a Staten Island NASCAR construction site. Prosecutors believe he is an acting "captain" in the Gambino criminal organization and also close to members of the Mafia in Sicily. He could get up to 24 months in prison when sentenced in September.

DiMaria admitted to conspiring to extort money from contractor/trucker Joseph Vollaro. Vollaro, a former mob associate, cooperated with investigators in the case. DiMaria, now ailing but once considered a powerhouse in the Gambino clan, faces up to five years in prison.

In a story by Murray Weiss last August, the New York Post called Cali a Gambino "ambassador to Sicilian mobsters" and linked him to the Inzerillo Mafia clan. That information was apparently obtained through Sicilian wiretaps. Authorities at the time still hadn't precisely identified Cali. In February, the New York Daily News reported that the Frank Cali arrested in the Gambino raids was linked with Sicily's Inzerillo Crime Family. The Italian Repubblica reported that Cali was born in New York on March 26, 1965, as Francesco Paolo Augusto Cali. His father, who has no criminal record, was an immigrant to New York who maintained a residence in Palermo. Cali married into the Inzerillo family. The Inzerillos had fled to New Jersey during the 1980s Mafia wars in Sicily. In 2003, much of the family returned to Sicily and became influential in the underworld there.

Imprisoned Schweihs signs DNR order

Alleged mobster Frank "the German" Schweihs may have to be moved to a prison medical facility due to his recent signing of a do-not-resusciate (DNR) order, according to stories by the Chicago Tribune and CBS-2 Chicago.

Schweihs had been named as a defendant in the Family Secrets case, which resulted in September 1997 guilty verdicts against five men linked to the Chicago Outfit. Schweihs missed the trial because he was battling cancer. A separate trial is scheduled for late October.

Schweihs, 78, is charged with a mob-related murder and with extorting payments from businesses. When he first learned he was indicted, Schweihs fled. He was apprehended by FBI agents in Kentucky. He has been behind bars for the past 17 months.

U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel said the recent do-not-resuscitate order could require Schweihs to be placed in a medical facility of the Bureau of Prisons. According to Zagel, other federal institutions would not be able to honor such an order.

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.